Wednesday, September 18, 2013
The Lost Mine of the Yellowstone
A golden secret lies in the shadow of Emigrant Peak south of Livingston. Somewhere along the trail to Yellowstone Park, among the gulches where countless winter snows and spring floods have scoured the landscape, lies the fountain of gold, the mother lode, the source of the golden veins that brought miners by the hundreds to Yellowstone City and Emigrant Gulch.
David Weaver panned the first gold in Emigrant Gulch—Montana’s fifth great gold discovery—in 1864. He, David Shorthill, Frank Garrett, and others from the States named Emigrant peak, creek, and gulch. These early miners found Jim Bridger’s calling card: twenty elk antlers stuck in a lone pine tree. They assumed that these meant Bridger had been there at some time in the past. Two years later, with a party of other miners, Weaver made an incredibly rich find in the mountains near Emigrant Peak. But the danger of Indian attack made the miners’ work extremely hazardous, and so when the first snow began to fall, the miners were forced to abandon their diggings. Two years later, two of the men returned to find their discovery, but two winters and springs had erased all familiar traces. The miners frantically searched and searched, but the mine was not to be found. Weaver had taken samples of the ore and had them assayed. They proved to be worth $5,000 to the ton, a spectacular amount. Over the years, members of Weaver’s party returned to search the area, but the mine was never found. It is remembered today as the “Lost Mine of the Yellowstone.”