Marysville is an unincorporated community in Lewis & Clark County The town was founded in the early 1880s as a mining camp and during its peak, it had a total of over 3,000 residents.
A few buildings still remain in the town albeit it is mostly abandoned. There is even a baseball field in there while the historical Methodist Episcopal Church still stands to date. But despite its rich mining history, Marysville remains a very small and deserted area.
According to the 2010 US population census, the town had a mere 80 residents, a shadow of its former glory. Our focus in this post however will be on the mining activities that once made Marysville a bustling town over 100 years ago.
The History of Mining in Marysville
In the 1880s Marysville was a bustling mining town. It had attracted over 3,000 miners from all over the US. The rise of the mining industry here can be traced back to the 1870s when prospectors began looking for gold and other minerals.
However, the industry did not peak until 1880s. It was in fact between 1880 and 1890 that Marysville was able to establish itself as a robust mining center.
Marysville Mining Heritage and the Drumlummon Mine
Itís not possible to talk about mining in Marysville without talking about The Drumlummon Mine. The mine was a major export hub for silver and gold during its day. It was discovered in 1876 by Thomas Cruse, an immigrant from Ireland who became a prospector.
Before the mine came into full operation, Marysville was viewed by many as a nothing town. Cruse was in fact ridiculed by fellow prospectors but as you can imagine, his efforts were indeed rewarded. It is the development of the Drumlummon Mine that paved the way for the growth of the Ottawa mining district at the center of Marysville, and its consequent rise as a leading producer of silver and gold.In addition to this, the Drumlummon Mine also becomes one of the richest and the longest operating mines in the whole of Montana. Eventually, Cruse would sell it to an English syndicate for over $1.6 million.
Even with the sale, the Drumlummon Mine continued to operate until the early 1920s.
But by this time, the gold deposits had declined massively and the mine had to shut down. New deposits were however discovered four years later in 1924. The Drumlummon Mine reopened once more and operated for years until the beginning of the Second World War.
During its peak, Marysville had over 14 operational mines. The town was also home to two major mills that had the capacity to process 150 tons of ore each year. To this day, Marysville has produced over 1.3 million ounces of gold, most of which has come from the Drumlummon Mine.
The Mining Revival in the Modern Era
Although gold mining activities declined massively in Marysville, there was renewed hope that this small town could actually be revived. In 2010, there were reports that recent explorations had found massive new deposits of gold in the Drumlummon Mine.
There was even talk that the mine could reopen once more. But nothing so far has been done. Sentiment among local town leaders and residents as far as gold mining goes remains divided.
While some believe that the town could reclaim its former glory as a leading gold producer in Montana, others argue that the cost of exploration and environmental impact costs are just too high.
Other Notable Mines in the Town
As noted above, there were over 14 major mines in Maryville during its peak. Although all these mines produced something, some were no doubt more important than others. The Drumlummon Mine was of course the largest of them all. But there were other notable mines too off note.
The first one was called the Bell Boy
. It was and still is located in the northwest part of town, 3.5 miles from the center of Marysville. In its first three years since discovery in 1880, the mine produced mineral resources valued at roughly half a million dollars.
The second other major mine in the town was known as Bald Butte
. It was also located on the Northwestern part of the town around Dog Creek. Production in the mine started in 1882 with initial mineral output valued at $32,000 a year. However, more mineral veins were discovered in the mine and during its peak, Bald Butte would gol on to produce over 14,000 ounces of gold.Other notable mines included the Belmont mine that produced over $104,000 worth of bullion, the Empire Mine, The Nile, Penobscot mines, and a host of others.
Although these mines are abandoned today, Maryville still remains a major cultural center in Montana. It continues to attract tourists who wish to learn something about its proud mining heritage.Montana's First Gold Rush