the 1870s, four mining camps got their starts in the Hecla Mining District
on the side of Lion Mountain. Also referred to as the Glendale and/or
Bryant Mining District, which was strung out along ten miles of gulches,
the four towns included Trapper City, Lion City, Glendale, and Hecla. One
of the last districts to be established in the Pioneer Mountains, it was
also one of the richest, producing silver, lead, copper and zinc ore
valued at nearly $20 million over the years.
first claim in the area was made in 1872 by two men named William "Billy"
Spurr and James Bryant and called the Forest Queen. However, Spurr
recorded the claim in his own name, but never worked it. The following
year, James Bryant returned to the area with several other men and began
looking in the area for other potential claims.
During this excursion, a silver
outcropping was found that was called the Trapper Lode. After staking
their claim in
Montana, the men began to work the mine taking
the both silver and lead out by pack train and wagons to be loaded at
the railroad at Corinne,
Utah and sent to Denver for smelting.
Hecla Mines atop Lion Mountain.
Word quickly spread
and before long the area was filled with a number of prospectors from
Bannack. More lodes were soon discovered and the Cleve and Avon Mines
soon were being worked. The first mining camp to be established was
Trapper City, which established a post office in 1873. Soon, the camp
also boasted a hotel, several saloons, a brothel, general store,
butcher shop, livery stable, and numerous cabins lined up and down
Trapper Creek. The settlement reached a population of nearly 200, but
was short lived, as mining began to move up onto Lion Mountain.
In 1875, a 40-ton
smelter was built farther down Trapper Creek by two men by the names
of Noah Armstrong and Charles Dahler. The camp of mill workers that
grew up around it was named Glendale and a post office was opened the
same year. Numerous employees and their families soon made their home
in Glendale, the tamest and most civilized of the four mining camps in
the district. The new town also sported "The Montana Brewery”, owned
by John Mannheim, who had formerly operated the brewery at
general merchandise store was owned by Noah Armstrong.
Two years after building the smelter, Noah
Armstrong, along with investors from the east, would form the Hecla
Consolidated Mining Company, buying out the original claimants of the
Trapper Lode and began to aggressively developing the organization.
The mining company was after a painting that had been hanging in the
company's payroll office which depicted Mt. Hecla, a volcano found on
the Icelandic Continent. Soon, the new mining organization began
buying up most of the workings on Lion Mountain, including the
Cleopatra, Trapper, Franklin, Cleve-Avon, Mark Anthony, Ariadne, True
Fissure, and Atlantus lodes. By 1878, Glendale had grown to almost
Also growing was the new camp of Lion
City, at the base of Lion Mountain and by 1878, almost everyone had
abandoned Trapper City and moved to Lion City or Glendale. Trapper
City’s businesses also moved, and Lion City soon boasted three
saloons, two brothels, two hotels, several businesses, a school,
mining buildings, numerous cabins, and about 600 people.
the meantime, the Glendale smelter was busy producing about one
million ounces of silver and thousands of tons of lead and copper
annually until it burned down in July, 1879. That same year, Noah
Armstrong was replaced by Elias C. Atkins, as the Hecla Consolidated Mining Company’s General
Manager. However, the company was not faring as well as its investors
would like, and he too, was replaced in April, 1881 by Henry Knippenberg.
The new general manager quickly set about reorganizing the company,
splitting it into three divisions and appointing a superintendent for
each. By the end of the year, the company was profitable once again. In
the meantime, the Glendale Smelter was rebuilt, enlarged, and placed back