Station 13: How Mineral Ridge Got Its Name
The short spur trail to the west leads to an abandoned mine. Prior to 1920, the United States mining laws provided that mineral deposits on federal land were open to exploration and purchase to the person who found them. Mining laws became more complex as uses for a wider variety of types of minerals developed. Today, claims can still be staked out or located for “hardrock” minerals such as gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc. Other minerals such as oil, natural gas and phosphate can be leased and the resources extracted. Common minerals such as sand, gravel and building stone are sold by the ton or cubic yard. Only hard rock mining occurred at Mineral Ridge. Miners came from the East and from the California gold fields when gold was discovered at Prichard, north of Wallace, in 1881. The first recorded claims were filed on Mineral Ridge in1891. Many people would call this a mine shaft, but that is incorrect. A shaft is a vertical or inclined excavation. This excavation is horizontal and is properly referred to as a prospect, or if a mine had been developed, an adit. Where an adit is extended through a mountain so it has an opening on each end, it is called a tunnel. A “mine” is an excavation where mineral deposits, or ore, are extracted. Ore was never found and extracted from this site so it is considered a prospect. A prospect is any shaft, pit, drift, or drill hole used to determine if an area warrants development of a mine.