Anchor Mountain Mine
This is just a compilation of stuff I have on Thomas W. Houlette and the Anchor Mountain Mine in Galena, South Dakota. Thomas was my great grandfather on my mother's side.
Thomas Bolger and Robert Perli seem to be the first miners at the Anchor Mountain site. Perli filed a claim in 1912. Bolger showed up in the record in 1915. In 1916 it was reported that they were having some success with their arrastra (photos below), which can be used to grind and process ore. This is the only arrastra in the Black Hills, so it is historically significant. Bolger built a small mill on the site at some point. Joseph Turek, who had the cabin on the site, shows up in the record in 1919. In 1930 Turek left 104,000 shares of Anchor Mountain mining stock to his heirs.
found online here
Bolger's Mill. This was higher on the hill than the current mill site. Nothing remains of this.
In around 1918 Anchor Mountain Mining Company was incorporated in Lawrence County. Unfortunately, the state cannot find a record of this incorporation, so I don't know who the officers were. I do not know when Thomas Houlette became involved either, nor his 2 sons, A J and Howard. My grandmother cooked at the boarding house, which is where she met Howard, my grandfather. They married in 1928.
So when did the Anchor Mountain Mine actually run after the corporation was formed? The first mention of the company that I found was a quit claim deed from Pyrdith Hammond of Pocahantas, Iowa, to the company Anchor Mountain 1-5 claims, for $1. This was December 29, 1919. The 1920 Report of the South Dakota Inspector of Mines says that Anchor Mountain Mining Company was "a new corporation" worked 10 months on a tunnel and set up a ten stamp amalgamation plant. "No productions were made in 1919." The 1921 report says that "some mine work was done but the property was idle for the greater part of the year. The mill has not yet been placed in commission." The 1922 report said essentially the same thing.
The August 26, 1932 Black Hills Weekly tells of a mining engineer named M. Van Siclen remaining at Anchor Mountain to continue his examination of the property. "The Anchor Mountain mine has gone through considerable development during the last few years with very satisfactory results. Improvements have been made in the surface workings, machine shop, and mills." Matthew Van Siclen got his mining engineer degree in 1906 from Columbia University and worked for the Bureau of Mines in Washington DC. I have no idea why he was so busy checking out Anchor Mountain.
A report on the mine from an unknown date (probably the 1930s) follows:
ANCHOR MOUNTAIN MINING CO.: Location: 5 mile,; east
of Deadwood and 1% miles north of Galena, S. Dak. Incorporated:
South Dakota. Cap'ital Stock: 2,000,000 shares.
Par Value: $1.00. Officers: Thos. Houlette, 2509 Arrott
Bldg., Pittsburgh, Pa., President; John Cihak, Vice Pres.;
Percy G. Houlette, Secretary. Other Directors: Thomas
Boulger and Joe Tueck. Property: 780 acres including Aurum
Group of 18 claims, 360 acres. Type of Deposit: Replacement
in Deadwood formation and verticals. Ore:
Gold and some Silver. Development: By 150' shaft and
1,200' of lateral workings. Remarks: Idle at present time.
Examined for RFC loan.
My grandfather and his brother started working for Homestake Mining Company in 1933, so I assume that would be around when they quit working at Anchor Mountain. An "affidavit of labor" dated June 9, 1936, says that Anchor Mountain Mining Company did the required annual work on the Mountain, Gulch, and Aurum claims for Mrs. Virginia Perli. The notice is signed by Thomas Houlette. A December 3, 1937 article in the Black Hills Weekly tells of thieves running off with two motors and other machinery "valued at $2000" from Anchor Mountain. My grandmother said that some of that equipment had just been left lying around, still in crates, after the mine closed.
In February of 1940 the court ruled against Thomas Houlette when he sued Anchor Mountain for back wages. D.C. Ward was signing himself as President of Anchor Mountain Mining Company in June 2, 1939 (268,88) and as seen below on June 23, 1941.
In September 1940 A. J. Houlette gave an affidavit that the assessment work on all their claims had been done as required. He names several claims (I'll give book and page number as shown): Anchor Mt. 1-8 (268, 88), Joseph (215, 437), Alexander (215, 436), Bear Den No. 2 (268, 83), Robert (197, 180), Queen (197, 181), Lost Gulch No. 1 (144, 640), Lost Gulch No. 2 and 3 (151, 1), Mountain (197, 262), Mountain No. 2 (197, 263), Gulch (197, 180), Alp Nos. 1-4 (215, 622ff), Savage Lode (215, 604), Manhattan (240, 19), Lincoln (215, 604), Bear Den No. 1 (268, 84), Aurum Nos. 1-5 (197, 181ff), Trento (155, 336), Louisa (155, 337), and Blozano (155, 335).
On June 23, 1941 Edward E. Rieck of Pittburgh, PA purchased all the claims, including the Alp (1-4), Alexander, and Joseph lodes, for $8,325. D.C. Ward signed as president of Anchor Mountatin Mining Company. Mr. Rieck got his money as a dairy man in the Pittsburgh area and was widely respected. On October 23, 1941 L.W. Hardin placed a levy against Anchor Mountain Mining company property after winning a court case against the company. The levy lists equipment at the mine; air compressor, single drum hoist, hoist building, air drum, B. F. Sturtevant fan, piston pump, gallos frame, base for filter press, filter drum, classifier, Frazier and Chalmers Stamps, , New Century Jaw Crusher, mill building, 2 wooden water tanks, large boarding house, steam boiler, about 3000 feet of cedar tank staves, blacksmith shop, cabin, and pipes and fittings. This levy was lifted that December.
On September 8, 1949 Thomas Houlette filed claims on Anchor claims 1 through 7. This means, I assume, that the mining company no longer had claim to the property. Thomas died that year. The last person to file a claim on the property was Martha Lucille Hardin, July 1, 1952.
When the mine was closed all the equipment, furniture, even dishes and such were just left at the site. We do not have anything from the mine, not even a stock certificate.
In 1989 Brohm Mining wanted to use the Anchor Mountain site to dump their tailings from the Ruby Gulch digs. This, to my mind, indicates that Brohm didn't think much of the Anchor Mountain property as a good place to find gold. The state commissioned a report on the historical value of both Anchor Mountain and Anchor Hill, which had an old fire lookout tower. The report concludes that the lookout was not of historical interest, but Anchor Mountain was, especially because of the unique arrastra there. The company making the report interviewed my grandmother about the mine. She gave them a series of photos from Anchor Mountain that are shown as photocopies in the report. I asked if we could get the originals of these photos from the company, but apparently they were not able to find them, or more likely Brohm has them. One of the photos dated 1928 shows several men, 3 of whom are named. Ed Johnson I believe was the assayist. Bill Mertz lived in Galena. Howard Houlette is also shown, smiling as usual.
Thomas had written a prospectus in about 1938 to try to raise $30,000 to restart the mill, but this apparently failed. Judging from the theft in 1937 I'd say the mine had actually closed in 1936 or earlier. In the prospectus is a map of the site. I used that map to tour the property and take photos of where each item on the map was. Below are photos of what's left, starting at the lower elevation.
Coming up the Butcher Gulch Road, this is the first piece of the property you see, on the left side of the road. This was the boarding house, for up to 30 men. This is also where Howard Houlette and Lillian North met. They are my grandparents.
This hole was the root cellar, just across the road from the boarding house. I don't think the current road was there at the time.
This was the heating plant/boiler room, just west and uphill from the boarding house.
This is looking down into the well. It's just west of the boiler room.
This 6' bullwheel is historically interesting. A bullwheel is generall the wheel that the power belt was put on, to turn the stamps and any other equipment in the mill. This bullwheel is made with square nails, meaning it's older than anything else still there. I am guessing that they bought used equipment from some other mill that had closed and this is why we have an old bullwheel.
A "south-east tunnel" is on the map, but there were tailings where the tunnel entrance shows. So I assume they filled and covered over this entrance for some reason.
Just west of the missing tunnel is the main shaft. The shaft was 150 feet deep at the time of the prospectus. There was 2200 feet of tunneling, mostly off the shaft.
Just north of the shaft is the hoist house/blacksmithshop/compressor room.
West of the hoist house is a water tank, which I'd guess as being about 12 feet in diameter, based on the metal straps there.
Just west of the water tank is the mill. This is a series of foundations going downhill toward the south. It's hard to get a representative view. It goes downhill to the south., and the tunnel is directly to the north of the mill.
just north of the mill is a larger water tank. I can't tell how big it was, but here are the bands, thrown down the tailings...
In the drawing, this tank is round.
Just north of the large tank is the assay office. Near it were two ore cars..
and this one.
Farther north, and just under the road, is the "upper tunnel."
The entry seems to get smaller every year.
But it's full of water anyway, so I don't plan to investigate.
The map shows a "cottage" to the west of the big tank, but I simply could not find any evidence of a foundation, or remains, or even a flat spot at that location. To the north of the tunnel is this...
This is a flat spot, with remains of a foundation and metal roof, and an outhouse-sized hole above it. This was the Turek cabin, a person who worked at the mine. Northwest of this is the biggest open pit dig...
I'm guessing this is about 40 feet by 15 feet by 10 feet deep. And just southwest of the pit is the arrastra...
This is the only arrastra in the Black Hills. The grinding stones, which were dragged over the ore to crush it, are still there as well. After crushing the ore, you could fill it with water, stir things around, then release the sludge through a verticle series of pipes. The heavier sludge (hopefully with gold) would come out the lowest pipe. So it was a poor man's mill.
So that's the tour of what's left there. At the top of the ridge there are diggings, which I assume Thomas used to make that claim that there is evidence on that ridge of ore veins crossing each other there. There is a photo of a tunnel opening that I don't recognize. I went southeast of the cabins up the hill a ways and saw what might be that tunnel, but it is caved in and didn't seem to go too far in either.
return to index page