Jardine, MT was the remnant of a once bustling mining town which had 130 buildings in 1898. In 1974 the population of Jardine was less than twenty residents. The residents lived mostly in old log cabins from the mining days. The early mining at Jardine was for placer gold. As the placer gold was depleted underground mining continued primarily for gold. The gold miners encountered arsenopyrite and in 1922 concentrates were shipped to Tacoma, WA which averaged 38 percent white arsenic. The mines at Jardine also had some veins of tungsten ore which were developed and mined. In 1948 the mill at Jardine was put out of operation by a fire. Within 60 days the large scale mining and milling ceased operations.The mining district has seen sporadic exploration and mining activities since 1948.
My work core drilling in Jardine in 1974 and 1975 was primarily gold exploration. We operated three surface drills around the clock for several months during the fall and winter. An old tunnel was re-established for underground drilling also. Several of the residents of Jardine worked on our drill crews. We had to haul water from the edge of town to the drill locations on the sides of the mountain. There were many incidents of damaged trucks because the drivers couldn’t brake and steer on the slick steep roads. We fixed the problem. During the winter we would disconnect and cap the brake lines on the front wheels of the water trucks. We also chained up the rear duals and kept the chains on as long as we had snow. The water trucks had flat tanks so we could haul drilling rods and supplies on the trucks.
Jardine had a unique problem with their water system. The town had a gravity feed water system from springs on the mountain. The system was hand built by early residents. They made little miniature flumes out of lumber, placed them in shallow ditches, put wood covers on them, and covered them with a foot of dirt. The water ran continuous to avoid freezing in winter and to keep it cold in summer. The system worked very well with little upkeep. The only problem was when the moose or elk stepped directly on top of the old wood water way. The weathered wood would collapse and shut off the water. The residents would get together, follow the footprints, find the break, and repair the system. Our drill crews would help make repairs if the residents needed assistance.
It was five miles from Jardine to Gardiner on a dirt road through one of the largest elk winter ranges in the country. It wasn’t uncommon to see several hundred elk of all sizes and descriptions driving to work. On a cold morning you could see the plumes of steam from Mammoth Hot Springs as the morning sun illuminated the mountain peaks.
The history of Jardine is interesting………and it’s a shame so few people get to experience it.