The Elkhorn-Coolidge Historic District is located in the northern part of Beaverhead County, Montana and south of Butte. In 1872 silver was first discovered by Preston Sheldon, and his first shipment of ore yielded 300 ounces per ton. He supposedly named the mine “Old Elkhorn” after finding a pair of elkhorns near the site. In 1874, Mike Steele discovered the Storm Claim just west of the Old Elkhorn, his ore find yielding 260 ounces per ton. Other veins were discovered and increasingly more miners arrived.
Although there was plenty of silver to be mined, operations were restricted due to a lack of affordable transportation. The process of smelting was quite expensive – first the ore was hauled by animal teams to Corrine, Utah to be loaded on railroad cars headed for San Francisco. From San Francisco the ore was loaded on ships headed to Swansea, Wales where the smelting process would take place. Even with that long and arduous process of mining, transportation and smelting, miners still managed to eke out a small profit.
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