GILT EDGE

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     This town’s start began in 1880 with placer mining. Not long after, lode mining in the Judith Mountains began. The big boost however, came in 1893 when Ammon-Stivers Mining Company out of Great Falls bought the mines and rebuilt the crude cyanide plant that previous operators had erected. The new cyanide plant was the first in the U.S. to use the cyanide leeching process in gold mining. Workers and their families established the camp.

     Despite the $35,000 improvements made to the plant, the mill still proved inefficient within just a few months upon opening. Financial struggles ensued and payroll couldn’t be met. The company began writing worthless checks and the sheriff was called in to shut down the mill. Word spreads fast in a small community and before the sheriff arrived, all the bullion in the mill disappeared. The uncertain fate of the out of work miners and their families was relieved by food and aid sent in from the valley and from company warehouses.

     Only a few souls remained when the property was purchased by the Great Northern Mining and Development Company in 1897. Just a year later, the mines were once again in full production and a new 150 ton mill was erected. Ownership would switch hands a few more times while the population climbed to 1500 and $1,250,000 in gold was produced. The mill was dismantled around 1916 and future ventures never breathed life back into the town.