Central Montana Prospectors
Central Montana Prospectors

Outing Repetition is Not Always Enticing; Change is Needed

      While soaking in the Elkhorn Hot Springs near Crystal Park, people gather at the spout of hot water pouring into the pool. Conversations begin and soon one finds people who belong to the Missoula Mineral Society. They share their experiences with the club and lament that the club always goes to the same places.

       The same places include Challis, Idaho. It is some 260 miles down into the Idaho panhandle but bears many rock wonders including geodes, and large crystals found no place else.

      Alan lamented that there was a discovery by happenstance on their visit a few years ago from a rock slide, but the following year it was all picked over and none of the same rocks could be found. That's the way of the rock hounder; sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. 

      But striking out and finding new places to go is always important as newness is a premium. 

Let's Celebrate the Helena Mineral Society!!

     The sign of a good prospecting club is the talons of their reaches in service to others. If a club uses their income and investment to benefit its members, that's a good thing. 

     The Helena Mineral Society has some claims that it provides for its members and there is a mineral show in the spring. This club has action going on with others in mind. Many people throughout Montana can access these claims when they are invited by members to join them.

     The three claims along the shore  of Canyon Ferry Lake called the Beverly #1, the Beverly #2, and The Blue Star are claims that are maintained for prospecting opportunity. Multiple supplies, materials and access points are visible and present so one doesn't have to carry those things up and down the hill. That is great!!

      It is so great to have a club that is service orientated and that spends their time making available prospecting of Montana's great wealth and beauty. Cheers for a good prospecting group. So happy and glad they are hard working folks with great focus. May we all be so lucky.

Gold Panning Adventures, by Steve Hicks, teaches the use of mining equipment with those who sign up on his webpage on visitmt.gov  

Rocks Are a Binding Force in Montana

      Everywhere I go I find people, kids and family who love rocks. It is a bond of life that brings people together. Here is a photo from the lovers of rocks out of Missoula. Many cities in Montana have clubs who enjoy the common ground of rocks. 

      Love how this artist used the topic of how the earth was formed to joke in our modern day viewpoint of the coming together of the earth. Everywhere we go people talk rocks. So can you, just look around Montana and our great state for ideas on the internet; opportunities abound anywhere you strike out.

     On the USFS Recreational Prospecting handout it is mentioned that these clubs are available for trips around Montana. Head out and see what you can find with them.  Ravalli County Gem and Mineral Society, Hellgate Mineral Society, Butte Mineral and Gem Club, Northwestern Montana Gold Prospectors and Kalispell Rockhound Club

 A Cool Montana Club

     Picked up a brochure while at the Butte Gem and Mineral Show early June. Read it and went, "WOW!" In Great Falls there is NO mineral society; no one is willing to work at it. But here is the Butte group with spring and fall crafts bazaar, an annual picnic, a live auction (November) and a Christmas Dinner in December.  They have monthly meetings, summer field trips to collect minerals, fossils and gemstones. 

     They also tout: Classes in  lapidary arts, jewelry making, flint knapping and mineraology. But best of all: A Lapidary shop. Apparently the club "has a large lapidary shop with equipment for faceting, cabochon making, jewelry making, and large saws to cut your lapidary material." Amazing. To check it out contact the Butte Mineral and Gem Club, PO Box 4492, Butte Mt 59702-4492 or call Pete Knudsen at 406 490-5828  Worthy the drive to learn such skills.

 

 

Andrew Luna Demonstrates How to Extract Crystals at a Dig in Elliston, Montana at Telegraph Creek at the Helena Sally Ann Claim

While on the Trail: Helpful Hints For Those in Need

       Part of the trek up the hills mean you can converse about all kinds of topics in regards to rock hounding. When Andrew Luna, an avid rock hounder, and I were talking through the lupine hills to dig crystals he told of the gesture of a good propecting club he saw when he went to Blaze N' Gems recently.

      He said the Bozeman club (Headwaters) bought $200 worth of buckets to take home for the use for the club to sift for sapphires. Andrew was impressed as that was what he thought the club's money should go for. Instead some other prospecting clubs  in Montana use their money to buy people's supplies when they die, store the stuff and don't share, sell or use it for the good of the club. Others  use their coffers to,pay lawyer's fees to protect their theft of materials of members and lies about  their behaviors and mean spirited contacts with women.  That is inappropriate use of a club's resources and it lacks leadership honesty and ethics.

      A club has to work for its members in a good way and have a service it does that benefit its members. Some in Montana don't have such worthy actions. Advice: assess whether your goals are worthy, supportive, and fun for members, otherwise the club is not being lead by appropriate standards and is going into the hole.  Just saying. But belonging to a club can link you with some iffy behaviors that the association might be abhorrent. There needs to be quality to a club.

Images and Interview with Western Montana Prospecting Club

The Headwaters Chapter of GPAA

Interview with Bob Lindner, President of the Headwaters Chapter of GPAA, Belgrade, MT

What is one of the most important aspects of your club?

Our club has 9 claims that we maintain with a team of 4 men who monitor them so we can have outings together twice a month. Our group works well together and we support other venues in our area such as the Gem and Mineral Club. We consider prospecting a family affair and have events for kids as well. 

What do you consider makes a good prospecting club?

We are supportive of other organizations, active all year round, we bring in guest speakers to present on topics such as when we had Steve Hicks from the Minerals and Mining Advisory Council and with our metal detector event in Radersburg recently. We educate our club members and develop talents of our people with opportunities we provide as a club. 

What's the best thing you have done to strengthen your club?

The first thing I did was assign management over our claims by assigning the 4 men to watch over them so our club members can always have places to prospect. It is easy to miss some detail and loose your claim. We are one of the only clubs that have that many claims. I network and seek out other clubs in the state to set up events with. 

What do you feel about women in prospecting?

I have four daughters with many female grandchildren so our family is developing prospectors in a long lineage of girls. Some of them are really into developing their love for prospecting.

Were you successful in linking up for an outing with the Yellowstone River Prospecting Club?

We will have to work at making further contacts with Patrick Bailey. There is a lot of activity going on here at the Big Dig so making plans in the future will have to be addressed again so we can make some definite plans. There are Helena area people too we can work with. But co-planning outings together is a good idea I am pursuing. 

What is a good number of outings per month for your group?

Planning for twice a month is a pretty good schedule to be on.

What technique do you use when digging on your claims?

We use the idea of each person has a 10X10 square that the digger can call their own and do a digging undisturbed in that area for 3 weeks if they label it properly and come back and relabel for another 3 weeks if they wish. It's a claim jumping event for the club and gives ownership to an area for the prospector in our club.

What's your best event as a club?

Our metal detecting event we just recently had was a good one. We have one every year in Radersburg. We also go to the Montana Bureau of Mining and Geology Museum in Butte and the convention of the CBU which had about 100 people in Bozeman. It is a group with many interests like 4 Wheelers and other uses of the outdoors that have common interest in keeping access to our land open; so we support them.

Are you familiar with the archival aspect of the Montana Bureau of Mining and Geology?

Our club has only gone to the museum part, so maybe we can look into the documents that relate to the land from our nine claims in their separate building on the campus of Montana Tech. It would be interesting to learn about the history of our claims. 

 

Montana Mineral & Prospecting Clubs

The Butte, Montana Gem and Mineral Show Abounds With Rock Love

Yellowstone River Prospecting Club: Billings Branch

A Club Devoted to Teaching How to do Recreational Prospecting Hats off to Them For Such Service to Seekers From Everywhere!! Thank you!!

The Club's Major Project is the "Big Dig" every Memorial Day

This club is into more than 20 years of putting on this event for 3 days. First two days are digging, then hoopla and the drawing. Headed up by Patrick Bailey, this event is the main focus it seems to this club. It is well worth it and ever so perfect for a holiday family weekend.

There are stations up the creek for teams to dig gravel

Early on Saturday monring the President of the club stands up on the pick up truck outside the meeting hall to announce the status of heading up the river. 2018 the backhoe broke down in the middle of the night so teams had to bunch up as there were only two sites to dig at. Usually there are 3 or more.

 

People are ferried in pickups to work as a team

Multiple vehicles take buckets, shovels, people and food to the designated sites. This year Patrick Bailey was overheard saying to John Rogers, "You might have 19, but you are going to have to take 25." We made it work, spread out and dug volumes of buckets of gravel. Just one day on the morning crew 627 buckets were processed in the trommel.

 

Families repeat attendance for decades

These two girls have been coming with their family since they were young. They have grown up knowing how to do the many steps of processing gravel at each site, so they have become hosts to newbies that come for the experience of finding Montana gold. That's because there has been made years of cooperative involvement with people from anywhere.

A Five Star Prospecting Club

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Northwest Gold Prospecting Club out of Libby area

This prospecting club is a working example of everything a prospecting club should be, but some are not in the state of Montana. Here’s why:

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           ·          Positive signs and verification this club has members who show ownership of the club’s prospecting activities when  members work together well on their claims with impromptu tour points 

·         Members donate and share their equipment such as front end loader and dump truck for the club to use on site instead of keeping them home idle or separate.

·         Members honor the rules of where to dig and support each other’s individual efforts in their search for gold.

·         The members can have a say on the rules of the club such as going from not having firearms on the premises to voting that they are allowed to pack some heat.

·         Members share their work on developing and maintaining a good relationship with the US Forest Service.

·         Newcomers are received with a welcoming attitude and there is no indication of suspicious attitudes by the leaders.

·         The leaders of the group are considered as having a good attitude towards helping others in the prospecting arena.

·         Club members step up to the plate and share information and consider the group’s bounty worthy of sharing. The aspect of secretiveness of gold bearing sites on their claim is not evident.

·         The leaders stay with the club’s activities and don’t run off to other parts of the claim without members or just ditch the club’s events. (common with another group)

·         Appearance of cooperative attitude with the public and other government agencies.

·         Willing to share the guidelines established by using the area. For example, “You better not bring out a sluice as you will be served a heavy fine here.” Fore warnings are nice.

·         Any visitor is treated with hospitality with invites to events such as their dinners and fund raisers for the club.

 

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·         Tours of multiple claims and the surrounding area is provided with training and education on the spot. How sweet!! Spreading the wealth is always good!!

·         The leaders seem honest and appear to have the common interest of all of their members at heart.

·         This club is not self serving and exclusive, but rather focused on community service and inclusive which is the best attribute one can have.

·         The needs of the local bears are honored as this club does not participate in any activities until after their local sow is out of her den with her cubs. So after mid June they can start.

·         The club honors the rules and dangers of using gasoline powered machinery and shut down after 1 when the dew is gone and fire danger is high in dry conditions.

·         Other statewide club members are welcome to participate in the dig as mention that even the Yellowstone group out of Billings comes to their digs.

·         They share their dig plans and gold with those who dig.

·         Teaching of the common practices as to why vehicle hoods are propped and where to pan with water is always helpful. Giving ideas of where to find gold and what to do in the river.

·         Members can use metal detectors in areas where the trommels work area shut down for the day without recriminations from club members.

·         The club provides water for the prospecting area as their water rights for the claim is for everyone.

 

Kalispell Mineral Club

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               While at the Blue Jewell Mine for a video, learned the mineral club of Kalispell was down to Helena as an outing with a planned dig for sapphires. Bruce, the owner knew ahead of time how many buckets the crew wanted to dig and had allotted time for them to do it on Saturday morning, accommodating another group in the afternoon as it was all planned ahead of time.

     The advantage of a club is to do group activities so its members can experience the joy of recreational prospecting together and learn by doing. This group was not only digging their sapphires, but getting them washed with the special jig that Bruce has set up that makes the process easy breezy. They probably all went home with some Montana stones in their pocket and had an enjoyable day prospecting.

     In Great Falls there used to be a mineral club, but it disband because of the lack of personal commitment on the part of its members, so not all cities in Montana have mineral clubs.

     When networking with this club there was mention of other mineral clubs in Bozeman, Billings, Hamilton, Helena and Missoula. Hopefully we can post some of that information here as a service to the Montana recreational prospector.

 

      Another aspect of belonging to a club with special interests such as minerals and prospecting is the fact that you can learn about many other activities in the state as well. The adventures together help expand our skills. These guys noted that the second week in March they always have a rock and mineral show every year. In discussion I asked, "What makes a good club?" They said, "A rock show and outings!" Here it is, right from the horse's mouth! If a club doesn't foster outings and doesn't work together to put on a show, they are compromised. A focused goal of commitment to members and a community is what makes a prospecting club worthwhile. Yeah for these guys!! They show commitment and cordialness to other prospectors. What a great group.  

Perks of Belonging to Mineral & Prospecting Clubs

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Advantages

      There are 9 claims around the public, national Libby Creek Recreational Gold Panning Area that belong to the North West Prospecting group which means if you belong to it, you can access many other points for panning if you travel or live in this area.

     Your territorial expanse for panning for gold just got much larger when you belong to a local group.

     Many prospectors in the State of Montana belong to a variety of prospecting and mineral groups just for this reason. Check them out at this site, to expand your coverage!!

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© Central Montana Prospectors Coalition, Site Created & Written By Alma Winberry