“IN the whole range of human industry there is not one which has occasioned so much wild enthusiasm, subjected men to its dominion more thoroughly, brought forth so many rare characteristics of self sacrifice, or created such sudden wealth as that of gold-mining in America. The slightest whisper of a discovery oftentimes led to the total depopulation of a mining camp and the creation of a new settlement, In the stampede which followed a new find most extraordinary instances of human endurance and courage and enterprise were afforded. The history of mining in Montana is full of incidents which suggest the idea that these golden deposits were placed in the heart of her great mountains by an inscrutable power as the only bribe that could be offered to attract the attention of the people toward the Rocky Mountain region. Were the intention such it could not be attended with better results; for among the erratic geniuses which enterprises of this description group together are men skilled in the ways of progress and ready to seize upon the first opportunity to build up themselves, then to build up their fellows and next to build up the country in which their destiny placed them and where wealth waited upon their well directed labors. Many of such men were among the early miners of this territory and are to day the spirits in all enterprises which contribute to the welfare of the territory.
The record of gold discovery in the territory now called Montana dates back to 1739, when Verendrye reported to the French government the mineral riches of these mountains. Previous to the Lewis and Clarke expedition, however, little was known of the territory save what could be gleaned from the wanderer, Dixon. The existence of the precious metals became known to the members of this exploratory party, and to them must be credited the first mention of a Montana industry which has contributed its millions to the wealth of the country since 1862. All the explorations carried out in later years have resulted in a mention of the mineral riches of the territory. Lieutenant Mullan, Dr Atkinson, the Stuart brothers, all aided in drawing attention to the rich mines which awaited development and to the Stuarts the credit of hastening such development must be given. This becomes more apparent when we review the authentic history of early mines and miners by Granville Stuart, published by Captain Mills in his journal of September 16, 1875. 'In the year 1852,' says Mr Stuart, 'a half breed named Francois but who was known among his associates by the name of Benetsee, and who had just returned from California to the Rocky mountains, began to prospect on what is now known as Gold creek in Deer Lodge county and found light float gold, but as his prospecting was necessarily of a very superficial character he found no mines that would pay. The fact of gold being found there, however, became noised about among the few mountaineers still in the country...” (Source: History of Montana. 1739-1885: A History of Its Discovery and Settlement, edited by Michael A. Leeson, p. 209)