NEAR NEIHART — The Evening Star Mine, which is located just north of Neihart on US Highway 89 in the Little Belt Mountains, is being torn down.
It was used to mine silver, lead and zinc.
The two structures that remain standing, one mill building and one processing building, have become increasingly unstable.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on-scene coordinator Duc Nguyen said, “The reason we take the buildings down because it’s in a very state of degradation, it could collapse at any time. So, we don’t want to have any physical hazard for the people coming to this area because this is a very popular location, the travelers, the people traveling on highway 89 could stop by and get hurt.”
The contaminated soils will be treated to prevent the soul from contaminating ground water.
In addition to taking the structures down, the water coming off from the mining entrance will be diverted to Spring Gulch Creek.
The work will take around three to four weeks to complete.
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The Montana Department of Environmental Quality website has much more information about the mining history in that area, including this overview:
- The Neihart mining district is located in the center of the Little Belt Mountains. The mining area is mostly within an area encompassing the Carpenter Creek drainage. Carpenter Creek is a tributary of Belt Creek. The town of Neihart, located on Belt Creek in Neihart Canyon, is the major community in the area. The district was known originally as the Montana district and was a major silver producer in the state and the primary producer in Cascade county, producing about 16 million dollars in silver between 1882 and 1929.
- The Evening Star mine and mill are located in the southwest quarter of Section 29, T 14N, R 8E. The Evening Star lode was located on January 1, 1884 by Phillip Burns (also spelled Philip Byrne), John Wilson and Charles Dodge. It was surveyed on July 14-15, 1891 by William Munroe, U.S. Deputy Surveyor and was patented on November 15, 1920 by Phillip Burns. At the time of the survey, a concentrator, flume and house were located on the claim.
- The present Star properties are a consolidation of the Evening Star and London mines. The London mine was one of the earliest discovered in the Neihart mining district and was worked early in the history of the district through shallow surface workings and several adits. The Star adit was later driven from the Evening Star claim to develop the southerly extension of the London vein.
- The mine was worked intermittently until 1939, when a 50-ton bulk flotation mill was built on the Evening Star claim. The mill was remodeled in 1944 and again in 1969. Work was done on the site in 1969, including the construction of office and shop buildings. The mine and mill have been in operation sporadically since the mill was constructed in 1939.