The Blackfoot Country: 0051.0051

THE BLACKFOOT COUNTRY. – MINES OF MONTANA. – Encounter with Snake Indians. – Massacre by Indians. – Interesting Diary.

            Mr. Thomas Randolph Turner, an old California miner and Fraser River pioneer, who arrived on Saturday last by the Enterprise from Montana mines, which he left on the 18th October, and travelled by way of Fort Shepherd over Dewdney’s Government trail, has favored us with the following interesting account of his doings in the Blackfoot country.

            THE TRIP UP – BRUSH WITH THE SNAKES.  Mr. Turner left Oregon on the 22nd February last, and accompanied a party of 175 miners to Virginia City, in Montana Territory, where he arrived on the 12th.  On Big Kamas Prairie, 125 miles from Fort Boise, they met a company of 200 mounted Californians coming through from California by way of Owyhee.  On account of the Snake Indians being so troublesome, they formed one company, and were fortunate in being able to save the life of a man, bound from Canada to Kootenay, who was seized on the Prairie by the Indians and had his horse taken from him.  The Indians were much alarmed when they found a number of rifles pointed at them, and begged for mercy.  It was only at the intercession of Capt. Wilson, who had charge of the party, that the lives of the savages were spared.  The party forded Lost River and camped, a number of Indian tracks being observed by Captain Wilson all around.  Trouble here arose on account of the Indians having been so leniently dealt with on the prairie, and Cap. Wilson resigned.  An election was immediately called for and Wilson was re-elected by a large majority.  That night a double guard was thrown out, but the camp was not molested.  The next morning the party had proceeded about ten miles when four Indians rode down and inquired whether they were soldiers or not.  The party informed the Indian spies that they were miners going to[                                                      

                                                                        ……….].  They said they were very angry and would try and stop the party.  On striking camp that night about 100 (?) Indians, mostly well mounted showed themselves on the hills, and every man stood under arms, the horses being placed in a circle.  No attack was, however, made and the next morning the Indians were not to be seen.  The party proceeded to Seven Rivers, where they camped and at daylight some of the horses stampeded but they were followed and recovered by the best horses that were staked.  About six days afterwards they struck the Salt Lake road, leaving Fort Hall 110 miles to the right, Salt Lake 366 miles to the right and 110 miles from Virginia, in Blackfoot.

            PROSPECTING. – At Virginia the party separated and each held his own road.  Our informant went toward Silver Bow, where he prospected, but thinking he could do better crossed to the western slope of the Rocky Mountains to German Gulch.  Here he prospected for a month and obtained as high as $10 a day, one panful yielding $4 of coarse gold.  Twelve dollars a day, however, could be earned by drifting, and our informant abandoned his claim.

            Turner next went to Blackfoot City, where he also prospected but without success.  A prospecting party was then formed, and started out for the main range of the Rocky Mountains, where they found very good prospects.

            Turner next went to Blackfoot City, where he also prospected but without success.  A prospecting party was then formed, and started out for the main range of the Rocky Mountains, where they found very good prospects.

            MASSACRES BY THE INDIANS. – Our informant left the party there and went to Helena and Silver City, on the Fort Benton road.  Here he heard of ten white and one colored man having been murdered by the Blood Indians while cutting wood for the American Fur Company’s boats on the Mariah.  Four of the unhappy victims were scalped.  Turner went from Fort Benton down the Mariah and saw their graves.

            Another shocking massacre of 18 white people, including women and children, was perpetrated by the blood thirsty Indians who infest this country.  The poor victims in this instance were also cruelly treated, and the children were butchered by having their brains dashed out against rocks.  A despatch was forwarded to General O’Connor, who soon after arrived with troops to punish the hostile tribes.  A volunteer force of 800 men was raised, and the expedition had set out when our informant left.

            VISIT TO KOOTENAY. – Turner’s next step was to revisit Blackfoot City, where he purchased 50 head of horses and took them over to Wild Horse Creek in Kootenay, in consequence of a supposed demand for horses to proceed to Blackfoot.  Not being able, however, to obtain satisfactory prices, Turner and his companion loaded them with freight and set out on his return to Blackfoot.

            A SMALL DIFFICULTY. – He had proceeded 275 miles into Montana, Territory, when he was stopped by the U.S. Customs officers at Flat Head Lake, who seized the train.  It is needless to state all that occurred, suffice it to say that after surmounting numerous difficulties Turner arrived safely with his train at his journey’s end.

            THE MINES. – There is a large population scattered over the Montana mines, the exact amount of which it would be difficult to estimate.  The following were the different mining camps at which work was going on:

            Silver Bow, German Gulch, Blackfoot City, Greenhorn, Nelson Creek, St. Louis Gulch, Silver City, Washington Gulch, Elk Creek, McClellan’s Gulch, Keep Cool Gulch, Confederate Gulch, Jeff Davis Gulch, White’s Gulch, French Gulch.  The principal camps are McClellan, Helena, Blackfoot City and Virginia.

            Nearly all of these camps, according to our informant, pay well, the mines taking out gold varying from about an ounce up to $200 a day.

            John McLellan, on the gulch bearing his name, was turning out of his claim from 150 to 180 ounces a day, with four men shovelling into the sluice.  This is the largest yield reported.

            The largest nugget that our informant heard of was one found on Nelson Creek weighing over 12 ounces.

            Few idle men were to be seen, all being at work either for themselves or others.  Wages were from $6 to $14 a day, according to the nature of the labor.

            STEAM COMMUNICATION. – The St. Louis Company were constructing four steamers of light draught to run at all stages and to connect with the large draught boats from below, at the mouth of the Mariah, a tributary of the Missouri.  At the confluence of these rivers a large town will no doubt soon spring up.  The fare from Fort Benton to St. Louis is only $40.

            THE WEATHER. – at the mines is generally mild.  Not more than four inches of snow fell in Deer Lodge Valley throughout last winter, and did not remain long on the ground.

            MARKETS. –






                TRAIL FROM KOOTENAY. – Our informant decries the Government trail which he travelled on his way from Kootenay.  He lost eight of his horses en route owing to the deep mud in some places.

0051.0051: The Blackfoot Country

Newspaper article with first hand account from miner who while travelling met Snake Indians who threatened to stop the party of travellers. Upon arriving at his destination, he learned of a couple groups of people massacred by Blood Indians.

Medium:  Newspaper - Text
Date:  December, 1865
Publisher:  Victoria Daily Colonist
Collection:  Columbia Basin Institute (0051)


prospecting massacres mines nugget steamers


People arrow McLellanarrow
People arrow O'Connorarrow
People arrow Turnerarrow
People arrow Wilsonarrow
Physical Features arrow Creeks arrow Nelson Creekarrow
Physical Features arrow Creeks arrow Wild Horse Creekarrow
Physical Features arrow Mountains arrow Rocky Mountainsarrow
Physical Features arrow Lakes arrow Flathead Lakearrow
Physical Features arrow Rivers arrow Fraser Riverarrow
Physical Features arrow Rivers arrow Lost Riverarrow
Physical Features arrow Rivers arrow Mariah Riverarrow
Physical Features arrow Rivers arrow Missouri Riverarrow
Transportation arrow Horses and Mulesarrow
Transportation arrow Pack Trainsarrow
Transportation arrow Companies arrow American Fur Companyarrow
Cities arrow Blackfoot City MTarrow
Cities arrow Boise IDarrow
Cities arrow Fort Benton MTarrow
Cities arrow Fort Sheppardarrow
Cities arrow Virginia City MTarrow
Government arrow Customsarrow
Transportation arrow Boats arrow SS Enterprisearrow
Transportation arrow Trails arrow Fort Benton Roadarrow
First Nations arrow Bloodarrow
First Nations arrow Snakearrow
Transportation arrow Trails arrow Dewdney Trailarrow
Industry arrow Shipyardsarrow
Industry arrow Mining arrow Gold Mining arrow Blackfoot Countryarrow
Military arrow Wars arrow Indian Warsarrow


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