Formed in 1914, the county derives its name from the diverse array of minerals including lead, copper, zinc, silver and gold located in its mountainous terrain. The county has a rich historical heritage of mineral discoveries in the late 1800s. Gold and silver were commercially produced from mines located in Mineral County. Due to the rising price of gold, Mineral County continues to be a site of active gold exploration. Potential gold bearing streams are saturated with both patented and unpatented claims.
Mineral County Montana is a mecca for seekers of outdoor adventure. Grab your pick, shovel and gold pan and lets go prospecting.
Nestled high in the Bitterroot Mountains near the border of Idaho, Mineral County Montana is bisected by U.S. Interstate Highway 90 and lies approximately half way between Missoula, Montana and Spokane, Washington. Formed in 1914, the county derives its name from the diverse array of minerals including lead, copper, zinc, silver and gold located in its mountainous terrain. The county has a rich historical heritage of mineral discoveries in the late 1800s. Both gold and silver were commercially produced from mines located with the county. Due to the rising price of gold, Mineral County continues to be a site of active gold exploration. Potential gold bearing streams are saturated with both patented and unpatented claims.
Several small, interdependent communities are located along the I-90 corridor. Haugen, Saltese and De Borgia are located in the west end of the county. Saint Regis and Superior are in the middle and Alberton is located on the east end. Although the county contains 1,123 square miles, the population remains at less than 4,300. Heavily wooded, the majority of the land mass is within the Lolo National Forest. Ponderosa pine, the Montana State Tree is abundant as are lodge pole pine, larch, fir, white pine, and cedar. In springtime, alpine meadows are blanketed in a brilliant display of colorful blooming shrubs and wildflowers.
The valley presents a spirited and colorful past. In 1859, Captain John Mullan and his men were the first travelers to trek across what would become Mineral County. Captain Mullan was under orders to establish a 624-mile long road connecting Walla Walla, Washington to Fort Benton, Montana. Since no one, not even the American Indian Tribes that hunted the region had ever travelled the route, there were no trails to follow. The Mullan Trail was the first road in the West constructed by engineering principles. Located on the Idaho, Montana border, Mullan Pass at 5,168 feet is the highest point on the road. Remnants of the road are still visible as one travels along I-90 through Mineral County.
Mineral County hosted a gold rush in 1869. Word of the discovery of gold on Cedar Creek by L. A. Barrette spread like wildfire. Within weeks, thousands of men were working the creek banks. Merchants from nearby Frenchtown and Hellgate arrived, and the gold rush towns of Louisville and Mayville sprang up on Cedar Creek. A 1968 report by the United States Geological Survey reports that from the date of discovery in 1859 through 1959, more than 120,000 ounces of gold were harvested from the drainage.
Recreational opportunities abound. Whether you are planning a weekend getaway or a family vacation, Mineral County is an ideal travel destination for seekers of outdoor adventure. Adventurous summer activities include fishing, hunting, golf, rock climbing, gold panning, hiking, ATV touring, camping, kayak, horseback riding, picnicking, berry picking, swimming and whitewater rafting. The challenging rapids at Alberton Gorge are rated IV to V. For hikers and backpacking campers, Mineral County offers over 400 miles of marked and maintained hiking trails and more than 1,000 miles of off-highway roads. There are 7 developed USFS maintained campgrounds within the Lolo National Forest. During the quiet winter months, cross-country skiing, snowshoe trekking, ice fishing, snowmobiling and ice-skating are favorite pastimes.
A fisherman’s paradise, Mineral County encompasses a charming narrow valley separated by the mighty Clark Fork and Saint Regis Rivers. The Clark Fork River is famous for trophy-sized rainbow and brown trout. The county proudly boasts 87 miles of river, 650 miles of streams and 53 mountain lakes that support a healthy habitat for cutthroat, brown, rainbow and mountain lake trout.
When visiting Mineral County be sure to bring your camera. There are year-around wildlife viewing opportunities, and the scenery is spectacular. Black bear, cougars, wolves, moose, elk and whitetail deer are common in the backcountry. Look for fox, beaver, squirrels, marmot, bobcat, grouse, pheasant, wild turkey and a diverse array of other small mammals and reptiles. Songbirds, osprey, eagles, hawks, vultures and waterfowl are plentiful.
Festivals And Celebrations`
Every Memorial Day weekend, visitors from near and far journey to Saint Regis for the Annual Memorial Day Flea Market. With hundreds of different vendors, there is something for everyone. Shop for antiques, local woodcrafts, novelties and farm fresh produce. There is always fabulous food, fun and entertainment.
Don’t miss the popular Railroad Day Celebration held in the Town of Alberton on the third Saturday in July. Shop for local antiques and craft and view displays, memorabilia and equipment exhibits that depict early railroad days in Montana.
The first weekend is looked forward to with high anticipation. Superior, Montana hosts the Mineral County Fair and Rodeo, a fun-filled family event. The Lion’s Club Rodeo has been named the best in the state. The Lion’s Club also sponsors an annual team-roping trial in early June. Other annual events include the colorful De Borgia Saturday Market, The Snow Boss Snowmobile Race held each December, the Superior Craft Fair held the second weekend in December, and the $1000 Super Poker Ride.