Tom Irwin, a gold prospector, discovered a gold bearing vein here in 1879. Tom built a cabin and mined the gold vein for three years, then left the area. He blasted the hillside down to hide the mine before he left, leaving his track, mine car and tools inside -- a sure sign that he intended to come back. However, he did not, and the mine stayed hidden and lost for over a hundred years.
There is no record of how much gold was taken out of the mine during its three years of operation. No one knows where Tom came from or where he went after he left. His cabin was used as a landmark for many years. Although Tom was the first person to mine a quartz vein in Shoshone county, he did not receive credit for that in the history books (quote):
"Tom Irwin, a gold prospector, discovered a quartz vein and built a cabin at Montgomery Gulch in the spring of 1879. This cannot be verified as the quartz mine cannot be found."(unquote)
The mine stayed hidden. In 1991, the owner saw water seeping out of the hillside. Hoping it was a spring, he dug into the bank and partially uncovered the portal. He put a piece of plywood over it and left it alone. In 1996, it was sold to the present owner, a retired miner, who uncovered the rest of the mine and rejuvenated it as a tourist attraction.
In the 100-plus years it was lost, beautiful smithsonite crystals formed on the walls. Gold and wire silver are marked out for everyone to see and enjoy. They are still attached to the quartz vein.
While cleaning out the mine, we discovered high- grade gold ore that was left behind. Some samples assayed at 70 ounces per ton.