The old company town of Kirkville, later known as Clark, lies along Douglas Creek a mile south of Philipsburg. In 1889 the BiMetallic, a 50-stamp mill, was built here because of insufficient water resources to run a larger mill at nearby Granite. Just two years later, 50 more stamps were added to the original structure which gave a 200 ton capacity. The mill was over 360 feet long and 150 feet wide. The mine and mill employed 500 workers.
Kirkville was connected to the Blaine Shaft in Granite by a two mile long tramway. Large buckets could carry 500 pounds of ore down the mountain to Kirkville and carry fuel back up. A 4,307 pound bar of silver bullion from the Bimetallic was sent to the World’s Fair at Chicago in 1893. This was a good representation of the area’s riches.
Dropping silver prices meant sure doom for most mining operations. However the downtime didn’t last long as the Bimetallic and Granite Mountain Mining Operations combined in 1898 to form one of the largest silver mines in the world, producing a million dollars of bullion a year. Kirkville was mostly home to local miners and the population peaked at 125 and was home to many cabins, a boarding house, assay office and company offices. The U.S. Forest Service set fire to the mill in 1967 for safety reasons. The twin chimneys and stone portions of the massive structure survived. The company houses, assay office, retort building and boarding house also remain as a testament to the town’s past.
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