Sunday, June 26, 2022

From the Archives for May 12

| May 12, 2022 1:00 AM

Ore from a claim in the Cabinets four miles from Bonners Ferry near Crossport was assayed for John Massam, owner of the Our Boys Saloon, and Sid Fallon in 1894. The ore across the surface of a 4-foot wide ledge — traced over a thousand feet — contained both silver and lead. Massam and Fallon planned to build a tram to get the low grade ore where it could be milled for profit. By the end of the year, a 40-foot tunnel had been developed.

By February 1896, Massam and Fallon had taken on a partner named Ed Ensor. The claims were named the Whitetail and the Blacktail. (Rumor had it the sighting of two deer near the claims was the reason for the names.) The mining claims proved very promising. The owners had a 65-foot shaft running on an incline with the ledge. A 3-foot solid ledge of ore could be seen, but the full size would only be determined after it was crosscut. The further in the shaft they went, the wider the ore became. The ore was assayed again and revealed silver, gold, copper, and lead. Hopes were that “The Tails,” as they became known, would be the “biggest producer in the American Kootenai.” By the end of 1896, the claims were being called the “Two Tails.”

Not much was written about the Two Tails after 1896. The June 1, 1907, Herald stated: “The Idamont Mining Co. is driving a 100-foot tunnel on their claims six mile southeast of Bonners Ferry. This property was formerly known as the Two Tails claims. They were located many years ago by John Massam, and some work done on the property. They have been relocated and are showing up great promise. The tunnel will crosscut the lead in about ten days and it is believed that it will expose a valuable ledge.” The claims remained quiet until another notice was published in the Nov. 13, 1909, Herald. “It is rumored that the Idamont mine, (the Old Two Tail) will be opened up soon and a large force of men put to work. The prospects for this mine is claimed, by those who are acquainted with it, to be an exceptionally good mining claim.” Any further production of the Two Tails after 1909 is unknown.

This photograph shows the cattle herd at the Fitzpatrick Brothers Ranch in Cow Creek with a view of Two Tail Ridge and Katka Mountain.

The Boundary County Historical Society and Museum, 7229 Main, Bonners Ferry, Idaho, sponsors this column.

Visit the museum Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., or go online to the museum’s website at or the museum’s Facebook page for historical photos and stories, and to see upcoming events. The museum can be reached at or telephone 208-267-7720. Thank you for your continued support.

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