Main portal of the Poland China Mine, 1907
How did the Poland China Mine get its name? No one knows for sure, but there are several theories, one is that people of Polish and Chinese extractions were investors. The mine is located on private property on the North Fork of Mary Ann Creek. Some old maps list Mary Ann as China Creek so Chinese influence was around. Whatever the reason it has been known by this name since the early days.
The history of the Poland China Mine begins when Neal Undem and J.M. Henkins staked the original claims on May 22, 1896 after rich gold ore had been discovered near the surface. This was sacked and transported by wagon to the Cariboo Mine stamp mill at Camp McKinney, seven miles north of here in British Columbia. How much of this ore was treated by the Cariboo Mill is not known.
In 1906 D.W. Dart of Dayton, Ohio and six associates, which incorporated purchased the property, and the firm was named the Molson Gold Mining Co. with D.W. Dart as President, C.W. Smith as Secretary. There are no records to show whom the other officers and directors were. M.A. Smalley and H.F. Berry of Chesaw were stockholders and probably were directors.
In 1906 the Molson Gold Mining Co. built seven buildings including three residences on the bench above the mine, these three buildings remain today. There was also a bunkhouse, cookhouse, general store and assay office, and the assay office since has been moved to the Old Molson Museum town. In 1907 the mill was being built and machinery installed to recover the ore values by amalgamation and gravity concentration. Power was steam and team and wagon moved in a large locomotive type boiler. The roads were located at that time where it required the least work to build, resulting in many curves and steep grades. This made it difficult to haul heavy loads that required a long string of horses, as all the horses could not pull on the sharp, narrow curves.
Sets of rolls were installed as primary grinders, but when the mill operated, it soon became evident that the rolls would not grind the quartz ore efficiently. Another set with heavier rolls was installed and these were better. However, the rolls never provided satisfactory in grinding the ore to the necessary fineness.
Work continued through 1908 with about fifteen men employed in the mine and mill. The mill did not prove satisfactory in recovering gold values from the ore. A high recovery could not be made by amalgamation and gravity concentration on the sulfide ore found within a few feet of the surface.
In 1904 six Nisson stamps were installed to replace the rolls. Each stamp had a weight of thirteen hundred pounds, and a drop of seven inches.
Development work was done during the year the year 1911, which consisted of the following: shafts-108 feet, winzes-37 feet, tunnels-270 feet, open cuts-163 feet, and trenching-270 feet. Development work continued for several years and about 1914 the company was reorganized and renamed Mary Ann Creek Mining Co.
The eleven claims held by the company were patented and deeded to the Mary Ann Creek Mining Co. by the U.S. Government. Up to this time (1914) approximately $200,000 had been spent on the property. The last work performed by the company was in 1924 when the adit level tunnel was driven another hundred feet N.W. into the hill. W.A. Marvin, a mining engineer from California made an examination of the property and recommended the recovery process be changed, and the capacity increased to 100 tons per day. But the company did not have finances to carry out the recommendations and due to the many years without showing a profit.
The Poland China Mine is listed as one of the ten mines in Okanogan County, producing over $100,000 in gold. The last work done was 12 cars of ore shipped to Trail in 1938. The Poland China Mill was burned down intentionally in 1963, because it was a hazard for cattle and tourists.
Numerous mining artifacts from the surrounding mines are on exhibit at the Old Molson town site museum and the red brick schoolhouse museum in Molson.