One of our current projects includes the local dismantling of one of Montana’s oldest sawmills built in 1886 and the sunken logs dredged up behind the Bonner Dam on the Blackfoot River. The Blackfoot River was made famous by Brad Pitt in the award winning film “A River Run’s Through It”.
We’ve partnered directly with dismantling and salvage companies and are working hard to find homes for this important part of Montana’s timber history.
Quantities and availability extremely limited.
Timbers from the original dam
- 10×10 orginal face
- 1×8 beam sawn boards
- Cut to order timbers and rough sawn boards
In 1886 the Bonner Dam was built on the Blackfoot River to contain the logs that were floated downstream from the timber rich areas up the valley. Between 1905-1908 the Milltown Dam was constructed on the Clark Fork River to generate power for the booming timber industry. These local sawmills created hundreds of jobs and economic stability to Western Montana during the mining boom in Butte and Anaconda. The timbers produced at these sawmills supplied the enormous demand for mine timbers in Butte, MT; in fact there are more than 2000 miles of under ground tunnels in Butte. Butte is known as “the richest hill on earth”, and in the late 1800′s the mines in Butte supplied one third of the copper in the United States and by the late 1920′s the Anaconda Mining Company was the fourth largest company in the world. The mill operated for 122 years by various owners until it finally shut it’s doors in 2008 due to a dwindling timber supply and foreign competition. Click here for full history
With the Milltown Dam only months old a record flood in 1908 washed 6.6 million cubic yards of toxic mining sediment down the Clark Fork river were it finally settled at the base of the Milltown Dam. In 1975 a mine tailing’s dam on the Blackfoot river failed during a 3 day rainstorm flushing 100,000 tons of toxic mine tailing’s down stream again only to be stopped by the Milltown Dam. As a result the Milltown reservoir Superfund site has contaminated local ground water and was a major contributor to the steady decline in native bull trout and west slope cutthroat trout populations.
The Good News!
In 2006 the removal of the Milltown Dam, Bonner Dam, and the remediation of 6.6 million cubic yards of toxic mining sediment went underway. Full remediation and restoration will take approx 10 years, but today the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers are slowly being returned to their natural stream flows and habitat. Long term plans include a state park with picnic area, fishing access, kayaking, rafting, and miles of walking and hiking trails.
The logs we salvage are from the Bonner Dam on the Blackfoot River not the Milltown Dam on the Clark Fork River. Our logs contain no toxicity and have been tested for heavy metals.
Organizations like the Clark Fork Coalition, Friends of 2 Rivers, Blackfoot Challenge, and the Big Blackfoot Chapter of Trout Unlimited have been instrumental in the recovery of two of our most treasured rivers in Western Montana. Due to these organizations our rivers are clean again and native trout populations are well on their way to recovery.
Current Big Blackfoot Chapter of Trout Unlimited accolades consist of:
- Over 100 miles of instream restored on 48 streams
- Over 88 miles of riparian habitat restored along the banks of 41 streams
- 2,900 acres of wetlands restored
- 56,000 acres under grazing management systems
- Over 600 miles of tributaries opened to spawning by barrier removals
- 26 fish screen systems installed in irrigation diversions
- Instream water leases established on 8 key tributaries
- Water conveyance efficiency projects on 32 tributaries
- Establish monitoring efforts on 188 tributaries and 6 main stem reaches