The Black Forest Mine (at elevation 8300 feet) was discovered a few months after the first mine (Latham - Kille) was discovered in 1869. At the same time, the Juniper and Fourth of July mines began operation. The mine operated sporadically until Charles Spence reopened the mine in 1901. Spence built a smelter for the mine at Jasper and it operated until the mine closed once again in 1904, after producing 700 bars of silver. In 1906 the smelter was expanded to 45 tons. When the last hotel in Sprucemont was sold in this same year, the lumber was removed and moved to Black Forest to build boarding houses. The financial panic of 1907 had a devastating impact on companies active in the district. While some continued exploration, only the Spruce Mountain Copper Company shipped any ore in 1908. Production was slow until 1918. Better mineral prices, boosted by demand of World War I, led to an increase of activity. In 1924, two new camps formed at the Black Forest and Spruce-Monarch Mines. Over 100 men were employed and population on Spruce Mountain grew to 150. In this same year the Spruce Mountain Monarch company took over the Black Forest property.
In 1926 a Post Office was established in Black Forest. By May of 1927, a 6800 foot tram was constructed to serve the Spruce Consolidated Company properties. A 3900 foot tram ran from the Kille mine to the Black Forest ore bin - from here it the ore was loaded onto another tram down to a truck loading station. In 1928, the Missouri-Monarch Mining Company purchased the Monarch, Black Forest, and other holdings of the Spruce Mountain Monarch Company. The two mines (Monarch and Black Forest) had been connected in 1926 by a 7000 foot Bronco (haulage) Tunnel. The company controlled 34 claims and over two miles of the main strike fissure. Lead continued to be the mainstay of Spruce Mountain with over one million pounds being produced from 1924 to 1929. In 1929 Black Forest and Sprucemont had schools in operation. At Black Forest, seven students were taught by Ruth Lyon of Metropolis. The Black Forest Post Office was closed in March 1943. Most mining on Spruce Mountain ceased in 1952, and virtually no mining has taken place after 1961.
If you visit this area, I recommend that you enter the area from the west, off US 93 (36 miles south from Wells) and follow dirt road for 5-1/2 miles to Sprucemont. The road up past the Monarch Mine and to the Latham (Kille) Mine area is fairly easy 2WD road. Going down the eastern slope (towards Black Forest Mine) is very steep with loose rock. Although an experienced driver in a 2WD vehicle could make the grade down (or up) the eastern slope, a 4WD vehicle is recommended.
Click on the links below to view photos of other Mines/Townsites that I have visited in the Sprucemont Mining District:
Ada H. Mine
Badger Lead Mine
Latham (Kille) Mine