Cleanup of the Site
Cleanup of the former Hercules Mill site near Wallace took place this fall. Before the cleanup, contamination at the site posed a risk to people and the environment. Union Pacific and BNSF Railroad Companies removed soils containing high levels of lead and other heavy metals. The railroad companies cooperated with EPA and other federal, state, tribal. and local governments to complete the cleanup.
Preserving Historic Foundations
Since its closure in 1968, the remaining Hercules Mill foundations had been falling down or were at risk of falling down the hillside. Before the cleanup, EPA and the railroad companies coordinated with the State Historic Preservation Office to find a way to preserve some of the the historic essence of this once great mill. Concrete foundations that were stable were left at the base of the hillside in response to community requests and the drill competition blocks were also retained.
Mill history is provided by Vicki Allmann, Historic Wallace Preservation Society, and the Wallace District Mining Museum.
Built in 1911, the Hercules Mill towered 87 feet above the railroad tracks and fed lead-silver concentrates to rail cars 24 hours a day. By 1926, the mill had been converted from a gravity concentration to a flotation system and was able to process 1000 tons of concentrate per day. This modern system used chemicals to separate lead, silver, and zinc from the host rock. The mill employed 65 men in 1929 with a payroll of more than $10,000 a month. By mid-century, over three million tons of ore had been processed with an estimated yield of three quarters of a million tons of lead-silver and zinc concentrates. By 1942, the demand for mill services was reduced, and the mill catered to custom requests until it shut down in 1968. Salvageable equipment was removed and the concentration plant was destroyed by controlled burning. Remaining structures were used for storage until they burned in 1976.
Questions? Contact EPA Project Manager Ed Moreen (firstname.lastname@example.org)/208-664-4588. Or like us on Facebook to get project updates.