Amerine: The Man And The MountainMt. Amerine June 2019 photo by Tom GreschThe most prominent landmark on the western side of Granite County is Mount Amerine of the Sapphire Range. Current maps name the mountain Mt. Emerine. The same peak was called Mt. Baldy when Nez Perce Jones made his escape from the Indian renegades in 1878.
Mount Amerine and the currently named Emerine Gulch on the north side of the West Fork, were named after a miner-rancher that settled in the area. This fact is documented by frequent mention made over the years in The Mail of E. (Erastus) Amerine such as “He traveled to Philipsburg to do business from his mine and expected to have his mill operating by spring (December 2, 1898 Mail).
Erastus was kicked by his horse and had recovered enough to return to his mine according to the July 13, 1900 news. He had been in town and returned to his ranch on the West Fork of Rock Creek stated the November 1, 1901 and the January 10, 1902 Mail. Erastus’ name was among many on a petition to appoint Nicholas Connolly as Justice of the Peace in the Citizen Call October 4, 1893. All these articles verified he was established in the area in the 1890’s and left the area in 1910.
Erastus sold his ranch to George C. Downing of Anaconda the week of May 13, 1910 for $6,100.00 in cash. The parties met in Philipsburg on Tuesday where the deal closed. The price included all the property, stock, wagons, tack and farm implements. The article stated Amerine had lived for seventeen years on the ranch and mining claim meaning he settled there in 1893.
Local recollections establish the hay and pasture were used by American Gem Mining Syndicate. Also, the Hans Luthje family lived there while referring to it as the “Werning Place.” John Werning worked for The American Gem Mining Company and they probably leased the ranch from Downing prior to him selling it to Walt and Anne Sanders in 1938. As early as 1901 Erastus sold fourteen head of beef at an average of $40.00 per head. The cattle brand was capital A over a bar. But there is no record of the brand registered with the Montana Stock Growers Association.
On January 10, 1902 the Mail stated a son of E. Amerine, after not seeing his father in twenty years, arrived from Illinois and planned to stay for a month. Through the next years are news comments regarding deterioration of his ability to hear and finally that he was going to Illinois to see if the doctors there could help him. According to his obituary, after Amerine sold the ranch to George C. Downing, he spent time in California and returned to Philipsburg in the fall of 1910.
Before Christmas of 1910 Erastus left to visit his son Bainter. On, June 30, 1911 The Mail received a letter from Bainter which stated Erastus had experienced improvement in his health and traveled to Hamilton, Illinois in search of investments where Bainter joined him on July 19. The news article continued with the following details: As they arrived at the depot the next morning, Amerine found a concrete platform being erected at the depot and had to go onto the train tracks to get around the construction. An eastbound T. P. and W. Freight train was approaching. Due to the inability to hear, Amerine did not realize a train was near. The engineer, being on the opposite side of the cab, did not see him in time to avoid the accident. Bystanders tried to get his attention, to no avail. The train struck him and the outcome was a severe head injury, amputations of the right leg just below the hip and his arm, at the elbow. He died in the depot waiting room, at the age of sixty-eight.
Born on January 1, 1843 in Somerset, Ohio Amerine traveled to Montana in 1878. His wife Mrs. (Bainter) Amerine died in 1881. I am unable to find her death notice in the New Northwest, which was the local paper of that period. The obituary stated son Bainter was in Philipsburg to arrange for the funeral and services were to be held after the body was released by the Illinois coroner. Research has failed to reveal a funeral notice or record of Amerine in the Philipsburg cemetery.
The Mount Amerine (Emerine) Look-out was built during the summer of 1920 and “was thirty feet high with a small room on top which would furnish living quarters for the vigilant guard who had command of hundreds of miles of forest which are endangered by forest fires.” I made many trips horseback up the trail to the look-out as a youngster.
Amerine Lookout at an unknown date.