A historic sign explaining the significance of Last Chance Gulch will be rededicated Saturday at its new home in downtown Helena.
The Four Georgians chapter of the E Clampus Vitus, a fraternal organization dedicated to preserving western heritage, removed the sign from the intersection of Neill and Fuller avenues in March after learning that the city of Helena plans to reconfigure the intersection. The organization will rededicate the sign at the corner of Cruse Street and Last Chance Gulch during a ceremony slated for 4 p.m. Saturday.
Although many details about the sign remain a mystery, Pam Attardo of the Lewis and Clark County Heritage Tourism Council said it likely was installed in the 1930s or 1940s and repaired with newer materials over the years.
The sign tells the story of John Cowan, Reginald “Bob” Stanley, John Crabb and D.J. Miller, often referred to as the “Four Georgians” because of the Georgian method of placer mining they used when they struck gold in Helena on July 14, 1864. According to the sign, they were about to declare their prospecting expedition a failure when one of them remarked: “This is our last chance.”
“They sank a shaft to bedrock and washed a pan of gravel in the little stream nearby,” the sign says. “It washed pay dirt loaded with course colors. They staked their discovery claims and named the new diggins ‘Last Chance Gulch.’”