Yaak Names -

Information about how some of the places and things in the Yaak were named.

Abe Lincoln Mountain

Named by the early miners at Sylvanite, in or around 1897.

Benefield Creek

Named for Elmer Benefield, an early trapper and homesteader in 1920.

Boyd Creek

Named after A. Boyd, an early trapper/prospector. His cabin was located at the mouth of the creek, which is in Canada.

Boyd Hill Cemetery

Named in 1954 for A. Boyd who died in 1917, the first grave in the cemetery.

Browning Creek

Named for Bert Browning, an early homesteader, in 1914.

Buckhorn Mountain

Named for the Buckhorn Mine, which was opened on the mountain in 1900.

Caribou Creek

Named for the Caribou that used to be seen there.

Clark Mountain

Named after Alfred E. Clarke, an early homesteader of the Yaak Valley.

Community Hall

A log building built by the Yaak valley residents in 1925. Used as a local social hall. Located around 34 mile marker.

Cool Creek

Prospectors returning from the Hungry Horse mining area in British Columbia camped along the Yaak River. While camping, they discovered a deposit of coal. The finder, who was from Pennsylvania, said that it was a very good grade. They named the creek, Coal creek. Later the name shows up on the district map as Cool creek. No doubt a typing error when a new map was being printed.

Crum Creek

Named for Hiram G. Crum, an early homesteader on 17 mile creek.

Crawford Creek

Named after James Crawford, an early miner in the Yahk mining district. Located across from Sylvanite R.S.

Dooley Mountain

Named after Lafayette Dooley, an early prospector and homesteader.

Dutch Creek

Named after the Herbst brothers, who homesteaded in 1916.

Evergreen Place Claim

A 60 acre patented placer claim on the Yaak river. Discovered in 1896 and later became the land on which the town of Sylvanite was located.

Federal Building

The name given to the small log cabin located on the county road at the East Fork bridge. The Federal Building was constructed by early homesteader Gus Schultz between 1922 and 1926. Originally had a wood stove in it and served as a meeting place for the folks while waiting for the mail to be delivered. Story has it that it also served as an upriver polling place during election years.

Fix Creek

Named after Edison Fix, a homesteader in the South Fork in 1914.

Fourth of July Creek

Named for Independence Day by early miners in the Yaak in 1897.

Friday Hill

Named after the day in which Gold was first discovered in 1895 in the beginning of the town of Sylvanite.

Lake Florence

Named by Sam Billings a Ranger at Sylvanite, for his fiancée and later his wife.

Fowler Creek

Named after George Fowler, a settler on the South Fork in 1912.

Goldflint Mine

A patented gold claim located above Sylvanite. Discovered in 1896.

Great Northern Mine

A patented gold claim located above Sylvanite. Discovered in 1897.

Grizzly Point and Creek

Named after the many bears that used to be seen there.

Grubstake Mountain

Named by Joe Pierce. Intermittent fires provided a grubstake for the local folks.

Grush Gulch

Named after Gene Grush, a homesteader in the 17 mile creek area.

Gus Creek

Named after Gus White, a homesteader in 1912.

Hartman Creek

Named after Charlie Hartman, a homesteader in the South Fork in 1913.

Henry Mountain

Named after Henry Robinson, an early East Fork trapper.

Hensley Hill

Named after Judge Jim Hensley, a homesteader in 1913.

Hoskin Lake

Named after Billy Hoskins, a homesteader in 1914.

Hubbard Creek

Named after Jim Hubbard, an early trapper.

Hudson Creek

Named after Charlie Hudson, an early trapper and homesteader in 1917.

Independence Mountain & Creek

Named by the early miners at Sylvanite in or around 1897.

Keystone Mountain

The discovery of gold in 1895 was made and it was assumed that this discovery would be a keystone in the local mining industry.

Koo Koo Creek

Named by Northern Pacific surveyors lost while working.

Lang Creek

Named by Fritz Lang, an early miner at Sylvanite. Named for his son, George, who was an early valley homesteader.

Lick Mountain

Named by a survey party for the many deer licks in the area.

Lime Creek

Named after a lime formation found in this creek.

Lucky Pt. & Gulch

Named by J.K. (Pink) Dwinille in 1929. He was lucky in keeping a bad fire under control there.

Marmot Mountain

Area inhabited by marmots.

Max Creek

Named for Jim McGary, a homesteader in 1930.

Morning Glory Mine

A name given for a tunnel claim located at Sylvanite. Clyde Thorton combined the Keystone, Goldflint, and 16 other claims and consolidated them into the Morning Glory Mining and Milling Co., Inc.

Murphy Mountain & Creek

Named after a man named Murphy who died in a hunting accident in the early 1900’s.

Northwest Peak

Prominent and highest peak in Northwestern Montana.

Obermayer Mountain

Named after Anton Obermayer who was killed in fighting the fire of 1931. Formally called Mt. Shagnasty.

Rausch Point

Named for Charlie Rausch, a 1918 homesteader.

Red Top Mountain

Red top grass grows on the summit. In the spring the mountaintop looks red from a distance.

Robinson Mountain & Creek

Named after Henry Robinson, early trapper in 1909.

Rock Candy Mountain

Named by Sam Billings in 1929, because the formation at the top reminded him of a chunk of rock candy.

Roderick Mountain & Butte

Named after Al and Mattie Roderick, first settlers on the South Fork of the Yaak in 1901.

Saddle Mountain & Creek

The top of the mountain is in the shape of a saddle.

Screw Creek

Named in 1914. Significance unknown.

Seventeen Mile Creek

At one time, it was thought to be 17 miles long.

Sheepherder Mountain

In the 1930’s the area was used as a sheep range.

Slim Creek

Named for Romeo Garrison, a homesteader in 1914.

Smoot Creek

Named for Walt Smoot, a homesteader on the Yaak in 1911.


A name given to a placer mining area that was last used by Chinese miners. It is located at the bottom of the Stonechest grade on the Yaak river.

Solo Joe Creek

Named for a miner who worked his claim in the summer to stake his living in town in the winter.

Stonechest Grade

Named for James Stonechest, a stage driver / miner in the old Sylvanite days.


Name of the mining town that developed in 1896/97. Originally, the miners believed they had discovered sylvanite. When it turned out not to be sylvanite, it was too late – the name stuck. The town grew into 600 to 1000 inhabitants before totally destroyed in the 1910 wildfire. Today, it represents the down valley residents.

Tepee Mountain

In the early days, Indians erected tepees at what is know as Tepee Springs.

Upper Ford

Named by early trappers to distinguish between two fords in the Yaak river. The Upper Ford was located at the Frenchman's Meadows and where later the Upper Ford Ranger Station was established.

Upper Ford Ranger Station

Headquarters compound for the Upper Ford Ranger District. Operated from 1924 to 1942 when it was consolidated with the Yaak Ranger District. Most of the early buildings were sold in 1970s.

Vinal Creek School

In 1915, a school house was built and operated on the west side of the Yaak River at Lower Ford. The classes in the Yaak School House, as it was officially called, were held until 1919 when a new school house was built on the South Fork of the Yaak River. The building was used as a community hall but was too small for large social events. Abandoned in 1925 after current community hall was built.

Vinal Lake & Creek

Named for Leslie E. Vinal. A Yaak miner in 1895, homesteader on Pine Creek in 1896. Worked for the Forest Service starting in 1910 then became the Kootenai National Forest Supervisor from 1920 to 1922.

Wampoo Creek

Named by early miners in the middle 1890s. A small tent camp of miners known as Paisley Camp was located along the creek near its mouth. The name Wampoo may be connected to an old nautical expression or phrase.

Waper Creek and Waper Ridge

Named for Leo Waper, an early 1920 homesteader.

Watson Creek

A local name for a live creek flowing off Friday Hill into 4th of July Creek, not on Forest Service maps. Named for Jerry Watson, a prospector and California 49er‘. Jerry Watson was one of the first prospectors through the Yaak River Valley in 1864 on his way to the Wildhorse Gold strike in Canada. Was an early prospector Northern Idaho, Grouse Mountain and the Yaak between 1889 and 1895 before trying his luck in the Yukon in 1898. Returned to northern Idaho by 1908.

Whitetail Campground

Originally known as Long Meadow Administration Site, the campgrounds were constructed by the Forest Service in 1964.


Also spelled Yahk, Yak, Yakt, Yahkt and Yack. Original spelling included Yakt and Yahk. Yaak became the accepted spelling for the word by the 1920's. The first white men to walk through the valley were prospectors in 1865 on their way to the Wild Horse Creek Gold Rush in Canada. The first mention of "Yak River Valley" appeared in a Deer Lodge Newspaper in 1868.

Yaak Air Force Base

A radar station was located on the top of Hensley Hill from 1951 to 1959, as a part of the "Pine Tree Line". A living compound was also located on the flat behind today's Dirty Shame Saloon.

Yaak River

Kootenai Indian word meaning arrow. Originally spelled Yahk.

Yaak School House

Constructed in 1932 and the current home of the Yaak School District. Possibly one of the last remaining log schools in operation in the State of Montana.

Yahk Mining District

An unorganized mining district out of Sylvanite. Formed in 1895, today known as the Sylvanite mining district.

Zimmerman Hill

Named for Carl Zimmerman, a homesteader in 1914.