A quest for gold and silver inspired ambitious men and fearless women
of more than a century ago to build the first towns in the high country
Many of these communities, barely more than encampments, sprouted
overnight. Some thrived and died within a season, like the wildflowers
that color alpine meadows in mid-summer. Others set the foundations for
present-day Ketchum, Mackay, Hailey and Bellevue.
Of those that died, just a few shards of
speculative zeal remain among the tumbled-down cabins and mine shafts.
Located in the Pioneer Mountains north of Carey, the Muldoon Mine was
discovered in 1881, producing silver and lead for about a half dozen
Not much remains of the town itself except for its tiny post office,
just eight feet by 10 in size, which is believed to have been the
smallest in the U.S.
The remains of beehive charcoal kilns used in smelting ore can be seen
on Smelter Butte just north of the townsite.
Located on private land surrounded by Bureau of Land Management
holdings, the Muldoon site lies about 20 miles east of Bellevue on the
Seaman Creek Road.
Towns of Idaho
An unincorporated community of summer homes calling itself "Sawtooth
City" lies beside Highway 75 just north of Galena Summit on the
Sawtooth National Recreation Area. But the original Sawtooth City lies
about three miles to the west in the Beaver Creek drainage.
Turn west off of Highway 75 on Forest
Service Road 204 (Beaver Creek Road).
handful of old building sites,
a cemetery and some scattered debris
are the only evidence left of what was a bustling town 110 summers ago.
The silver ore that lured more than 250 people to this remote site
proved disappointing and within two years the old Sawtooth City was
Pronounced "Vy-eee-nah," this was the largest of the Sawtooth mining
camps, numbering 200 buildings at its height.
photo by Richard Cummins
|Located just south of
Sawtooth City in the neighboring Smiley Creek
drainage, the Vienna site once included 14 saloons, six restaurants and
three general merchandise stores. But by 1887 the large silver lodes
discovered by Levi Smiley had been played out and by 1914 little
evidence of the camp remained.
The Vienna site lies about four miles south of present-day Sawtooth
City on Forest Service Road 077.
More than $1 million of silver ore was extracted from Boulder Basin in
the late 1800s. Situated at 10,000 feet elevation on the northeast face
of Boulder Peak, the mining camp of Boulder City survives as a
gathering of old rotting cabins, rusting machinery and a mill.
a 12-foot-square grouping of rocks
remain where a Swedish Bath House was built by miners working the
Golden Glow mine.
Forest Service Road 158 leads to Boulder Basin. A four-wheel-drive
vehicle is recommended.
Prospectors Finding Gold in a Stream during the California Gold Rush
Named after the ill-fated general in the year of his famous "last
stand," this ghost town along the Yankee Fork River northeast of
Stanley witnessed a furious gold stampede in the 1870s.
prospectors had to placer
patiently and dig for long hours to make their finds, but at Custer a
rich vein of ore lay exposed along the surface of the earth. The
gentleman who discovered it simply shoveled the precious metal into
sacks and packed it off to be milled. He profited $60,000 (in 1876
currency) in less than a week.
the surviving remnants of the Custer gold rush -- building
sites, a gold dredge, photographs and diaries -- are preserved in a
20-acre state park and museum located 10 miles north of Sunbeam off of
Copyright © 1993.
All rights reserved.
USGS Topographic Quadrangle Map - Muldoon, Idaho
Gold Camps & Silver Cities
Great Ghost Towns of the West
Land of the Yankee Fork The Story of the Great, Wild
Mining Camps and the People Who Made Them Wonderful, Fascinating Ghosts