Thought I might relate a recent trip I took to the Salmon River area of Idaho. The trip started out as a business trip to Sun Valley, Idaho. At the last minute I invited my mother to go along. Since she winters in the Congress, Stanton and Yarnell, AZ area and summer finds her traveling Montana, North Idaho and Oregon, it's hard to spend time with her. I caught her returning from two months in Montana and getting ready to head back to Stanton via Oregon.
The journey to Sun Valley was uneventful. We caught up on each others lives, our travels, experiences and wish lists. Mom has been doing great since Dad passed away a few years ago, not allowing the moss to grow under her feet. We passed many historical sites along the way and decided to stop at them on the return trip.
In Sun Valley, we explored around the area as time permitted between my meetings. Most of all the historical sites are either very commercial or nonexistent. We spent 3 days in Sun Valley and Ketchum. As always the area is beautiful, but growing.
On the return trip we stopped at every historical site we could find. Besides the typical roadside markers, we stopped at all the ghost towns we could find within 15 miles of the highway. (By the way we traveled via Coeur d'Alene, Missoula, Hamilton, Salmon, Challis, Stanley, Ketchum and returned the same way.) We stopped at what's left of Boulder City, Vienna City, Sawtooth City, Washington City, Obsidian, Bonanza City, Custer, Shoup and Gibbonsville. Custer City is the only ghost town in restoration. Nice museum and very informative town walk.
By far the best part of the trip was the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge. This restored 4 story dredge is now open for tours. I've always wanted to see the insides of one, but was either not permitted or they were gutted. This was incredible!! Not only the was the machinery and its operation enormous, but imagine getting the parts to that location in the first place. What a story. The tour was very detailed and informative. It's a must see for all interested in gold mining.
I've always took notice of an area along the Salmon River in my travels of a high-bar next to the road. In the past, time didn't permit investigation. On this trip, I made time and it was worth it. The highway in this area lies between the Salmon River and rock cliffs. At one point the cliff juts out in to the river like a peninsula and the highway follows likewise. The rock bluff is about 30 feet high (vertical) with river gravel 10 to 15 foot deep on top. (The river ran over the bluff in the distant past). I parked and walked up from the opposite side, where the going was easier. I was pleased to find the Highway Dept. had scrapped the overburden off, two bulldozer blades wide, to within 2 to 3 inches of the bedrock around the edge of the bluff. (To keep it from falling onto the highway). I scooped up a five gallon bucket full, down to and including the upper portion of the fractured bedrock. That night we stayed in Salmon, ID at a hotel that had a picnic area behind it on the river. I worked up the bucket, with quite an audience who were surprised at amount of fine gold I had washed out. There was definitely enough in my pan to warrant another trip SOON. This time with a power vac.
The next stop was a side trip to Shoup, ID. We stopped at a small store to inquire about the location of a mine that my grandfather worked years ago with a partner. My mother lived there the first year or two of her life. She could remember stories of crossing the Salmon River in a hand over hand cable car. I was told to go out on the deck in front of the store and look across the river and downstream about 200 yards. Upon doing so, we could see the remains of the cabin and outbuildings of the old mine. We also spoke a great length with a man who owns most of what's left of Shoup. He lived there all his life and was helpful historically.
Next stop was North Fork, ID for fuel and something cold to drink. At the check out counter in the store, I saw two books on the history of Gibbonsville, ID. Since this was also an old stomping ground of my grandfathers, I decided to buy them. Waiting for approval on my Visa purchases, an older man asked me if the checkout woman had signed the book. She blushed and checked one of the books and said she had, but the other was not signed. She inquired of the older man where Mom was and he, looking out the window said she's coming in now. After the signing and Visa approval, mom and I spoke with the people a little while. The older man and woman were born and raised in Gibbonsville and their daughter lived there all her life. The mother - daughter team wrote the two books, The Early Years (late 1800s to early 1900s) and The Lean Years (early 1900s to the late 1930s). Very interesting reading from the beginning to the end of a boom mining town. There was even mention of my grandfathers mining partner A.D. Burrows in the book. My grandfather visited the area in later years.
We pushed onto Gibbonsville to look for the claims A.D. and my grandfather worked. Not only were we ate alive by deer flies (which required medical attention for me), but we were looking on the wrong side of the valley. Nonetheless, we had a great time exploring and prospecting in the area. I'm here to tell you that "there is still gold in them thar hills......"
The rest of the trip home was a spent planning my next trip back to the Sawtooth Mountains and the Salmon River area. I'm looking forward to the next trip, and if there is interest, I'll even tell you about it.
If you are interested in more information about the area I've spoken about or have a story you want featured here, e-mail me at email@example.com.