SILVER CITY, IDAHO–a town ‘rich’ in history

Silver City, Idaho. 1892. (#6018-140) Historical Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library, Moscow, Idaho.

Silver City, Idaho. 1892. (#6018-140) Historical Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library, Moscow, Idaho. [Image: Public Domain, via Wikipedia]

Silver City is a ghost town in Owyhee County, Idaho, United States. At its height in the 1880s, it was a gold and silver mining town with a population of around 2,500 and approximately 75 businesses. Silver City served as county seat of Owyhee County from 1867 to 1934. Today, the town has about 70 standing buildings.

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…Silver City was founded in 1864 soon after silver was discovered at nearby War Eagle Mountain. The settlement grew quickly and was soon considered one of the major cities in Idaho Territory. The first daily newspaper and telegraph office in Idaho Territory were established in Silver City. The town was also among the first places in present-day Idaho to receive electric and telephone service.

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~ Silver City, Idaho, Wikipedia

Remnants of mining history in Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Remnants of mining history in Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Remnants of mining operation in historic Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Remnants of mining operation in historic Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Remnants of mining operation in historic Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Remnants of mining operation in historic Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Note the open pit beneath the grating (to protect people from falling into the mining shaft). The mountainside surrounding (and within city limits) Silver City is riddled with mines. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Note the open pit beneath the grating (to protect people from falling into the mining shaft). The mountainside surrounding (and within city limits) Silver City is riddled with mines. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Intersection of Washington and an alley in historic Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Intersection of Washington and Deadman Alley in historic Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

All buildings and residences in Silver City, Idaho are privately owned. Many have been lovingly restored. Note the steep banks against which many buildings are set. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Historic private residence in Silver City. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Stone steps and garden gate to an historic private residence in Silver City. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Stone steps and garden gate to an historic private residence in Silver City. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Stoddard Mansion, a restored private residence in Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Stoddard Mansion, a restored private residence in Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Creek running through Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Creek running through Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Silver City historic school (white, on the left) and Masonic Lodge (brown, on the right). Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Silver City historic school (white, on the left) and Masonic Lodge (brown, on the right). Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Historic Hoffer Miller Meat Market in Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

Historic Hoffer Miller Meat Market in Silver City, Idaho. Image: 2016, taken by Kristin Holt.

OWYHEE COUNTY, IDAHO

Owyhee County, Idaho (south-east corner). [Image: Public Domain, courtesy of Wikipedia]

Owyhee County, Idaho (south-west corner). [Image: Public Domain, courtesy of Wikipedia]

History

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On December 31, 1863, Owyhee County became the first county organized by the Idaho Territorial Legislature. While Boise, Idaho, Nez Perce and Shoshone counties were organized under the laws of Washington Territory, they were not recognized by the Idaho Territory until February 1864. The original county seat at Ruby City was moved to nearby Silver City in 1867.

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Owyhee County’s original boundary was the portion of Idaho Territory south of the Snake River and west of the Rocky Mountains. Less than a month after the creation of Owyhee County, Oneida County was formed in January 1864 from the eastern portion of the county. The formation of Cassia County in 1879 took further territory in the east. The county gained its present boundaries in 1930 after an election approved moving a portion of Owyhee County near Glenns Ferry and King Hill to neighboring Elmore County. In 1934 the county seat was moved from the nearly abandoned Silver City to its present location in Murphy.

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Owyhee County’s history is closely linked to the mining boom that dominated Idaho Territory in the second half of the 19th century. Silver City and Ruby City are among the state’s most noteworthy ghost towns from the period. At its height in the 1880s, Owyhee County was among the most populous places in Idaho.Today it is among the least populous, at 1.4 persons per square mile (0.5 per km²).

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Etymology

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The name “Owyhee” derives from an early anglicization of the Hawaiian term “Hawaiʻi.” When James Cook encountered what he named the Sandwich Islands (now the Hawaiian Islands) in 1778, he found them inhabited by Native Hawaiians who Anglo-Americans referred to as “Owyhees.” Noted for their hardy physique and maritime skills, numerous Native Hawaiians were hired as crew members aboard European and American vessels. Many Owyhee sailed to the American Northwest coast and found employment along the Columbia River, where they joined trapping expeditions or worked at some of the fur trade posts.

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In 1819, three Owyhee joined Donald Mackenzie’s Snake expedition, which went out annually into the Snake country for the North West Company, a Montreal-based organization of Canadian fur traders. The three Hawaiians left the main party during the winter of 1819-20 to explore the then unknown terrain of what since has been called the Owyhee River and mountains. They disappeared and were presumed dead; no further information regarding their whereabouts has been found. In memory of these Native Hawaiians, British fur trappers started to call the region “Owyhee” and the name stuck.

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~ Owyhee County, Idaho, Wikipedia

 

JACQUIE ROGERS’S MUCH ADO ABOUT SILVER CITY

Why was I in Silver City? To meet up with author Jacquie Rogers, of course!

#JacquieRogersAdo16

Jacquie Rogers's MUCH ADO ABOUT SILVER CITY event held in the historic ghost town, June 17-19, 2016. Image: courtesy of Jacquie Rogers.

Jacquie Rogers’s MUCH ADO ABOUT SILVER CITY event held in the historic ghost town, June 17-19, 2016. Image: courtesy of Jacquie Rogers.

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Up next!

The Historic Idaho Hotel in Silver City, Idaho

including many pictures, historical and current!

Historic Idaho Hotel. Built in 1863 in Ruby City, on Jordan Creek (a mile below Silver City). in 1866, two-yuear-old Silver City became the county seat and many homes and buildings were moved to Silver City. The Idaho Hotel was dismantled, laoded onto sleds and skids and pulled up the snow- and ice-covered road to a new location in Silver City. A three-story addition was added at the same time. [text source: Images of America: Owyhee County, by Robert L. Deen, p 29]

Historic Idaho Hotel.

Silver City, Idaho’s Ghost Town Cemetery Silver City, Idaho’s Historic Church 1898 Historic Idaho Hotel in Silver City Screen Doors, a new invention! Top 5 Reasons AUTHORS of Western Historical Romance Benefit From Visiting Historical Museum Residences Top 5 Reasons READERS of Western Historical Romance Benefit From Visiting Historical Museum Residences Indoor Plumbing in Victorian America Chamber Pots and the Old West The Necessary (a.k.a. the outhouse) Old West Shootout–With a Rattlesnake


Copyright © 2016 Kristin Holt, LC
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