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Founded in approximately 1863 in the shadow of the Sawtooth Mountains, this remote mountain village was once home to as many as 500 miners and their families. The “Atlanta Lode,” a quartz-gold deposit about one and a half miles long and twenty feet wide, promised large rewards, but its inaccessibility challenged the miners. The ore from Atlanta was high in silver, but as it was processed, much of the silver was lost, thereby reducing its value by nearly three-quarters. Because of this and the lack of effective transportation and technology, work in the Atlanta mines was slow through the early and mid 1870s. At its peak, from 1878-1884, high-grade ore was taken from the hills, but once that was exhausted, work again diminished as mining the low-grade, large ore deposits became economically inefficient.

In 1932, St. Joseph Lead Company purchased the claims and began operating an amalgamation-flotation concentrator method of extraction. This resolved many of the accessibility issues, and once a road was built between Atlanta and Boise in 1936, the transportation issues were resolved as well. During that time, from 1932-1936, the Atlanta Mining District was Idaho’s leading gold producer. A nearby mine, the Talache (one mile from Atlanta) also produced outstanding amounts of gold after World War II, and when that closed in 1953, the total mining efforts of the Atlanta area had reached $16 million!

Today, the town of Atlanta is home to just a handful of people and numerous ghosts of its past. Despite losing it’s mining economic staple, the near ghost town has managed to preserve its history, pioneer-era buildings, and serene setting near the Sawtooth Wilderness boundary. Even the old jail still stands in the town’s Community Historic Park.

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