Idaho City
Pop. 458

When Idaho City was founded in 1862, it was the most important mining town in the Boise Basin, producing more gold than all of the Alaskan mines! Naturally, prospectors swarmed to the area in search of their fortune, bringing with them gamblers, “ladies,” and lawmen by the hundreds. The town had its share of saloons and law offices, as well as two bowling alleys, a bookstore, painter’s shop, mattress factory, two jewelry stores, a photographer’s gallery, and a hospital. The town also possessed two main streets, each said to be one-half mile long. At one time larger than Portland and recognized as the largest city in the northwest, Idaho City boasted a population of nearly 20,000 by 1864. It wasn’t all fun and games, however, as fires ripped through the city in 1865, 1867, 1868 and 1871, causing extensive damage each time. By 1870, when several Chinese emigrants began to arrive, most of the gold had been taken from the streams. These foreigners, who frequently suffered intense discrimination, soon accounted for one-half of the city’s population. Throughout the next decade, the fading town clung to life with a few quartz-lode claims and sparse gold mining activity.

Today, Idaho City is a sleepy historic town, with dredges and evidence of hydraulic mining covering the land as a reminder of the community’s heritage and past economic vitality.

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