Welcome to Western Mining History

Featured Mining Town: Burke, Idaho

Featured Mining Town: Burke, Idaho

Burke, Idaho was famous for being built in an impossibly narrow valley for a town site. Burke Canyon is just 300 feet wide, resulting in unprecedented and unusual building feats such as the Tiger Hotel that featured a railroad tunnel passing through the first floor.   Continue Reading

Featured Mining Town: Wallace, Idaho

Featured Mining Town: Wallace, Idaho

Wallace, Idaho is the economic center of the Coeur d’ Alene Mining District, in a region known as the Silver Valley in northern Idaho. The Silver Valley is the most valuable silver mining district in the United States with over a billion ounces of silver mined, and is one of the top three most valuable silver districts in the entire world.   Continue Reading

Featured Mining Town: Custer, Idaho

Featured Mining Town: Custer, Idaho

The town of Custer was laid out and settled starting in 1878, in conjunction with the planned construction of the General Custer Mill. Custer would grow to be the economic center of the Yankee Fork area of Central Idaho during the late 1800's.  Continue Reading

Featured Mining Town: Idaho City, Idaho

Featured Mining Town: Idaho City, Idaho

Originally known as “Bannock”, Idaho City was settled in December of 1862, early in the gold rush to the Boise Basin region of southern Idaho. The Boise Basin rush was the largest since the California Gold Rush of 1849, and by 1864 Idaho City would become the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, eclipsing even Portland, Oregon.  Continue Reading

Featured Mining Town: Atlanta, Idaho

Featured Mining Town: Atlanta, Idaho

With production estimated at over 16,000,000 dollars, Atlanta was one of the more productive mining areas in Idaho. However, due to the extremely remote location, it took several years for any significant production to occur after the initial ore discoveries in 1863, and almost 70 years for the district’s mining industry to be fully developed.  Continue Reading

Ten Things to Do in Virginia City, Nevada

Fourth Ward School in Virginia City, Nevada

Virginia City, Nevada is one of the most historically significant and best-preserved mining towns in the West. The town is #2 on our list “The Top Ten Historic Mining Towns You Should Visit Today“, and while Butte may have edged it out for historical significance, Virginia City just might be the most fun and interesting  Continue Reading

Incredible Photos of Boom Town Tent Cities

Randsburg, California Tent Saloon

The discovery of gold or silver in the West was usually followed by a rush of people attempting to arrive at the new district first to get established in mining or business. New mining camps were hastily constructed out of materials that could be easily transported over great distances and on difficult terrain. The most  Continue Reading

Journigan’s Mill – Death Valley National Park

Water tanks at Journigan's Mill

Journigan’s Mill was built in the 1930s at a site in Emigrant Canyon that was near several springs. Water is Death Valley’s most precious resource, and mills were usually located where there was access to springs nearby. During the course of the mills roughly twenty years of operation, water would be piped to the site  Continue Reading

The Wildrose Charcoal Kilns of Death Valley

Wildrose Charcoal Kilns

The Wildrose Charcoal Kilns, built in 1877, are one of the best preserved and largest examples of historic charcoal kilns in the West. The kilns are located in the western part of Death Valley National Park, in Wildrose Canyon. This part of the park is an excellent destination for camping and hiking so if you  Continue Reading

The Mackay Mansion of Virginia City, Nevada

The Mackay Mansion in 2018

The Mackay Mansion in Virginia City, Nevada is one the Comstock Lode's oldest and best preserved buildings. Built 1860, the mansion was originally the offices of the Gould and Curry Mining Company, as well as housing for the mine superintendent.  Continue Reading