The Gold Rush to Pierce Helped Spur Growth in Idaho



Pierce is located in Shoshone County. Gold was first discovered in an about October 1860 in Orofino Creek, bringing thousands to Idaho in search of gold.

The aspect of gold discovery in the place played a significant role in the historical set up of the town, and this made the town of Pierce to be prominent around the globe for a short time. Most of the people who had interest in mining in general, started to migrate from different areas to the town of Pierce for the reasons related to mining.

While most of the migrants were miners quite a number of them were people interested in doing business with the miners by providing essential services such as restaurants, hotels, boarding houses, gambling houses and blacksmith among others.



 

Early Mining in Pierce, Idaho

 

Many of the early miners came to Pierce during the Californian gold rush to explore and prospect the area. The gold strikes in California were starting to play out, and miners were eager to find new ground to ply their trade. Within a short period of time the area was teaming with miners with hundreds of claims registered. A small mining camp was established which later grew into a large mining town known as Pierce.

It should clear that most of the different parts that showed signs of gold in the regions of Pierce were placer mining sites. No lodes had been discovered in the early days. Some hard rock sources were eventually discovered, but primarily the mines at Pierce were placer mines.

By 1861 to 1862, most of the areas that were known to be rich in gold had been discovered with early miners setting up claims and establishing some of the most productive mines in the area.

Little is known about the first company that discovered and mined the highest amount of gold in the area but according to the records of the BLM in the state of Idaho, it is estimated that gold worth 1.4 billion has been produced from different mines in Pierce. Indeed the town of Pierce is credited as Idaho’s first major gold strike, although after mining slowed it was logging that sustained this region over the next century.



 

Placer Methods at Pierce

 

The mining of gold in Pierce was majorly done by placer mining and lode mining, but placers made up the majority of the gold recovered. Placer mining can be described as the method that includes the process of separating gold from the gravel in creeks and rivers. The methods that were used here are the same that were being used by the early California miners. Generally it was small handheld equipment like gold pans and rocker boxes that recovered much of the gold.

By 1862, most of the creeks had prospected and gold was being significantly produced. Most of the placer mining was done in Armstrong and Rosebud drainage and today if it happens that someone visits the place one can easily notice the mining ditches, the richest creeks in Pierce is known as the Rhodes creek.



The placers were rich, but they were exhausted rather quickly. This was not a large mining district. Most of the gold concentrations were found in a relatively small area, although other good placers were also being discovered all along the Clearwater River at this time.

As the discoveries of gold at Pierce started playing out, more significant gold strikes were being made in the area. Primarily those at Elk City, which became the main supplier for mines all along the Red and American Rivers.

Next: Gold Mining in Warren, Idaho