Silver City, Idaho is a ghost town located in Owyhee County in the southwestern part of the state. However, from 1867 to 1934, Silver City was the county seat and one of the more popular cities in the region thanks to the discovery of silver back in 1864. Of the seventy remaining buildings, all of them are still privately owned and there are even a handful of businesses in the area.
Founded in 1864, Silver City was the center of one of the largest silver finds in the west as the deposits were located along War Eagle Mountain. The settlement grew from a handful of prospectors to a fully fledged city and one of the biggest in the Idaho at the time. In fact, the first telegraph and newspaper service in Idaho was founded in Silver City along with more modern conveniences such as telephone and electrical wiring as well.
Until 1890, the silver mines continued to grow Silver City despite its rather remote location. However, as time went on the silver mines started to deplete and the city started to dwindle. The decline of Silver City was a slow one however, as the immense richness of the area continued to produce both silver and gold ores from the surrounding mountains. The region continued producing until World War II started, when the last of the mining operations finally closed down.
With that, most of the population left Silver City and it quickly became a ghost town. Thanks to the remote location, it seemed to have no future and was left as a relic of days gone by. At the very least, the town was preserved well as it was never damaged to any extent during its time. Unlike so many other mining towns throughout the west that were wiped out by wildfires, Silver City was never damaged and remains in much the same condition that it was during the 1800s.
The famous Idaho Hotel which existed in Silver City during its heyday was fully restored and re-opened to the general public in 1972. The remote location, iconic history of the location and modern conveniences have made Silver City a popular attraction once again for tourist anxious to see the bygone days of the Old West and the silver mining which promoted the town as well. During the summer, it is a relatively short drive to get to Silver City from Boise.
In 1977, the De Lamar Gold & Silver Mine opened up near Silver City and brought back large scale mining to the community. The open pit mine stayed in operation until 2000 when no more silver or gold was found. Today, it remains one of the largest open-mining pits in the US.
While the vast majority of the mineral wealth in this area is from silver, gold can also be found here. Placer mining in Jordan Creek will produce gold that has a very light color, indicating a high silver content. Other minor drainages and gulches from Silver City to De Lamar will produce placer gold.
Next: Idaho's Boise Basin Gold Rush