Ghost Towns

I love ghost towns. They are so intertwined with the history of the west. They helped define the character of the western states and fuel the entire national economy. Rough places to be sure. But they also speak to a time of rugged individualism that seems to be lost in the 21st century.

Silver City, ID is one of those ghost towns. Ghost town may be a misnomer, since Silver City actually has habitable buildings and residents. However, it is remote and onIMG_2077Ely reachable in the summer by a long narrow twisty dirt mountain road. 4WD advised. It sits at 6,200′ in the Owyhee Mountains of southwest Idaho and winter access is by snowmobile. You really have to want to visit this place similar to getting to Bodie, CA.

The town was founded in 1864, shortly after the discover of silver on nearby War Eagle Mountain. Silver City quickly grew to over 2,500 residents and had it’s shore of general stores, hotels, saloons and brothels. The town served as the county seat of Owyhee County until 1934. Millions of dollars of silver and gold were pulled from the mines which operated as recently as 2000.

IMG_2049There are currently about 75 remaining buildings, all privately owned and in various states of restoration. One of the buildings is Our Lady of Tears Catholic Church where Mass is still said. How would you like to be the priest that has that duty each week? There is no easy access to the church. One must climb the hill pictured to the right. There are no stairs, just series of rock outcroppings. They have added a safety rail, however.

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