Silver City – Ghost Town in Idaho

Idaho Ghost Town

In 1865, rich silver ore was discovered on War Eagle Mountain overlooking Silver City, Idaho. The War Eagle Mine and over 200 other mines in the area went on to produce more than $60,000,00 of precious metals.

A bit further up the road (a mile to be exact) from Silver City was “Ruby City”. Ruby City was the original county seat but lost this title to the 2-year-old Silver City in 1866. Many homes and businesses were physically moved to Silver City hoping to capitalize on Silver City’s newly acquired status of Owyhee County Seat.

Silver City Idaho has a turbulent history. There are stories of shootings between rival mining companies, and men and management. The cemetery is well populated with such men and their stories, which now lie forever, beneath ornate, wrought iron fences.

In it’s “Heyday”, Silver City’s population was approximately 2,500. There were over 300 homes and 75 businesses. There was a China Town, several saloons, drug stores, six general stores, two hotels, newspaper, photography studio, undertaker, churches, two lumber yards, several doctors, hospital, lawyers, a Masonic Lodge, an Odd Fellows Hall, and of course, the ‘brothels”.

The town had the first telegraph and first daily newspaper in the territory. In 1880, they had telephones, and by 1890, electricity. See also: Historic Sites in Wallace, Idaho.

Silver City is a Ghost Town of another “caliber”. It has escaped commercialism and the shoddy and inaccurate “restoration” work of many other recently occupied Ghost Towns.

The elevation of Silver City is 6,300 feet and due to heavy snowfalls, the roads that lead to Silver City Idaho are only accessible from late May through early November. There is a ‘town watchman’ that oversees this wonderful and most unique Ghost Town during the winter months.

Silver City and the Coeur d’Alene River area are a true photographers paradise. It is picturesque and just full of wonderful photo op’s. Sign up for our Photo Workshop for a Ghost Town photo adventure.

This post is dedicated to Ed Jagels who dearly loved Silver City and his Idaho Hotel. Without Ed’s intervention, the Idaho Hotel most likely would have ended up as a “pile of rubble”, as did so many other buildings and towns of the past.

The Idaho Hotel

“If the Hotel could only speak, oh, the stories it could tell …”

The Idaho Hotel was moved from Ruby City in 1866. As it was being reassembled, a three-story addition was added on to the original hotel structure. It was finished just in time for the first Christmas Ball.

In 1868, spring water was piped into the hotel and a new kitchen was built in 1871, boasting the newest of modern conveniences. In 1898, a five-story addition was added with a new dining room, and two stories of bedrooms.

Many businesses occupied the hotel over the years, including a telegraph and telephone company, a stagecoach line, doctors, dentists, lawyers, and jeweler.

There were many memorable events held in the hotel throughout its day. There were balls, weddings, funerals, musicals, meetings, banquets, and social events. See also this post about a great walking tour through Wallace, Idaho.

The hotel closed around 1942 and fell into disrepair …

But then, in 1972, 40 years after the closing of the hotel, Ed Jagels purchased the hotel and┬ábegan┬áthe overwhelming task of restoring this great old building. Ed had a love affair going on with the hotel. Ed Jagels was often referred to as, “Mr. Silver City”.

Many areas are still not open to the public as they have not yet been restored. the areas that are open are the lobby (museum), the 1898 dining room, the parlor, the Library Office, master bedroom, and about half of the forty original bedrooms.

Ed’s efforts have brought joy to people from all over the world. Because of Ed, the Idaho Hotel has been open for three centuries. Ed passed away in 2001 and left the hotel to his dear friends, Roger & Jeri Nelson.

Roger and Jerri plan to carry on Ed’s dream of seeing the hotel completely restored.

The Idaho Hotel is once again “Open for Business!” You can pick up a snack, a meal, or spend the night in one of the many recently renovated rooms. Check out also: Scenic Areas and Historic Sites in America.

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