Visitors to Wallace and the Silver Valley, after inspecting the top silver producing mines in the nation, can also get a glimpse of the early-day gold rush to the Coeur d’Alene Mountains just over a century ago with an hour’s drive to the Murray gold district north of Wallace.
Visitors should take Forestry Road 456 which runs up Nine Mile Canyon past the Sierra Mine Tour site and over Dobson Pass. This road, while crooked, is paved and well maintained.
At the bottom of the pass on the north side, you will proceed down historic Beaver Creek, where every little gulch and side stream yielded placer gold, to the old townsite of Delta, which once had 1,500 residents.
Here is a road junction where the visitor can turn right on Road 605 to go over Kings Pass and on to Murray. This road takes the visitor past the Murray Cemetery, where colorful characters of the past are buried.
Murray, which came into prominence in 1884 and was once the county seat of Shoshone County, has some of the old buildings still standing. A must stop here is at the Sprag Pole Museum, which features many relics and photos of the past gold rush days.
A drive down Murray’s only street (a second street was torn up by gold dredge work) goes past several historic buildings including the Murray Store and its world famous “bedroom” gold mine; the Masonic Lodge Building, one of the oldest in Idaho, and the Murray Post office.
At the east end of the street is the old Murray county courthouse, the scene of many early day mining litigations. The building is now being rehabilitated as a National Historic Site. A few of the original Murray log cabins can still be seen along the street. Murray can’t be classed as a real “ghost” town as some 100 people still reside there, mining and logging.
Visitors cannot miss the huge piles of rock in the Murray Valley, up by a big gold dredge operated by the Yukon Gold Mining Co., which chewed down 30 feet to bedrock for some 7.5 miles above and below Murray over a period of eight years, recovering gold worth about $20 million at today’s price. Visitors are welcome to inspect the dredge piles where they might find a gold nugget. See also this post about historic Wallace, Idaho.
Enroute westward to Prichard, named for Andy Prichard who triggered the gold rush, the visitor passes by the few remains of Eagle City, where some 5,000 gold rush prospectors spent the winter of 1883, mostly in tents. All that remains are several modern residences and an old sawmill log pond which is stocked with trout for fishing.
Prichard has two taverns, which are popular “watering holes” for hunters and fishermen. About a mile on down the road is a modern steak house and a short distance further at a road junction is a general purpose store and gas station, along with a small cafe.
This road junction can lead the visitors back to Delta and Wallace or they can continue downstream on Forestry Route 9, which follows the colorful North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River, the road being built atop an original railroad grade which hauled ore and passengers from the Murray district.
The 30 miles of this paved road takes the travelers through Enaville and Kingston, back to Interstate 90 for the return to Wallace through the communities of Pinehurst, Smelterville, Kellogg, Osburn, and Silverton or to proceed westward for a must stop at the Old Mission State Park.