The allure of the Old West…

July 26, 2010 by  
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While few of us will have the opportunity to visit some of the fascinating old mining towns of the Old West, holding a newspaper from a ghost town’s hey day can be the next best thing. And with a little knowledge about the town, a newspaper from the neighborhood press takes on added appeal and intrigue.

With this in mind I will, from time to time, offer some background information on the towns from which some of our Old West newspapers came. And I’ll start with an issue with an interesting title, the “Owyhee Avalanche” of Silver City, Idaho.

Silver City is one of the few old mining towns that did not burn down or become commercialized into a modern city. Visiting Silver City is like going back into history. The Idaho Hotel is as it was 100 years ago with a few modern amenities. Rugged and picturesque, the 8,000 feet-high Owyhee Mountains surround Silver City, elevation 6,200 ft. The history-filled town contains about seventy-five structures that date from the 1860’s to the early 1900’s.

During its “heydays”, Silver City had about a dozen streets, seventy-five businesses, three hundred homes, a population of around 2,500, twelve ore-processing mills, and was the Owyhee County seat from 1866 to 1934. Some of the largest stage lines in the West operated in the area, and Silver City had the first telegraph and the first daily newspaper in the territory in 1874.

More that two dozen camps provided shelter, supplies and amusement for the thousands of people who came to the mountains seeking their fortunes in one way or another. The ruins of some of these can still be found though nature is reclaiming most of them at an accelerated rate. Almost a dozen cemeteries and many more remote burial sites attest to the hard and sometimes dangerous and violent lives led by many. Hundreds of mines pock-mark and honeycomb the mountains; one had upwards of seventy miles of tunnels laboriously hand-dug through it. Between 1863 and 1865, more than two hundred and fifty mines were in operation and hundreds more were developed thereafter. At least sixty million dollars worth of precious metals were taken from the area. (credit:

Click HERE for some photos of present-day Silver City.

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