Saturday, October 8, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Almost exactly in the rugged center of Idaho on the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River
 (also known as The River of No Return) is a ghost town named after the 
General Custer gold mine.  The town of Custer was founded in 1879 not long after a 
mother lode of gold was discovered along the river. 

Gold was extracted from the rocks using stamping mills.  The heavy machinery 
was hauled to the area by mule packers along the rugged trails from places 
as far away as Salt Lake City, Utah.

The town reached its peak population of about 600 in 1896.  It had houses, stores, 
restaurants, a school and plenty of saloons. By 1904 the mines and the mill closed 
when the gold played out.  By 1911 it had become a ghost town, but not before 
millions of dollars of gold had been recovered.

Some of the settlement has been restored and preserved.   
We visited after Labor Day so the buildings were boarded up and…

…the museum in the old school was closed.

Still we could peek inside the buildings and see some of the old furniture and antiques.

Other items were left to rust and return to the earth.

Some lady must have been so pleased to have a new stove 
in her cabin kitchen…

…hauled all the way from St. Louis

 …by horses or mule team.

The Empire Saloon now serves as the gift shop.

Next to the saloon was a vintage outhouse. 

Fortunately for visitors there were also better facilities provided by the Forest Service.

 Everywhere we walked there were bits of broken glass and pottery left behind 
by the people who lived in the old mining town.

Most of the glass was purple, indicating it was made between 1860 and 1915 
when glass makers used manganese instead of lead due to lead shortages 
created by the Civil War.  Glass containing manganese eventually
 turns a light purple when exposed to sunlight.

The road that leads to Custer and its sister city, Bonanza, follows the river up the canyon. 
The whole river bed looks like it’s been churned up by a giant monster gopher.
  Once placer mining was exhausted the owners of the gold claims knew
valuable gold still existed so they joined together and

in 1939 they built a huge dredge the size of a hotel.  
It could dig down 35 feet thaul up the gravel ore.  
The dredge washed and separated the rock and dirt from the gold. 

It operated until 1949, pulling out another 16 million dollars in gold.

On a whim I picked up a rock about the size of a baseball 
and threw it against another rock.  
I kept the piece that split off and put it in my pocket.

I didn’t notice until I was home that…

I could see flashes of light and metallic sparkles in the rock 
when I turned it in the sunlight.

Monday, October 3, 2011


DH is an expert fisherman.  Rainbow and Brown Trout fear him.
He gets in plenty of practice, especially since he retired from teaching
at the university.  He is happy to teach fishing skills to anyone ready to try.

 Last weekend there were some granddaughters 
willing to pick up a few pointers from the master.

I'll let the photos tell the story...

Baby J. thought the fish were cool.

The kids and grandpa brought back enough little rainbow trout to fry up in a pan.
the legal limit of trout and they are three times that size.

Sunday, October 2, 2011