Idaho City v. Silver City – Two Places Fixed in Time

Categories Cities & Places Around the World

Sometimes it’s fun living out west in a state that is still widely undeveloped. Where else can you find authentic country western saloons or wagon wheels? When we can’t get away for a long weekend or travel more than a couple hours outside of Boise, where do we go? We explore Boise’s own backyard to discover a piece of unique and interesting history hidden up and away in the mountains. 

Idaho is well known for a few things, largely potatoes, but mining has also been a booming industry throughout Idaho’s history. However, most of the cities that were first established for mining either developed into large modern day metropolises or died out completely. There are only a few places that you can still step back in time and see for yourself the remnants of a true mining town. Idaho City and Silver City are two such places, the latter one being considerably more remote. The two towns also happen to be great places to take some fun and funky photos to capture the essence of a time when the wild west ruled the land. 

Idaho City

Silver City

IDAHO CITY 

Only forty-five minutes north of Boise past Lucky Peak Reservoir, Idaho City was originally developed during the height of the Boise Basin gold rush following the Civil War. 



Idaho City was once the largest mining town in the Pacific Northwest with a population of about 7,000 people. It also burnt down four times in the late 1800’s. Today, with a population of approximately 485 people, you can still find the western style storefronts and funky saloons while visiting the historic mining town.

Idaho City
Idaho City
Idaho City
There is also one particularly interesting antique shop on the corner of Main and Centerville that has artifacts popping out from every era.





Idaho City

Idaho City

Idaho City

Idaho City

Idaho City

Idaho City
Visiting Idaho City is a fun and easy day trip no matter what you decide to do – walk around town, grab ice cream or lunch at one of the local jaunts like Donna’s Place, take a hike or visit the newly renovated hot springs called The Springs off Highway 21. 
SILVER CITY 

Silver City, on the other hand, is definitely more remote but it’s worth the drive to see a place frozen in time. Tucked away in the Owyhee Mountains, it takes about two hours to reach the old ghost town.  Many people choose to ride ATVs up the windy dirt but well-maintained road to the town, but it’s accessible by car as well. 

According to the Historic Silver City, Idaho webpage, at it’s height in the late 1800’s, Silver City, similar to Idaho City, was a major town in the Idaho Territory with a population of about 2,500 people and approximately 75 businesses. It was founded after silver was discovered on a nearby mountain. Silver City had the first telegraph and daily newspaper in the Idaho Territory in 1874. It also was one of the first places to receive electric and telephone service in Idaho.

Silver City

Today, there are only a few open businesses left including Pat’s What-Not Shop, where you can find souvenirs, and the Idaho Hotel, where people can still stay to this day. The Idaho Hotel is virtually the same as it was 100 years ago except for a few modern amenities. In 1972, Silver City was listed as a historic district on the National List of Historic Places. 

Pat's What-Not Shop

Idaho Hotel

In case you were hoping to use an authentic outhouse while visiting Silver City, make sure to an appointment first. 

You can hike up the hill to get a better view of the town or wander the dirt streets to explore the remaining seventy or so privately owned buildings still standing from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. 

Silver City

Silver City

An old school house stands prominently in town while a little chapel sits up on the hill. 

Cows also just hang out in the shade on the side of the road. 


It may take some to travel to Silver City, but once you arrive, it’s a direct channel to the past and a friendly reminder of how much the world has changed over the last century. It’s fun to literally step into a place where change is a foreign concept; where time has not eroded the historical significance of a place and transformed it into a modern day metropolis.  Silver City is preserved and fixed at a time in history. Today, there are few places that can say the same. 




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