There’s silver in them thar hills!

Destination- the ghost town of Silver City, Idaho…. By our reckoning, the day would be a fairly easy drive with dispersed camping available when we arrived. We climbed out of Leslie Gulch and drove 42 miles back to Jordan Valley to get some more gas, supplies, and to look for a bearing cover before subjecting our exposed trailer hub to 25 miles of dirt roads. I had a friendly discussion with the gas attendant who told me that it wasn’t advisable to take a trailer on the route from Jordan Valley to Silver City directly. After much hemming and hawing it was decided that we would head back up towards Boise and to catch 78 down towards Murphy, dropping off the Argosy next to the Snake River on the Idaho side, and doing a day trip to the ghost town. The bridge to the campsite we hoped to find did not exist, so we backtracked through the Morley Nelson Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, and found a county park called Celebration Park. The park had a boat ramp, several tent sites and a playground. On the far side, and just outside the boundary of the park were a few spots to boondock (we think free of charge). Our arrival was later than anticipated and we were very aware that the road to Silver City was going to be an hour or more, so we hurriedly unhooked and hopped back in the truck to go see the ghost town.

After a short drive down highway 78, we made a right on a small paved road heading out into the desert. The road soon became a one-lane gravel road, with turnouts, twisting and turning, cut into the high desert hills, precipitous edges, and no guardrails. For 20 miles we followed this path, thankful with every turn that we had left the camper behind. We were particularly thankful on the last 3 or 4 miles as the road deginerated into huge ruts and large exposed rocks. We bantered about how anyone ever found this place, especially on horseback or in a wagon.

Finally we rounded a turn and found ourselves looking at Silver City. Not as small as I had expected, and NOT a ghost town (at least this time of year). There were cars, four wheelers, and motorcycles sprinkled around the 1880s era buildings. Plenty of people were milling about. We parked, unloaded Frankie, and wandered down to the saloon and hotel that seemed to be the center of town. As we approached, we were met by two ladies that were just enamored by Frankie. Before long we were invited inside by the owner (whom we were told never lets animals inside). He kindly bought us a beer and we had a delightful conversation as he pointed out all of the historic artifacts around the bar. You can read all about the Idaho Hotel here.

Afterwards, we explored the town, old cemetery, and the iconic Our Lady of Tears Catholic Church. It was a fascinating few hours. Vowing to return and with the shadows growing long, we loaded up the Franks and headed back down the long dusty road towards Celebration Park.

Morning came early, Cate and Franks left to explore the Guffey Railroad bridge, built in 1897. Meanwhile I buttoned up the camper for the upcoming trip to Hell’s Canyon!

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