Custer was founded in early 1879 by gold speculators. Economically supported by the operations of the Lucky Boy and Black mines, Custer reached its peak population of 600 in 1896. By 1910, Custer had become a ghost town. The Challis National Forest took ownership of the area in 1966, and in 1981, Custer was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Through the efforts of the Friends of Custer Museum, the site was kept open for public enjoyment.