Idaho City was founded in December 1862 as the town of “Bannock” (and sometimes “West Bannock”) during the Boise Basin gold rush, the largest gold bonanza since the California gold rush a dozen years earlier. Located near the confluence of Elk and Mores Creeks, the plentiful water supply allowed the town to outgrow the other nearby camps in the basin, including Placerville, Pioneerville, and Centerville. As “Bannock’s” population swelled, the new Idaho Territorial legislature changed the town’s name to “Idaho City,” to avoid confusion with the southwestern Montana town of Bannack.

During the boom, the greater Boise Basin population numbered in the tens of thousands, but most departed the mountains once mining declined. Idaho City’s population fell below 900 by 1870 and was down to 104 by 1920. The modern economy relies mainly on hunting and fishing tourism, and visits to the many historic sites, including the Boot Hill Cemetery.

Things To Know

  • When exploring Idaho ghost towns and historic locations, consider bringing water, snacks, lip balm, sunscreen, a camera and a first aid kit.