Prairie Pulse

Searching for ghosts in Idaho County

You may have asked yourself why is the Prairie Pulse posting on a Monday, rather than Saturday this week? This is no trick, but rather a little holiday history treat.

Today, this Halloween 2016, I decided to indulge in a ghost story of another sort. I am delving into the tale of Idaho County’s ghost towns, and there many to choose from apparently.

A ghost town is one in which the former inhabitants have left and only the remnants of former buildings remain. The name harkens to a belief that only the spirits of the past still walk the sidewalks of the former towns.

The following is a list of Idaho ghost towns along with a brief description.

Callender – According to my research Callender was one of the primary boomtowns in the county and was birthed out of a collection of tents. The building boom came in April 1899 and the town remained active until 1914. A fire in August 1903 nearly destroyed the town. The community served as a central business site for the Crackerjack, North Star, Vesuvius and Wiseboy mines, as well as three stamp mills. It also was the headquarters for Charles Sweeney’s Buffalo Hump mining operations.

Concord – The town was founded in 1898 by a John Leffler; and was the southernmost community in a string of five boomtowns built during the development of the Buffalo Hump Mining District. As of 1939, only seasonal miners working the Concord Mine remained in Concord.

Frogtown – Born during the initial gold rush of 1861, Frogtown died out with the end of the rush in the early 1900s, possibly 1903. The town was originally named Buffalo but has predominantly referred to as Frogtown because of its proximity to an alpine swamp and the croaking amphibians that reside there. The town serviced the Atlas Mine and Mill, as well as the Lucky Lode, Big Buffalo, Vesuvius and Lare Mines. Frogtown carries a reputation for being the adult entertainment center for the miners of the area, which I find curious and even a bit dubious. Frogtown had only two saloons while nearby Humptown had five saloons and a dance hall. Did Frogtown secretly own and operate a brothel?

Humptown – Another ghost town with beginnings as a tent city, Humptown originated in 1898. The Big Buffalo Mine ceased operations in 1903, but there is no clear indication this marked the beginning of the end for the town.

OrograndeOld Orogrande began in the 1860s-gold rush as a placer mining camp and the last noted activity in the town was in the early 1940s. New Orogrande was located a mile northeast of the former townsite. There is no clear indication of the date New Orogrande began or why the town moved down the road. Like Florence, another Idaho County ghost town, these cities experienced a boom and a bust. There are stories lingering, waiting to be told about the lives and activities of the people who once inhabited these places. Tales I will work to unearth and share with you.

For now, the histories will remain in the forests calling out like a ghost in the night. Waiting to be heard, waiting to be discovered as a barely recognizable shadow from the past.

Enjoy your Halloween.


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