Abandoned Silver City: blood, sweat, and tears

Nikola Petrovski
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The historic town of Silver City is Hidden between the Florida and War Eagle mountains at an elevation of 6,300 feet. Today a well-known ghost town, Silver City was once a dream town for the thousands of people who went there to make their living.

The town’s history began with a man by the name of Michael Jordan, who came to the Owyhee region of southwest Idaho in 1863. He brought with him a team of twenty-nine miners.

The east part of the city. 

They found placer deposits of gold in a tributary that was later dubbed Jordan Creek. It is thought that the reason this fellowship decided to come to this particular place lies with a legend: they came in search of the lost Blue Bucket Mine.

Silver City in 1892. 

The mere mention of a bountiful but lost mine has the power to completely transform a miner from a mere worker to a bold adventurer. The thirty men picked up their tools, crossed the Snake River, and started looking for the lost gold.

Inside one of the mine pits.

Another version of this story, however, has a few more roots in reality. According to this version, Jordan and the rest of the crew never went in search of a lost mine but instead went to look for a shorter route to Winnemucca County.

Some of the buildings in the city. 

It was during this search that they discovered silver deposits. Regardless of which story one chooses to believe, Jordan and his crew did indeed find a lot of Silver – although no lost mine.

Abandoned and collapsed mine. 

Each of the men claimed their own stake and started extracting the valuable deposits. It didn’t take long before their success reached the ears of others. Hundreds of others. And it didn’t take long for these people to reach the thirty miners.

In groups, they came and formed the first towns in the area, Ruby City and Boonville City, in 1864. It was towards the end of that year that Silver City was formed. The following year marked a turning point in the town’s history as new investors flooded the region.

Part of the abandoned buildings.

The town grew exponentially and soon held 300 homes and 75 different businesses. Among them were eight saloons and a brothel. The town was so prosperous that two hotels were also erected, and soon the first newspaper in the region was published.

Part of the standing buildings. 

Everyone wanted to come to Silver City. Thousands of dollars worth of silver was extracted each month. The craze was so intense that a gun battle erupted. D.C. Bryan discovered a rich silver vein just where the stakes of two miners, Hays and Ray, ended. He ironically dubbed the mine “The Poorman Mine.”

One of the hotels. 

The success of Bryan prompted Hays and Ray to take legal action. They claimed that Bryan’s silver vain was an extension of theirs and that whatever The Poorman Mine produced belonged to them.

Bryan held his side. With no legal outcome on the horizon, both sides threw down their picks and shovels and reached for their pistols. The gunfight for The Poorman Mine started on September 24, 1865.

Part of the standing buildings alternative view. 

Bryan’s crew went as far as erecting a wooden fort to defend the mine. Hays and Ray had no choice but to give up. Silver City continued to grow like there was no tomorrow. Tons of silver was extracted each year. The beginning of the end for Silver city happened in 1934. Form that point on, the town’s success started declining as fast as it had risen.

Today, Silver City is a ghost town. It has a reputation among tourists and travelers, and seventy of its buildings still stand proud.