“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
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Historical Markers in Custer County, Idaho

Clickable Map of Custer County, Idaho and Immediately Adjacent Jurisdictions image/svg+xml 2019-10-06 U.S. Census Bureau, Abe.suleiman; Lokal_Profil;; J.J.Prats/dc:title> Custer County, ID (62) Blaine County, ID (19) Boise County, ID (32) Butte County, ID (30) Elmore County, ID (29) Lemhi County, ID (74) Valley County, ID (7)  CusterCounty(62) Custer County (62)  BlaineCounty(19) Blaine County (19)  BoiseCounty(32) Boise County (32)  ButteCounty(30) Butte County (30)  ElmoreCounty(29) Elmore County (29)  LemhiCounty(74) Lemhi County (74)  ValleyCounty(7) Valley County (7)
Challis is the county seat for Custer County
Adjacent to Custer County, Idaho
      Blaine County (19)  
      Boise County (32)  
      Butte County (30)  
      Elmore County (29)  
      Lemhi County (74)  
      Valley County (7)  
Touch name on this list to highlight map location.
Touch blue arrow, or on map, to go there.
1 Idaho, Custer County, Bonanza City (ghost town) — Bonanza City
You now stand among the remains of Bonanza City, laid out in 1877 and the Yankee Fork's first mining camp. Pack trails linking Ketchum, Stanley, Loon Creek, and Challis converged in Bonanza. At its peak, Bonanza had over 600 residents, a rectangular . . . Map (db m109990) HM
2 Idaho, Custer County, Bonanza City (ghost town) — Building the Dredge
Near here, the initial pond of the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge was constructed to allow the assembly of the massive four-story floating machine. It was a major operation to transport the equipment and pieces needed to build the dredge. Some pieces were . . . Map (db m110005) HM
3 Idaho, Custer County, Bonanza City (ghost town) — Dredge Beginnings
Thoughts of dredging the Yankee Fork began in 1899 when business groups bought up placer claims along the creek and were revived up again in 1904 when the Boston & Boise Dredge Company drilled test holes. Rising gold prices stimulated interest again . . . Map (db m109989) HM
4 Idaho, Custer County, Bonanza City (ghost town) — Dredge Camp Family Life
Workers on the dredge included the winch men, stern and bow oilers, and the gold man. A ground crew cleared the area ahead of the digging and helped set the "deadmen." The dredge master oversaw the entire operation, deciding were to dig, when to . . . Map (db m109988) HM
5 Idaho, Custer County, Bonanza City (ghost town) — Dredge Tailings
The first prospectors on the Yankee Fork searched for small particles of gold known as "placer gold." Eroded from exposed ore veins in surrounding hillsides, placer gold washed down valley walls and collected in stream channels. Prospectors used . . . Map (db m109987) HM
6 Idaho, Custer County, Bonanza City (ghost town) — Remnants of the Past
The large piles of rock and gravel around you were left over from dredge mining operations that took place in the 1940s and early 1950s. The 4-level Yankee Fork dredge floated in water as it dug its way upstream, extracting gold and silver . . . Map (db m109991) HM
7 Idaho, Custer County, Bonanza City (ghost town) — The Crew of the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge
The dredge operated 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, using only 3 men per shift. The winch man (1) was in charge, controling (sic) the dredge from his vantage point four stories above the deck. From there he could raise and lower, and vary the speed . . . Map (db m109948) HM
8 Idaho, Custer County, Bonanza City (ghost town) — Yankee Fork Gold Dredge
Starting in 1872, the valley bottom along the Yankee Fork, was hand placered in the search for free gold. Later, the Snake River Mining Company tested the ground along the stream and found gold still remained in the deep gravels. After obtain the . . . Map (db m109949) HM
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9 Idaho, Custer County, Challis — Alex Toponce
Lack of development and limited government services in the western territories created opportunities for entrepreneurs like Alex Toponce. Arriving from France at age seven, Toponce traveled west and by age 18 had worked as a bullwhacker. By 1860 he . . . Map (db m109783) HM
10 Idaho, Custer County, Challis — 434 — Bison Jump
Before settlers came to Idaho in 1860, Buffalo used to roam through this valley. Most of them had left here by 1840. After they acquired Spanish horses, eighteenth century Shoshone buffalo hunters could drive a small herd over a cliff to make . . . Map (db m109766) HM
11 Idaho, Custer County, Challis — Challis
Founded in 1878, Challis provided a vital link to the outside world for the remote mining camps of the Yankee Fork and Bayhorse Mining Districts. Supply wagons arrived in Challis from Corinne, Utah and later Blackfoot, Idaho, with goods for delivery . . . Map (db m109702) HM
12 Idaho, Custer County, Challis — Corkscrew Grade
Travel on the Toll Road remained difficult due to the road's roughness. Pulling heavy loads over the road's two summits often fell upon oxen, The crack of the bullwhacker's whip and snort of laboring beasts were common sounds. You may still see . . . Map (db m109779) HM
13 Idaho, Custer County, Challis — Eleven Mile Barn
By 1880 improvements to the Toll Road allowed the establishment of a stage line from Bonanza City to Challis. Along the Toll Road several stations provided services for drivers, and passengers. Eleven Mile Barn provided drivers an opportunity to . . . Map (db m109785) HM
14 Idaho, Custer County, Challis — Land of the Yankee Fork Historic Area
Overlooked by many heading west, Idaho experienced little settlement until the 1860s when the discovery of gold brought a reverse migration from Oregon, Washington and California. Mining camps immediately sprang to life and the busy noises of pick . . . Map (db m109680) HM
15 Idaho, Custer County, Challis — 303 — Michel Bourdon
This Valley was discovered in 1822 by an expedition of Hudson's Bay Company trappers led by Michel Bourdon. Bourdon had come to the Northwest with David Thompson, who had started the Idaho fur trade in 1808-9. Trappers searched everywhere for . . . Map (db m59949) HM
16 Idaho, Custer County, Challis — Parting of the Ways
Two maker panels are located at this kiosk The Keystone Road splits from the Toll Road near here. Teamsters and supplies headed for Bayhorse Mining District followed the Keystone Road to Bayhorse, Crystal and Clayton. In 1889, the . . . Map (db m109768) HM
17 Idaho, Custer County, Challis — Tollgate Station
Completion of the Toll Road in 1879 brought a period of prosperity to the Yankee Fork. Now heavy equipment needed to construct a mill could be transported in and large quantities of gold bullion shipped out to market. It also allowed goods and . . . Map (db m109781) HM
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18 Idaho, Custer County, Clayton — 416 — Clayton Smelter
Lead-silver mineral discoveries 12 miles north of here on Bayhorse Creek in 1864 and 1872 led Joel E. Clayton to locate a large smelter here in 1880. Doubled in size in 1888, Clayton's smelter has enough variety of ores from local mines to . . . Map (db m110016) HM
19 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — ArrastraSimple but effective...
Crushing ore played a major role in the gold refining process. Different types of crushing methods were employed and changed with the times. Arrastras used a circular floor of tightly laid blocks of stone as a grinding surface. Ore was spread thinly . . . Map (db m109836) HM
20 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Assay OfficeDream maker - Heart breaker
The text of this marker is unreadable because of the reflection of the sun, but from the "Custer: A walking guide" brochure; "This building was built during the 1930's when many unemployed men and their families occupied the deserted town and . . . Map (db m109833) HM
21 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — BlacksmithSmoke and steel...
The difficult work of mining required the use of many rugged and reliable tools that could stand up to the physical demands of day-to-day use. It was also a necessity to have equipment that was simple enough to be repaired and maintained on site. . . . Map (db m109868) HM
22 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Business MenWork and play...
Custer boasted many different types of businesses including a brewery, carpenter shop, butcher shop, dentist, lawyer, barbershop, post office, general stores, hotels , boarding houses and saloons. The west end of town served as the business district . . . Map (db m109905) HM
23 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Chilean Mill and JigShake it up....
The vibrating jig liberated the heavy minerals from most of the lighter waste material as water was forced upward through a screen with a shot bed consisting of lead shot or old nuts and bolts. Pulsating action combined with water caused the lighter . . . Map (db m109867) HM
24 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Chinese BusinessesLocal market...
Businesses in Chinatown included laundry services, a harness and shoe shop and a Chinese place of worship known as a joss house. A few residents made a living by growing vegetable gardens or raising pigs and chickens and then selling them to miners, . . . Map (db m109945) HM
25 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Cross Store & Post Office (site)A gathering place...
Social gathering places for women were less available than for men at Custer. It was not acceptable for nice women to enter saloons or gaming establishments. Most of the socializing for women took place at socials held in homes, at the post office, . . . Map (db m109941) HM
26 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Custer Cemetery
Yankee Fork residents found few comforts and many hardships due to their remote location. Snow slides, work-related accidents, and disease combined with the lack of medical services created a difficult lifestyle. Evidence of this location is the . . . Map (db m109786) HM
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27 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Custer City
Searching a hillside across the Yankee Fork in August of 1876, James Baxter, Eldon Dodge and Morgan McKim stumbled upon a rich vein of ore, exposed by a snow slide, that became the most famous mine on the Yankee Fork. Named after the popular . . . Map (db m109946) HM
28 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Custer Jail (site)Not just a jail....
The jail at Custer seldom housed a criminal and was unique in its construction. The walls were 2" x 6" lumber laid flat on top of each other similar to log buildings. The floor and ceiling had the same size boards laid on edge. One small barred . . . Map (db m109869) HM
29 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Custer SchoolReading, writing and 'rithmetic
" Jennie Smith, Mae Dellen, Lida Pfeitter, Stella Mavity, and Emma Mallm, think their selves smart they put them little kids up to that, and If that Sade Smith bothers me I will pound the stuffing out of her also Gladys, Annie and Josie." (sic) . . . Map (db m109830) HM
30 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Empire SaloonA little refreshment...
After a hard day of work, many townspeople sought rest, refreshment and entertainment. There was no shortage of drinking establishments in Custer and, at times, no shortage of consumers. At least five saloons were in operation at one time. The . . . Map (db m109870) HM
31 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Family TragedyAvalanche!
Snow slides were common during the winter months but none so tragic as on February 2, 1890. At 8pm the steam whistle on the Custer Mill shrieked the alarm, alerting the town of treacherous slides. One slide crashed down Bald Mountain and flooded the . . . Map (db m109831) HM
32 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Feed and Livery Stable (site)All the hay you can eat...
First mention of a livery stable appeared in R.L. Polk's 1902 Business Directory, listing Kenneth McKenzie as owner. To keep a horse cost $1.50 per day. Feed bought in over the 24-mile "hay trail" from Stanley Basin contributed to the high . . . Map (db m109898) HM
33 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — General Custer Mill
In 1879, Col. William Birelie Hyde and William Grayson of San Francisco purchased the Custer Mining Company and constructed of a twenty stamp mill began. All of the heavy equipment for the mill was brought over the newly established Toll Road by . . . Map (db m109834) HM
34 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — General Store (site)From soup to nuts...
Almost anything and everything was purchased at the general store. In 1888 prices for groceries were listed as cabbage, 25¢ per pound; potatoes and bacon, each 20¢ per pound; ( the rest of the marker is not legible because of the sun's . . . Map (db m109901) HM
35 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — McKenzie ResidenceCuster's finest...
This house, built in the 1880s, eventually became the home of the McKenzie family. Kenneth and Lillian McKenzie lived here with their three children: Doris, Claude and Maxine. With a stained glass window over an arched doorway, a well near the . . . Map (db m109874) HM
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36 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Miner's CabinA simple life...
Miners lived a very simple life with a few added comforts. Some made lanterns from lard cans, wire and candles, that they used as they traveled to and from work. A miner's day began early and ended ... remember seeing a long trail of light, ... . . . Map (db m109940) HM
37 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Miners' Union (site)Brothers are we....
The Miners' Union Hall served as a social center, as well as professional meeting hall. At its height, the Union boasted 200 members consisting of miners and businessmen. In many ways it was a fraternal organization not only for the miners, but also . . . Map (db m109900) HM
38 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Mining Tools and ImplementsTools of the trade....
Miners on the Yankee Fork started their mining endeavors with gold pans, shovels, rockers and hammers. As mining practices changed, more tools were needed. Varied mining methods, including hydraulic and hard rock, also created a demand for other . . . Map (db m109944) HM
39 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Nevada House Hotel (site)Room and board....
William and Margaret Dunn operated the hotel of many years, and Mrs. Dunn did all the cooking. On the first floor, a bar room extended across the front of the building, with a separate hallway that led back to a washroom, kitchen and a large dining . . . Map (db m109899) HM
40 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Pfeiffer ResidenceA family home...
Charles Alexander Pfeiffer purchased this family home after his marriage to Ellen Louise Olson in 1890. Charles managed the Pfeiffer Store for his uncle and later worked as a gold and cleanup man at the General Custer Mill. As the family increased . . . Map (db m109835) HM
41 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Stamp MillGot a crush on you....
In 1881, 52 men worked in the mill with the different machinery and refining processes. Imagine the noise generated by the numerous pounding stamps and other machinery as it crushed and processed the ore. Each month, more than 300 cords of wood were . . . Map (db m109866) HM
42 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Stone HouseBuilt to last...
At the top of this trail are the remains of a stone house, the only one within the proper boundaries of Custer. Many single miners live in the house, but one of the most memorable residents was Louise Terloar Short. Louise grew up in North . . . Map (db m109832) HM
43 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Thompson Store (site)Furniture and a whole lot more...
Bell came to Custer in 1879 as the new bride of George Thompson. They lived in a two-room log house behind their furniture and upholstery store that was connected by a walkway to the upper story of the family business. Belle lived in Custer more . . . Map (db m109904) HM
44 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — TransportationFrom horses to horsepower...
Over the years, many different modes of transportation shipped supplies and transported people and ore. From the 1870s through the early 1900s a shift occurred from a reliance on oxen, horses and mules to power generated by the development of the . . . Map (db m109873) HM
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45 Idaho, Custer County, Custer City (ghost town) — Tully CabinA simple cabin...
This building was one of the smaller homes in Custer and was built using prefabricated "panels" for walls. It housed a small family and many a bachelor miner. One such miner was Francis Tully, who played his fiddle for many dances in and around . . . Map (db m109896) HM
46 Idaho, Custer County, Mackay — Earthquake! - The Event
There are no records from explorers’ journals or pioneers’ memories of earthquakes occurring in this area. Scientists have not detected activity in recent time. But, old fault scars indicate that earthquakes occurred before. Geologists recognized . . . Map (db m109708) HM
47 Idaho, Custer County, Mackay — Earthquake! - The Results
• The scarp before you extends for 21 miles, paralleling the mountain front. In some places, multiple scarps formed. • Ground motion, or “ground roll,” did $15,000,000 damage to roads and buildings in the Challis and Mackay areas. . . . Map (db m109709) HM
48 Idaho, Custer County, Mackay — Earthquake! - The Stage
Idaho is part of the world’s longest mountain chain above sea level. This chain extends from the tip of South America to Alaska’s north coast. The widest section is in the western United States - from the Sierra Nevada to the Rocky Mountains. The . . . Map (db m109706) HM
49 Idaho, Custer County, Mackay — 356 — Earthquakes
On October 28, 1983, a major earthquake fracture, 26 miles long and 7 miles deep, surfaced as Lost River Valley slid away from Mount Borah. During that rock shift, Mount Borah’s ridge front rose about 6 inches, while this valley subsided 9 . . . Map (db m109704) HM
50 Idaho, Custer County, Mackay — 509 — Ghost Town of Mackay Idaho
Cliff City and White Knob were bustling mining towns established west of Mackay in the late 1800s. After copper was discovered in the White Knob Mountains in 1879, Cliff City and White Knob sprang up to support the mines. The boomtowns . . . Map (db m140071) HM
51 Idaho, Custer County, Mackay — 229 — Goodin's River
Known as Goddin's River in the days of the fur trade. This stream originally was named for the trapper who discovered it. Thyery Goddin, a prominent Iroquois who explored this river in 1819 or 1820, had come here with Donald Mackenzies fur . . . Map (db m109705) HM
52 Idaho, Custer County, Mackay — 45 — Mount Borah
Idaho’s highest peak, 12,662 feet, is named for William E. Borah, who served in the United States Senate from 1907 until his death in 1940. Ten or a dozen large but shallow inland seas have covered this area in the past billion years. They . . . Map (db m109703) HM
53 Idaho, Custer County, Mackay — 508 — Mount McCaleb
Mt. McCaleb, named for the Civil War veteran and local merchant, Jesse McCaleb, is the prominent 11,683 ft. peak visible north of MacKay. In 1878, while helping escort supply wagons and arms to Challis, McCaleb and 13 others were attacked by . . . Map (db m140070) HM
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54 Idaho, Custer County, Stanley — 328 — Bear’s "Ploughed Field"
Long before miners and ranchers settled Stanley Basin, bears dominated this area. When Alexander Ross and his Hudson’s Bay Company trappers stopped here, September 20, 1824, they “observed at some distance the appearance of a ploughed . . . Map (db m110042) HM
55 Idaho, Custer County, Stanley — In the Early Days
Prospectors panned for gold in the Yankee Fork-Salmon River area from the late 1860's to 1879. Then in 1880 the Yankee Fork Consolidated Gravel Mining Company built a ditch to bring water here for their new hydraulic gold mining operations. . . . Map (db m110013) HM
56 Idaho, Custer County, Stanley — Langer Monument
In memory of Charley J. Langer, District Forest Ranger, Challis National Forest, Pilot Captain Bill Kelly and Co-Pilot Arthur A. Crofts of the U.S. Army killed in an airplane crash April 5, 1943 near this point while searching for survivors of an . . . Map (db m117661) HM
57 Idaho, Custer County, Stanley — Of Cabins and Chicken Ranches
Foundations along the trail reflect earlier times when hot springs attracted travelers, settlers, and businessmen. Tales are told of early hot pools, cabins, and chicken raising operations. An attempt to raise chickens here was made by the . . . Map (db m110039) HM
58 Idaho, Custer County, Stanley — River Recreation
River rafters and kayakers now find whitewater excitement on this stretch of the Salmon River. Early photographs help us discover that these rapids were once replaced by a lake. Whitewater was missing after the completion of Sunbeam Dam. . . . Map (db m110011) HM
59 Idaho, Custer County, Stanley — 406 — Stanley Ranger Station
When Challis National Forest was established in 1908, this site became an administrative center. Early log Ranger Stations stood here from 1909 to 1932. Expanding Forest Service responsibilities led to construction of a larger ranger . . . Map (db m182177) HM
60 Idaho, Custer County, Stanley — Sunbeam Bathhouse
This 1937 stonework building remains as a tribute to Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) craftsmanship. CCC workers from Camp Clayton built the structure. It was originally used as a bathhouse and is now a historic site. The National Forest System . . . Map (db m110038) HM
61 Idaho, Custer County, Stanley — Sunbeam Dam
The Sunbeam Dam was constructed by the Sunbeam Consolidated Gold Mines Company to provide power for their mill located 13 miles up Yankee Fork on Jordan Creek. Construction of the dam and power plant began in June, 1909, and was completed . . . Map (db m110010) HM
62 Idaho, Custer County, Stanley — The Boiling Fountain
Alexander Ross and his Hudsons Bay Company fur trappers were the first white men to visit these hot springs. His dairy describes camping "at the boiling fountain" when they came here on October 1, 1824. Hot springs result when hot water reached . . . Map (db m110040) HM
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Dec. 5, 2023