Idaho Nature July 28, 2017
This Just Might Be The Spookiest State Park In All Of Idaho
Starting in 1877, the towns of Custer, Bonanza, and Bayhorse were booming mining towns thriving off of the influx in people traveling to Idaho looking to become rich. By 1911 the mines had been depleted and the towns effectively abandoned. Today, these ghost towns still stand as silent reminders of its history. Many of the original structures still exist and although they’ve remained dormant for over a century, their stories are still being told. Land of the Yankee Fork State Park contains these ghost towns and visitors from all over travel to the park to visit these forgotten towns. There is always something creepy about abandoned towns, and a visit to this state park surely is no exception.
Tucked away in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, these towns actually look very charming and picturesque. Land of the Yankee Fork State Park is the perfect day trip with winding scenic drives through incredible mountains and forest. The Custer Motorway, the road from Challis to the towns of Custer and Bonanza, was actually built in 1879 to carry supplies and equipment to the mining towns. So, the drive itself is like reliving a piece of history!
As you get closer, the towns seem more like...well, ghost towns. Abandoned houses and buildings stand wearing the look of over a hundred years on their walls. Custer and Bonanza are quite close to each other and are pretty much one in the same. Many of the buildings are open to the public for self-guided tours. By 1896, Custer and Bonanza had a peak population of 600 people and by 1910 their population was down to only a handful of families.
Walking into one of these structures is like walking back in time. It's crazy to think this town was once active with human energy and miners working every single day. Since this is a ghost town, be sure to bring the necessities (water, food, sunscreen, etc.) when you visit.
You have to check out the graveyards. These graves date all the way back to the late 19th century. Beautifully stoic in daylight, a night time visit to this place is only for the brave of heart!
Located in an old schoolhouse is a museum containing items left behind and showcase the town's unique history. Although fascinating, you can't help but get an eerie vibe thinking about the people who once owned these items.
And then there are artifacts from the town's heyday just sitting out, with no explanation whatsoever of how they got there.
These two towns grew together during their peak times, and then reflectively died together. Their time was short, but it's impressive just how well their structures have held up over the years.
When you're done in Custer and Bonanza, travel to the nearby ghost town of Bayhorse approximately 40 miles east. Bayhorse reached a peak population of about 300 people during the 1880's and 1890's. Back then, the hills that the town is situated on were littered with cabins, saloons, banks, a post office, and more. By 1915, Bayhorse was completely abandoned.
Bayhorse is even more well preserved than Custer or Bonanza, with several structures still standing and in decent condition. Among these structures are a Wells Fargo building, the saw mill, and several cabins.
Although rich with fascinating histories, these ghost towns are a creepy reminder of the hundreds of lives that lived and died here.
Have you visited Land of the Yankee Fork before? What’s your favorite abandoned spot in Idaho? Don’t forget to let us know in the comments!
By the way, you’re sure to love our article about this
other abandoned Idaho ghost town!
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