Idaho September 11, 2017
These 8 Towns In Idaho Still Look Like Something Straight Out Of The Wild West
Living in Idaho is like living in a time capsule. Just a short distance from any urban area in the Gem State is a town that looks like its been stuck in the mid 1800’s for the past 150 years. They are a wonderful reminder of the rich history our state has from the mining days of the gold rush. Although many of these towns still have a good number of residents to them, they’ve been perfectly preserved to reflect what life was like to Idaho’s early residents. If you’re looking for a fun day trip to take with the family, consider visiting one of these beautiful towns.
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Roseberry is an especially interesting historic town because during its heyday in the late 19th century, it was considered one of the most important towns in Idaho. However, many business owners and residents abandoned it in 1914 when a railroad was built just a few miles away (at what would become Donnelly). In the last few decades, though, there has been an enormous effort to bring this town back to what it once was. And that's just what has happened. Many of the historic buildings have been newly renovated and shops like the General Store are back in business. The town even hosts many annual events including The Summer Music Festival at Roseberry.
If you find yourself driving along the Salmon River Scenic Byway you will undoubtedly pass through Challis. The popular resort town of Sun Valley is only a mere 80 miles away but the two towns couldn't be more different. Challis has maintained a very Western vibe. On the main street in its "downtown" area, the same structures that were bustling with bodies during the mid-nineteenth century are still maintained by small business owners. Challis feels like it never really left the Wild West, and that's what makes a trip to the town so interesting.
Nestled in the very southeastern corner of the state is the very first permanent European settlement in Idaho. Founded in 1860, Franklin's original structures still stand tall. The streets of Franklin used to stay busy with stagecoaches going to and from Yellowstone National Park. Today the town still attracts a lot of visitors who are curious as to what Idaho's first town looks like, and it maintains a population of around 600 people.
With a population of merely 16 (yes, 16) long term residents, it's hard to believe that Warren once attracted thousands of people to the area after the discovery of gold. The peaceful town is made of the same wooden structures that were built at the town's beginning in 1862. Tucked away in the mountains and surrounded by forest, the remoteness of Warren makes it feel like it exists in a snow globe where time stands still!
The entire town square of this southern Idaho town is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places and it feels exactly like a reenactment of how people lived a century ago. The downtown area consists of specialty shops that just don't exist in cities any more, such as a shoe store and a quilting shop. The historic buildings that have existed since the early 1900's are in incredible shape and look like they could've been built recently. A visit to Rupert doesn't feel like looking back at history, it feels like living history.
A sign in this northern Idaho town still reads "This is the town founded by a jackass and inhabited by his descendants." The town still bears a certain gruffness of an old western town and it's obvious that Kellogg is still very much proud of the role it played in the mining industry. Although the town is slowly becoming a small resort town with the popular Silver Mountain Resort nearby (which has
the largest gondola ride in North America
, by the way), tokens of the mining town it once was are still very prominent.
Harrison was once considered to be the largest town on Lake Coeur d'Alene. Presently, it perfectly combines the old with the new to be what is now an incredibly picturesque lake town. A century ago, the lake's marina was full of steamboats. Now, it is usually home to personal boats used for recreation on the pristine waters of Lake Coeur d'Alene. The charm of Harrison remains, however, making it one of the most scenic of Idaho's historic towns.
Approximately two hours from Spokane, Washington is the peaceful and almost forgotten town of Murray. Whereas a lot of Idaho's old mining towns are still widely recognized for their role during the silver and gold rush, Murray has taken a backseat in these conversations. Most people don't know that Murray produced a hefty amount of silver back in the day (1.2 billion ounces to be exact). Today, it is almost completely abandoned. However, it is still home to some incredible historical sites. Old mining equipment can still be found along the streets and you can even visit one of the original houses where an owner in the past dug a 36 feet deep hole in his bedroom, convinced that he could find gold beneath the house. The town may be quiet today, but the history of the once booming Wild West town speaks for itself.
Have you been to any of these “Wild West” towns? What Idaho towns do you believe belongs on this list? Let us know! While you’re at it, check out the
10 Most Beautiful, Charming Small Towns In Idaho!