If you travel 65 miles south of Salmon, ID. via Hwy 28 you will pass the once booming mining town of Gilmore. In its hay day, the town supported a population of 600, plus hotels, a mercantile, bank, post office, and a series of local business. Numerous residences included several mansions in Upper Gilmore. There was also a city park and a large school that enrolled 71 students in 1928.
Additionally, to move ore and supplies economically meant the building of The Gilmore and Pittsburgh Railroad in 1910. In fact, it was built in just one year with hand labor. The railroad carried the ore from Gilmore across the Continental Divide to Armstead, MT.
Like most mining communities, the boom (1910 through the 1920s) didn’t last long. So, it was over in 1929. The demise of Gilmore began when the main power plant (that supplied power to the mines) exploded. With loss of the plant, with the the Great Depression, engineering challenges, and increasing cost of reaching the remaining ore, signaled the end of mining. Most of the population left town within a few months of the explosion. Gilmore was largely a ghost town by the end of the 1930’s. When all was said and done, the mines produced nearly $486 million dollars (present day worth) of silver with a trace amount of gold.
Explore Present Day Gilmore
Recently, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) partnered with historic preservationists from the National Park Service and the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office. As a result, the plan was to preserve the area so future generations would be able to learn about this piece of Idaho’s history. As part of this effort, there are interpretive panels by the old Gilmore general store.
Currently, most of the site contains many original buildings to view and is on private property. The original town (Upper Gilmore) is located high on the hill near the mines. This is open for the more adventurous to explore.
RVing the road less traveled and hobnobbing with ghosts of yesteryear, just another adventure in RVing!
When You Travel Here:
You will find the interpretive panels mentioned above at: N44° 27.461’ W113° 16.193’
To visit Upper Gilmore head up the hill and turn right at: N44° 27.368’ W113° 17.190’
Meadow Lake Campground (the only campground for miles) is on a beautiful alpine lake. It’s about 4 miles above Gilmore at N44° 26.100’ W113°19.043’ via a gravel road. There are several campgrounds available in Salmon, if you wish to enjoy day trips to the area.
Boondockers will find a couple of choice campsites just off the main road. They are among some ghostly structures by turning left at 44°27.410’ W113°16.646’ on the outskirts of town.
If you are just passing through the area and won’t be camping, there is a large pull-off along the highway at N 44° 27.400’ W113° 14.473’ where you can drop your RV and continue to the town site with your tow vehicle or dinghy.