The Only Gold Rush in Southeastern Idaho
The magnet of gold
In 1870, high in the remote Caribou Range of the middle Rocky Mountains, in southeastern Idaho, gold was discovered by intrepid gold-seekers. Tales of gold and wealth drew thousands to the West during the mid-19th century seeking fame and fortune. Famous gold strikes in California, Nevada, Montana, Northern Idaho, and Canada attracted a continuous stream of miners searching every hillside and stream for potential riches. Southeastern Idaho was no exception.
"Boom towns" grew up on Caribou Mountain beginning about 1870 including:
· Keenan City
· Iowa Bar
· Carriboo City
Within a few years, Carriboo City boasted a three-story hotel and saloons with dancing girls. By the 1880s, four stage coaches traveled from Soda Springs to Carriboo City three days a week, exchanging miners and supplies.
Estimates of gold production on Caribou Mountain vary from less than a million to many millions of dollars.
Today, little remains of the colorful gold towns on Caribou Mountain.
Keenan and Caribou Cities
It was the summer of 1870 when John Keenan, Jesse Fairchilds, Frank McCoy and F.S. Babcock, miners from Cariboo, British Coumbia, found gold on Caribou Mountain. Soon Carriboo City and Keenan City became two of the largest
settlements on the mountain in its mining heyday. Caribou mining was unique. All the miners, including the Chinese, reportedly mined and lived side-by-side on the mountain during the six-month mining period. Snow and extreme cold forced most miners to leave the mountain for the remaining months.
Note: In 1907, Carriboo and Cariboo, became known as Caribou.)
"It is so, I'll let you know I am from Cariboo."
Jesse Farichilds (1836-1881) was quite a local personality. To all that would listen, Fairchilds repeated embellished stores of his life at Cariboo, British Columbia where he had previously mined. If people didn't quite believe his tall tales, he reportedly replied, "It is so, I'll let you known I am from Cariboo."
Carriboo Jack's luck ran out when he met a grizzly bear that took his life. Jesse "Carriboo Jack" Fairchilds is buried in the Soda Springs Fairview Cemetery.
Hydraulic mining, a large-scale method for placer mining, was developed in California in 1853 and utilized in the mining towns of Caribou Mountain.
Billy Clemens, cousin to "Mark Twain," served as postmaster of Carriboo City, 1883-1898. He had three hydraulic giants in operation in the Iowa District.
The hydraulic monitor located at this site was removed near Iowa Creek
on Caribou Mountain in August 1987 for an Eagle Scout Project and donated to Caribou Historical Society by Lowell C. and Joyce Thomas.