Finding My Roots In the History of the Silver Valley

I moved back to the Silver Valley in 2000, after living in eastern Montana for a few years, and then Meridian, Idaho on the outskirts of Boise. During somewhere in my transition back to Kellogg, I had a revelation.
My dad was born in 1930. Noah Kellogg discovered the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining Company in 1885.

The town my father was born in had existed for only 45 years when he was born. For some reason, I never realized what a "young frontier" the valley still was around the time Dad was born. This revelation prompted me to start reading and researching the history of this area.

And that is why I chose the following topic for this week's Sibling Assignment: Share about some information you learned about the history of the Silver Valley as an adult, that you had no clue about as a student growing up in Kellogg, and then how this information changed your thinking about the Silver Valley.

Raymond Pert's is here, and Inland Empire Girl's is here.

I think realizing that people didn't really start living in the valley until the late 1800's never caught my attention until the last 7 years. Maybe when you are young, 45 years seems like a lifetime. But as I get older, 45 years is not that long of time.

The Silver Valley is actually one of the last places in the United States to be occupied and "tamed". That was because of the rich minerals found in the depths of her hillsides. Andrew Prichard was the first to discover the riches of this area by discovering gold along the North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River in 1883. When people started hearing about the gold in the rivers and streams, many flocked to the area that is now known as Prichard and Murray, Idaho.

While living in Murray in 1885, Noah Kellogg purchased a "grubstake" and took off to the south toward Evolution and started exploring along the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River. He found Milo Creek and started walking up Milo Gulch and somehow his jackass discovered an outcropping of galena on the hillside.

Soon other mines were being discovered up and down the Silver Valley.

But growing up I never really new what being a miner really meant. Isn't that odd. Dad worked in the Zinc Plant. I think my picture of being a miner was someone who went in and dug rocks. While working on a publication about the Sunshine Mine Disaster in 2002, I realized some things.

Miners have a variety of jobs. Some do go in and drill the rock and blast the rock. Others are electricians. Others drive mine cars. Others muck out the rock. Again, to me that was a revelation. And I don't think I realized that it was hot and steamy down in a mine. And wet.

I remember learning about the Cataldo Mission as a student. I heard about Noah Kellogg and how he was helped by his jackass in finding the mine. But there are so many more fascinating stories about the development of this area.

And I loved learning about the presence of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe in this area before the Jesuit Missionaries or "Black Robes" arrived. I often close my eyes and try and think what is must have been like here along this soggy cedar bog as the tribe traveled back and forth each year for their buffalo hunt in Montana, and hunting and fishing in this area. And what it must have been like for them along Coeur d'Alene Lake when they were the only inhabitants.

I invite you to read about this area. I have a list of books written on the left side of my page. They are full of discovery, romance, murder, greed, hope, love...everything element needed for a good story.

But these stories aren't made up.

They are true. And they are all a part of my history, that helped shape me and my family and made us the people we are today.


Inland Empire Girl said...

Great post! I look forward to reading even more about our history and learning more our trip Friday.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Great point about the Silver Valley history being so "new" and one of the last places in the US to be "tamed."