Coeur d'Alene Mining District Tour

Mining activity has shaped the development of Idaho’s Panhandle since the first settlers began arriving in the 1800s. With the discovery of silver, gold, and other precious metals, thousands of miners and their families flocked to Idaho with dreams of striking it rich. As a result, hundreds of mines were established and the remains of many still stand today.

From Wallace, drive east on Interstate 90 to Exit #68 for Mullan. Just one mile before the exit, note the waste dump from the Morning Mine. During its operation from 1895 to 1980, the mine produced more than 18 million tons of ore. Once in Mullan, travel through town on the old highway. On the left is the Gold Hunter Mine, which operated from 1901 to 1954. Next is the Lucky Friday Mine that produced over 4 million tons of ore between 1938 and 1994. The mine twice led the US in silver production. Finally, view the footings of the National Mill. This mill produced primarily copper ore and operated from 1914 to 1922.

Wallace, Murray, and Pinehurst
Back in Wallace, proceed across the railroad tracks up Nine Mile Road. On the left is the Sierra Silver Mine Tour. Next is the Dayrock Mine (1924-1974) that produced nearly 1.3 million tons of ore. Just two miles down the road is Dobson Pass where the road on the right leads to Interstate-Callahan Mine (1906-1977). Back on Nine Mile Road, bear right on Kings Pass Road leading to Murray and stay to the right at all road junctions.

In the “living ghost town” of Murray, turn right at the stop sign. Keep right on the road leading to Prichard. This route takes travelers past early gold dredging rock piles and the first discovery of gold in the area at Eagle Creek (1883). In 1884, Wyatt Earp called Eagle Creek home. At the bridge, bear left towards Prichard, and turn left onto North Fork Road. At Babin’s Corner, stay right and drive to Interstate 90. After passing the interstate, bear left on the frontage road to Pinehurst.

In Pinehurst, drive down Main Street and turn right at the four way stop. This road leads past the Amy-Matchless Mine (1912-1926), Sunset Minerals-Liberal King Mine (1937-1963) on the left, and King of Pine Creek Mine on the right. Where the road forks, proceed left up the East Fork of Pine Creek Road. Towards travelers’ upper left is Lookout Mountain Mine (1922-1952) and just two miles further on the left is the Nabob Mine (1907-1977). As travelers reach Denver Creek, note that this was once the site of the Hilarity, Little, Pittsburg, Mascot, and Sidney Mines which operated for varying lengths between the years of 1916 to 1955. At Highland Creek, the Highland Surprise and Nevada Stewart Mines once thrived from 1904 to 1971. Continuing one more mile takes travelers to the Douglas Mill footings on the left. This mill was open from 1916 to 1972. As the pavement ends, turn around and return to Pinehurst, keeping right at the road fork.

Page, Smelterville, Kellogg, Wardner, and Osburn
At the four way stop in Pinehurst, proceed straight and take the frontage road leading to Smelterville. Bear right onto Page Road and continue on the upper road. Just one mile down this road is the gate to the Page Mine (1916-1969). This mine produced over 4 million tons of ore. After returning to the frontage road, bear right and continue through Smelterville. Merge onto the Interstate, and to the right, view Government Gulch, Bunker Hill Central Lab, and the old Bunker Hill Lead Smelter that ran from 1917 to 1981.

At exit 49, merge off the Interstate and bear right on Bunker Avenue. Proceed to a three-way stop on Hill Street and turn right. After driving just 0.2 miles, bear right on McKinley Avenue and continue to the Bunker Hill Mine (1886-1981 and 1988-1991). This mine produced more than 37 millions tons of ore, and around the mine, visitors will find an old garage, power station, a brick computer building, the mine’s mill, an ore bin, the main warehouse, and a plant services building. After viewing the mine’s remains, turn around and proceed east on McKinley Avenue to the four-way stop on Kellogg’s Main Street. Here, turn right and proceed to Wardner.

In Wardner, the 1885 discovery site that led to the development of the Bunker Hill Mine is evident on the left up Milo Gulch. Straight ahead, travelers will view the waste dumps from the Last Chance Mine (1895-1918) and the Tyler Mine. Upon viewing these sites, turn around and drive on Main Street back to Kellogg. At the Nazarene Church, bear left on Main Street and proceed to a four-way stop. Turn right on McKinley Avenue, cross the railroad tracks, and drive under the Interstate to the next four-way stop. Here, merge right onto Cameron Avenue and frontage road.

After driving approximately three miles, visitors will arrive at the Sunshine Mine Miner Monument, a statue dedicated to the memory of 91 miners who lost their lives in a 1972 fire in the mine. Here, bear right onto Big Creek Road. To the right on this road is the Sunshine Mining Company Silver Refinery and Antimony Plant and the offices for the Sunshine Mining Company. The next structure on the right hillside is the Crescent Mine (1924-1977.) Just 0.3 miles past the Crescent Mine is the yard for the Sunshine Mine. Discovered in 1884, this mine has produced more than 10 million tons of ore. The mine is still in full operation and has the largest silver yield of all US silver mines. Visitors can purchase silver rounds, bars, and other mining/silver souvenirs here. Upon viewing the impressive mine, return to frontage road and the Sunshine Monument.

At the monument, bear right. To the left is Evolution Bridge where A.J. Prichard made the first mineral discovery in the area in 1879. The resulting Evolution Mine operated from 1908 to 1948. Continue on frontage road to view the Consolidated Silver Mine (1948-1969) on the right. One mile further, travelers will find the remaining mill buildings from the Coeur d’Alene Mine (1938-1951).

Passing through Osburn, the Coeur Mine is situated on the right hillside above the Silver Hills Middle School. This mine is the newest mine in the district and ran from 1969 to 1991. Next, proceed across the railroad tracks and drive up Lake Gulch to the Galena Mine. The Galena Mine produced nearly 4 million tons of ore during its reign from 1922 to 1992 and was America’s top silver producing mine several years during its operation. Upon viewing the mine, turn around, proceed back down the hill, and note a road leading to the right. This road leads to the Caladay Mine. This mine is perhaps the worst economic mistake in the entire Coeur d’Alene Mining District. While over $25 million was spent on its development, no ore was ever mined at the site.

Turn right at the frontage road and enter Wallace where this driving tour ends.

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