Florence

Location: 6 miles north of Riggins in Idaho Country
John Healy, James Ayers, Lemuel Grigsby, and Hull Rice first discovered placer gold in the area on August 19, 1861 after prospecting for more than two months. Although the men intended to keep their findings a secret, word soon leaked of the new placer gold and more than 350 men were working the area by November, earning as much as $100 a day. Despite harsh winter conditions and a lack of supplies that made the camp undesirable, the miners’ held a meeting in late November to map out a new town. Dr. George Furber suggested the town be named Florence in honor of his daughter who lived in California. The name was approved, and by summer 1862, Florence was a booming mine town with more than 10,000 residents. Only one-third of the residents, however, met with any success, and lawlessness plagued the town. Murderers, robbers, and members of the Henry Plummer gang frequented the area, and resident brawls were a common occurrence between Northern and Southern sympathizers of the Civil War. Such injustice has lead to one of the most interesting graveyards in Idaho. Residents deemed as moral and just were buried in an east-west direction, while “bad guys” were laid to rest in a north-south direction. Despite a loose legal system, Florence’s mine production carried on, and altogether, Florence produced nearly $10 million in gold.

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