Mineral

Location: 22 miles northwest of Weiser in Washington County
During the summer of 1880, John A. James and his cousin, Jim Peck, established the settlement of Hancock (named after their favorite presidential candidate that year). The camp quickly grew into a town that included two butcher shops, two livery stables, a blacksmith shop, two general stores, an assay office, two hotels, a barber, nine saloons, several houses of ill repute, a small crusher mill, and a smelter. During this period of rapid growth, the community also decided to change its name to Mineral.

Supplies, especially lumber, were scarce in Mineral, so residents were forced to use ingenuity in constructing town buildings. House roofs were frequently made from canvas or from flattened cyanide cans. Other residents opted to use molten slag from the smelters that had been molded into blocks, while still others preferred to create dugouts in the hills rising above Mineral. With these frequent supply shortages, it is not surprising that the town wavered between prosperity and disaster. Times were hard during the 1890’s, but by 1900, residents’ outlooks had changed and a new, sixty-ton smelter was built. 1905 marked another bust for the community and much of the population left Mineral. Except for a short period of mining in World Wars I and II, the town has slowly withered away. Today, only one building and a graveyard remain.

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