As Wild West As It Gets
A Ghost Town’s Vivid Past
By Eloise Kraemer
Over breakfast with friends in the Silver Valley last June, my husband Douglas and I got into a discussion about Eagle City and old sawmills. This brought up fond memories from my childhood in the area, which prompted us to do a little historical exploring up the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River to the ghost town of Eagle City and its surrounds.
The restaurant we two started from lies on the east side of Fourth of July Canyon. We continued east on I-90 into the valley and left the freeway at the Kingston exit. We turned northeast and followed U.S. Forest Service 9 along the North Fork toward Enaville. Our destination was about twenty-six miles upriver from Enaville. When we reached the eastern side of a bridge at the confluence of Eagle Creek and Prichard Creek Bridge, we saw a Forest Service sign that pointed toward Murray one way and about the same distance back toward Prichard the other way. The Eagle City site was on the left, where a meadow encircled the old sawmill pond.
The sawmill and teepee-shaped burner were gone, and a lone pine tree stood in the foreground. Ducks startled by our arrival flew off the pond into the blue sky. A breeze brought the meadow alive and grasses whispered. For a moment, I thought I saw a dusty street riddled with ruts from wagon wheels pulled by tired horses loaded with mining equipment and ore. Shacks and tents lined the street. A grimy miner left the assay office, spewing expletives as he kicked a large piece of iron pyrite into the street. The breeze dropped and the scene disappeared.
In reality, I saw a trailer among the pines to the northeast and what looked like a campsite in the distance. “Private Property” signs were posted, and we stayed on the public road. My understanding is that the site is part of a newly formed business. The mining company is now open in the summer months for people to view scars left from hydraulic mining of the mountainside, which is hidden behind the pines, and to try their luck panning for gold in the creek.
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