The Mammoth Mine Rediscovered

Was It Idaho’s Highest Mine?

Story and photos by Ray Brooks

Early one evening during the summer of 2015, as I drove up the road from Mackay that leads to Cliff Creek and eventually to Mammoth Canyon, a big thunderstorm was just ending. Once I got off the well-graveled Mine Hill Road, the track became muddy from the near-Biblical deluge, and I put the SUV into four-wheel-drive. Cresting a small summit before the road dropped down into Cliff Creek, I noticed that the last car up had left deep tracks in the mud. I shifted into lowest gear and slowly started down the hill, but soon realized the surface was wet clay, as the SUV began to more or less ski down the road. I did my best to stay away from the drop-off on the left side, and after about three hundred yards of being mostly out of control, I hit gravel again. Whew! I camped for the night at the first adequate spot.

White Knob Mountain rises above Mammoth Canyon at the head of Alder Creek in a range called the White Knob Mountains, a few miles west of Mackay. I had become a little obsessed about both the mountain—known locally as “The White Knob” because of its striking white limestone—and Mammoth Canyon, because of the bevy of interesting old mines, fascinating geology, and alpine scenery. This was my third visit of that summer.

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