In search of the ghost towns of central Idaho, I have spent a lot of time over the last ten years driving down gravel forest roads, fording creeks or boggy pastures, slipping through the snow, putting my four-wheel drive vehicle to the test.
My wife and kids have grown to love these trips as much as I do, though they may tell you differently. They might joke about the time I got us stuck in Florence and had to leave the women and children with the reintroduced wolves while I got a ride back to town (for three hours) to get a big enough 4WD to pull us out.
They might complain how their backsides often hurt from riding down rocky paths all day long, or recall the time we had to change a tire on a rocky, steep incline (in the rain) on the way to Yellow Jacket, but I think they also would have to admit that these are unforgettable memories.
One year, we camped in McCall and the next day drove on back roads toward Roosevelt, in the very remote Thunder Mountain mining area. After the mining in Roosevelt slowed down, a mudslide on May 31, 1909 blocked Monumental Creek and turned the town into what it is today, Roosevelt Lake. By then, only a few year-round residents remained, and they left. I’m told from the shores of the lake you can see the logs from buildings, and on a clear day you can see outlines of the structures on the bottom.
This intrigued me ever since I found out about it some time ago, but I didn’t account for how long it would take to get there. Before we made it to the lake that day it started getting dark, and we grudgingly turned back to camp. Continue reading →