Hunting for abandoned places in Idaho? You’re in the right place. Below are 17 of my favorite abandoned places in the great potato state!
Abandoned Places In Idaho
1. Deadwood Mine
Miners originally discovered quartz outcrops in the Deadwood Basin in the early summer of 1863, and by 1868, they had discovered the Deadwood lead-zinc mines. The mine was developed between 1926 and 1927, when 2,200 feet of tunnels were completed, and work on a mill, a 250-horsepower hydroelectric power plant, and camp buildings, including a large combination office and home complex, began.
In 1942, 7,733 tons of zinc-lead ore were extracted, yielding 240 tons of silver-lead-copper concentrates and 590 tons of zinc concentrates, all of which were in great demand during World War II. The mine struggled after the war and the bonuses expired, and it eventually closed in 1950.
The mill with some machinery, a massive board house, and, weirdly enough, old snow-crushed travel trailer is among the wreckage of the deadwood mining site today.
The office and living room have baseboards and window frames that have been trimmed. The office and main living spaces have fine-grain tongue and groove floors. Most of the structure has double-hung windows with window weights.
Of all the abandoned places in Idaho, Deadwood is the most interesting mine to explore in my opinion.
2. Burke Ghost Town
Burke is a ghost town in Shoshone County, Idaho, United States, established in 1887. After substantial amounts of silver and lead were discovered in 1884, the mining town grew. However, because the boomtown was built in a ridiculously tiny canyon, it resulted in some fantastically inventive architecture.
Burke Canyon is long and narrow, with a maximum width of about 300 feet. It seems impossible to squeeze an entire town into such a small space, but they did. Because the railroad rails and the vehicle road shared the main street, cars and carriages were forced to stop when the train passed.
Burke, like many other mining communities in the Old West, began to deteriorate at the turn of the century, and the mines began to close. In 1990, there were only 15 people remaining in town, according to reports. The last of the mines closed in 1991, and Burke was deserted within a few years.
Many deteriorating structures, abandoned mining equipment, and abandoned relics can still be found throughout town. The village is cut through by a twisting railroad track scattered with old big tools, and there is an unmarked, unknown cemetery with most of the headstones damaged.
3. Old Idaho Penitentiary
The Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site was a working jail in the western United States from 1872 to 1973, located east of Boise, Idaho. The first structure, known as the Territorial Prison, was built in the Territory of Idaho in 1870, when the territory was only seven years old and two decades before statehood.
The area that is presently known as the Rose Garden (as it was formerly termed) was originally used to hang convicts. The Idaho State Penitentiary was closed to inmates in 1973. Although it is not a structure, inmates used to box and play baseball, basketball, handball, tennis, horseshoes, and football in the Idaho Botanical Gardens.
The Idaho Merci Train boxcar, the J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit, and the buildings and cell houses with displays are currently on the site. J.C. Earl gave the state of Idaho his personal collection of antique armaments and military memorabilia in late 1999. In 2001, these objects were put on display. They date back to the Bronze Age and are still utilized for sports, police enforcement, and military purposes today.
The prison’s ancient history and tragic past leave many believing that it’s one of the most haunted abandoned places in Idaho.
4. Silver City Ghost Town
Silver City was the epicenter of one of the West’s largest silver finds. In 1863, gold was discovered in the Owyhee region of southwest Idaho for the first time. The Jordan party, a group of 29 guys, made the finding. Despite the region’s remoteness and mine conflicts, the Owyhee district continued to produce large quantities of precious metals.
For nearly fifty years, the Owyhee mines were key producers. During this time, Silver City prospered, with a population of around a thousand people in 1912. Silver City was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 as a historic district including more than 10,000 acres. The Idaho Hotel, which was established in the 1860s and rebuilt in 1972, is still open to guests on a periodic basis.
Silver City, which is at an elevation of 6,200 feet, is surrounded by the 8,000-foot-high Owyhee Mountains. It’s like taking a trip back in time when you visit the town. The Idaho Hotel, one of the city’s prominent structures, has remained almost unchanged since its construction 100 years ago, except for a few modern conveniences. Around seventy-five structures dating from the 1860s to the early 1900s may be found in this historic village, each inspiring the imagination.
5. Boothill Cemetery
Boot Hill Cemetery is another name for Pioneer Cemetery. During the days of the Old West, a boot hill was a typical term for cemeteries since those who were buried there “died with their boots on.” This centuries-old cemetery’s nickname is very apt.
With so many graves of people who died violent deaths, it’s safe to assume that this is a creepy site to visit late at night. All these tombs come from the nineteenth century. Many of them have wooden or iron enclosures, which are common in tombs from this time period.
Only a small percentage of the cemetery’s original headstones remain. Many of the cemetery’s original (typically wooden) burial monuments have been destroyed by fires and other natural weathering over the years. So many of the young and old that are buried here died at such a young age.
6. Boise Underground Tunnels
According to local lore, there is a hidden labyrinth of tunnels beneath Boise. The “Chinese tunnels,” as they’re known, are said to be in the old Boise neighborhood. According to believers, Chinese immigrants created underground tunnels in the late 1800s and early 1900s to escape the world above and move around the city without being detected.
The tunnels were used for gambling, opium dens, and other illicit activities. The Egyptian Theater and Hannafins Cigar Shop, among other places in downtown Boise, are said to have access to underground tunnels.
Nonbelievers claim that the tunnels are a hoax, and that the mystery was created by locals who were distrustful of Chinese immigrants. Others fervently support the tunnels’ existence, hoping to stumble upon one, one day! Of all the abandoned places in Idaho on our list, these tunnels are clearly the most illusive.
7. Gibbonsville Mining Town
The first people arrived in 1872, and the tiny settlement was known as Dahlongi at the time. The little village was renamed Gibbonsville in honor of Colonel John Gibbon, who chased the Nez Perce Indians and participated in the Battle of the Big Hole, when gold was discovered on Anderson and Dahlonega Creeks in 1877.
The gold placers near Gibbonsville were worked extensively, yielding around $2 million in gold, with the A. D.& M. Mine accounting for about half of it. However, by the turn of the century, the ore had run out, and when a devastating fire broke out in 1907, production had come to a halt.
Gibbonsville is no longer a ghost town, but rather a tranquil small burg with a population of just over 100 people. Though it bears little resemblance to its raucous mining days, the community has numerous structures that have been restored from those times, as well as the remnants of the A.D. and M. Mine.
8. Titan 1 569-A Site
BOISE, Idaho (AP) – The nuclear contribution of Ada County during the Cold War is less well-known today than it was when its warheads were aimed at the “Red Menace”. With the Soviet Union fading from memory and terrorism ushering in a new and different form of war, the idea of nuclear-tipped missiles being stationed within a few miles of Boise seems practically science fiction.
A mobile house, a collection of automobiles, old tires, and mounds of snow-covered ground characterize the property, which is typical of isolated homesites around Idaho. Each of the three installations, which were decommissioned in 1965, had three Titan 1 missiles.
The raised ground hints at what remains of Titan I missile complex 569-C. Two more, 569-A and 569-B, were built in Owyhee County at Grand View and Bruneau in the early 1960s. The 569th Missile Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base, the nation’s final Titan I squadron to be activated, was in charge of them all.
9. Eileen Dam
The Eileen Dam was built to provide energy to Cynide Gold Mining Company’s operations in the Deer Creek area. Around the year 1896, mining began in the Deer Creek area. In 1923, the corporation finished plans for a dam and power station on the Moyie River near the mouth of Skin Creek, which was built below a box canyon.
Eileen Dam was built as an arch dam because arch dams aren’t supposed to fail, and it didn’t. The eastern abutment was built against shale rock because of an engineering design flaw. The Moyie River broke through the weak spot, the shale rock at the eastern abutment, in May due to the strong water pressure.
Because the corporation couldn’t sell enough stock to fund dam repairs, the salvageable equipment was sold. The early attempt to capture the Moyie River’s electricity is now a monument that commemorates former mining days while also posing a challenge to rafters racing through the washout.
Eileen Dam is a beautiful spot, and is one of the best legal abandoned places in Idaho to explore.
10. Franklin County Sugar Co.
If you travel north from Logan, Utah in Cache Valley, you will first arrive to Franklin County, Idaho. Whitney, Idaho is a small community located just south of Preston, Idaho, and a few miles north of the Utah-Idaho state line. Sugar beets were successfully produced for the first time in the intermountain west in the late 1800s. Franklin County’s first successful sugar beet crop was planted in 1899.
They carried the beets to areas like Ogden, Utah for processing until 1920, when the Franklin County Sugar Company built a sugar beet processing factory immediately south of Whitney. The factory was sold to the Amalgamated Sugar Company in 1960.
The mill lies in ruins, with its chambers showing its significance, far from the fields. The damaged windows and destroyed rooftops give off haunted vibes. The whole structure is an embodiment of life and work that once was roaming inside that building. Many explorers know of the sugar company, making it one of the more popular abandoned places in Idaho.
11. Shoshone Depot Shoshone
Shoshone was established in 1882 during the construction of the Oregon Short Line and has long been regarded the primary train station in the Magic Valley region of south-central Idaho. Due to practical challenges posed by its location south of the Snake River Canyon, the considerably bigger community of Twin Falls, 26 miles (42 km) to the south, never developed a substantial railroad presence.
The Shoshone Ice Caves are located around 15 miles (25 kilometers) north of Shoshone. The caves are lava tunnels that are cool enough throughout the summer to keep the ice within frozen. This characteristic, made Shoshone popular with visitors in the days before refrigeration, as “the only site for hundreds of miles where one could purchase a cool beer.”
Shoshone has one bar left now, although it also includes a cafe, a movie theatre, and a grocery store. Shoshone is mostly a farming and dairy village, with a few retail shops. Because of the huge disparity in the cost of living, Shoshone has become a bedroom community for Blaine County workers.
12. B-23 “Dragon Bomber” Crash Site
The B-23 “Dragon Bomber” was a military plane that never saw action in any aerial conflicts. The little plane went down in a wooded, lakeside landing location almost 70 years ago and has been there ever since. Even though they were scheduled to land safely in Tacoma, Washington, their preparations were thwarted by a heavy snowstorm. The men had to decide whether to parachute into the cold countryside or try to land. The pilot observed Loon Lake through the ice-covered windshield of the cockpit, and it took him two tries to successfully land the plane.
Fortunately, all eight crew members survived, but one of them sustained serious leg injuries. Faced with frigid weather and a lack of food, they spent days trapped beneath a makeshift shelter they’d ramshackle by digging into the snow and covering the icy hovel with fragments of the damaged jet.
The wrecked plane’s wreckage is still at the original accident location. Finding the wreck necessitates a 10-mile roundtrip excursion through the woods that incorporates many overlapping pathways.
13. Bayhorse Ghost Town
In the 1860s, Bayhorse, Idaho, was a thriving village with a population of 300 to 500 people. While the name of the initial prospector is now forgotten, his two bay horses are not, and they are responsible for the town’s name.
The buildings perched on the hill originally provided the means of grinding and processing the silver ore, but the historic town is a main attraction. While the town rose and fell during the 1880s and 1890s, Bayhorse eventually died a slow death as the challenges of carrying carts full of ore in and out of the rocky canyon combined with the economic realities of dropping silver prices.
The small town, located beneath the mill’s colossal structure, was closed and locked until 2006, when it was designated as a state park.
On a hillside overlooking town, the ancient mill still stands. The structures atop the hill were built to mill and treat silver mines, but the old mining town is now a popular tourist destination. It features a weathered “city,” complete with homes and a hotel in varied states of disrepair.
14. Mackay Mine
By 1890, Mackay had established itself as the regional mining centre in the valley below. Since 1900, the history of the Empire Copper Co.-owned mine has largely been the history of mining in the region. The construction of a smelter with two 125-ton blast furnaces at Mackay in 1901 marked the start of large-scale operations on this group of claims.
The deception and incompetence that characterized its early history have hampered the development of the region’s mineral potential. The mill was mostly operational between 1912 and 1913, but it was closed in the first half of 1914 due to the low price of lead, even though the ore deposits were still being developed.
Mackay has evolved into a modest ranching and farming community. The town is situated in a stunning valley surrounded by some of Idaho’s highest peaks. Mining relics and structures from the area’s copper mining days can be seen and are accessible by a passenger vehicle.
15. Cottonwood Airforce Station
The 822d Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron (AC&W Sq) was assigned to the new station on July 1, 1958, and it became operational on July 1, 1958. The station had 66 structures, including operation and administrative buildings, three dormitories, 27 family housing units, three radar domes, and other support facilities and utilities.
In November 1964, the base’s closure was announced. The station was forced to cease down early due to a catastrophic bearing failure in the AN/FPS-24 antenna pedestal.
Most of the radar station on the mountain’s peak has been demolished. Only building foundations and dilapidated streets remain, except for the AN/FPS-24 tower.
16. Leadore Ghost Town
The historic town of Leadore is one of two official “cities” in Lemhi County, with a population of about 100 people. Leadore was founded in 1910. When the Gilmore and Pittsburgh Railroad was built in the Lemhi Valley, it saw significant growth in population. From 1910 until 1925, the town continued to expand.
When the train was abandoned more than 50 years ago, the town’s population began to decrease. Today, you may take a stroll across town and see many of the town’s century-old structures still standing.
Many of the town’s buildings appear to be from another era. Since Leadore was a popular train stop, it doesn’t appear that much has changed. This location has the atmosphere of a typical tiny town. Everyone knows everyone, and you’ll almost certainly meet a few of them during your visit.
Of all the abandoned places in Idaho, Leadore is my favorite ghost town. It offers a great mix of abandoned buildings and friendly small-town vibes.
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of abandoned places in Idaho, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to find. Take the back roads, follow train tracks, and find some places for yourself. There are plenty of places I kept off this list so get out there and explore.