Thursday, September 24, 2009

Updates and Tourism Thoughts

As I entered my “On This Day” item, it occurred to me (it should have before this) that the title style was a bit cryptic. I decided to include enough key words so the actual subject of the bit was immediately clear. I liked that so much, I went back and edited all the OTD entries.

Yesterday, I had a pleasant, and productive, interaction with Skip Myers -- creator and keeper of the Idaho City Events site. I had asked him if he had newspaper clippings that gave a specific day for a notorious event in Idaho City history: the shooting of ex-Sheriff Sumner Pinkham by southern-sympathizer Ferd Patterson. Turns out, he did … he had lots of stuff besides the answer to my question. The clippings even included photos of the two protagonists. (Being newspaper stock, the pictures aren’t great, but they do the job.) You’ll be hearing more on this topic in the future.

Skip loves Idaho City history, but the future of his town is also of major concern to him. The mines are long gone, so tourism, recreation, and the Boise County offices pretty much define what the area is about. Skip’s web site lists some of those attractions: hiking, fishing, camping, and seeing the historic sights during warm weather; hunting, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and other winter sports when it gets colder.

But with all of that going for it, Idaho City needs more to maintain itself as a thriving community, and the only area that might be ripe for expansion is more tourism and recreation. (I won’t rehash our discussion of this issue.)

So … during a walk to the store I mulled over some ideas. I’m putting them here in the blog because I know other towns have faced many of the same problems. One can never tell where good ideas might come from.

Anyway, during my stroll, two thoughts surfaced.

The first was based on my correspondence with Skip about that notorious (back then) Pinkham-Patterson shootout. It’s not my “cup of tea,” but Wild West shootout re-enactments are a thriving business. I found a ton of links at “The Gunfighter's Favorite Links” to Discussion Forums, quick-draw exhibitions, Gun Stuff, Western Performance, and more. The “Western Performance” sub-head provides a long list of “Wild West Re-enactors & Performers” -- I counted 55 to 60 links. There are groups in the usual places (Texas, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, NOT Idaho, and more) and some big surprises (New Jersey, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Ukraine).

There’s even an organization called the American Frontier Reenactment Guild. Since the Idaho City gunfight had a July 4th connection, I sense a show coming on. (The photo is from the web site of a reenactment group called Gunfighters Incorporated -- I didn’t ask for permission, but somehow I don’t think they’d mind.)

The second notion had to do with the reason Idaho City was founded: Gold! Google “gold panning events” and you get hits from all over the world (even Switzerland -- Who knew?). There are gold panning competitions, panning instruction exhibits, and endless variations.

I even found a “gold panning” hit at the “Official Idaho Vacation and  travel Planning Guide,” but the only hit-within-a-hit was a terse mention of a gold panning contest as a Roadside Attraction. Some of our neighboring states do much better. (The photo is from a “recreational” site in Nevada County, California.)

I grew up in California gold country, basically a century after the gold rush. In the 1950’s, my dad had a small jar half full of dust and nuggets caught in a riffle box along the Yuba River. No one is likely to get rich, but I’ll bet new color has also washed into the streams in the Boise Basin. Obviously, there are permissions and permits to be checked out, but surely there’s a possible opportunity here. Panning party anyone?


  1. I like the gold panning -- wouldn't mind giving that a try myself.
    HOWEVER, the gunfight thing is SO lame! Does that really attract tourists?

  2. As I said, the stage gunfight is not my cup of tea, but some people must like them -- the fact that 50-60 re-enactor groups think they can make a living at it tells you something.

  3. I love the gunfights! The noise! the smell of the gunsmoke! You're such snobs.