Friday, July 7, 2017

Silver Mining Town of Kellogg Platted [otd 07/07]

The Illustrated History of North Idaho said, "The original plat of the town of Kellogg was filed with the auditor of Shoshone County July 7, 1893."
Kellogg, Idaho, ca 1907. University of Idaho Digital Collections.
Development of the area began in the late summer of 1885, when prospectors Phil O'Rourke and Noah S. Kellogg discovered what became the Bunker Hill Mine. O'Rourke filed the claim on September 10, and by the end of the month other hopefuls had located several mines along extensions of the same ledges.

Soon, prospectors found what came to be the Sullivan Mine across the canyon. By early November, miners built the first cabins for the town of Wardner, along Milo Creek, a mile or so north of the main lodes. (It was initially called "Kentucky," but the U. S. Post Office nixed that.) Even before that, brothers Robert and Jonathan Ingalls claimed a ranch further north on the more extensive flats along the Coeur d'Alene River.

The settlement they started in early 1886 as "Milo" was renamed Kellogg before the year was out. The town grew rapidly, having a local newspaper within a few months. Two years later, Kellogg had train service.

With more space to expand, Kellogg soon surpassed Wardner and became the headquarters for many mining companies in the area. By the time the town was platted in 1893, the Bunker Hill & Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Company was one of the largest employers in the region.

Although Bunker Hill had escaped the worse of the miners' union unrest in 1892, they were the primary target for a major incident in 1899 [blog, April 29.] Some level of friction between the unions and mine owners would continue for many years, but eventually a more cooperative climate developed.

In 1901, the Company donated "one of the finest brick school houses in the state" to Kellogg. Then, in 1913, the town was incorporated. Three years later, the demand for batteries and bullets for World War I sparked a boom in area lead mining. That did not last, of course, and a recession followed the war. Still, the Idaho Statesman reported (January 14, 1923) that, “All of the mines that were idle in 1921 resumed operation at capacity production … ”

The revival was attributed, in part, to “the marked increase in the price of lead, zinc and copper.” In fact, ups and downs in metal prices drove the town's economy well into the 1970s. But that same decade saw the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Silver Mountain gondola.
Guide to North Idaho.

People in Kellogg hoped for the best. Even into 1980, high silver prices fueled optimism about the town's economy. The roof fell in the following year: A national recession depressed prices, and major layoffs soon followed. After that, mineral production no longer played a significant employment role for Kellogg. The designation of wide expanses of the valley as a Superfund Site dealt the coup de grâce.

Soon, town leaders began to seek new sources of employment for the area. Although the transition was painful and is not yet complete, Kellogg now features a tourist economy with museums, shops, condominiums, and a nearby ski area – Silver Mountain. Boosters are also striving to expand their role into more of an all-seasons destination.
References: [Hawley], [Illust-North]
City of Kellogg
Judith Nielsen, “Corporate History: Bunker Hill Mining Company,” Manuscript Group 367, University of Idaho Special Collections (1995).
Julie Whitesel Weston, The Good Times Are All Gone Now, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman (2009).

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