Letters From the West

Thunder Mountain recalls both mining and conservation success stories

The mining legacy of the Thunder Mountain area east of McCall will be honored when a plaque is placed at Monumental Summit this summer.

Today, people visit the area cherry-stemmed deep into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness to fish, hunt, hike, ski, and snowmobile and to explore the historical mining equipment. But beginning in 1866, the area was the site of one of the lower 48’s last gold rush six hours by road in the summer from Boise.

The plaque, currently on display at the Payette National Forest Supervisor’s office in McCall,

A plaque that  tells the Thunder Mountain story is on display in McCall.

A plaque that tells the Thunder Mountain story is on display in McCall.

recalls the 2005 purchase of private lands and mining claims in the Thunder Mountain Mining District by the Trust for Public Lands. The Forest Service bought the land from the Trust in 2008, preventing the area from becoming some rich guy’s wilderness playground.

The area was last mined in the 1990s by Thunder Mountain Gold, Inc. which did an excellent job of reclaiming the area before it left and sold 720 acres to the Trust for Public Lands. It is exploring for minerals on mostly private property on Owyhee County’s South Mountain.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West