We knew that we wanted our Sawtooths trip to be more than mountains and snow, and the Custer ghost town area in the Salmon-Challis National Forest had several pushpins clustered in our map that made it a winner.
The Custer ghost town is in the Land of the Yankee Fork State Park, along with the Bonanza ghost town and the Yankee Fork Dredge. Lots of good stuff in a relatively close area, if you don’t mind driving to the middle of nowhere on gravel roads.
We opted out of the interior tour of the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge, but it’s probably a great experience for those interested.
The Bonanza ghost town is a complete bust, a few ramshackle old buildings that are all privately owned, and a cemetery that is mostly wooden ‘unknown’ grave markers with a few interesting bits of history thrown in.
The Custer ghost town itself is definitely worth the trip though. The town has been very well documented and maintained, and the signed walking tour is worth doing even in summer heat.

Solid State

Custer Ghost Town - Solid State
Not microchips – good old American iron. This gear is part of the tramway that moved ore from the top of the mountain down to the stamp mill.


Five-Stamp Mill

Five-Stamp Mill in Custer Ghost Town
A precursor of today’s machine-shop presses, the cams operate pistons that crush the rock passing through the mill.


Fixer Upper

Fixer Upper
My dad would have this thing running in a few hours…


Snowslide

Snowslide
Interesting that they didn’t use the word avalanche back then. Also interesting is the story on the avalanche sweeping away this house.


Empire Saloon

Empire Saloon in Custer Ghost Town
We were very disappointed that the Empire Saloon in the Custer Ghost Town no longer serves libations.


Old Town

Old Town - Custer Ghost Town Idaho
Pretty much what I’d expect to find in an old abandoned mining town.


Yes, They Are

Yes, They Are
This is exactly how I like pedestrians. Bump. Bump.


Yankee Fork Gold Dredge

Yankee Fork Gold Dredge
An amazing piece of machinery that chewed up rocks to find gold as it made its own waterway to move along.


Unknown

Unknown
One of the many unknowns in the Bonanza Cemetery.