After silver and gold were discovered in 1863 along what is now Jordan Creek in Idaho's Owyhee Mountains, a mining boom erupted in southwest Idaho, and several towns were created in rapid succession. Ruby City was one of them.
While Ruby City was not the first town, it became the first official city and Owyhee County's first county seat. As such, it boasted a sheriff, lawyers, a post office, a newspaper (the Avalanche), mercantiles, smiths, and miners--possibly thousands of them, working in the lodes on War Eagle Mountain.
|Owyhee Mountains, Public Domain|
The town thrived despite the high costs of living there: supplies had to be hauled to Ruby City's 6,200 foot elevation and prices reflected the inconvenience (hay, for example, sold for between $100-$300 a ton). Existing trails weren't easy, and while entrepreneurs named Sam Skinner and Colonel Fogus built better roads, they charged for the use of them.
Men outnumbered women by 200 to 1 at one point, and the men were eager for entertainment. Traveling troupes of dance hall girls, called "Hurdy Gurdy Girls," came through on occasion, and a dance with one of the German or Dutch gals cost fifty cents. So did a drink for the lady, and while the man buying it might think it was whisky, the women really drank tea.
Aside from dancing, other entertainment came through town, from circus acts to famous performers like John Kelly, a violinist, whose songs brought tears to the miners' eyes.
Also passing through town were circuit preachers and Catholic missionaries, as no church existed until one was built in Silver City in 1869.
During the winter, when the weather made it difficult for visitors to pass through, the men kept busy by gambling and challenging each other to winter sports. According to a newspaper article, the record for skiing down Florida Mountain to Ruby City was twenty-eight seconds.
Residents who could afford more than a tent built wood homes and businesses.
One of them was the Idaho Hotel, built in 1863. In 1866, a third story wing was added to accommodate more guests.
Folks started to move from Ruby City and bring their homes and businesses with them. The Idaho Hotel was dismantled, and its pieces were loaded onto sleds, pulled by oxen through the snow to its new home in Silver City, where it stands today. While Silver City is now a ghost town, visitors can still stay at the Idaho Hotel during warmer months.
|Silver City in 1892, Public Domain|
|by William Yates, Public Domain|
But the raw beauty of the place is still there to be enjoyed for those who step off the beaten path in search of Ruby City.
Speaking of rubies...what's your favorite gemstone? Comment with a way to contact you in the comment by 11:59 pm May 6, to be entered to win a copy of My Heart Belongs in Ruby City Idaho: Rebecca's Plight!
Journey now to Ruby City, Idaho of 1866 where...
A Marriage Mishap Creates an Awkward Love Triangle in this Silver Mining Town
Looking forward to a quiet life and a full stomach, mail-order bride Rebecca Rice is pleased to marry her shopkeeper intended, Mr. Fordham, until the justice of the peace calls him Thaddeus, not Theodore—proceeded by the title Deputy.
Is it possible to marry the wrong man?
When the newlyweds realize they’ve married the wrong partners with similar names, an annulment seems in order—and fast, since Rebecca’s true intended is impatient to claim her as his own, not to mention Rebecca would never marry a lawman like her father. But when the legalities take longer than expected, Rebecca wonders if Tad wasn’t the right husband for her all along . . .
Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she's the award-winning author of over a dozen historical romances who's seen her work on the ECPA and Publisher's Weekly Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and enjoys fancy-schmancy tea parties, genealogy, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos.You can visit her on her website at www.susannedietze.com, and enter a contest this week to win the book and a prize pack!