Shoot-out In Burke Canyon

The Idaho mine war broke into flame in 1892 and cast a glare with very long shadows

The road running up Burke Canyon from the little town of Wallace in northern Idaho is not too heavily travelled these days. The town of Burke, where the pavement ends six miles from Wallace, still has a couple of saloons and a small general store, and the Union Pacific branch line that freights out ore from the big Hecla silver mine still shares with Burke’s one and only street a common right of way in the narrow cleft of the canyon. But still, the little mining town is only a weather-beaten relic of its days of glory. Read more »

When The Forty-niners Went Sixty

They had no chair lifts, and they called their skis snowshoes, but they were the fastest men alive

What may come as a surprise is that this swell swoop has been going on for over a century. It was just about a hundred years ago that a relatively unsung hero named Tommy Todd, of Howland Flat, California, was clocked at fourteen seconds for 1,806 feet from a standing start—which averages out to well over eighty-seven miles an hour. Since this was at a time when even crack express trains hadn’t made eighty miles an hour yet, there is every reason to think that Tommy was the fastest man alive in 1870. Read more »

“Go It, Washoe!”

Granddaddy of all desert mining discoveries was the Comstock Lode, which sent the Far West on a silver stampede to Nevada’s Washoe country a century ago.

Into the mountain-bound mining camp of Grass Valley, California, rode a weary traveler late in June, 1859. He had jogged more than 150 miles over the massive Sierra Nevada from the Washoe country in western Utah Territory. With him, mostly as a curiosity, he carried some odd-looking chunks of gold-bearing ore.