In 1880 the following quartz lode mining claims near
Bullion, about seven miles west of Hailey, were discovered, namely,
Jay Gould, Bullion, Mayflower, May Queen, Idahoan, and others.
Bullion in its heyday had over 500 men at work in the mines and its
population was estimated at 700. It had two general stores, a shoe
shop, a Post Office, a school house, four boarding houses, a Miners'
Union hall, a livery stable, a daily stage that made round trips to
Bailey, a pipe line with hydrants and hose, a large number of
dwelling houses, seven saloons, etc. The mines adjoining Bullon
produced more ore than did any other mining camp in the county. The
post office was discontinued October 15, 1890. A short distance west
of Bullion was the Red Elephant group. Across the ridge on Deer
Creek were the following groups, Red Cloud, War Dance, Narrow-Gauge,
Nay Aug, and other mines. In the Little Wood River District,
situated about 18 miles northeast of Bellevue, were the Muldoon
group, Silver Spar group, Eagle Bird, John A. Logan, and others.
There was a little town called Muldoon near these mines. In its
palmy days there were about 200 men employed at those mines.
The Smelting Industry
There were smelters near Bellevue, near the mouth of
Indian Creek, a few miles north of Hailey, Ketchum, Galena and
Muldoon. Both Vienna and Sawtooth had stamp mills and a large amount
of silver bullion was shipped from each of these places. In addition
to the above, there were several concentrating works and samplers.
The Philadelphia Mining and Smelting Company's works at Ketchum are
worthy of special mention. The first unit or furnace was built in
1882. In the summer of 1883 this company made extensive improvements
to their smelting works, which already had two stacks. They
constructed two additional buildings, the one 200 feet long by 50
feet wide, the other 60 by 60. The first mentioned was an ore house
and was divided in to bins, in which the various lots of ore purchased were laid and prepared for the furnace. These bins were on
each side of the building, and a roadway wide enough for two teams
and their line of loaded trail-wagons to pass extended from end to
end of the building. The other building was a furnace house.
These buildings had solid masonry foundations. A huge brick stack
also was constructed at this time. Two new furnaces were erected.
These, in addition to the two stacks which were al ready in
operation, gave the company a smelting capacity of 180 tons per day.
This was not a net capacity, but a gross one. That is to say, the
total tonnage just stated included iron, lime, charcoal, etc., mixed
with ore, as well as the ore itself. Of the latter, the quantity
reduced was from 80 to 130 tons per day, the daily capacity
depending upon the character of the ores. The ores of this entire
region which had been taken to this smelter up to the time in
question, carried an average of 50 per cent lead and about 100
ounces of silver. Two tons of ore, therefore, on an average, made
one ton of bullion. With the four furnaces in operation the daily
output was from 40 to 60 tons of base bullion. All these buildings,
in addition to the 20 kilns which were constantly converting wood
into charcoal, the boarding houses, assay and business offices, the
wood and lumber flumes, etc., and the necessary yard room for 50 or
more teams to move about at once, required a great deal of room. But
as the company owned 400 acres there was ample room.
The location of the works was probably the very best that could be
had in this region. The furnaces and ore bins were erected on the
edge of a high bluff bordering on Wood River, a little west of
Ketchum. The works were run exclusively by waterpower derived from
Warm Springs Creek, which never froze, and thus afforded all the
required motive power, the year round. The mines which furnished the
most of the ores to this smelter were the Elkhorn, Parker, West
Fork, Bullion and Mayflower. In 1887 a certain mortgage was
foreclosed and the property, including the Muldoon smelter, was sold
at Sheriff's sale and bid in by James M. Rhodes, personally. Shortly
thereafter the Philadelphia and Idaho Company was organized and
commenced operations at Ketchum. This company owned the Ketchum and
Muldoon smelters and the following mines, to-wit: North Star, Silver
Star and West Fork groups, the Star of Hope and two mines on Boyle
mountain. This smelter continued to operate until 1890. It was
started again in the fall of 1892 and closed down permanently early