The Gold Hill Mine was one of the largest
producers of gold in the Boise Basin. Activity at the mine began
in 1864 and continued for many years with the help of a twenty-five
stamp mill. It was here that miners turned from placer mining
to quartz mining, hence the town of Quartzburg. In 1931, a disastrous
fire swept the Basin consuming the mill and every building in
the town except one-the post office and store that still stands
today. It is in this area of the Basin the visitor will find
not only many smaller mining camps too numerous to mention here
but decent roads that make for a rewarding day or two drive.Submitted by Henry Chenoweth.
I came upon your site while researching Quartzburg, ID, and would like to correct your account of that town. The fire that burned the town in 1931 consumed all the buildings except
the post office/store (if memory serves, this building was constructed of adobe, or maybe low-fired brick) AND the schoolhouse. The latter was saved, according to an authoritative source, because it had open space all around, and because the men of the community had, the year before, painted it with a material advertised as fireproof. According to the source, the school marm who taught there the year after the fire, it performed very well.
Oh yes, the lady in question was Julia Wood, nee Foster, and my mother! My family visited Quartzburg in about 1952, and those two buildings still stood. In fact, the school was in good shape, and the bell my mother used to get students' attention was still on the teacher's desk. The mill was being rebuilt, as was the community, so there were not many families; she had six students her first year, when she was all of 19 and fresh out of the College of Idaho, after one year there..
She often told a story about her father, Ed Foster, who was born in Quartzburg, and the 1931 fire. Ed was camptending for sheepherders when he learned that the town had burned. He told the sheep rancher he was leaving, commandeered a car and headed across Boise Basin, stopping at homes and farms to scrounge vegetables, fruit, and whatever else he could. Along the way a deer committed suicide by stepping in front of the sights of Ed's old Marlin 30-30, so it joined the larder. With a borrowed copper wash tub, Ed set up camp among the refugees camped on the tailings piles below town (they were still in danger), began cooking what he called "mulligan stew" and fed the crowd for several days before more help was organized.
When we visited about 20 years later, the mill was still in pretty good shape, with wooden toolboxes containing tools in it. It looked like the miners quit for the day, expecting to return.
My mother's ashes - she died two years ago at 97 - are interred in Idaho City's Boot Hill, in the grave of her half-sister, who died as an infant in 1903.