NAME: White Knob
COUNTY: Custer
CLIMATE: Cool winter/snow and summer.
Fall, Spring, Summer.
COMMENTS: Some neat tram towers.
REMAINS: Many remains in the area.

White Knob Mountain was the source of millions of dollars of copper ore early in the 1900s. The first mine to start the village of White Knob was appropriately named the White Knob Mine. In time, the town grew to have stores, a post office, a boarding house, a school and even a theatre. Mining operations were on the east face of the mountain. A large, electric powered tramway was built to haul the ore down the mountain to the smelter and blast furnaces located in Mackay. Later, the Empire Railroad built a narrow gauge track that wound up the mountainside for nearly eight miles before reaching the mines. Most of the railroad grade can still be seen as well as the tram towers.

Submitted by Henry Chenoweth.

UPDATE: On your web-site under the state of Idaho, Custer County for the town of White Knob your contributor states that the mine was served by an "electric tram".  This is incorrect as the tram that ran from the mine portal to the mill/smelter was a "gravity tram" in which the weight of the loaded ore buckets going down carried the mostly empty ore buckets back up.  I say mostly empty because those buckets were used to haul the miners as well as the needed supplies and materials to the mine.  The tram way used a braking system to control the speed of the loaded tram buckets on their descent to the mill.  This type system was used in coal mines all over the Northwest and some California gold mines also used this method. There were probably many other mines that used gravity trams but I only reference what I have found in my research.

The White Knob Mine did construct a rail line from the mill to the rail line at Mackay, Idaho and that rail line originally used an electric locomotive to pull the ore cars. That locomotive was later replaced by a more economical "shay engine" (locomotive).  Your contributor may have confused this part of the White Knobs' freight system with that part on the top of the mountain (the tram way).

Merle Wells is widely recognized as a pre-eminent historian from Idaho and many of his books give credit to Dr. Robert (Bob) Romig, PhD.  Bob was an Idaho Historian and his Doctoral Thesis was done on Rocky Bar, Idaho which is a few miles from the ghost town of Spanish Town where his father was a miner and where he spent much of his early childhood.  His father went broke mining on Elk Creek in the Spanish Town area and the family then moved to White Knob, Idaho where Bobs' father was employed as the manager of the White Knob Company Store.

I became acquainted with Bob while mining at Rocky Bar as he spent a great deal of time in Spanish Town following his retirement and had to pass through Rocky Bar on his supply runs to Boise.  He told me many stories of his time in Idaho mining camps during his youth and if you chose to amend your description of White Knob please mention Dr. Robert Romig, PhD as a contributor.  Thank You,  Anthony R. Montague

The BLM has a Virtual Tour of the Mine Hill on the mountain where both Ghost Towns were located. http://www.blm.gov/heritage/adventures/menu/ID_virtualtour_files/white_knobVT.html

Many historical photos try all the links and maps.

Richard Halstead