Idaho History Oct 20, 2019

Atlanta, Alturas (Elmore) County, Idaho

Atlanta City, Alturas County 1876-78

23 miles North East of Rocky Bar, is a small but promising mining hamlet, having several very rich veins of gold and silver bearing ore. The mines are but slightly developed. The storms of winter render access difficult at that season.

Post Office and Businesses
Davis Nelson, postmaster and liquor saloon
Emerson William, butcher
Fillman John L, blacksmith
Young H D, lumber manufacturer

source: “Pacific Coast Business Directory for 1876-78,” Compiled By Henry G. Langley, Editor of the California State Register, Pacific Coast Almanac, San Francisco, 1875. Gazetteer and Business Directory of Idaho Territory American History & Genealogy Project Idaho
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Appendix 3: Towns and Mining Camps

The following is a partial list of towns and mining camps in and near the Boise National Forest during the mining boom or before 1900.

Some were post offices for a time, and some still exist.


Middle Fork of the Boise River. Post office 1867. Name changed to Atlanta in 1870.


North side of the Boise River in the Atlanta area. A camp of Chinese placer miners.


On old road from Rocky Bar to Atlanta in 1860’s.

excerpted from: pages 144-146, History of the Boise National Forest 1905-1976, By Elizabeth M. Smith
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Atlanta, Idaho

Atlanta is an unincorporated community in Elmore County, Idaho, United States.

It was founded in 1864 during the Civil War as a gold and silver mining community and named by Southerners after a rumored Confederate victory over General Sherman in the Battle of Atlanta, which turned to be wholly false, but the name stuck. Mining activity near Atlanta preceded its establishment as a mining community. The John Stanley party discovered gold on the nearby Yuba River on July 20, 1864, just two days prior to the battle back in Georgia. That November, John Simmons made the discovery of the Atlanta lode which contained both gold and silver.

Atlanta is at an elevation of 5,383 feet (1,641 m) above sea level surrounded by the Boise National Forest, located near the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Boise River, approximately 2 miles (3 km) east of the mouth of the Yuba River. The Sawtooth Mountains are directly north, the Sawtooth Wilderness starts about a mile (1.6 km) north of Atlanta, at the base of Greylock Mountain, which summits at 9,363 feet (2,854 m).

Idaho City is approximately 35 miles (56 km) due west, as the crow flies. Galena Summit on State Highway 75 is about 25 air miles (40 km) to the east-northeast.

Atlanta is about 40 miles (64 km) from two paved highways. It is east of State Highway 21, accessed on unimproved U.S. Forest Service roads. Atlanta is north of U.S. Highway 20, which is accessed from Atlanta by heading south on USFS roads through Rocky Bar, Featherville, and Pine. The junction with US-20 is just east of the Anderson Ranch Reservoir on the South Fork of the Boise River Atlanta can also be accessed by following the unimproved road from Arrowrock Dam which climbs with the Middle Fork of the Boise River.

Though founded as a mining community, and a number of private claims remain in the area, no significant commercial mining has occurred in the area for over 50 years, though more recently inquiries into opening a new plant have seen some headway. In place of mining, Atlanta has diversified into areas such as tourism, back-country activities, and preservation of the town’s lengthy historic legacy. In the summer months The Atlanta School offers arts and architecture workshops and artist residencies.

The Atlanta Historic District, a 10-acre historic district including 12 contributing buildings was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Gold mining history

Gold was discovered in 1863, and placer mining started along the Yuba River in 1864. The Atlanta Lode quartz outcrop was discovered in Nov. 1864. Discovery of the Minerva, Tahoma, Last Chance, and Big lodes, with the development of the Buffalo, Monarch, General Pettit and other mines, soon followed. The Monarch Gold and Silver Mining Co. operated from 1866 until 1869.

Arastras initially processed the gold ore, neglecting the silver, as did the early stamp mills. Even the introduction of the Washoe process in 1969 at the Monarch, only resulted in the recovery of 20%.

Lantis & Company took over the Monarch property in 1874. The Buffalo mill achieved 55% recovery in 1877. This led to a building boom, as the Buffalo mill and the Monarch employed 60 employees in total, the Atlanta community grew to 500, and a road was constructed to Rocky Bar.

Yet, by 1884, most high-grade ore had been processed, and by 1885, Lantis & Company had sunk the Monarch mine shaft to a depth of 600 feet. The Atlanta Mines Co. purchased the Monarch Mine in 1902, followed by the Buffalo and Last Chance mines. The company built a 150-ton mill connected to the mine via an aerial tramway, and powered by a hydroelectric plant west of Atlanta.

In 1932, the Saint Joseph Lead Company improved the recovery process by introducing an amalgamation-flotation concentrator, ushering in an era of modern production.

The Middle Fork road connected Boise with Atlanta in 1938. Talache Mines, Inc., acquired all of the mining operations along the Atlanta Lode in 1939. Mining operations ceased in 1953. The Atlanta Gold Corporation of America acquired the lease in 1985.

source: Wikipedia
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Location of Atlanta, the Atlanta Lode, and Monarch Mine (left). Atlanta Lode cross section with mine shafts (right).

(click image for larger source image)
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Atlanta, Idaho

by Bob Hartman

Named after the ledge found in 1864 by a group of prospectors who were southern sympathizers, Atlanta is about 35 miles east, as the crow flies, from Idaho City. It is close to 60 miles by the present day roads.

The Monarch was discovered in the summer of 1864, and the first quartz claim developed in the district, and was probably the best on the vein. It consisted of 1,600 feet along the vein, and was owned by the Monarch Mining Company, of Indianapolis, Indiana. At the point of discovery a veritable treasure of ruby silver was found, which, in the space of 20×50 feet, yielded $200,000.

From W. W. Elliott’s – History of Idaho Territory (1884):

“Gulch mining in Quartz Gulch (Atlanta) has been carried on successfully ever since 1864. In this way the Atlanta vein was found, $100 having been taken from a single pan of its decomposed croppings, and the miners naturally soon reaching the solid ledge itself.”Oliver’s Summit” near Atlanta, has paid $80.00 to the man, and is being mined every summer. Quartz Creek claims have yielded $100 per day to the man. In July, 1881, a $40-nugget was found.

A number of mines are located on this ledge. The largest, perhaps, is the Atlanta. It has large hoisting and pumping works, a shaft 400 feet deep, a mile or more of drifts and tunnels, two mills, and has taken out more than $1,500,000 in gold and silver ore of a high grade.”

link to FB post:
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Atlanta Photos

from Bob Hartman’s collection



Jan. 17, 1909

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Atlanta District

The Atlanta district, which includes Hardscrabble Mine, Middle Boise Mine and Yuba Mine, produced around 385,000 ounces of gold. The area creeks all contain placer. There are numerous old mines that produced lode gold. The Atlanta Hill Mine was the major producer in this district.

excerpted from: Idaho AHGP Elmore County (more info on Elmore Co. mines)
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Gold & Silver Mining in Atlanta, Idaho

Gold and silver mining in Atlanta, Idaho, dates back to 1863, when a team of prospective miners led by John Stanley discovered gold along Yuba River. Despite attempts to conceal this discovery, word got out and a small gold rush to the area happened in August of 1863 that failed to yield any significant discoveries. Some miners stayed in the area, and continued exploring the placer deposits around the area.

In 1864, there was a second gold rush that was much more substantial than the first. Most of the mining activity extended from the Yuba River downstream along the Middle Fork of the Boise River. Additional discoveries were soon made to the south at Rocky Bar on Bear Creek and within the Feather River drainage.

This was during the height of activity taking place to the west in the Boise Basin, and thousands of men were exploring the rugged mountains in this area in search of new gold deposits.

The discovery of the Atlanta lode in 1864 established this area as rich in mineral wealth.

Until 1867, placer mining was the primary mining methods used along the Yuba and Boise River. This was attributed to extreme remoteness of the mining district and difficulties in bringing milling facilities to the district.

The remote location of the lode was a challenge. Refractory ores also stalled production of gold. When stamp milling began in 1867 the production really began.

In 1868, investors from all round the world started flocking to Atlanta. First on the scene were British investors. They were followed by Monarch, a company owned by investors from Indiana.

It was primarily gold that was being mined at Atlanta. Improvements to save silver by both investors proved unsuccessful. There was little that could be done, and the failure of stamp milling didn’t help matters.

The Atlanta silver was refractory to a point where attempts to recover gold were uneconomical. As a result, all the mills ground to a halt by the end of 1869.

Failure in major attempts to extract minerals at the Atlanta Lode didn’t deter other investors. The ore was rich enough to attract many other large mining companies.

Monarch was the most profitable company operating in Atlanta operating at the head of Quartz Gulch. While there were other promising producers, the owners held on to them in the hopes of finding a solution to the recovery problem. Other mines around Atlanta include the Minerva and Tolache Mines.

What Atlanta needed was improved transportation and infrastructure to increase mining activities. This, however, was nearly impossible without more capital investment. In 1874, investors from Buffalo acquired a discovery lode that was an extension of the Atlanta Lode. The new discovery was later named Buffalo in 1874.

Mining activity didn’t start on the extension lode until 1877 after a ten stamp mill was shipped to the area in 1876. This marked the beginning of a booming industry in Atlanta without most of the challenges faced before.

This is despite of the fact that only high grade ore milling had good returns. Between 1877 and 1884, gold production was at its peak. At one time, the Buffalo mill produced $14 million in gold.

Atlanta eventually began being plagued by economic collapse when creditors began suing one another. With the richest ores becoming worked out and the economic boom coming to an end, mining activity in the camp stalled until the early 1900’s.

Major improvements, such as the set-up of an amalgamation-floatation concentrator in 1932 and the construction of a road that ran from Boise to Atlanta in 1936 marked the beginning of modern mining in Atlanta, The problem of refractory ore was finally solved and the area could be assessed without much difficulty.

Today, there is still a decent amount of mining activity in Atlanta and there are still many private mineral claims in the area, major mining activity. Some prospective companies have taken a renewed interest in Atlanta, using modern techniques to rework tailings from past mining operations. They are in the process of acquiring permits to revive mining.

Atlanta gets a fair amount of tourism in the summers, due to its relatively close proximity to Boise. It can be accessed by a long drive up the Middle Fork of the Boise River starting at Lucky Peak Reservoir, but it is much easier to access it from the south side from the Anderson Ranch road up through Pine and Featherville.

source: Gold Rush Nuggets
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Atlanta (Gold)

A party of prospectors led by John Stanley left Warren’s, July 4, 1863, and tried Bear Valley and Stanley Basin before crossing to the middle fork of the Boise River where they struck gold on Yuba River. Although an effort to conceal this discovery succeeded at least partially, a rush from Idaho City after August 8 attracted a host of eager prospectors who failed to find anything valuable there. Not until well after a Yuba mining district was organized, July 20, 1864, did a second rush follow from Rocky Bar to Yuba River, September 19. Only two months remained in the season, but the Atlanta lode was found that winter.

Stamp milling, however, did not get started until the summer of 1867, because of the extreme difficulty in getting machinery into the district. Refractory ores posed a problem also, and although the lode was known to be rich, production was limited for some years to arastra and occasional small-scale stamp milling.

London investors introduced important capital to the district in 1868, and British investment in Atlanta continued for more than twenty years in spite of repeated failure in management and technology. Indiana capitalists also organized the Monarch in 1869, but all three stamp mills at Atlanta failed that year. Finally in 1877, the Buffalo mill began to operate with partial success.

Construction of a road from Rocky Bar helped in 1878, and much of the richer ore in Atlanta was worked in the nineteenth century. A cyanide plant operated with limited success, 1908 to 1910, but the recovery problem for much of the ore was not licked until a modern amalgamation-flotation concentrator began production in 1932.

Atlanta produced through the depression and the war, continuing uninterrupted until 1954. About $300,000 in antimony from Swanholm Creek was processed in Atlanta from 1947 to 1953.

The district probably should be credited with a production of about $16,000,000 in the ninety years after 1864.

excerpted from: “Mining in Idaho 1860-1969” by Ernest Oberbillig, Idaho State Historical Society Number 9 1985
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Overlook Mine, Atlanta, Idaho


From the Mike Fritz Collection Heather Heber Callahan
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Atlanta Pioneer Cemetery

Atlanta, Elmore County

(click image to go to larger source image)
Pictured above: Gravesite of Riley Bostwick.

A total of 116 graves have been documented on this small rise southwest of town. The first grave is dated 1870 and the most recent 1985, but the yard reflects the heaviest years of mining activity in the district, 1875-1885; 1902-1912; and 1931-1953. Many graves are enclosed in wooden picket fences, each with a unique design. The conservation of these fascinating fences and markers is a long difficult process because the original material is often lying on the ground. Workers have dissembled and cleaned the salvaged materials and, when necessary, milling replacements.

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Atlanta Cemetery Memorials

at Find a Grave
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Newspaper clipping…

Atlanta Aug 17, 1889

The road leading from Rocky Bar to Atlanta is truly a hard one to travel. yet the splendid mountain scenery along the route should repay any one for the hardships endured. But if not, when the weary traveler’s eyes rest upon the beautiful little city nestled between high mountains on the banks of the Middle Boise river, and he partakes of the hospitality of a generous people, then indeed will he or she exclaim “I have no kick coming.”

We made a hasty visit to this noted mining camp last Saturday – too hasty to gain much news, but while there we were royally entertained by Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Casey in particular and the people generally.

We visited the Tahoma mill, and found that able superintendent, C. W. Miller, busily sampling ore from the various settlers, and carefully looking after the interests of his company in general. After spending a pleasant hour looking around this model mill – a model of perfection in its line – we then visited the great Tahoma mine, situated in a gulch about three-quarters of a mile above the town.

Through the courtesy of Colonel Miller and the guidance of himself and Wm. Davis, his mine foreman, we were enabled to see all the works of the Tahoma property – giving the third level the greatest attention, from the fact that the most stoping is going on from this level. On the third level, for a distance of over 500 feet at both east and west ends of the claim, a large vein of quartz averaging 25 feet in width has been uncovered leaving a space of 400 or 500 feet of virgin ground intervening. The ledge has been explored and worked in places from this point to the surface, and on each level an equal width and abundance of good ore is in sight.

The lower tunnel, on the fourth level, is 800 feet in length, and at its face is 400 feet from the surface. This tunnel follows the ledge its entire length, and the vein all along maintains its width and value in silver. Upraises have been run to the third level, and consequently connection is had from the lowest level to the surface.

Col. Miller has established beyond a doubt that he could, with but few men, keep 100 – yes, 200 stamps constantly dropping on rich ore from this mine for the next ten years.

The ledge stands almost perpendicular, and is easily and securely timbered. Everything in and about the mine and mill denotes systematic management. They have a blacksmith shop and storehouse at the mouth of the tunnel, and a good boarding and lodging house near by. Before leaving the mine the Bulletin man secured some specimens that plainly show native silver, and which will be placed in his cabinet of minerals.

We took a hasty run through Judge Heath’s Washington claim and found it all that it had been represented – a large, well defined ledge with a 3-foot vein that is rich in gold. The Judge informed us he had had many assays made and not one went less than $200 in gold per ton. One mile above the Washington he has two other locations, called the Golden Nugget and Silver Wave – both rich in gold. We hope Judge Heath’s dreams of opulence may soon be fully realized.

Rudolph Behren is managing things at the Buffalo splendidly. About eight men are extracting ore from the mine, and as soon as the mill receives its new vanners Rudolph will show the outside world what he can do with Buffalo ore.

We regret very much that our stay at Atlanta could not be prolonged. It would require a week’s time to properly examine and report upon her wonderfully rich mining properties.

Suffice it to say that the old camp is moving upward again, and if we do not mistake the signs of the times Atlanta will be booming ere another six months have passed.

from page 3 Elmore Bulletin in Rocky Bar, Idaho on Aug 17, 1889
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link to Alturas County, Idaho
Link to Annie “Peg Leg” McIntyre Morrow (part 1)
Link to Annie “Peg Leg” McIntyre Morrow (part 2)

page updated Oct 27, 2019