Nestled in the Bitterroot Mountains, just about 13 miles south of the
border on U.S. 93, is the small community of Gibbonsville,
before this settlement became a mining camp, Lewis and Clark traveled
through the area in September, 1805, describing it as filled with rocky
hills and dense vegetation. During their journey, they were required to
cut a road just northwest of the present-day townsite through a very steep
area. Along the way, several of their horses fell or slipped down the
hillsides, during which one was permanently crippled and two gave out.
first settlers made their homes here about 1872, at which time the tiny
spot was referred to as Dahlongi. However, in 1877, after gold was
discovered on Anderson and Dahlonega Creeks, the small settlement
officially became a town and was named Gibbonsville in honor of Colonel
John Gibbon, who pursued the Nez Perce Indians and fought in the Battle of
the Big Hole.
Gibtown, the miners quickly set about building several mines, the
largest of which was the A.D.& M. Mine. Soon cabins dotted the
hillsides and several businesses were servicing the some 600 men
employed in the mines. At the same time, the town served as a supply
route along an rugged road between
Utah and the
Northern Railway terminal in
its peak, Gibbonsville boasted more than 100 buildings, including two
saw mills, a roller mill, five stamp mills, a newspaper and eight
One of the most successful businesses was Kerns Brewery, which was
established by German immigrant, George Kerns, in 1897. Kerns beer was
so popular that men were said to have come from all over the area for
a sip of his brew and he supplied some 13 area saloons. Over the
years, the building served a variety of purposes and underwent several
name changes. In 1926, it became a Texaco gas station, which added a
café and cabins. An RV Park was added in the 1950’s and today the site
continues to operate as the Broken Arrow Resort and Restaurant.
The gold placers in Gibbonsville continued to be worked extensively,
recovering some about $2
million in gold, about half of which came from the A. D.& M. Mine.
However, by the turn of the century, the ore was beginning to play
out, and when a disastrous fire blazed in 1907, production
ceased altogether. Mining continued sporadically over the next
decades, finally ceasing forever in 1959.
Today, Gibbonsville is not a complete ghost town,
but rather a sleepy little burg of a little more than 100 residents.
Though it bears little resemblance to its boisterous mining days,
there are several buildings in the community that have been restored
from those earlier days and the vestiges of the A.D. and M. Mine
remain. The town also boasts the Gibbonsville Relic Museum, which is
located in what appears to be an old school.
The most interesting stop for us however was
the Gibbonsville Cemetery, which is fairly unkempt, but apparently, this
hasn’t always been the case. The old graveyard includes burials that are
more than a century old with wooden markers, which have to have been
replaced at one time, as they couldn’t have withstood the test of time.
Though, these too, are starting to wear, they are clearly readable.
Gibbonsville is 13 miles south of the
Border on U.S. Highway 93.
of America, updated July, 2011