the Yankee Mining District, some 40 miles east of what would become the
boom towns of
City, Bayhorse got an earlier start in 1864 when a few small gold
veins were found and a small camp began. Though there are several tales of
how the settlement came by its name, the most popular is when area
prospectors met a miner who had been digging between Clayton and Challis
with the help of two bay horses. The man told the others that he had
discovered rich mining opportunities up a steep canyon on the north side
of the Salmon River. Because the other prospectors couldn’t remember the
man’s name, they simply referred to him as the "man with the bay horses”
and the name stuck.
continued to comb the area for the next several years, finding small
amounts of gold, it wasn’t until 1872, that the Bayhorse area really
began to attract numerous miners when three men by the names of W.A.
Norton, Robert Beardsley and J.B. Hood discovered a rich vein of
silver. Robert Beardsley and his brother soon started the Beardsley
Mine which overlooked the mining camp. When a prospector named Tim
Cooper found another rich silver vein, he started the Ramshorn Mine.
Other mines soon followed and within months, men, machinery and cabins
quickly populated the area.
The size of the
mining camp increased again in 1877 when hard rock mining began for
silver and lead. By the following year, the mine was operating on a
large scale, with numerous tunnels spread throughout the area. A stamp
mill and smelter were completed in 1880 and businesses quick.
Bayhorse’s peak years
were during the 1880’s and 1890’s, when the hillsides were dotted with
cabins and the town included numerous saloons, boarding houses, assay
offices, banks, a stone Wells Fargo building, a post office, six
beehive kilns to make charcoal for the smelters, several ore and
timber mills, and two cemeteries. The town’s population reached a high
of about 300 residents.
The Ramshorn Mine
remained productive until 1888, at which time other mines were also
declining. By 1896, the beehive kilns were abandoned and in 1889 the
town was struck by a fire which destroyed several buildings. Over the
next decade more mines closed and people began to leave the area. By
1915, all mining operations had ceased and Bayhorse had become a ghost
In the next several decades, mining
operations were revived periodically for short periods, the last time
in 1968. Over the years, the Bayhorse Mining District was one of the
longest running silver and lead producers in
1976 the community was added to the National Register of Historic
Up until recent years the land was privately owned, but in 2009 opened
to the public as part of
of Yankee Fork State
Park, which ensures the preservation of this historic site.
Several structures, including the
stone Wells Fargo building and the
Bayhorse Saloon, as well as the mill, numerous cabins, and the beehive
kilns still stand.
kilns are located down the road beyond the townsite. Along the way,
sitting on the hill beside the road is one of the cemeteries, with just a
few graves. Long abandoned and unkempt during our visit in 2008, the grave
markers are long gone and only the crumbling fences surrounding these
few graves leave any indication that the dead were once buried here.