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In 1869 there was a rush to Yellow Jacket after Nathan Smith and his party thought they had found a rich gold strike. It was later discovered that one of the prostpectors had “salted” the area with some California gold. This made Yellow Jacket appear not as rich as it was first thought to be.
Later, when most of the prospectors were disapponted and leaving, there was a rich quartz lode that was found and would bring in millions of dollars in gold. Despite the remote location of Yellow Jacket, a thirty stamp mill was packed into the area. Just a few years later, additional investments doubled its size and made the stamp mill one of Idaho’s largest.
Investors decided to build an aerial tramway to ease production costs, but packing in the eight thousand feet of cable that was needed was not an easy task. Using the backs of twenty mules, the cable was laid out in the streets of Challis and the challenge of moving the cable began. Even with all the difficulties of moving the cable to Yellow Jacket, it did eventually make it.
In 1888, John G. Morrison and his nephews the Steen brothers acquired a controlling interest in the mine. Within four years, the family extracted 4800 ounces of gold. They sold the property in 1892, but the Steen family reacquired Yellow Jacket decades later.
The Steen family spent years trying to make the mine profitable again, and finally was able to yield another round of mineral wealth. Today the family says mining is done and the focus is now on preserving the historic remnants of the 19th century gold camp.
Some cabins still remain and the five story hotel.