Rocky Bar is located in Elmore County, 62 miles northeast of Mountain Home (about 80 miles northeast of Boise), with pavement access to all but the last 8 miles, where it turns to a well graded Forest Service road. This road is also one of the routes prospectors used in to access the bustling gold mining town of Atlanta.
Rocky Bar was founded in late 1863, and like most places being explored, was developed after gold was discovered in Feather River, Bear Creek and surrounding tributaries. Within just a short two years Rocky Bar became one of the main settlements for the area, and was even considered as a possible capital for the Idaho Territory. The gold recovered in Rocky Bar was a main contributor of Elmore county’s robust mining history. Rocky Bar is connected to what is known as the rich Boise Basin, as Feather River flows into the South Fork of the Boise River.
The rich vein activity and mines were developed scattering across the mountain ranges on both the north and south sides of the Rocky Bar settlement, with stamp mills and arrastras (primitive mill for grinding gold & silver ore) were erected all over this small region for processing the ore. Ore ranging from 2opt all the way to a pay shoot that produced and average of 10opt for the 98 tons milled. Keep in mind, that these older undeveloped methods of milling, crushing and recovery, it is estimated that this only reflects a 70% to 80% capture ratio.
Activity continued on a limited scale with something of a revival during the depression after the Featherville dredge on Feather River had recovered 33,000 ounces of gold between 1922 and 1927. Overall, the placer gold recovered from these gulches around Bear Creek was estimated to be $2,000,000 (averaging a $20/ounce) would be over 100,000 ounces recovered in placers alone.
Historic background information:
Each of the drainages that were tested, a sample run (using a high banker with pans) was used for a duration of 2 to 4 hours, to show what the area was producing. You should also understand however, when only running for that 2 to 4 hours, we are still only scratching the surface (at maybe two to three feet deep tops), and gold recovered deeper and at bedrock…with gold having a higher specific gravity than all the other elements, means that there is going to be higher quantities and larger pieces, the deeper one goes. And, pictures never do areas justice in my opinion… on some of the smaller drainages, even from a couple pan samples we were finding significantly larger size pieces…like baby pickers, just surface panning…but after the whole run and mixing with all the other samples, hard for those pieces to really “stand out”. The mining claims here on Rocky Bar, is an intricate web of all kinds of vein structures north and south of Bear Creek (main road into Rocky Bar), with some of even the smaller feeders, having really rich deposits. We have labeled the pictures where the gold came from to give you a good understanding what even short duration of work can produce for those specific areas.