Idaho has an amazing legend of lost gold – the Lost Blue Bucket Mine.
What is termed the “Blue Bucket country” comprises more than 40,000 square miles of rugged mountains, canyons, and volcanic plateaus that stretches over several states, not just Idaho.
The legend goes like this: A wagon trainload of pioneers were on their way to Oregon in 1845. While plodding through a canyon, the children in the train discovered some “pretty pebbles” in the dry stream bed. They collected a few of the samples and stashed them in the blue water buckets carried by each wagon. Only later did they find out that the “pebbles” were big nuggets of pure gold.
It sounds like a wild goose chase, but this one story sparked many real-life expeditions by gold-hungry prospectors. And it was one such expedition, led by Captain Tom Turner in 1862, that discovered gold on the Boise River of Idaho. They traced the gold upstream and stumbled on the fabulous Boise Basin ore deposits – placer deposits of gold, just like in the legend.
And that’s not the only discovery linked to the Blue Bucket legend. On the eastern side of Blue Bucket country, another significant discovery was made when prospectors discovered gold in the gravels of Jordan Creek in the Owyhee Mountains. A mining camp called Silver City quickly sprang up, and the district eventually produced some $60 million worth of gold over its lifetime.
Is Boise Basin or Silver City the Blue Bucket mine? Or does the real Blue Bucket remain to be found?