Center of Coeur d’Alene Mining District

This gold mine was hidden and lost for 100 years. A retired miner bought it in 1996 and opened it up in the spring of 1998 as a year-around tourist attraction. This is a Star Attraction! Photographed for an ‘A & E’ production, and recommended in Horizon Air Magazine. They are open year-around.

It happened in 1885. A gentleman by the name of Noah Kellogg, a gold prospector and carpenter, lived in the Town of Murray which is 20 miles northeast as the crow flies. Being a gold prospector down on his luck, he ran around the Town of Murray looking for someone to give him a grubstake. He finally ran into two business men, Mr. Peck and Mr. Cooper, who loaned him enough money to buy grub and they loaned him a jackass (burro) to carry the tools. He started down the great north fork of the Coeur d’Alene River, came onto a trail and headed south over the mountains.

Coming out on the south fork of the Coeur d’Alene River, he crossed it and went further on south up Milo Gulch and ended up about 1,000 yards above the present City Hall of Wardner. There he made camp, ate and went to sleep, and during the night, the jackass wandered off. In the morning he got up looking around for the stupid animal and hearing him braying, spotted him way up high on the hillside. Where the animal was standing he saw the sunshine glittering on something which turned out to be a large outcropping of galena (lead ore). And that was the discovery of the great Bunker Hill and Sullivan mines on September 4, 1885.

Wardner is the town just above Kellogg. Seeing that you’re curious about why they named this town Wardner, it’s because of a gentleman by the name of James Wardner. He was an entrepreneur and he’d do anything for a quick buck. He operated a grocery store in the Town of Murray and when he heard about this great strike, he threw a couple of bottles of whiskey in the saddlebag, jumped on his horse and headed down the great north fork of the Coeur d’Alene River, over the mountains and across the south fork of the Coeur d’Alene River and headed up Milo Creek.

He got to the mining camp with Kellogg and O’Rourke, drank up the whiskey and then asked if he could borrow a hatchet. Feeling so good from drinking all the whiskey, they would give him anything. He took the hatchet and went out of the camp, walked around the valley for a few hours blazing trees, went back to camp and Noah and O’Rourke asked if he had staked a claim. He boldly said, “Yes. I just staked out the water rights for this valley.” Noah Kellogg and O’Rourke knew they had been had and took Jim in as a partner.

In 1900, Jim Wardner sold out his interest for $100.000.00 and went to Seattle, Washington. He purchased an island by the name of Eliza, imported black cats and went to the Seattle people and asked if he could have their stray black cats. They were overjoyed to get rid of the strays. He took them to the island, raised them and then he would kill them and took the hides and sold them to Easterners for $2.00 each. The Easterners were buying them like crazy and making fur coats and hats. Jim was doing a fantastic business because he called them “hood seal” fur.

When the Seattle people found out he was feeding cats to cats, and that is known as “catabolism”, they shut him down. Then he went to Fairhaven, Washington, started a banking business, water company and a logging company and then he built himself a castle. The castle still stands today and they’ve made a bed and breakfast out of it. He entrepreneured some more, lost his castle and his money. Then he went to Canada and started mining and logging and they named a town in Canada after him; Wardner, B.C.