|When the gold rush to Idaho Territory began
along in the early '60's, it was mainly into the Pierce City section, based on a
discovery by Capt. E.D. Pierce, but it was not long afterward before prospectors
directed their attention to the riches hidden in the hills of the mountainous
regions along the east bank of Elk Creek, one and one-half miles above its
junction with the American River.
Joining with the intrepid prospectors of that day were
adventurers and not a few tenderfeet, men who came from the east to find their
wealth in the hills and then return whence they came and revel in riches for
their remaining days.
Reports were emanating from the Thunder mountain section
that gold was being dug everywhere, and then the rush started.
Resting Place First
Several gamblers located their tent on sloping
ground along Elk Creek and there waited for the unwary. It was not long
before the country began filling up. A party of easterners beat their way
through a wild country and finally came to the settlement of gamesters, by this
time the resting place for possibly 75 people.
The gamblers held forth in a tent beneath a
great pine tree, which they envied for its shade and beauty. No sooner had
the easterners pitched their tent than one of their number armed with an axe
commended to chop the tree so respected by the gambling fraternity to secure
some fire wood.
A man stepped to the entrance of the tent
where gaming was going on and seeing large chunks being hewn from the tree went
back into the tent and reappeared with a rifle. A few seconds later the
man damaging the tree was a corpse.
Many Antlers in Trees
Hanging from the limbs of several smaller
trees nearby were sets of elks' antlers, treasured trophies of the hunt.
The victim of the rifle ball was picked from
the ground and carried into a tent and then a jury of miners was summoned to
hold an inquest in order that a proper and legal report of the shooting could be
forwarded to territorial officers. After the verdict of "justifiable
homicide" was rendered, within a minute or so after the "jury"
was empanelled, the presiding officer at the inquest said: "Let's
see, we've got to name some place where this occurred."
One of the gamblers spoke up so the story
goes, saying: 'Oh, call it Elk City." pointing as he spoke to the many sets
of antlers hanging from trees. The verdict was filed in as the man
suggested, and Elk City was born.
Center of Vast Wealth
It is an historic place. It has been the
scene of great excitement many times. Its hills have produced untold
wealth and indications at this time are that it bids fair to return to its
former place of importance.