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Wed Jul 22, 2020, 04:21 PM

'Now it's a nightmare': Silver City overrun by visitors during rapid growth, COVID-19

‘Now it’s a nightmare’: Silver City overrun by visitors during rapid growth, COVID-19


Janie Burke and Anne VanWassenhove spend their weekends keeping watch.

From her house, Burke sees young children gather and play freely by the creek in her backyard, a spot she frequented years ago when she was a little girl, near some horseshoe pits and a treehouse. Now, she eyes the children carefully, fearing for their safety.

VanWassenhove scans the outskirts of her house — the first on the road into town — too. With her front porch as a vantage point, she sees everyone who comes in and everyone who comes out. She sits, ready to defend her property if need be.

The two women live in Silver City, a former mining town nestled at 6,200 feet in elevation in the Owyhees, accessible only by a bumpy mountain road. At its height in the 19th century, Silver City was a mining metropolis home to 2,500 people and 75 businesses. While little of those remains today beyond a hotel, gift shop and museum, Silver City is not fully a ghost town — in its well-worn houses reside a few tight-knit families who stayed around after the mines dried up and shut down after World War II.

But for residents, what used to be a home off the beaten path is quickly being re-discovered. Because Owyhee County backcountry has remained open during the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic, every weekend residents have watched as ATVs and off-road vehicles clog the one-way road into town. They say the town has been drastically altered by traffic, dust, noise, litter brought on by the hordes of visitors.

The crowds are not entirely unprecedented — past summers have certainly brought an increasing numbers of tourists to the town. As early as 1948, the Sunday Statesman reported that Silver City was a popular tourist destination for “Idahoans, not to mention thrillseekers ... starved for pages out of the past not yet exploited by neon lights.” But this summer, residents report a complete explosion in visitors.


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Reply 'Now it's a nightmare': Silver City overrun by visitors during rapid growth, COVID-19 (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Jul 2020 OP
yonder Jul 2020 #1

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 22, 2020, 05:55 PM

1. It used to be a nice little hidey hole.

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