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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

BY JULIA FRANKEL
JULY 22, 2020 04:00 AM , UPDATED 5 HOURS 14 MINUTES AGO

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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