The Snake Pit

If you had visited this bar in the late 19th century, you'd have encountered dance hall girls, gamblers, and famous lawman Wyatt Earp. Welcome to one of the oldest bars in the Silver Valley, The Snake Pit, in Kingston, Idaho.

The wooden sign out front cites the establishment of the bar at 1880, though the place might have opened in 1879. A common drinking hole for working men and women and a place for train travelers to get their heads straight after a long ride, The Snake Pit holds a central place in the history of the Silver Valley.

Not only was the bar a popular watering hole, it was also famous for its food, gambling, and the ladies upstairs who offered additional entertainments. The women who worked in the upstairs brothel were locals from the surrounding mining towns. The Snake Pit embodied all the cultural taboos of gambling, vice, and women, but the bar hasn't dried up, and the food has satisfied the voracious hunger of many kind folks over the years. As the cold war boomed in the 1950s, Rocky Mountain Oysters became a favorite choice for those daring enough to ingest a vital element of the mountain west's famous culinary tradition. Dreams of cowboys on the western frontier could be entertained with the soft power of succulent vittles.

The interior of the bar is filled with memorabilia and paintings that seem to tell their own stories about northern Idaho and the larger history of the mountain west. Locals were encouraged to bring in their own items if they wanted to put them on display. Newspaper clippings remind us of the terror of World War II, and a picture of Teddy Roosevelt harkens to the rough and tough frontier cowboy dream. The stone fireplace was built in the 1960s. Bar locals were asked to bring in their own "pet rocks" for the construction. While Wyatt Earp's stool remains barren, make sure to enjoy this historic landmark, and tip one back in remembrance of the departed prospectors and miners of early Idaho.