Kellogg: Center of Silver Valley

A Town Founded by a Donkey

The small town of Kellogg has a colorful history; from a mining boomtown to environmental cleanup and finally to a popular site for outdoor recreation.

Noah Kellogg was a gold prospector and carpenter living a town a few miles from the current day Kellogg Idaho. In the 1880s Kellogg was having a string of bad luck and needed to make money fast. Two business men gave Kellogg money to buy tools and a donkey. He set out south along the Coeur d'Alene river. One morning Kellogg noticed his donkey had run off. He finally found the animal standing near some sparkling galena on the hill--a good sign of riches underneath the surface. That is how Noah Kellogg had discovered the hill that would turn out to be today's famous Bunker Hill and Sullivan mines--and why a local sign reads "This is the town founded by a jackass and inhabited by his descendants."

Kellogg named the area he discovered after himself, and the town of Kellogg became the largest town in the Sliver Valley. At its peak there were over 5,000 people living in Kellogg. In 1982 the Bunker Hill Mine closed and people began to move away, in the classic western mining tradition of boom and bust.

Though the mines were gone, a toxic legacy remained. In 1985, the EPA came to Kellogg due to its high pollution caused by the mines and smelter. At the time Kellogg was one the largest Superfund sites in the United States. The EPA's goal was to eliminate all the contaminated soil so they could start replanting trees. By the mid-1990s the soil was free of contamination in many of the areas around Kellogg. The EPA's plan for reforestation was in effect. Trees are now growing in areas that were polluted a few years.

Today Kellogg has reinvented itself as a destination for travelers interested in outdoor recreation and the history of the mines. A gondola connects downtown Kellogg directly to the slopes of the Silver Valley Ski Resort. The Hiawatha and Trail of the Couer d'Alenes bicycle trails bring visitors in the summer as well.