Challis-Yankee Fork Ranger District - Nevada Hotel

The Nevada Hotel in Bonanza City

Settled in 1876, the name "Bonanza" denoted the optimism early day miners felt for this location. The town site of Bonanza was situated eight miles up the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River.

Bonanza was the first and initially the larger mining camp in the Yankee Fork District. Laid out in February 1877, it had a peak population of approximately 600 in 1881. Bonanza had a greater number and variety of stores than Custer and boasted such specialized services as a dentist, tin shop, paperhanger and watchmaker. It also had the first newspaper in Custer County, the Yankee Fork Herald, which was published from 1879 until 1882.

The founders of Bonanza laid out the camp with a foresight rarely found in western mining camps. Bonanza had a regular, rectangular grid of streets. Main street was a wide, double lane, lined with a triple row of trees. The town has many two-story buildings, a public well and a water system, which provided water both for drinking and fire protection.

Major fires in 1889 and 1897 destroyed much of the town. Most merchants then relocated in Custer. After the turn of the century, Bonanza's only remaining businesses were a boarding house, one saloon, a slaughterhouse and a few stables. However people continued to live in Bonanza even after the Yankee Fork's last major mine closed in 1911.