Challis-Yankee Fork Ranger District - Custer

Custer, situated two miles up the Yankee Fork from Bonanza, was founded in early 1879 by speculators who laid the town out right below the General Custer mill site. During the 1880's it was second in importance to Bonanza, reaching a peak population of only 300. In the 1890's however, Custer superceded Bonanza as the most important town of the Yankee Fork. Economically supported by the operations of the Lucky Boy and Black mines, Custer reached its peak population of 600 in 1896.

Unlike Bonanza, Custer was a narrow, one street town. The town extended for half a mile from the Centaurs Dairy and the General Custer mill at the upper end, to the Nevada Hotel and the Miners Union Hal at the lower end. Chinatown, with about thirty residents, was situated right below the lower end of Custer.

Image of the General Custer Mill circa 1937

After the Lucky Boy Mine and the General Custer Mill closed in 1904, Custer entered a period of depression. Some businesses kept their doors open by supplying the new mining camps of Sunbeam on Jordan Creek and Ivers and Casto in Loon Creek district. Gradually more and more people left the area. The folding of Sunbeam Mine in April 1911 sounded the deathblow for Custer.

By the end of that year, Custer was virtually a ghost town. Prospectors, miners, and those with an attachment to the Yankee Fork area have lived in both Custer and Bonanza since that time, but their days as communities ended long ago.

A visit to the Custer Museum is a "must" for visitors to the area. The Museum is open daily during the summer months.

Empire SaloonVisitors can walk a self-guided walking tour through the town of Custer that reaches from one end of the town to the other. Printed guides are available for free at the Empire Saloon in Custer and at the Yankee Fork Ranger District office. A slide show is also presented in the town site daily. Refreshments, gifts and souvenir are available at the Empire Saloon.

There are several picnic tables in the town and many camping areas are close by. Lodging is also available approximately 21 miles away in the town of Stanley.

On July 20, this ghost town comes alive again during the festive Custer Days. Activities include dutch oven cooking demonstrations (that you can eat!), ice cream making, craft demonstrations, gold panning, live music, and even a gunfight or two. There is a free two mile shuttle from the Gold Dredge. Hours are 10:00am - 5:00pm. A wealth of information concerning the town of Custer, as well as many artifacts and displays, can be seen at The Yankee Fork Interpretive Center, two miles south of Challis, on highway 93. For a preview of what to see at Custer, follow this link to the Custer Walking Tour.