Pioneer Boot Hill Cemetery

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During the town’s raucous Gold Rush days, there were plenty of fights and deaths!

Fires, disease and death from child birth also took their toll.

Spirits like to enjoy activities that they enjoyed while alive.




Idaho City has a historic town center that looks very authentic, like a step back in time. Like many other gold rush era towns that have preserved their old structures, visitors can walk along “plank-covered boardwalks,” and enjoy the shops and museums in the restored and sometimes rebuilt 19th century buildings.

Today, the main sources of income are tourists and events centered around this historical town; reminding me very much of Tombstone (AZ), Virginia City (NV), Calico (CA), Jerome (AZ), and Deadwood (SD). Each one of these historic places had to reinvent themselves in order to survive as a real town and not slip into ghost town status, like Bannock (MT), and Bodie (CA).

The people of Idaho City have a can-do attitude deep in their culture. They looked at what they had left and found a way to make a living with it.

Besides taking good care of their historic structures and graveyards, Idaho City happens to be near hunting and fishing areas so this sort of tourism brings people to them as well.

The four hundred and eighty five folks who live here are able to make a living and preserve their history to the delight of visitors.

The main streets have old homes, trading posts, antique shops, a county courthouse, the Boise Basin Museum, the Jail, and the “Pest House.”

Visitors can also explore the Pioneer & Boot Hill Cemeteries, which have been respectfully maintained through the eras.



When gold was discovered in the Boise basin in 1862, Idaho City was the destination of thousands of prospectors as well as business people who provided services for the huge crowd, ranging from general stores to brothels.

At its peak, there were more than 250 businesses here, including clothing and food stores, barbershops, pool halls and a bowling alley. For the lucky few who hit the motherlode, opera houses and theaters offered entertainment.

Gold had transformed the city into “a bawdy, lusty town where whisky was cheaper than water.” As law and order existed in a relaxed state, life was cheap too, and many a person died in the frequent gun fights. When the gold was mined out, most of the prospectors left, letting the town return to a normal existence.

The city, like many of its kind, suffered a series of fires, which destroyed about 80% of the original town. Wealthier residents were able to rebuild to the benefit of all concerned, leaving an improved, more durable town for generations to enjoy.

“Make sure you stop at the old jail or “pest house,” and walk along the boardwalk to check out the old homes, trading post, antique shops, county courthouse, and museum, and of course the old saloon!”

Idaho City has about 485 inhabitants, and while it’s no longer technically a ghost town, it still has great charm and history! The old architecture and storefronts are pretty amazing, and it’s easy to find those Wild West vibes. Some buildings have been rebuilt, but some are originals that have only been touched up a bit over the years.



Whenever law enforcement is relaxed, some people resort to vicious and deadly means to get what they want.

Saint James Hotel, NM (A gambler on a roll was murdered for his winnings. Many a death happened here due to hot heads with vengeful hearts).

Bodie, CA (Many people died by fights and gun fights here as well).

Virginia City, NV (Death by violence here helped to fill up the cemeteries).

Idaho City, ID (Many people died during the town’s violent past, as in many other gold rush towns).


Frontier life was rough and perilous. Fire and disease could spread rapidly and without warning. The sciences of things like sanitation and gynecology were in their infancy.

Bannack, MT (Many children died of epidemics that swept through town).

Deadwood, SD (The whole red light district once went up in flames, killing many people in the saloons and brothels).

Virginia City, NV (Many women didn’t make it to age 30, due to childbirth gone bad).

Idaho City, ID (Gun fights, fires, disease and death from childbirth were the four ways many people, including children and babies, died here).



Despite the bad ends they often came to, spirits still keep their spectral chins up and make the best of it, doing what they can do to endure. Not surprising is the fact that there are  unseen residents of the past hanging around various parts of town.

Spectral Social Hours

Many apparitions float, linger and saunter through both of the town’s cemeteries, Boot Hill and Pioneer, after the sun goes down.

On one occasion, several pre-teen boys, while exploring the Pioneer Cemetery, saw the foggy, misty apparition of an old prospector, described as sporting a short beard, western clothes, and a vest.

In the Chinese section of the cemetery, a young girl is seen standing by a grave.


The old grocery store seems to have not only living clientele, but also the apparition of a shopper who likes to walk through the aisles, peruse the merchandise, and then saunter toward the back of the store where they vanish into the back wall!

Spectral Watering Hole

The town’s oldest saloon, Diamond Lil’s, which was built in 1862, is also haunted by past customers, long dead, who had many a good time here, where they enjoyed a drink and perhaps a game of cards, after a hard day in the mines.


Paranormal activity has been experienced by the living for years, probably becoming more frequent after the townspeople decided to restore the historical downtown. Spirits have also long been seen in the graveyards, ever since remains were first buried here.

I could find no shared hard evidence of any investigations posted online. I know that investigations must have been done, I just can’t find them at the moment.



Yes indeed!

Spirits here are not the type who in life would have felt sorry for themselves, so they find ways to enjoy this place as best they can in the afterlife.



Idaho City is in western Idaho, 45 miles northeast of Boise on Highway 21. Boot Hill Cemetery is located just northeast of town.


Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Idaho