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

Today, the main source 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. Throughout the years, they have restored, maintained and in some instances rebuilt their historic 19th century structures, and creating historical interest and having ships in these structures to bolster the local economy.

Besides taking good care of their historic structures and graveyards,The city of Idaho City happens to be near hunting and fishing areas so this sort of tourism brings people to Idaho City 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 post, antique shops, county courthouse, Boise Basin Museum, the Jail and “Pest House.”

In Idaho City, visitors can explore the Pioneer & Boot Hill Cemeteries that have been respectfully well-maintained throughout 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 to provide services for the huge crowd, ranging from groceries to prostitutes.

At its peak, there were more than 250 businesses at home in this town, including clothing and food stores, barbershops, pool halls and a bowling alley. For the lucky few who hit the mother lode, Operas and theaters offered entertainment for these newly wealthy patrons of the arts.

This city was transformed into “a bawdy, lusty town where whisky was cheaper that water.” As law and order was 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 the gold towns, suffered a series of fires, which destroyed about 80% of the original town. The wealthier residents were able to rebuild the city to the liking of all concerned, leaving a nice town for generations to enjoy.

Today, the main source of income are tourists and events centered around this historical town; reminding me very much of Tombstone.

Visitors to Idaho City today enjoy this well-preserved gold rush town, with its plank-covered board walks, the 19th century buildings and the Pioneer & Boot Hill Cemeteries that are there to see and explore, as they stimulate the local economy.

“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 been touched up a bit over the years.


Whenever the enforcement of the law is relaxed, people lean on 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 do to hot heads and a vengeful mind).

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

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

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

It was a rough, perilous life living in a frontier town, especially since many structures were made of lumber, there was no modern knowledge on how to curb or stop disease outbreaks, and the science of Gynecology was in its infancy; especially in places far away from the best medical care offered in this era.

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

Deadwood, South Dakota (The whole red light district went up in flames, killing many people inside 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 five ways a lot of people, children and babies died here).



Besides the casualties of the many gun fights, the fires, disease and death from child birth also took their toll. Despite their bad end, spirits still keep their spectral chins up and make the best of it; doing what they can do to amuse themselves. Not surprising is 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.

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

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


The old grocery store seems to have not only living clientele, but also an apparition shopper who likes to walk through the store, 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, also is haunted by past customers, long dead, who had many a good time at this favorite place of respite, 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 active after the townspeople decided to restore their historical down town; restoring old buildings and reconstructing others. Spirits also have long been seen in the graveyards ever since remains have been buried here.

I could find no shared hard evidence of any investigations done here that has been posted on-line. I know that investigations must of been done here, I just can’t find them at this moment.



Yes indeed!

Spirits here are not the type while alive to feel sorry for themselves, so they find ways to enjoy this place as best they can as spirits.



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