The Philadelphia & Idaho Mining & Smelting Company was organized in 1882 by Colonel Green and Philadelphia parties, who built two stock plants and a large smelter plant at Muldoon, Blaine county, this state, and operated them for several years, in Muldoon. The ores in the vicinity of Ketchum, Idaho, were of a higher grade, and were attracting more attention than those they were then mining, and certain Philadelphia gentlemen had become interested in them, and they induced the Philadelphia Mining & Smelting Company to come to Ketchum. A small test was made with a little tester, and in the course of less than a week a profit of ten thousand dollars was made! They then joined with the other Philadelphia people and organized the Philadelphia & Idaho Company.
The Philadelphia Company that had first begun the work had acquired the North Star mine, the West Fork group, the Ervin and the Ten Brook on Boyle mountains, the Silver Star, Salamander, New York Boy and the Muldoon. The buildings at the North Star and Silver Star mines were, on the reorganization, remodeled and enlarged; power was obtained from two water wheels. The flume, coming out from Warm Springs creek about two miles above the smelter and just below the geyser hot springs, was easily kept open during the coldest weather, which was an exceptional advantage, and enabled the company to continue their work uninterruptedly throughout the year. The operations for a time were so promising that the proprietors overdid the work of providing facilities, especially by the erection of a mill at the Silver Star mine, at a cost of seventy-six thousand dollars. It was not only badly located but proved ill adapted to the ore, of which there was a large quantity on hand. This ore, which is still there, is a galena, very much mixed with silver, copper and iron, carrying gold in a true fissure vein. The silver and lead might be made to pay. The heavy-grade ores, of which there were large quantities mined have averaged two to three hundred ounces of silver to the ton in quartz. A great deal of galena, which yielded sixty per cent, lead and eighty ounces of silver, was shipped to the smelters as first-class ore; but the mill was built to treat only the more common kind, which contained twenty-two per cent, lead, as many ounces of silver, with copper sulphide, carrying gold to the amount of ten to fifteen dollars and mixed with zinc, spar, quartz, and lime.
The running of the mill, which was located upon the hill side, was unsuccessful and the institution was shut down and sold; and since that time little has been done with it, except that it has been leased to miners who work in a small way.
The most prominent property, the North Star, has been a continuous producer ever since 1881. Although much extravagant outlay was incurred, the operation was successful. The ore is not of a grade so high as most of the ore on Wood river, running sixty per cent, lead and seventy-five to eighty ounces of silver; but many of the bodies have been large and continuous for a considerable distance, being large enough to yield over one hundred thousand dollars each. There have also been considerable bodies of ore running on the average eighteen per cent, lead, twenty-two to twenty-four ounces of silver, ten per cent, zinc, in arsenical iron and quartz, with spar and lime. These bodies have been milled at the North Star works, making a fairly good grade of concentrates.
In 1892, when the clean galena could not be obtained in sufficiently large quantities to run the smelters, the general managers endeavored to run, in the winter of 1892-3, on the bodies of low-grade ore from the North Star mine; and. owing chiefly to the presence of zinc, which ran at times as high as seventeen per cent., the work was unsuccessful: the smelters were closed and have not since been opened. The work at the North Star has been continued by leasing.
At the Silver Star they now have fourteen claims, and at the North Star there are also large bodies of arsenical-iron pyrite, which carry gold from ten to twenty dollars to the ton. The mine is on the east fork of Wood River, seven miles from Gimlet station. The Silver Star is thirty miles from the town of Ketchum. At the town of Ketchum the company have a large and substantially built smelter and all the appliances and structures, one of the best plants in the county, and the works are located in a delightful situation. The boarding house and buildings for the offices of the company are first-class and afford a delightful residence and resort in the summer. Wood river is so near the residence that its gurgling current can be heard there.