The first rush was fueled by bad intentions.Not started, mind you.When Andrew Pritchard found gold in the north fork of the Coeur d’AleneRiver, it was real gold. And like all gold, it was worth finding.
But when the Northern Pacific Railroad which plastered the country with handbills promising free gold in north Idaho for the price of a ticket, the thousands of men who rode to this scenic paradise didn’t find gold, or as least not enough of it to make the Coeur d’Alene Mining District famous.What they found, instead, was silver, more than a billion ounces of it.
The Coeur d'Alene District they founded became known as the "SilverValley", the richest primary silver-producing region on Earth.They found the Sunshine Mine, which has produced more than 300 million ounces of silver thus far in its life, the Bunker Hill, the Morning-Star, and the Lucky Friday. In fact, they found and dug more than 90 mines.Some produced a little gold. Some, like the Snowstorm, produced tons and tons of copper.A few, like the Bunker Hill, produced lead and zinc.After more than a century, a few of them are still producing.A few more will produce again.
But there’s another rush in the SilverValley, this one smaller and maybe quieter (though sometimes I wonder), that has become an annual tradition: the Silver Summit.This year, the third Silver Summit, having outgrown its original home in Coeur d’Alene, will be held at the Templin’s Resort in Post Falls, Idaho, just ten miles from Coeur d’Alene, and unlike the original seekers who came to find riches in the mountains of north Idaho, everyone involved in this rush is guaranteed to bring some riches home.
Scheduled for September 22nd through the 24th, this year’s summit will feature a wealth of primary silver companies, well-known speakers, and tours designed to bring the lives and works of the original miners to life.But as silver is a unique metal, and the Silver Summit is a unique show, intimate but rowdy, personal yet professional.It has been called the best mining show of the year.Perhaps that’s because it is.
Among the speakers will be the Presidents of Idaho’s two NYSE-listed silver companies, Hecla’ Phillips S. Baker and Coeur’s Dennis Wheeler. Perennial hard-money and silver advocates Harry Browne and David Morgan are on the schedule, as is “Mogambo Guru” Richard Daughty, last year’s keynote speaker and “The Angriest Guy in Economics.”
Among the companies presenting are all the seven sisters of silver, including Pan American’s Ross Beatty, as well as a host of smaller local companies, like Timberline and New Jersey, and for the first time, a dozen Canadian silver miners will attend as well.
The Conference opens Thursday with a handful of mine tours, including one of the Bunker Hill, the largest underground mining complex in North America, led by its president, Bob Hopper.The exhibition hall opens at 8 and workshops at with events wrapping up about 9 at night.Panel discussions and workshops on careers in mining and silver in circulation will compete with company presentations from half a dozen local and international mining companies.
Friday promises the same and more, with the Pan American breakfast at 7, followed by presentations at 8 and going throughout the day.Each night is capped off by a well-deserved cocktail hour.
Saturday is dedicated to tours designed to bring the SilverValley to your fingertips. Buses leave the Red Lion to visit the local New Jersey and Sunshine Mines, the Miner’s Memorial in Big Creek, and the Wallace Mining Exhibition. The celebration will end about after a re-dedication of Wallace, Idaho, as the Center of the Universe.
If you’ve waited this long to register, you should know that the Red Lion is sold out (that should tell you something) so if you make the trip, you’ll probably have to lodge in nearby Coeur d’Alene.What a shame to have to stay in one of America’s most beautiful cities for one of the most fun and informative events of the year.
To register for the Silver Summit, visit the Silver Valley Mining Association’s Summit website online at http://www.thesilversummit.com.For the first time ever (and because of the overwhelming popularity of last year’s show) there’s a gate price of $25, which includes a .999 find silver coin (See, I told you I guaranteed riches) and a year-long membership in the SVMA, a non-profit organization that promotes silver mining in Idaho and supports a host of local charitable activities.
The towns of this district still bear the names of the men who came to mine or to trade with the miners – Kellogg, Wallace, Osburn – and while it’s not likely that your name will become a part of Idaho’s rich history, it’s certain that Idaho’s rich history will become a part of you.
Bill Hoyt, September 15, 2005
Bill Hoyt is Investor Relations Manager for Timberline Resources Corp (TBLC).Views expressed herein are purely his own, but he invites you to share them if you wish. Visit his personal weblog at El Borak’s Myopia, for daily commentary and response to reader mail.
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