Snake River Canyon Historic Mining District
Twin Falls, Twin Falls County
- Grant: 2022 (archaeological pedestrian survey)
Location: Twin Falls, Idaho
The grants funds will be used to help cover the expenses of an archaeological pedestrian survey. Data collected from this survey will focus on updating existing mining sites and collecting data for the nomination of the Snake River Canyon Historic Mining District.
Within the Snake River Canyon is the Mon-Tung site, an archaeological site excavated in 1989 situated between Milner Dam and Shoshone Falls. The data recovered from the excavation helped recognize the impact that the Chinese community had in the establishment of the Magic Valley and Southern Idaho as we know it today. While the Mon-Tung site was predominantly related to a part of society that was based upon mining, it included elements of emerging agricultural settlements and reliance on transportation of emerging railroad lines. By incorporating and utilizing these foundational elements of society in the West, the greater communities were able to financially subsist.
Chinese communities first came to Idaho in the 1860s, soon after Idaho became a territory. They came in search of work in mining and railroad industries. Following California, Idaho’s Chinese community was the second biggest in the west. The population of the community went from approximately 4,000 people in the 1870s to 2,000 people in the 1890s, likely due anti-Chinese sentiment during this time period. A newspaper clipping from April 1905 in the Twin Falls Weekly News published a story where it delineates that Chinese people were not welcome in town. The story tells of a Chinese visitor who is taken to dinner by a group from the local community. They are subsequently stranded on a vessel in the middle of the snake river for the night. In the morning he is taken to the north bank of the river, asked to leave and to tell other people from the Chinese community that they were not welcome in Twin Falls. As many as 500 Chinese worked mining claims in the Snake River Canyon from 1871 to the early 1880s. “The Chinese were, contrary to judgements passed by the Twin Falls News, a vital part of the unfolding settlement process throughout the West” (James, 1995).
For more information please contact the Twin Falls County Historic Preservation Commission and visit their website at https://www.tfid.org/121/Historic-Preservation-Commission.
Photo 1, Idaho Power archaeologist Shane Baker & TF County Historic Preservation Commission member Shauna Robinson at the ‘Bloodsaw’s Bar’ site. Photo courtesy of Ron James, June 2021.