by Lazelle Jones (text and photos)
The name of this ghost town (Jarbidge) is like so many other non-English words that are emasculated and pronounced different from how they should be pronounced. Jarbidge is actually a derivation of the Shoshone Native American word “Tsawhawbitts” that means “giant monster or evil spirit”. Here high in this mountain canyon before gold was discovered, the Shoshone had lived since the beginning of time.
However, in 1909 a prospector named Bourne wandered through Jarbidge Canyon and hit pay dirt and overnight a boom town sprung up. Richly painted by Old West history, today Jarbidge, Nevada is one of the most remote playgrounds anywhere in America, one of the several reasons why those who visit find this place charming. Here an overnight stay (or stays that can last several days) are easily doable and most enjoyable.
Gone are the days when hard-rock miners wandered the streets of this once rough and tumble mining boom-town, whose population in 1909 went from 0 to 1500 literally overnight, Jarbidge is also where the last stagecoach robbery in America took place (1916). The saloons, brothels, and dry goods stores where merchants once grub-staked hopeful prospectors who tried desperately to find the “mother-load” (few did), have been replaced today with a gentrified community of permanent residents that total maybe 20 folks, tops.
It’s a 65 mile drive (mostly gravel road) from the town of Rogerson, Idaho but the Jarbidge Canyon Road is well maintained and even in the dead of winter when heavy snow flies the road is kept open. Fly fishing in the canyon along the Jarbidge River and along the rivulets that act as tributaries, will not disappoint.
Day hiking, backpacking, RV camping as well as two very good lodgings along Main Street (Tsawhawbitts B&B and Outdoor Inn) offer those visiting Jarbidge several choices on how to spend the night and things to do.
The restaurant, bar, and grill (also called Outdoor Inn) is open throughout the summer but when the seasons change the Red Dog Saloon opens to provide a place to “break bread” and enjoy your favorite spirits. Both offer a prime rib dinner that is to-die-for, HUGE burgers, Mexican entrees, and breakfast all day long.
Every afternoon beginning about 3:30 pm The Trading Post hosts what they call Beer-30 Hour. T
his is when the town locals show up (about 3:30 pm), grab their favorite brew-ski, and for a steady hour and a half spin tales about the “old days” that are fascinating to listen to. Everyone is invited so arrive early, find a spot, then listen to the verbal history that “goes down.” This is good stuff!
The Community Hall located at the epicenter of this microscopic metropolis is one of the original mining town buildings and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It provides visitors a self guided walking tour back through time with exhibits that detail Jarbidge History.
There is a small gift shop (old board and batten structure) right next door where treasures are available for purchase. The one thing you will for sure want to visit while here is the Jarbidge Jail that back in the day held some pretty nefarious characters, like Ben Kuhl who (1916) pulled off the Last Stagecoach Robbery in America.
Hey, the $4000 mine payroll taken by Kuhl after he shot and killed the stage driver has never been found, so “keep your eyes open.”
The gold coins that made up the mine payroll (in today’s dollars) would be worth about $35,000. Check It Out!