Leesburg, Lemhi County, Idaho

Buildings, Leesburg, Idaho
Leesburg Townsite, Napias Creek, Salmon, Lemhi County, ID
Historical Markers, Leesburg, Idaho

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Leesburg, Lemhi County, Idaho


Idaho–Lemhi County–Leesburg–Gold Mining Townsite–1866


Leesburg is an abandoned town located in Lemhi County, Idaho. It was named Leesburg after Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It was one of the first gold mining camps in Idaho.

On July 16, 1866 Frank Barney Sharkey led a group of four along the Salmon River, where they found gold in the Napias Creek. Napias is a Shoshoni word for “money.” An indigenous chief met Sharkey at his camp and questioned whether he had found any napias. The chief did not want more prospectors coming to the area, but his requests were ignored.

After the news of gold spread, many prospectors headed to Lehmi County in search of riches. Within a month, a stampede of prospectors reached the new mining town. The prospectors were Civil War veterans from both sides, but most were Confederate veterans. Each faction wanted to name the town after a military general from the Civil War. The groups settled on having two communities in one town: Grantsville and Leesburg. The Leesburg community grew larger and the Grantsville name was forgotten.

That winter, Leesburg residents almost died from starvation. Heavy snowfall closed roads and pack trains could not deliver supplies. A group of miners were selected to shovel a path for the pack train. This lasted from February to March 8, 1867. By spring, Leesburg grew to 2,000 residents. Leesburg residents also included Chinese miners. The town consisted of a one room school, business firms, two butchers, houses, and a mile long main street. The majority of the structures were log buildings. In 1870 the population dropped to 180 people due to low investment returns.

In 1926 there was a small commemoration of Sharkey’s gold discovery. Industrial hydraulic mining began in 1930 but by 1942 operations were ceased.

In 1975 Leesburg joined the National Register of Historic Places. Today it is a popular tourist destination for Ghost Town Adventurers.


Frank Barney Sharkey


Hunter, Makoto, Brigham Young University. “Leesburg and Grantsville, Idaho.” Intermountain Histories. 2023. https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/492

Idaho State Historical Society: Reference Series. “Leesburg.” Idaho State Historical Society. 1982. https://history.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/0203.pdf

“Leesburg, Idaho.” Western Mining History. 2023. https://westernmininghistory.com/towns/idaho/leesburg/

Rees, John E. Idaho: Chronology, Nomenclature, Bibliography. Chicago: W.B Conkey Co., 1918. https://archive.org/details/idahochronologyn00reesrich/page/94/mode/2up?q=Leesburg


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16 July 1866


Marbella Valeriano García


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The Lost Cause in the Far West


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HIST 402A Fall 2023


Salmon, Lemhi County, Idaho