Shoshone County Mining & Smelting Museum
A Brief History of the Museum
The Staff House was constructed in 1906 by the Bunker Hill & Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Company as the residence for Manager Stanly A. Easton and his bride, Estelle.
Easton, the son of a California Episcopalian Minister, become the manager of the Company’s Kellogg operations in 1903 after graduating from the University of California in 1894 with a degree in Mining Engineering. For 55 years he rose through the management of Idaho's largest mining enterprise to Company President in 1933 and Chairman of the Board 1954-1958. Bunker Hill was Idaho's largest industrial employer when Easton retired. He was elected to the Idaho Hall of Fame in 1999.
In 1923 the house was converted to a residence for single Bunker Hill staff members and become known simply as “the Staff House.”
Modifications called for creation of nine bedrooms and four baths, plus a basement recreation area used for company meetings and social activities for decades.
When the Bunker Hill Company closed in 1981, following 94 years as one of the larger mining and smelting complexes in the U.S., the house sat idle, without heat or maintenance, until 1986. That year a group of local citizens purposed opening the house as a mining and smelting museum and the company agreed. With hard work by museum board members and volunteers, the museum opened that same year with three rooms of exhibits. Later the company turned over title to the house and property for a nominal amount.
Work continued from then forward to repair and maintain the building as an attractive tourist stop and effective repository for the artifacts, collections, and exhibits that tell the story of one of the nation’s largest and richest silver discoveries.
Within three years displays occupied a dozen rooms on the two floors as well as in the basement and a grant made possible the creation of cement pads for display of mining and smelting equipment too large to be housed inside.
In 1990 the museum acquired the 1899 Nordberg Air Compressor. To provide a foundation for the 73.5 ton compressor required 606 hours of volunteer labor and a large donation of concrete. The compressor area was landscaped and a brick memorial walkway installed. More than 900 bricks have been sold to date and are still an effective way to support the museum and pay tribute to friends and loved ones.
The Staff House Museum now houses a well stocked gift shop, 13 exhibit rooms and a small area suitable for private and public events.
The Museum is operated by a volunteer Board of Directors, and is staffed by a paid hostess seven hours a day,six days a week, from Memorial Day Weekend through September. In addition, special visits may be arranged outside the usual summer schedule.