Contact

Gold was first discovered in the area by James Moran in 1870, and subsequent discoveries led to the creation of four small mining districts; the Salmon, Kit Carson, Porter, and Alabama. These eventually consolidated to become the Contact Mining District. A small was built along the Toano and Idaho Fast Freight Line in April 1874, but a townsite never developed. Production was sparse, and by 1883 the area was deserted.

In 1888, a new mine known as the Delano was located. Within the next few years, several other mines were located and by mid-1897 the district was home to 200. A post office was opened, and the Salmon River Mining Company was formed to construct a fifty-ton smelter. The smelter only produced 14 tons before closing, which discouraged many and the district once again began to decline.

Community Social Hall

In 1905, a new revival began. A new Contact townsite was formed, and a stagecoach line connected to Twin Falls, Idaho. In 1907, the United States Mining and Smelting Company came to Contact. By 1908, Contact was home to 300 and that year the Contact Power and Milling Company began work on a $200,000 concentrating plant and power plant. The following year three townsites were platted; Contact, Contact City, and East Contact. In 1910 the Nevada Copper Mining, Milling, and Power Company and Contact-Seattle Copper Mining Company controlled the majority of the district. In 1914, construction was started on a 100-ton copper leaching plant by the Nevada Copper Company, which was completed in 1915. In 1918, construction started on the Vivian Tunnel, similar in concept to the Sutro Tunnel on the Comstock, to help drain mines and provide easier access to the mines. It was deemed too expensive and abandoned before it was completed.

Contact continued to steadily grow, and 1923 saw the construction of several new buildings. One, a two-story office, was built of local granite. On May 24, 1924, the three-story Fairview Hotel was completed (though it burned on May 31, 1926 in only a half hour). Construction was resumed on the Vivian Tunnel, and in 1925 the Oregon Short Line Railroad reached town. A new depot was built, and within the month regular service was provided. Contact was also a haven for bootleggers during the years of prohibition.

By 1930, power was supplied by a power plant construted by the Vivian Tunnel Company, but Contact's heyday had passed. By 1935, Contact shrank to only 100 - most of which were employed by the Works Progress Administration, and a crippling fire in 1942 destroyed a significant portion of town. In 1943, the wartime demand for copper caused a small revival, and the Delano mine was reworked by the Marshall Mining Company. Meanwhile, the Bonanza mine was developed by W.C. Lewis and Charles Whitcomb. This revival lasted only until 1947, during which time 800,000 pounds of copper were produced. Contact's final revival started in 1952, but the Contact Depot was closed that year. Copper was still produced until 1957, when the price of ore fell. The Oregon Short Line rails were removed in 1978, and only minor exploratory work has occured since.

A small population still remains in Contact, most working either in Jackpot or for the highway maintenance station just below town. A handful of historic buildings remain among some newer homes, and the townsite is dominated by the concrete shell of the old Community Social Hall.

I Visited Contact
11.6.2014