Cache Peak

Cache Peak, at 10,339 feet, the highest mountain in Idaho south of the Snake River, is seen from the Oakley Basin in this undated Clarence E. Bisbee photo. Mount Independence, at 9,951 feet, is seen just to the left of Cache Peak. The Vipont Silver Mine was near the headwaters of Birch Creek in the Goose Creek Mountains, 20 miles south of Oakley.

COURTESY CLARENCE E. BISBEE

At $1 an ounce, silver was a valuable commodity in 1918.

When Fran Lake sold his mine on 1,700 acres 20 miles south of Oakley, the Vipont Silver Mining Co. was founded. A.C. Phillips and his partners — one was an attorney and another a banker — then hired Lake to be the supervisor of the mine’s operation.

Vipont included some 6,000 feet of tunnels, 53 mining claims and all the machinery needed to extract silver from high-grade ore near the headwaters of Goose Creek. The company mined its first million dollars worth of the precious metal by 1920.

The mine quickly grew a town.

Engines first generated electricity for the town of 500, then electricity generated at Milner Dam on the Snake River was later transmitted to Oakley, then on to Vipont’s many homes, boarding houses, post office, pool halls, schoolhouse, cafe and a dance hall with an electric player piano.

The Vipont hotel housed a diner said to serve the best meals in Cassia County — but Vipont was more than a mile south of the Utah border, in Box Elder County.

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Vipont Silver Mining Co.’s heyday was short. In 1923, the price of silver dropped by 40 percent and the mine closed.

Mychel Matthews reports on agriculture and rural issues for the Times-News. The Hidden History feature runs every Thursday in the Times-News and on Magicvalley.com. If you have a question about something that may have historical significance, email Matthews at mmatthews@magicvalley.com.

Mychel Matthews reports on agriculture and rural issues for the Times-News. The Hidden History feature runs every Thursday in the Times-News and on Magicvalley.com. If you have a question about something that may have historical significance, email Matthews at mmatthews@magicvalley.com.

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