The town of Murray (population 93) is located about 25 miles north of Wallace. From the 90 in Idaho take the Kingston exit and proceed north. The road roughly follows the north folk or the Coeur d’Alene River for about 24 miles. Travelers will reach a Murray, Six Miles sign just after a bridge – turn right and drive another six miles. Murray will be on your left. The roads are quite good, just a bit windy. You may want to have a map of this area pre-loaded on your phone – I don’t remember to many signs for the town along the way.
In the late 90’s Tommer Construction Company improved the main road that is next the Murray; the same road that winds over to Thompson Falls and crosses the Montana border. Before these improvements, this used to be a small road. They took lot of gravel from the river and built what I called the “dirt super highway”. Today this road is completely paved (but closed in the winter months).
This construction company flattened all the mining tailing piles (large piles of rocks left over from the mining). Just south of town one can see the original tailing piles, as of yet, still unaltered for the construction of the road. Also, one mile south of Murray is the town’s historic cemetery. This cemetery is home to some of the original pioneers that settled these lands. It is also home to Captain Toncray who is credited with being Mark Twain’s inspiration for Huck Finn. We seem to run into Mark Twain’s name almost everywhere we travel.
Molly B’Damm . When I drove into Murray the town was just recovering or relaxing after the Molly B’Damm days. For the first three days of August, tourists hit this town in droves. Molly B’Damm was a famous prostitute. Numerous vendors setup shop on Main Street. I saw some nice arrowheads and antiques for sale. During its boom days, multiple bars were located in town – today there is only one left. During the Molly B’Damm days, a large plastic container containing dirt and water has been generously salted with gold flakes and small nuggets. For a fee people can pan for gold and keep any that they find. I tell ya, it sure beats sitting out in the sun from 6am until 7pm mining on your own!
Bedroom Mine. In the mid 1950’s a man decided to sink a mine shaft in his bedroom. He kept digging and digging until he had sunk a hole over 36 feet down. He finally hit bedrock and then tunneled around on bedrock. If you are a bit knowledgeable about gold mining you will know that since gold is so heavy it falls to bedrock and can sink no further. Anyway this grizzled old prospector found an 11 ounce nugget at the bottom of the hole in his bedroom. An 11 ounce piece of gold is quite large and spectacular. There are pictures of this nugget in the Bedroom Mine. The man who dug the shaft lived to be into his 90s. For many years the Bedroom Mine building looked like it was about to fall down. The front serves as a sizable bar. For more information call (208) 682-4394.
Spragpole Museum is located towards the middle of town. I decided to order what I thought would be a good dinner to fill my empty stomach. I was wrong. It was one of the worst meals that I have ever eaten. Anyway while I was waiting for the chicken to deep fry in the oil I decided to have a look around the museum. This museum is part of this bar and restaurant. Admission is free. Donations are accepted. I thought I would see a small little museum, similar to museums that you find in other gold mining towns. I was again wrong. I have never seen so much stuff crammed into several rooms. You could get lost in the place!
I don’t think the resident of Murray ever threw away anything. It all seemed to be in this museum. I saw everything from hip and knee prostheses, to cigarette collections, to old jars, to ancient typewriters, to pots and pans, to old newspapers. They do have a fine geological collection. One interesting piece of work that they had displayed was the progression of how a wood carver carves the links in a chain. They showed each link at different stages of being carved. A guest book located at one end of the museum contained signatures of people from all over the United States. For more information call (208) 682-3901.
1884 Murray House Bed and Breakfast is located on Main Street in Murray. Appropriately named, this house dates from 1884. The lobby is full of historical information and displays about the town. Travelers can choose from one of four bedrooms/4 baths – all located upstairs. All stays include a continental breakfast served daily in the lobby. Phone: (208) 682-GOLD.
And for other historical information about Murry, visit: www.murray-idaho.com