Gold mining along the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River began in the 1870s. In the 1880s the Yankee Fork mines and the towns of Custer and Bonanza boomed. This boom period lasted until the 1910s. Neither Custer nor Bonanza ever grew very large. Both reached peak populations of a little over 600 in the 1880s-90s. Both Bonanza and Custer had essentially emptied by 1911. The Yankee Fork Dredge operated until 1952.
Today Bonanza is essentially unmaintained and undeveloped for visitors. It's possible to walk and explore throughout the entire townsite. Two buildings in Bonanza are being marginally maintained and are secured. The rest have been left to the elements. There is a Civilian Conservation Core group campground (reservation only) just up the hill from Bonanza. There is a residence that's used either by the CCC or the National Forest Service (I think) on a hill directly overlooking the townsite. I had a lot of fun exploring Bonanza. Much more so than Custer which is two miles away. Custer has been overdeveloped (for my tastes) for visitors while Bonanza is basically being left alone. The Yankee Fork Dredge is within site of Bonanza. The Yankee Fork Dredge traveled up and down the Yankee Fork from 1940 to 1952 extracting gold from the streambed. It is responsible for 5 miles of dredge tailings up and downstream of Bonanza. The Dredge has recently been restored and tours are offered.
The 8 miles of gravel road from Sunbeam to Bonanza is wide and very well maintained. There are many primitive campsites along the road from Sunbeam to Bonanza. Most were being used by small groups with RV's when I visited on an early summer morning. There are also lots of informal/primitive campsites along highway 75 from Clayton to Sunbeam and beyond. There is a sign on the highway stating something to the effect that the next x number of miles is a designated camping zone. There is also a developed campground near Bayhorse. The town of Clayton has a gas station and small convenience store.
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