Painter Mine


Rafters floating down the Salmon River through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness remember the sign.  It was a large yellow and purple sign hanging prominently on the front of a log house overlooking the river just upstream from Ludwig Rapid and Buckskin Bills historic cabin: “FOR SALE”


“I want that property,” most people said after having enjoyed a week on the sand beach lined clear water of the Salmon. Today, after the purchase and subsequent transfer of the property by The Wilderness Land Trust to the United States Forest Service, they do own the property as public land added to the wilderness and the Wild and Scenic River corridor.


The Wilderness Land Trust purchased the 38-acre Painter Mine property four years ago from a willing seller and spent the intervening time working with the State of Idaho to clean up the historic gold mine site and make the property safe for visitors. The Trust also removed the house, out-buildings, and personal property, most of it on a weekend with the Selway-Bitteroot Frank Church Foundation where volunteers removed 3,000 lbs. of junk. 


All the materials from the site had to be boated down the Salmon for proper disposal. The cleanup allowed the Trust to preserve the property’s mining history while at the same time making it safe for visitors.  


Even after all this effort, the project wasn’t finished until the Forest Service purchased the property from the Trust this week. Thanks to all our partners, visitors to the Frank Church will enjoy the property’s wilderness and historical values and its ponderosa shaded shoreline will blend naturally with this magnificent stretch of river.


The Facts:

  • 38 acres on private land on the mainstem of the Salmon river, about five miles into the designated wilderness.
  • It included a vacation home, garage, jeep and lawnmower
  • It also included two jet boat ramps and landing strip rights.
  • The project took over 4 years – start to finish.  We first had to acquire the land form the private owner, clean it up then arrange to sell it to the Forest Service.
  • We removed all the structures, rehabilitated the mine and hauled out 3,000 lbs. of accumulated junk.
  • Now it’s a precious addition to the wilderness, a rare flat spot along the river for all to enjoy.



WLT Buys the Mine!          Full Acquisition Press Release     2/20/14


Bat Gate Installation          Photos and Report     11/3/14


















wilderness50 logo


Cabin, Painter Mine Site


Closed Adit, Bat Gate


Mine Junk






Mike Wilson, who sold the property to the Wilderness Land Trust, expressed his enthusiasm for the sale. 


“The Painter Mine has a fascinating history of the people who worked on the mine long ago.” Mike noted.  “We're happy to see the land return to public ownership for the enjoyment of all.”