In 1862 the James Warren party discovered gold on Warren Creek and a town of several thousand people quickly grew. By 1872, most of the gold had been mined and the miners left the area after passing a vote to allow the Chinese miners to come in and work the already over-worked mines. Over a thousand Chinese miners populated the area. While a few struck it rich, many died pursuing their dream. Many of the original buildings perished in a fire in 1900. The buildings left in Warren today were built during 1901 – 1930. Warren is the 5th oldest town in Idaho and well worth the drive!
Warren is about a one-and-a-half hour drive; the first 30 miles is paved and the remaining 15 miles is gravel. It is not a ghost town, although only a handful of people live there year round. It is only accessible by snowmobile in the winter months when the population decreases from 40-50 in the summer to approx 9-16 in the winter. During the winter months, mail and freight are flown in by ski plane! There are no gas or services available between McCall and Warren so be prepared!
An audio tour CD is available for rent FREE OF CHARGE from the Payette National Forest Building, located at the corner of Hwy 55 and Mission Street in McCall.
As you near the town of Warren, you will see the dredge ponds and the old dredge. Stop and take a look around — you may just be that lucky prospector!
There is a short, self-guided walking tour around the historic buildings, and the pamphlet can be picked up in town. The trail to the Chinese Cemetery begins just past the Waste Transfer Station on the left side of the road. Be sure to visit the Chinese Gardens, toward the Hennenger Ranch, 8 miles north of Warren, where you will find what is left of the old terraced vegetable gardens and a replica of a Chinese dug-out. Stop at Hays Station (the old Forest Service Guard Station) for hand outs, views and photos.
Now after your busy day, hit the The Baum Shelter, where you can view a really neat collection of artifacts whilst enjoying the restaurant and full bar. Glance at the dollar bills on the wall from visitors from all over the world, and add yours to the display! The Baum Shelter is open Thursday – Saturday, noon to early evening. Moving with the times, telephones were installed in1995, however there is still no electricity!