Economic & Lifestyle Overview
At a population shy of 200, Wardner is a quiet town with a lot of history. Located up Milo Gulch just south of Kellogg, this mainly residential town is just one mile long. Many of the remaining homes have been updated over the years. When driving through its main two streets it’s obvious that homeowners take pride in their seasonal or vacation homes. This scenic little town was settled under Wardner peak by the historic entrance to the Bunker Hill Mine, and today Silver Mountain’s scenic gondola passes over town. Outdoor recreation like boating, camping, skiing, hunting, fishing, and off-roading are all major parts of resident’s lives like with the rest of the Silver Valley. It’s rare in the Rockies to find this affordable cost of living with plentiful access to outdoor recreation, plus Wardner has a scenic gondola floating over its streets.
Business Outlook & Competitive Advantages
Because of Wardner’s location, many of the advantages suggested for Kellogg could apply to Wardner. But, at the present moment, Wardner has no active commercial properties. The city itself is very limited when it comes to designated commercial areas. Many of the businesses moved to Kellogg over the years, and the remaining tavern in town is slowly being remolded towards reopening as a tavern and restaurant. There are quite a few tourist homes in Warder that do well by listing their properties on vacation rental websites.
An additional competitive advantage for Warder is the small government system. It’s easy to get your voice heard as the City Council hosts monthly meetings that are open to the public.
History & Unique Facts
Wardner started it all. In 1885 Noah Kellogg and his famous jackass discovered an ore that lead to the mining boom of the Silver Valley south of where the town would be built. Wardner’s town charter was granted in 1902. At its height, this town had over 4,000 residents including migrant Chinese workers, and upper Wardner was packed with businesses. The oldest state bank was in Wardner until it moved to Kellogg, and Shoshone NewsPress originally started here. Before the scenic gondola was in place, there was a mine-related “gondola” that was built to haul ore over the mountain into Kellogg for smelting.
Because Wardner hosted the entrance to Bunker Hill Mine, many of the mine-related labor conflicts happened here. One of the most notable events was in 1899 when union miners from other parts of Silver Valley invaded and attacked the non-union Bunker Hill Mine in response to the company firing 17 men for joining the union. Around 800 miners from Burke took possession of a Northern Pacific train and headed through the Valley to pick up more miners on their way to Bunker Hill. The non-union employees fled the mill before the armed union miners arrived in Wardner to dynamite the Bunker Mill and Sullivan mills. Lives were lost before the U.S. Army was able to intervene.