Nearby cities and towns in the Wood River Valley
Ketchum, a year-round recreation area, is a gateway to the Sawtooth Recreation Area, and to the internationally renowned ski resort, Sun Valley. The main road to Sun Valley passes through Ketchum. It has grown right alongside its glamorous neighbor to provide summer and winter amenities for vacationers. Most notably the River Run access to Bald Mountain lies within walking distance of downtown Ketchum
While township was transformed by having Sun Valley located adjacent to it; Ketchum has retained its own Western pioneer charm, particularly along Main Street. Here modern art galleries, boutiques and restaurants are mixed with the original brick buildings.
Historically, Ketchum has swung through a series of fortunes. After the Bannock Wars, and under the impetus of the silver and lead mining boom it was founded in 1880. The town of Ketchum was soon one of the richest mining districts in the Northwest. At the Ore Wagon Museum you can see the high, narrow Lewis Ore Wagons that were used to haul the tens of millions of dollars' worth of silver and lead from the outlying mines to the Wood River Valley smelters. In the annual Wagon Days parade held on Labor Day weekend, you can see these wagons trundling through the streets of Ketchum.
At the end of the mining boom a decade later, Ketchum's economic energy shifted with just as much gusto to sheep-ranching. Basque sheepherders found fine summer grazing in the Sawtooth, Boulder and Pioneer Mountains. By 1920 Ketchum was the second-largest sheep and lamb shipping station after Sydney, Australia. Continuing signs of this once important sheep migration route can still be found in the annual trailing of the sheep throughout the Wood River Valley in the fall.
Ketchum's year round population had dwindled to about 200, when the township received its latest revival in the form of Sun Valley, and then developed to play host to a tourist clientele. This included a lively gambling scene until it was completely outlawed in 1954.
Named after David Ketchum, a free spirit whose resume epitomizes the wild west; trapper and guide, mountaineer, and experienced pack train man.
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