Custer County Citizen Journalism

This is Challis, Idaho online. We promote local businesses and compile Challis community calendars and news sources. Here on you can shop, find services, access City and County websites, list your business, and more...
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Challis is located in central Idaho along the Salmon River drainage, and next to the beautiful Salmon/Challis National Forest which encompasses some of the most pristine wilderness in the continental United States. Challis is home to approx 1,200 people and is the seat of Custer County.


Although Challis is a small town, relatively isolated in the Idaho mountains, the economy is kept alive by active mines in the area including the nearby Thompson Creek Mine. The estimated median income in 2005 was approx. $30,000

A Brief History

Challis began in 1876 when Alvah Challis platted the town as a supply depot for the growing number of mines and ranches in the area. You can still see many of the original buildings in Challis's downtown on Main Street.

In 1881 Custer County was formed, and Wells Fargo opened a branch office in Challis. By 1896 the area was embroiled in the sheep and cattle wars as Challis was home to a large sheepherding population. Sheepherding had replaced mining as the foremost industry. In 1918 the sheep population of the state of Idaho was 2.6 million - meaning we had six times as many sheep as humans! Annual sheep celebrations are still held over the hill in Hailey, Idaho.


On October 18, 1983 Custer County was rocked by an earthquake. The quake caused miles of surface faulting along the western flank of the Lost River Mountain Range. The fault line of the massive earthquake of 1983 is located 35 miles southeast of Challis and the scarp is still visible at Mt. Borah, east of Highway 93.


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