At this point, you might be wondering why an Idaho history blogger even brings this up. Perhaps because of asbestos mining in Idaho? One area where the mineral was mined for several years came across my radar recently. Kamiah was the home to asbestos mining on and off from about 1910 into the mid-20s. The mineral mined there was often used in fireproof bricks, some of which were manufactured in the valley. The companies running the mines kept going bust, one after another, so it never became a steady industry.
A related product was called “Kamiah Clay” and later “Medica.” It was used in a variety of products from tooth powder to soaps. It was said to have medicinal properties. The Kernex Medical Earth Company, headquartered in Walla Walla, had a lease from the State of Idaho on 480 acres across the river from Kamiah.
The mining of asbestos ceased about the time of the Great Depression.