In 1868 there were two mines near Silver City that were located just 75 feet apart, the Ida Elmore and the Golden Chariot. In fact, on claim maps, the two mines actually overlapped.
To avoid trouble, the mining companies agreed to block off an area of unmined ore between them as a neutral zone. Neither company would mine there.
Ah, but that ore was tempting! Both companies cheated and began mining toward each other.
On March 11, 1868, Idaho's underground war began deep within the mines. Miners on both sides laid down their picks, put out their lights, and began shooting at each other in the dark. They tried to drown each other, too, in those tunnels 300 feet beneath the surface. And they fought with jets of steam and hot water. The battle went on day and night with shotguns, rifles,
handguns--even hand grenades.
It's surprising how few casualties there were. By some accounts 100 men fired several thousand bullets at each other in the dark tunnels. No doubt some accounts were exaggerated. Mine timbers nine inches thick were nearly cut in half by the gunfire. And yet, only three men were killed in the mining war.
Troops were finally sent to stop the war after it had gone along in fits and starts for about three weeks. The owners of the two mines worked out their differences and went about the business of getting rich. The disputed Silver City vein eventually yielded seven million dollars worth of ore.