Burke Canyon

Submitted by Leisa Wick on Tue, 2017-06-20 00:00

As a seventh grade language arts teacher, these experiences we are having this week are so far removed from my content, so often times it is challenging--as hard as I listen--to understand some of what we are learning about.  However, I was particularly intrigued by our drive to Burke Canyon. Burke Canyon is about seven miles from Wallace; it is an abandoned mining town that was once booming.  We stopped on the side of the road right in front of what once was the Tiger Hotel which not only housed guests but also a stream, a ralroad track, and a road!  The hotel was built over these three. Driving through this now ghost town, it was easy to imagine how bustling life must have been when the mines in these areas were up and running.  I wanted to learn more about this area and the Tiger Hotel, so I have copied and pasted a you tube link I found interesting. Hope you enjoy the video. (Hello my digital lurker (I mean observer!) friend Nola Shanley! 





Darcy Hale's picture

Thank you for sharing the video.  Mining was not included in our workshop here in SE ID/Pocatello so I am thoroughly enjoying learning how integral mining was to the panhandle region and how it affected local ecosystems and their services.  I am sad that the Tiger Hotel was torn down.  I would have loved to walk its halls. I am not sure I would have enjoyed bunking alongside a train track, however!  I loved the photographs of the town snuggled in tight between tree-covered mountains.  Thanks for providing the video.  I will be doing some additional research on my own.  

As far as connecting ELA...have you used the outdoors for inspiration for creative writing?  Perhaps have your students write an argumentative or persuasive essay using an debatable topic within ecosystem services in your local area.  For example, here in Pocatello, I can picture students debating the pros and cons of our river being constrained to a concrete channel (for those miles the river isn't even referred to as a river)...should the channel be removed?  Should the channel remain?  You could assign a position to a student group and an opposing position to another group and have them give oral arguments (after research and preparation) in front of the class.  Our 8th grade ELA teachers took their classes out sledding this winter (we have a big hill on campus) and then they had to write creatively describing the experience using their 5 senses (this relates to cultural ecosystem services).  Create a mindmap with Cultural Ecosystem Services in the center and have the kids brainstorm all the ways they enjoy and recreate in the outdoors.  Have the kids research a park that needs attention in your area and have them create a campaign poster to sway voters to vote for increased taxes to improve the park.  Create a vocabulary list and spelling test around science-based words.  What about a novel with a setting in the wildnerness with a man vs. nature trope?  As posed in another blog here...do we rule nature or does nature rule us?  One of the coolest things I learned during my workshop was how many things we depend on that are pollinated by bees.  A unit study on bees could incorporate so many ELA concepts.  I didn't know we were hand pollinating almond trees due to a drasically reduced bee population.  The bee study could include kids researching and writing about virtues:  Bee kind to our waterways.  Bee careful not to litter.  Bee respectful of habitat, stay on the trails.  It's late!  LOL.  I'm prattling on and on!  I bet a google search on ecosystem lesson plans would give you lots of creative ideas to tie this week's content to ELA.  I will tie what I learned last week to my PE classes!  :)     


jesler's picture


Have you considered some sort of cross-discipline unit to try and bring this into your language arts classes?  If there were a 7th grade Life Sciene teacher at your school who could cover the science content of historical mining in the Silver Valley (and perhals human health impacts), then you could focus on reading, writing, and speaking about the topic.  What reading skills do you need to teach that could be covered by reading historical texts from the era or by researching particular individuals who were influential in the Burke mining district's growth and prosperity?  What sort of writing skills could be developed by having students write biographies about these individuals, or, the company itself?  One strategy that is useful for building cross-discipline curriculum is the Essential Question; an open-ended, umbrella (more or less) which can be answered from many different viewpoints using many different pieces of information.  Perhaps there is an Essential Question you could design with a science teacher and social studies teacher which could get your students reading/writing about issues (past, present, and future) with mining in the Burke/Silver Valley?  I'd be happy to share some ways we have done this at the high school.  The students really get into it!

Josh McKain's picture

Thank you Leisa! That video really helped me organise where the buidings were in Burke. Having students make there own videos could be a great way to tie cross curricular subjects togther. Perhaps another 'buy-in' for weary educators and admin who are not as eager to release students into the field...

Nola Shanley's picture

Hello, Leisa!  Long time no see!  (Oh....I'm watching you, doll!) :) I loved the YouTube clip about the Tiger Hotel/abandoned area.  I think that as a 7th grade, we could really nurture a cool cross-disciplinary activity for the students.  Karina representing Science, Pockets for Math, myself for Social Studies, and of course...you and Kim are the ELA representatives.  Seeing this once bustling town turned ghost town reminds me of an Alexis de Tocqueville quote test I use as springboard for greater themes in Social Studies: 

“It is odd to watch with what feverish ardor Americans pursue prosperity. Ever tormented by the shadowy suspicion that they may not have chosen the shortest route to get it, they cleave to things of this world as if assured that they will never die and yet rush to snatch any that comes within their reach, as if they had expected to stop living before relishing them. Death steps in, in the end and stops them, before they have grown tired of this futile pursuit of that complete felicity which always escapes them.” Alexis de Toqueville, Democracy in America. 

Have fun, doll!  Looking forward to collaborating with you!  

Jennifer Murray's picture

I knew Burke was pretty abandoned compared to what it used to be, but I haven't thought of it as a ghost town.  Makes me wonder what other stories it has.  My family and I did a ghost town tour when we visited Jerome, AZ which also used to be a mining town.  I thought hearing the historical stories was so much more interesting that just reading history from a textbook.  I know the Silver Valley has mining tours, but I don't think they have any ghost town tours.  I'll have to see if I can find any videos like this with more historical stories.  Thanks for the Tiger Hotel video!