One of the many artifacts at the Keno City Mining Museum resembles the offspring of a Swiss Army knife and a supercomputer: the “Rosebud Trolley” is a tricked-out cafeteria cart with a vise, electrical tools, a flashing beacon light, and an emergency telephone. Like many of the museum’s treasures, it’s evidence of the ingenuity and grit that keeps this isolated mining outpost alive.
The museum’s exhibits are crafted with humor and care, from a sunburst of sawblades on one wall to a befuddled mannequin peering up from a shaft. Many of the objects were donated by Keno City’s residents, while others have been salvaged from abandoned mining camps. Dozens of photographs document the area’s rough-and-tumble history, from prospectors to prostitutes to a man riding a motorcycle retrofitted with skis.
Fortune-seekers flocked to Keno in the 1920s, drawn by one of the richest silver deposits in the world. They built Jackson Hall (which now houses the museum) to serve as a community center, dance hall, and movie theater. But after the mine closed in 1990, the population dwindled, and now only a few dozen die-hard residents live in Keno.
An influx of sightseers in the summer helps support the museum as well as the Keno City Hotel, two rival bars, a small library, and an annual music festival. Keno also boasts several haunted cabins, campgrounds, and a house insulated by 32,000 beer bottles.
The museum’s outdoor galleries abound with dilapidated tractors, punch drills, excavators, and other machinery. Next door, the Alpine Interpretive Center details local wildflowers and walking trails. Keno Hill can be accessed via Signpost Road—a steep gravel road not suitable for all vehicles. Its namesake signpost can be found at the top, along with derelict mining ruins and an astounding panoramic view of nearby river valleys.
Know Before You Go
Between mid-May (Victoria Day weekend) and mid-September, the museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.