Idaho City businesses rebounding after two brutal summers

The tiny town has been through the ringer the last couple of years.

The summer weather is something many mountain communities in Idaho rely on to help get them through the year; no mountain community can appreciate this summer more than Idaho City.

Between the Idaho City Fire, Pioneer Fire, and Snowmeggedon, these last two years have been a roller coaster for many businesses in the small mountain community.

Trudy’s Kitchen has sat along Highway 21 at the entrance to Idaho City for more than two decades.

“Last year was brutal. It was a brutal year and I've been here a long time and it was hard for me," Trudy Jackson, owner of Trudy’s Kitchen said.

A town that relies heavily on their summer tourism essentially became a dead end in 2016 after one of the nation’s largest forest fires, the Pioneer Fire, started up just down the highway.

“Last year with the fire, that was very difficult. We were going to have an incredible year by my statistics and then Pioneer Fire happened and Mile Marker 14 Fire and it was like we got our throats slit,” Trudy Jackson said.

Before the Pioneer Fire, it was the Idaho City Fire in the summer of 2015. An entire city block burned to the ground after someone set a fire to the historic downtown.

“We did wonder - are we going to be able to recoup from this?” Idaho City Trading Post Owner Lisa Jackson said.

All the businesses, with the exception of Calamity Jaynes, have since reopened, but it wasn’t easy.

“The last two summers were very trying with all the smoke that we had and the lack of the traffic,” Lisa Jackson said.

Businesses did see an uptick during the hunting seasons, but then this winter’s Snowmeggedon happened.

“Winter was horrible. Horrible. So we're already really behind our money making times,” Trudy Jackson said.

The summer though has helped make up for lost times.

“July was epic. June was good and August has been really good,” Trudy Jackson said.

The Idaho City Trading Post is seeing a 50% increase in business compared to the last two summers.

“We are seeing a lot more folks coming up from the valley and a lot more international and national travelers,” Lisa Jackson said.

A town whose roller coaster ride may just be over.

“We feel that we're finally over that hump and we're back in to where we were before the fire,” Lisa Jackson said.

Although, they’re still keeping their fingers crossed.

“I hope we don't have as much snow as we had last year,” Trudy Jackson said.

Business owners are expecting to see a bump in visitors this weekend because Idaho City is in the path of totality for this summer’s total solar eclipse.

Investigators say no one has yet been charged or caught in connection to the Idaho City Fire.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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