Miner's Hat Realty.

Miner's Hat Realty

Field review by the editors.

Kellogg, Idaho

A circular building, capped with a huge broad-brimmed miner's helmet and an old-fashioned carbide headlamp -- what's not to love? The Miner's Hat has lured motorists since 1939, when Marietta Page had it built next to Highway 10. She ran it as a roadside diner, a place where hungry workers driving to and from their shifts in Kellogg's lead and silver mines could grab a beer and a "Coney Island" hot dog, the Hat's most popular dish.

(Based on two nearby statues, Kellogg in those years was either a miner family paradise or a hard luck pit of doom).

Display inside the office.

By the mid-1950s The Miner's Hat had become a classic drive-in. Cars would park nose first and order sodas and hamburgers from a carhop. But when Interstate 90 was built beside Highway 10 in 1963, Marietta lost faith in her big hat. She closed the diner, convinced that no one would ever stop again.

How wrong she was.

Fifty years later, people still stop at The Miners Hat, which has enjoyed a long second life as Miner's Hat Realty, a real estate office. "My mom worked here in the 1940s; the first job she ever had," said current owner Shelly Hopper, who's run the place since 1991. "She was very happy when I bought it."

Inside the hat, where the booths used to be, Shelly displays a shelf of authentic carbide lamps and helmets, along with old photos of the building. Its helmet color has changed from forest green to metallic silver to today's conservative gray, and the cars outside have slimmed considerably. But otherwise the hat looks remarkably similar to Marietta's original creation.

Miner's lamp.

Shelly told us, when we last stopped by, that she didn't know how to light a real carbide lamp and didn't intend to light the Goliath-size one atop The Miner's Hat, whose neon bulb had been broken by kids with rocks. Since then, however, Shelly confessed that enough people have stopped by and asked about the broken lamp to make her feel bad. "Maybe I needed to hear that," she said. "It's crazy for me not to have it on. It's an obligation."

Once the lamp is relit, Shelly promised to keep an eye out for miner ghosts, lured by the glow, craving one last Coney Island ("I'm hun-greeeee...."). Living visitors are always welcome, and are under no obligation to buy a house, not even one that looks like a hat.

Miner's Hat Realty

Miner's Hat Realty

Address:
300 E. Cameron Ave., Kellogg, ID
Directions:
I-90 exit 51. Turn north. then make the first right onto Cameron Ave. The Hat will be up ahead, on the left.
Hours:
M-Th 9-5 (Call to verify)
Phone:
208-784-1202
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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