In 1862, George Grimes, Moses Splawn, and an accompanying party of men discovered gold in the Boise Basin, along Grimes Creek. The influx of miners quickly changed the area from a wilderness inhabited mainly by Native Americans to a booming mining community. The vast basin is located 24 miles north of Boise, and covers over 300 square miles. It was one of the richest and most important discoveries of the gold rush days, and people moved to the area in droves. In "The History of Idaho," author John Hailey writes that many miners traveled from Portland, Oregon, boating up the Columbia River, then moving overland to the Snake River and on through the Payette River, finally reaching Horseshoe Bend and the Boise River Basin. The journey usually took about two weeks. Placer mining was the primary method used to extract gold from the Boise Basin, a process that involves washing gravel to separate it from the gold. Because deep snow made placer mining nearly impossible, many miners went home to Nevada, Washington, and Oregon for the winter. Placer mining quickly declined after the initial gold rush,and the population dwindled to 1,000 by 1869.