Idaho History July 24, 2016

Local Roads History

(part 1)

Time Line of Early Roads

Ca 1898 Charles C. Randall filed a mining claim, built the first structures, and began to rent lots to others as Knox became a major stop for miners taking the Thunder Mountain Road into Roosevelt. In 1904 he was postmaster at Knox. For a short time the site was called Randall. Randall filed a homestead entry on Knox in 1909 but didn’t get it patented. He operated a hotel, store, and stable. The town served about 200 people. He left about 1912. From notes in the Knox file at the State Genealogical Library, author unknown.

1899 Surveyors for Colonel W. H. Dewey (Dewey Syndicate) had surveyed east of Clear Creek over the summit to the S. Fork of the Salmon for a rail line headed for Dewey’s mining interests in the Thunder Mountain and Roosevelt area. The line was never built.Source: Rivers & Rails p27 & 34. Railroad pass at the head of Clear Creek was apparently named due to this survey.

1902 Dewey obtained public funding to rebuild a pack trail into a wagon road from Crawford (E. of Cascade) to Knox (NW of Warm Lake). The road was not completed until 1904. Source: Rivers & Rails p28 & 29.

1903 a state appropriation was made to build the road into the new mining town of Roosevelt. A telephone and telegraph was also built into the town. 7000 people were getting their mail at the Roosevelt post office. USFS

1911 a twenty-foot wide road was built from Spring Valley, north of Boise, over Horseshoe Bend hill and at Banks it veered over the hills to Ola and on to Smiths Ferry. Source: Idaho Highway History 1863-1975.

1912 first rough road from Smiths Ferry up Round Valley Creek to Round Valley, prior travel was east from Smiths Ferry over the ridge (Neebs Hill) to Round Valley.

1917 the road was constructed from Warm Lake to Landmark.

Fall and winter of 1922 the Bureau of Public Roads contracted to replace the timber truss bridge (log abutments) with a steel truss bridge on concrete abutments on the South Fork of the Salmon River, Warm Lake Highway. The holes for the abutments were excavated during low water in the fall. Water was heated for the concrete. The fresh concrete was tented and heated so the concrete would cure and gain the proper strength.

1923 U.S. Bureau of Public Roads had a contract for road construction from the South Fork of the Salmon River to Landmark. This widened the road built in 1917.

1925 the road from Cascade, Warm Lake, Pen Basin, Deadwood was extended through to Bear Valley.

1925 the road was constructed from Knox down the South Fork of the Salmon River.

1927 Yellow Pine was a wilderness; by the end of 1931 it was a modern busy mining community. History Of The Boise National Forest, p15.

1928 the road was constructed up the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River.

1941-1953 the road was plowed all winter from Cascade to Landmark and Stibnite to haul ore for the war effort and meet demand. 83 Miles of Hell by Duane Peterson 1999

1953 road was built along the South Fork of the Salmon by Molly hot springs. Morford notes.

1963 the Warm Lake Highway was paved from the Big Creek Summit to the Stolle Meadows Road. FHWA

1964 the new South Fork of the Salmon River concrete bridge at Warm Lake replaced the old steel truss bridge. Bureau of Public Roads

1965 the Warm Lake Highway was paved from Milepost 6.9 (Scott Valley) to the Big Creek Summit. FHWA

1967 Warm Lake Highway was paved from Crawford Milepost 2.83 to MP 6.9 Scott Valley. FHWA

1979/1980 the road was paved from Warm Lake (Stolle Meadows Road Jct.) to Landmark. Meyer notes

1996 road paved from the Warm Lake Highway down the South Fork to the East Fork of the South Fork.

From Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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Surveyors Back from the Mines

The Route Will Now Be Selected And Contracts Let For Work At Once

The Emmett Index July 10, 1902

Engineer J. M. Clark, of the Idaho Northern, Con Dewey, and Ira Hamilton of Nampa, and E. E. Stanley of this place, returned yesterday from Thunder Mountain, for which place they started three weeks ago to survey the wagon road from Emmett to the mines. Mr. Clark had nothing to say for publication until after he made his report to General Manager E. H. Dewey at Nampa, but stated that the trip had been perfectly satisfactory.

Mr. Stanley, who accompanied the party with a view of bidding for a contract on the road, stated that they had found two or three very satisfactory routes. He could not tell which would be selected, but the party encountered less difficulty in locating the road and lower mountain passes than was anticipated.

Mr. Stanley is prepared to bid on any part of the road and will leave for Nampa today for that purpose. He says that if awarded a contract he will put on the biggest outfit on the works. He said they found lots of people in camp but that it would be hard to estimate the number as everyone was on the move.

source: Gem County, Idaho Genweb

[hat tip to SMc]
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Road Will Go by Long Valley

One Contract Has Been Let And Other Bids Will Be Accepted Today

The Emmett Index June 12, 1902

It has now been definitely announced that the wagon road to Thunder Mountain to be built from this place will go by way of Long Valley. The line will be from Emmett to Dry Buck, into High Valley, then down the old wagon road to Smith’s Ferry, thence on up to Big Creek or Clear Creek.

C. F. Fisher, a merchant of Van Wyck, has secured the contract for building the cut-off between Tripod and Van Wyck, and the contract will be let today for the contracts between Dry Buck and High Valley. There are a large number of bidders for this work.

Engineers J. M. Clark and Ed. Hedden were over this week making the survey for the cut-off. Mr. Hedden will have charge of the work until completion.

Mr. Fisher, who has the contract for the first cut-off will return from Nampa today and will begin immediate work.

source: Gem County, Idaho GenWeb

[hat tip to SMc]
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Construction of South Fork Payette River Road 1917


photo from the Boise National Forest

[hat tip to SMc]
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South Fork Salmon River

From Wikipedia

The South Fork Salmon River is an 86-mile (138 km) tributary of the Salmon River in Idaho and Valley Counties in central Idaho. The river drains a rugged, lightly populated wilderness watershed in the Salmon River Mountains. It is the second-largest tributary of the Salmon River, after the Middle Fork.

more info:
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South Fork Salmon watershed

Nearly the entire South Fork Salmon watershed lies within a geological formation called the Idaho Batholith. Covering much of central Idaho and western Montana, the batholith rock weathers to shallow, coarse-textured soils that are highly susceptible to erosion. Sandy, white, loose soil on very steep slopes is typical of the entire watershed.

Before the mid 1940’s, extensive grazing, mining, and roadbuilding took place in the watershed. The activities generated large amounts of sediment into the river and its tributaries.

From the 1940’s to mid 1960’s, more than 800 miles of road were constructed and 320 million board feet of timber harvested from the South Fork Salmon River watershed. Many roads cut across steep, fragile terrain.

Winter 1964-5

Rain-on-snow storms in 1964-1965 caused massive erosion of logged areas and roads. Tremendous amounts of sediment–estimated up to 1.5 million cubic yards–washed into the South Fork and tributaries. This had a devastating impact on aquatic life including chinook salmon and steelhead. These fish require relatively sediment-free gravels in which to lay their eggs.

In 1965, the Forest Service declared a moratorium on logging and road construction in the drainage. It began watershed rehabilitation. By the mid-1970’s, over 340 miles of logging roads had been closed and revegetated, and other erosion controls installed. These activities and natural stream flushing action significantly reduced the amount of sediment entering the South Fork system.

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USGS topographic maps South Fork Salmon River

Topo Map Name from Mouth to Source

1 Mackay Bar
2 Burgdorf Summit
3 Chicken Peak
4 Pilot Peak
5 Parks Peak
6 Teapot Mountain
7 White Rock Peak
8 Warm Lake
9 Rice Peak
10 Wild Buck Peak

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Rainbow Rock Arch EFSF


Rainbow Rock Arch has an estimated span of 47 feet and height of 60 feet. It is located in the Payette National Forest and can be reached via a long (12 miles round trip) and strenuous hike (3000 feet of elevation gain) on the Deadman Creek and Rainbow Ridge Trails. Photo by Chris Moore. Chris has published information on over 500 natural arches in Idaho.

source: Natural
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South Fork Salmon River Management Area 12

Forest Service Management Plan

link to PDF file:

Link to History Local Roads Part 2

page updated April 30, 2020