Idaho History January 8, 2017

Valley County Back Country Post Offices

Back County Post Offices

According to the Cockrell Report on the Post Office Department for 1888 and the 1902 Postal Laws and Regulations, it was not very difficult for a person to establish a post office. One had merely to show cause for the service in the desired area and, from a poll of those to be served, choose a one-word name that the people agreed on. No mention was made of minimum population requirements. The First Assistant Postmaster General would then pass on the requests and the post office would be established.

source: pg 120 “Cultural Integrity and Marginality Along the South Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho”, Thesis by SJ Rebillet 1983 (7 megs)
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Yellow Pine Post Office

Post Office established Oct. 5, 1906, Albert C. Behne.

“Yellow Pine 1st post office 1904, burnt 1905 or 1909”

(link to larger size)

photo source: Idaho State Historical Society Earl Willson Collection

The first post office is probably the one known briefly as Morrison.

“Yellow Pine 2nd post office 1912 with Ray Call, — Smith, Theodore VanMeter and Albert C. Behne, postmaster and founder.”

(link to larger size)

photo source: Idaho State Historical Society Earl Willson Collection
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Post Office established April 5, 1904, Albert C. Behne
discontinued September 29, 1906, mail to Knox.
(later known as Yellow Pine)
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StibnitePostOffice-a(click image for source size)
Courtesy of Sandy McRae.
L to R Erv Kuehn, –Berryman (cook’s son), Tony Eggleson, Max Schartz, Bud Tazwater, Geo. Worthington, Richardson, Dan Larabee, Lou Clapp, Harry Fergeson, Harold Bailey, Jim Leahy, Bill Griffith, Harry Mobray, Lee Berryman (cook), Mat Waoukula, Johnny Croco, Paul Thompson, Schultz, Jackhammer Jack, Frank Becker, Frank Hamilton, Ted Taylor, Mike Farrel, Bill Peterson, Ben Payne Sr.
Photo info: at Valley County GenWeb

Post Office established May 29, 1927, Harold D. Bailey
discontinued July 7, 1957, mail to Yellow Pine
Located 73 mi. NE of Cascade; 13 SE of Yellow Pine
NE Sec. 15N, T18N, R9E.
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Two log cabin structures at Thunder Mountain, Idaho. One is being used as a saloon and the other as a post office. The post office has a canvas roof. Possibly Roosevelt.
source: Idaho State Historical Society

Post Office established February 19, 1902, William L. Cuddy
Joseph B. Randall, September 6, 1902
Warren M. Dutton, June 9, 1905
Harry S. Austin, December 15, 1906
Benjamin T. Frances, March 20, 1907, declined
Gertrude P. Wayland, September 27, 1907
Tirza J. Wayland, July 1, 1908
Ester H. Busby, December 21, 1911
discontinued September 30, 1915, mail to Yellow Pine
about 18 m. NE of Stibnite, 23 m. NE of Yellow Pine
SE Sec. 24, T19N, R10E

Roosevelt 1905

“Since the new mail contractor has succeeded in getting his men straightened out the mail service is giving good satisfaction.”

from: The Prospector and Thunder Mountain News February 4, 1905
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Earl Wilson, The Thunder Mountain Story, Thunder Mountain, “Tome Up” writes: the gigantic earth slide of 1909 broke off and slowly crept down the slope until it dammed Monumental Creek below the boom town of Roosevelt. .(but) . . Roosevelt and the immediate Thunder Mountain areas was pretty much deserted by a disillusioned populace long before.
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Profile Sam’s Camp, Thunder Mountain District

ProfileSamsCampLg-a(click image for larger size)
Profile Sam’s Camp, Head of Profile Creek, Glasgow Dundee Mines. People pictured are mining expert Boggs, “Profile” Sam Wilson, George Brewer, William Mitchell, Ed Hayes, Crosbie Brewer, Earl Wilson.
Photo dated 1908
Earl Wilson Collection. Copyright Idaho State Historical Society
photo source: Idaho State Historical Society

Post Office established July 11, 1914, Earl W. Wilson
discontinued January 31, 1921, mail to Yellow Pine.
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Post Office established August 17, 1904, William E. Edwards
renamed EDWARDSBURG February 25, 1909
6 miles SW of Big Springs
NW Sec. 9, T20N, R9E
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Edwardsburg, Idaho, March 26 – 1912 Contributed by Marvin Housworth

Post Office established August 17, 1904, as Logan, William F. Edwards
renamed Edwardsburg February 25, 1909
discontinued January 14, 1918, mail to Warren.

The Routsons, “Boston” Brown and Dan McRae were some of the mail carriers from 1900 to 1918. Mail came into the area, every year by a different contract and mail carrier. Elliots, Wallaces and many others carried it to Werdenhoff, down to Clover, and Cabin Creek, most going down Big Creek via horses or back pack.

Edwardsburg lost the post office in 1918 and the post office at Warren hired Joe Davis to pack it out. The mail route from Warren went over Elk Summit then down Smith Creek to Cowman’s Lodge at Big Creek. If mail went to Cowman’s, then Edwards got it there. Mail also came from Crawford, later Cascade, to Yellow Pine and to Profile to Sam Wilson’s. The Edwards went to Profile for their mail.

The first and only road into the Big Creek area went over Elk Summit, splitting at the top, one fork going down to the Edwards and Moscow Mine on Logan Creek and the second fork went down Smith Creek to the mines. There was only a trail from Smith Creek up to Big Creek. In the 1930’s, the CCC built the road from Yellow Pine past Edwardsburg to Big Creek and on down to Smith Creek, connecting all of these places, and the mail then was hauled in by vehicle and flown into the airport when the road was closed. Carl Whitmore and Johnson’s Flying Service had these early contracts.
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Helmers included the following account:

Joe Davis has contracted to pack the post office at Edwardsburg out to Warren. He had the horses tailed together, no halters, just ropes around their necks. When he was coming around the grade from Elk Creek, high on the hillside, one horse pulled back. That started the whole string to pull back and the third horse from the rear broke loose and went over the bank end over end, all three rolling until they came to a tree and wrapped around that. Joe went to Tom Carrey’s place on the river for help. One horse was dead, choked, and U. S. Post Office was scattered all over the hillside. They gathered what they could and Joe said the Department in Washington could come get the rest.

source: Valley County GenWeb Copyright © 2009
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Big Creek

Big Creek, Idaho in 1939 Photo from “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books

Post Office established May 13, 1936, Richard H. Cowman
Walter A. Weymouth, November 5, 1946
Marie A. Weymouth, December 31, 1949
discontinued December 31, 1951, mail to Yellow Pine
On Big Creek, 27 m. SE of Warren, 23 m. NE of Yellow Pine,
center Sec. 35, T21N, R9E.
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Dog team hauling mail to the Big Creek country in 1929

Photo courtesy of Margaret and Ken Twiliger in “The Middle Fork and the Sheepeater War” by Johnny Carrey and Cort Conley – copyright 1977
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1942 Mail Run down Big Creek

by Emma Cox

Hopeless point – the mail run up Big Creek

Photo from “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1997 by V.O. Ranch Books

“That spring [1942] Lafe subcontracted a mail contract. The mail was to be delivered from Yellow Pine to the Big Creek post office, then on down Big Creek to the Snowshoe Mine and on down a trail from there to Cabin Creek. The contract was for 45 miles, to be traveled by auto when accessible, in summer and early fall. In the winter mail was flown in by Penn Stohr from the airfield at Cascade to Big Creek, to be taken the rest of the way by horseback, dog team or team and sleigh.

“We purchased a pickup to deliver from Yellow Pine to the Snowshoe Mine. The baby and I rode along with Lafe so I could learn the route, as he had to deliver up a few side roads to places I had never seen. We knew I would have to be the substitute driver when hunting season opened.”

“When Lafe was hunting, I drove to Yellow Pine to pick up the mail, … I delivered mail and freight from the Yellow Pine post office to the Big Creek post office, where it was sorted and put in mail sacks for each of the individuals along the way, and for the 12 to 18 employees at the Snowshoe Mine.”

“The road was narrow. At one point, above the transfer camp, was an incline where you could not see over the hood of your pickup. You had to know which way the road turned. I also had to drive across two bridges, that I often think about today. The bridges had very little railing and the logs were laid crosswise. When the first frost came, this was dangerous. It was always bumpy — rough driving over. About the only time the baby was disturbed was when we crossed these two bridges, due to the roughness and noise. The stream at Big Creek was almost the size of some rivers. I always breathed a sigh of relief when I reached the other side.

“The miners always knew when I was coming. If their trucks were coming out with loads, they always waited at a turnout for me.

“The caretaker at Mile High met me at the mine to pick up the ongoing mail down Big Creek, which was only accessible by horses. He delivered to the Phil Beal ranch, Cabin Creek and Mile High, which at one time was a designated post office called Clover. In early days settlers came there for their mail. When we sold the ranch many years later, the post office pigeonhole cabinet was still hanging on the wall.

“In the summer we delivered the mail every Tuesday and Friday; the rest of the time it was just once a week.

“In November the snow on the summit got too deep for the pickup. Even though we had a compound gear, it was too hard on the vehicle.

“Johnson’s Flying Service based in Cascade had the contract to fly the mail directly to Big Creek airfield. Penn Stohr did the flying. He was not only a great pilot, he was a wonderful person.”

“Before the snow got too deep …, Lafe picked up the mail by auto. On the way to the mine he had to make a stop at Copper Camp and Little Ramey cabin. The others who lived along the route had gone out for the winter.”

“It was typical snow country and each day we watched it pile up. Some days a real blizzard would blow. As the snow accumulated, we knew it was set in for the winter.

“The next trip, Lafe got as far as Little Ramey, where he had to leave the sleigh. It would stay where he left it until spring, as there was too much snow. He loaded the outgoing mail onto one of the work horses and rode the other, continuing his trip to the Big Creek Post Office.”

“Soon it was time for Lafe to make another mail run. He started out by riding one of the work horses and packing the other, but after several tries, he could see he couldn’t make it. So he took the horses back to the mouth of Crooked Creek and started them back up the road to our cabin at the mine. He left the riding and pack saddles at the Little Ramey cabin to be picked up later. He put a pack sack with the outgoing mail on his back and webbed up to Big Creek. The trip took him two days. It was real arduous going with snow falling hard. In places the drifted snow was three to four feet deep.

“From Copper Camp, Lafe phoned to tell me the team would be coming in sometime that night. I put hay and grain in their feed boxes in the barn, thinking they would go right in to the hay.”

“For Lafe’s next return trip back, he had rented three dogs and their harness from an old timer living near Big Creek. With so much snow, he needed a dog team to travel. He also called his dad, asking Clark to try to locate some good dogs with harness and have them flown in with the coming mail plane.

“Clark sent a good lead dog and two others. With the dogs the old timer had given him, and his own dog, that gave Lafe seven dogs, which were what he needed for some of the loads that went to the mine.

“On the crank Forest Service phone in our cabin, I could talk to Lafe in Big Creek. He called real often to check on the baby and me.”

“With lots of snow, Lafe made weekly trips by dog team. Sometimes the weather would warm up and cause snow slides. You had to keep an eye on the mountain above the trail in case a slide came in. That year there were several small slides and two or three large ones. The dogs all worked well together, and each knew their duty.”

“Idaho Mountains, Our Home: The Life Story of Lafe and Emma Cox” – Copyright 1997 by V.O. Ranch Books pgs. 99-108
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established June 5, 1914, Violet M. Garden
Joseph B. Elliott, October 16, 1920
Ernest E. Elliott, August 31, 1926
Rosebud Joy, October 16, 1928, declined.
Discontinued March 15, 1929, mail to Warren.
East of Edwardsburg — Idaho Post Offices

“The new post office at A(rthur) E. Garden’s will be called Clover and will afford greater convenience to the entire section below Edwardsburg, mail boxes being scattered all along the route for the convenience of the men living at Chamberlain, Crooked Cteek and the Roosevelt section. The new office on the Brewer ranch is to be called Brewer. The old Comfort office at the ranch was closed in 1907.”
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Idaho Historical Society Photo

“(FP December 26, 1901) Curley Brewer, of Warrens, is packing the mail into Thunder Mountain this winter, the miners paying him each two dollars per month for semi-monthly trips, and the Dewey company contributing enough to pay [him] $100 per month for the arduous task. He takes the old Elk Creek trail by way of Logan creek.”
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1905 photo, Univ. of Idaho Library digital collection, Idaho Cities and Towns.

established April 5, 1904, Charles C. Randall
La Velle L. Bush, May 6, 1907
closed June 30, 1908 mail to Thunder (rescinded)
discontinued Oct. 15, 1908 mail to Thunder
25 miles NE of Cascade, SE Sec. 2, T15N, R6E.
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source for post office info: Valley County GenWeb
[h/t SMc]
link to Back Country mail carriers
Link to Curley Brewer
Link to “Sheepherder” Bill Borden
Link: Thunder Mountain / Roosevelt History index page

page updated October 7, 2020