Idaho History February 12, 2017

The Yellow Pine School Piano

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The Yellow Pine School Piano

by Harry Withers – page 94 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” complied by Nancy G. Sumner

The Yellow Pine school piano was freighted to Roosevelt by wagon some time before the lake was formed. By whom and who owned it then, I don’t know.

After the slide, which made the lake, it was freighted back to Cascade by a little old energetic man named Wayland, who lived where Ray Nissula lives now. Mrs. Wayland was Valley County’s first school superintendent.

Mr. Wayland had a large shed, or barn, stored full of about anything you could think of, and a lot of it came from Roosevelt and Thunder Mountain.

He had a team of four small mules and a small wagon and could really make time by loading lightly. He held an auction at his place in the spring of 1920. A. C. Behne, who homesteaded the town site of Yellow Pine (he must have been on the school board here), bid the piano in. I happened to be there and can remember the incident.

Yellow Pine didn’t have a school then, but held school in a tent. Behne hired Johnny Williams to freight the piano in, and the only place they had for it was at the old hotel back of the big log house on the hill owned now by Murph Earl. It stayed there until the log school house and teacher’s cottage across from the store were built in 1922.

The piano was used at dances and other social gatherings around Yellow Pine. In 1930 and 1931 Marjorie Callender played the piano and I played the fiddle for dances at the hotel on the hill. This was the same piano she learned to play on at Roosevelt when she was a young girl.

She was an aunt of Frank Callender by marriage. I have heard tales of the piano being dug out of the Roosevelt Lake, but this I doubt. It has been in a fire, I am sure. The evidence indicates it was caused by a gasoline light. If it could talk, I’m sure that piano could tell some mighty interesting stories.

Most of this information came from old timers I have talked to that were in the Roosevelt area when it boomed. They called Mr. Wayland the “Thunder Mountain Pack Rat”.

[permission to reprint granted by MF]

[Note: copies of the “Yellow Pine, Idaho” book can be bought from Marjie Fields in Yellow Pine
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Yellow Pine School Piano

“The piano being used in the Yellow Pine School today is the same one used when Janet and Roxie attended school there, as well as when their father Lafe was a student — the original piano freighted to Roosevelt by wagon for Eric Jensen’s saloon. Freighted back to Cascade after the slide that drowned the town and caused Roosevelt Lake, the piano was auctioned off at a sale in 1920. Mr. Behne bid on it and hired Johnny Williams to haul it to Yellow Pine for the school.”

Pg. 134 “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books

[Note: contact Vernon or Roxie Himes to buy a copy of Lafe and Emma’s excellent book.]
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Roosevelt Lake 1950

Description: Roosevelt, Idaho views, Roosevelt Lake near Yellow Pine, Idaho [1950].
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Photos of the old piano

June 21, 2014




[all photos by AF]

[Note: the piano is currently located at the Yellow Pine Community Hall.]

page updated May 6, 2020