Idaho History March 5, 2017

Before there were roads…

Pack Transportation Burros c. 1902

ThunderMtnBurros-aBurros hauling mine timbers into Roosevelt, Idaho and the mines at Thunder Mountain.

source: Idaho State Historical Society
— — — — — — — — — —

Pack Train at Stonebraker Ranch 1903

Date 1903
Description Two men ride horses in the snow outside of a barn at the Stonebraker Ranch in the Chamberlain Basin.

source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
— — — — — — — — — —

1914 Pack String

1914sofkpackstring-a(click image for larger size)

1914, pack string on the Horse Heaven Trail with the South Fork of the Salmon River in the background. The trail is located on the Krassel Ranger District just south of Mackey Bar and the confluence of the South Fork with the Main Salmon River.

[h/t SMc from the PNF FB page]
— — — — — — — — — —


… When a 10–stamp mill was ordered by Col. W. II. Dewey in 1901 for the mine that came to bear his name, it was Urquides who packed it in by way of Bear Valley on the backs of his tough little mules. Again, when the Sunnyside mine had a 40-stamp mill brought to Thunder Mountain, it was Urquides who packed the mile-long cable over the twisting miles, the heavy steel coiled in loops between his pack animals, three abreast. It was an almost unbelievable feat. Urquides was efficient and dependable.

There was Billy McClure, who was a well-known packer, James Jewell, and many others. “Johnny” Scanlon of Garden Valley freighted into Roosevelt in 1902. He remembers when more than a ton of blasting powder once lay abandoned at Landmark, with glycerin trickling out of the broken boxes. Packers were offered 18 cents per pound to haul it to camp, if they signed a release. Scanlon would have none of it, but a tenderfoot tried it and actually succeeded without being blown to kingdom-come.

William “Bill” Hendrix, present Ada County commissioner, freighted into the Thunder Mountain area when he was a young feller, with his step-father, D. R. Miller. They went by way of Knox and Trappers’ Flat; he remembers the roads “were awful.” Most unique, even to the old-timers, was the cow pack train brought in by Asa Clark of Boise. It was a smart idea. The cows carried packs in, were milked all summer to the tune of 25 cents per quart, and then, when fall came with no hay, they were butchered to provide meat at handsome prices.

A road to Roosevelt was needed. When engineers and mine operators held a meeting at the Overland Hotel in Boise to discuss ways of financing such a road it is said that “Ras” Beamer, a deputy U. S. Marshal, exclaimed, “Never mind the road to Thunder–let’s keep the trail open to Pittsburgh!” (That’s where the capital flowed from.) Actually, there was a $30,000 appropriation made to build the wagon road and Frank Johnesse of Boise was made superintendent for the state’s part of the construction. Con Dewey was the first to drive a four-wheel vehicle into Roosevelt over it.

Bert Haug was superintendent of the Dewey mine. Peter Donnely, Colonel Dewey’s old friend, had charge of the forwarding camp. In June, 1902, Haug had 1,600 pounds of very rich ore on hand which he wanted to get out. Con Dewey, just a young chap then, happened to be in camp with a small train of pack horses; Haug asked him to take the ore. Con loaded his train, with the help (?) of a tenderfoot from Louisiana, took along J. M. Clark (engineer on his father’s railroad) who was ill, and set out June 30. He camped at the head of Indian Creek, sixteen miles from the mine, and woke up next morning in a foot of snow. The storm lasted two days. On the -1th [sic] of July they reached Chilkoot Pass in a blizzard. Con tailed the horses, going up the grade. Near the top the tenderfoot played out completely, and the horses couldn’t get their breath in the face of the wind. Con cut across the side of the mountain and finally found a cabin and help.

excerpted from: Idaho AHGP, Thunder Mountain History, “The Ghosts Walk Under the Water”, by Faith Turner
[h/t SMc]
— — — — — — — — — —

Pack Cow Train

asaclarkpackcows-aPhoto from “The Middle Fork and the Sheepeater War” by Johnny Carrey and Cort Conley – copyright 1977

Another packer used cows instead of horses or mules

Everybody the past two or three days has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the cow train from Boise. News of their near approach was telephoned from the office of the Dredge company. Men and women — young, old, and middle-aged — as well as children, were out on the streets in groups, awaiting the coming of the caravan.

The people here have seen almost all kinds of trains, and cows are not a curiosity, but a cow train packed with provisions, camp outfit and other things, is a novelty not often seen. Of the nine animals, six cows and a red bull were packed. They jogged along with their loads as gently, leisurely and contentedly as if they had followed the business from calfhood.

The owners of the train are Homer I. and A. D. Clark. The wife of the former is with the train, and was on horseback, with a child in her arms. They are on their way to Thunder.

source: Idaho State Historical Society Number 20 January 1966 (pg 26)
— — — — — — — — — —

Packing Pipe

packingpipesnowshoemine-aPhoto from “The Middle Fork and the Sheepeater War” by Johnny Carrey and Cort Conley – copyright 1977

Blackie Wallace packing pipe to the Snowshoe Mine on Crooked Creek a tributary to Big Creek. The rig could carry 2 lengths of pipe.
— — — — — — — — — —

W.A. Stonebraker and Mule Pack Train

Date 1931-09-01
Description Al Stonebraker stands outside of his corral at the Stonebraker Ranch. A mule pack train waits behind him.

source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
— — — — — — — — — —

Arctic Point Lookout Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness
photo courtesy Payette National Forest
Taken in 1936, this image depicts Emmit Routson with his pack train bringing the lookout tower parts to the remote area when it was first constructed.

Link: Thunder Mountain / Roosevelt History index page

page updated October 3, 2020