Idaho History June 4, 2017

Yellow Pine, Valley County, Idaho

photo by Local Color Photography

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
– Shakespeare from Romeo and Juliet
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Yellow Pine Basin

Sept 24, 1886 – A large number of people are in the Yellow Pine Basin camp. It is generally thought a humbug, though it is admittedly a likely place to prospect. George Brown, Jake Peterson, Dad Miller, Bohndel, Slater, Alex Johnson & several others have not yet returned. (Warren Times)
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The [Village] of Yellow Pine takes its name from the Yellow Pine Basin. Early prospectors covered nearly every square mile of the central Idaho mountains after gold was discovered on Orofino Creek in 1860. Published accounts recall prospecting in the basin as early at 1881. Later, in 1897, a rich gold discovery was made at Thunder Mountain, 20 miles to the north east. By 1902, thousands of miners and prospectors had flooded the region, and a permanent settlement was established at Yellow Pine. The production of gold at Yellow Pine was negligible, although prospecting for gold let to the discovery of antimony which would become important later.

During this period Yellow Pine remained a small supply center and wintering place. Yellow Pine’s historical significance derives from its role as a supply and social center for miners in the area following the 1902 “Thunder Mountain Gold Rush”.
It was not until 1930 that a plat was filed on the townsite by Albert C. Behne. A number of the structures which currently exist in Yellow Pine were moved to the site from Stibnite after the collapse of the tungsten market caused by the end of the Korean War.

Perhaps a quarter of the town is made up of Stibnite houses built between 1940 and 1945, and moved to Yellow Pine in the 1960’s. Yellow Pine has been identified as a potential historic district, but will not be clearly eligible for the National Register until the majority of its structures are 50 years old.

Source: Draft Envrionmental Impact Statement, Stibnite Project Gold Mine and Mill, Valley County, Idaho (By the Payette National Forest 1980, pgs 54-55)
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Yellow Pine in 1931


Yellow Pine 1931

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Plat Map of Yellow Pine

Signed by Albert C. Behne and dated 1930

(click image for larger size)
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Metsker Atlas Yellow Pine 1940

(click image for larger size)

source: Back Country History Project
(big h/t SMc!)
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Local Place Names

How Did it Get That Name?

The Land of Yellow Pine

by John S. Sumner
Excerpt from pg 102 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner

… It is not documented exactly when the first white man came across the Yellow Pine Basin, but from the histories of the Snake and Salmon Rivers, I think that it was in the 1830s or 1840s. … These folks must have noticed the favorable microclimate of the Yellow Pine Basin, allowing for the heavy growth of Pinus ponderosa for which [t]hey named the area in the slang of the woodsman. The “Yellow Pine Basin” can be roughly defined as the one-mile-square area near the present townsite.
The early white hunters and trappers were mainly in pursuit of high-valued skins such as those of the beaver, fox, and ermine. … They left behind such names as Johnson, Riordan, and Parks on [t]heir creeks, but nothing else is known of them.

Note: The local history book “Yellow Pine, Idaho” is available only in Yellow Pine for $15, contact Marj.
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Deadman Bar

by Harry Withers
Excerpt from pg 98 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner

The first story I heard about Deadman Bar [located 8 miles west of Yellow Pine on the East Fork] seems to be the most accurate one as near as I can find out.
The story is that there were a group of white men placer mining in that area around the turn of the century. There were also some Chinese placer miners there too. It seems the Chinese followed the white men and could re-work the ground the whites had given up on as worked out, and still take out gold.
… It irked the white men that the Chinese could get gold after they had given it up and finally came to an altercation between the whites and Chinese and ended in one dead white and several Chinese. They were buried there. The white man in one grave and the Chiese in one grave which was plainly discernible.
When the road was built up the East Fork, they marked the white man’s grave, but the mound where the Chinese were buried was destroyed.
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Dead Man’s Campground, Deadman’s Bar, East Fork Road, west of Yellow Pine.

Peterson writes that Deadman’s Bar gets it name from a fight among white miners and some Chinese miners, resulting in the deaths of three Chinese and one white miner, but that the grave itself is that of James Reagan.

(photo courtesy of Larry “Mayor Chappy” Chapman)
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James Reagan

Helmers included the following: Sept 1877 – “A man named James Reagan died or committed suicide about the 15th of September at his mining claim on the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River, about 30 miles south of Warrens. He was a Union soldier during the war & took an active part for several weeks the past summer in hunting Joseph in Camas Prairie. He came to this camp about ’66. He was of a rather solitary disposition and of late had declining health. . . About the date mentioned his nearest neighbor, 8 miles below found him dead in his bed, fully dressed, and the empty laudanum bottle near at hand, telling the story.”
(Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman, 1 Jan 78)

source: Valley County GenWeb
[h/t SMc]
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No Man Creek

By Harry Withers
Excerpt from pg 99 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner

Frank Foster and Ray Call were about to retire one night when a man staggered into the place on the hill as the old hotel was called. [N]o one seemed to remember his name, but he was really played out. They asked which way he came in, and he replied that he had been on [h]is way to a mine to go to work and got off the trail in a storm. He followed a stream to [the] East Fork and followed that down until he came out of the canyon, saw their light and made his way to their building.

Knowing the country he had been in, they told him he was lucky to have made it. He agreed and remarked that that was “no man’s country”, so No Man’s Creek got its name…
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Dead Horse Canyon

By Ted Abstein
Excerpt from pg 100 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner

My brother, Russell, used to carry the mail at times. At one point the old road forded Johnson Creek several times. One place where the water was too deep, the wagon tipped over and one of the horses became tangled in the traces and drowned. The other horse got away. The one that drowned then went on down the river and lodged down in the canyon. They named it Dead Horse Canyon because of that incident.
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Ice Hole

By Harry Withers
Excerpt from pg 100 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner

Before Yellow Pine had electric or butane refrigeration, most everyone stored ice from the river for summer use. At first they harvested ice from the eddy just above Yellow Pine Campground. That was a difficult place to get the ice from the river to the road, so they started getting it from the eddy below the Hanson Hole. Everybody turned out and helped each other. Some did the cutting and loading and others did the hauling.

… That was a fine fishing hole for trout, steelhead, and salmon, so when anyone mentioned the spot where the biggest ones got away, they called it the Ice Hole.
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Cutting Ice at the Ice Hole on Johnson Creek

(south of Yellow Pine – photo courtesy of Kirt Kitchen)

“Pete Drake, Bill and Lynn Richardson and unknown at top of bank. Harry Withers took the picture. Ice was hauled to town and buried in sawdust in sawdust-walled storage buildings for summer use. One ice house was behind Murph Earl’s Bar, the other up at the lodge on the hill (Call’s, later owned by Murph Earl) and the other at the Carpenter Ranch, (Eigurens’).

source: Valley County GenWeb
[h/t SMc]
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Hopeless Point

By Harry Withers
Excerpt from pg 101 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner

In the late fall of 1928, the Stibnite mine people set up a road camp on [the] East Fork, below Salt Creek, to blast a cut through a rock bluff as a starter for a road to Meadow Creek. Next spring they started operations in earnest to cut the road through.

… The road was surveyed to follow the stream all the way to Profile from Stibnite. Walt Hope was the road foremen for the mine, and when he reached the head of the canyon above Profile, he figured it would be too difficult to follow the river through the canyon, so he talked the mine superintendent into letting him follow the pack trail from there to Profile, arguing that the trail was already that much work done for them. They were crowding him anyway to get the road through. So, Mr. Hope just scratched a sort-of road through, which was narrow and hazardous to drive over.

People called that stretch of road Hope’s Point. Later, someone started calling it, very appropriately, Hopeless Point, and it has been Hopeless Point ever since.
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Angel Flight Trail

by John S. Sumner
Excerpt from pg 101 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner

Angel Flight was the very steep old road between Trout Creek Summit and Knox near where the present Idaho Power line runs. The name of the stream there was Cabin Creek. The present road now goes over Warm Lake summit about 6 miles to the south east. Most of the map names and designated historic places, such as Angel Flight Trail, Cabin Creek Route, Thunderbolt Mill, and Halfway house cabins, appear to have been eliminated by the U.S. Forest Service in more recent years. … An easement to the historic Angel Flight Trail and the Cabin Creek Route, which was the earliest access to Yellow Pine, has been given by the U.S. Forest Service to the Idaho Power Company for use of their power line (not “Telephone Line” as shown on the U.S. Forest Service maps) in the Yellow Pine region.
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Where the Heck is Yellow Pine?

… and how the heck do I get there?


Map from “The Idaho Rambler” by Betty Derig & Flo Sharp, Copyright March 1982

page updated May 2, 2020