Idaho History August 27, 2017

Thunder Mountain Gold Rush

(part 3)

Travel, accommodations and recreation

Thunder Mountain Stage in Emmett

ThunderMtnStageEmmett-aScan of postcard sent to my grandmother in High Valley
courtesy Sharon McConnel
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Thunder Mountain News, April 22, 1905

Boise-PearlStageWhen Col. Dewey bought the Caswells’ Thunder Mountain claims (east present-day Valley Co.) in late 1900, the rush was on – much of it through present-day Gem County. Ad from “Thunder Mountain News,” April 22, 1905, courtesy of Steven Harshfield.
Boise & Pearl Stage, T. B. Walker, Prop.
[h/t SMc]
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Knox – The Packers’ Rest
KnoxPackersRest-a[h/t SMc]
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t-mtn6-3asource The Thunder Mountain Story
Publisher Idaho State Historical Society
[h/t SMc]
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Knox in 1905
Knox1905-a.Post office Valley County, Idaho: 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closed June 30, 1908 mail to Thunder (rescinded)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.
[h/t SMc]
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The Temperance House – At Trappers Flat

TemperanceHouse-a[h/t SMc]
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The Summit House on Monumental Summit

SummitHouseMonumental-aSharon McConnel (courtesy Steven Harshfield)
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The Thunder Mountain News

Montpelier Examiner, November 11, 1904

The Thunder Mountain News is the name of the paper now published at Roosevelt by Clarence Eddy and Samuel Hunt. It is a 12 page weekly, and in the first issue Mr. Eddy, who has been styled the “poet miner,” gave his imagination full play in his word pointing of that great mineral region.

“Peerless Thunder Mountain, enthroned among a thousand peaks, snow covered and sylvan clad it stands alone and thundering bespeaks it monarch of the mountain lands,” is the way Mr. Eddy heads up his first page. He reviews the big mines of the camp, describing with sweeping but truthful strokes the immense treasures which recent development work has uncovered. The supposed origin of the mammoth ore bodies is treated in poetic style and the commercial, physical, social and climatic conditions of the region are detailed eloquently.

The first issue contained many quaint advertisements and comic local items. Among the former is a display ad of a saloon which reads:

“A bracer before breakfast, during or between meals, before or after bed time. Best old bug juice, ‘juice of giant powder’ and fresh home made whiskies a specialty.” Another saloon advertisement runs in doggrell as follows:

The packers’ rest
In the wooly west
Is at the town of Randall.
Of gins and beer and
Bug juice here
None but the best we handle.
Come, drop your tools
And leave your wagon,
Unhitch your mules
Get a jag on”

The following “locals” may startle outside readers:

“Five wagon loads of booze and a brand new piano have arrived at the Blank amusement hall. Contracts for the Y.M.C.A. building are in abeyance.”

“Sam Gilliam is getting in a winter’s supply of liquors. Cayenne pepper, fnsil oil, boxing gloves and tobacco form no component part of the goods sold by Sam.”

“Hay is about $200 per ton, but Queeney & Curtis, the Roosevelt liverymen, are still in the ring.”

“Some one, evidently a freighter, screwed the lock off Bill Thompson’s cabin on Mule creek recently, stole a money wrench and ‘screwed his nut.’”

“Some women of Roosevelt who persist in wearing pants would look more symmetrical by first removing their petticoats. Don’t store excess raiment in the seat of your trousers.”

All of the local news, however, is not of that character, as there is much valuable information concerning mining properties of the district.

[h/t SMc]
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Liquor Traffic, Thunder Mountain

ThunderMtnLiquor-aTent Saloon. Lee Lisenby’s Saloon. He lived later at Thunder City. Photo shows a log bar, a selection of bottles, kegs, customers and bar tender.
Publisher Idaho State Historical Society
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source The Thunder Mountain Story
Publisher Idaho State Historical Society
[h/t SMc]
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The Whiskey That Won the Wild West

… So what were they drinking back then? Some popular whiskey nicknames from the era offer a glimpse: mountain howitzer, coffin varnish, chain-lightning, strychnine, and tangleleg—none of which sound very appetizing. Cowboys never had a reputation for being very sophisticated connoisseurs. The whiskey they drank was simply fuel for the saloons’ many other pastimes, whatever those happened to be.

… In the decades after the Civil War, distillers making what we today would generally recognize as bourbon only supplied about 10 percent of the whiskey market. The rest of the whiskey was made by giant distilleries churning out what were basically grain neutral spirits: a product distilled at such a high proof that it lacked much flavor and was almost identical from one distillery to the next.

These spirits were then sold to rectifiers who would “improve” them by redistilling and mixing them with other flavorings and colors so they resembled whiskey. The results were sold to wholesalers, who bought spirits in bulk and created their own whiskey brands by mixing together whatever was at hand. These wholesalers were probably responsible for any aging that was done.

Some of the whiskey going west might have started out as bourbon, but somewhere along the journey to the saloon it was often mixed with additional water, grain neutral spirits, and other ingredients to expand the supply and increase profits. Some products labeled as bourbon were actually distilled from a low-grade variety of molasses, and additives could include burnt sugar, glycerin, prune juice, and sulfuric acid.
source Serious Eats
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A Few Things About The Old West You May Not Know

… Another popular misconception of the Old West involves whiskey. As mentioned earlier, movies have often portrayed bartenders pulling clean bottles filled with bourbon out from behind the bar. While it is true, that good bourbon was available throughout the West at certain times and in certain places, it is truer still that the whiskey often served was some very bad stuff indeed. Called “Tarantula Juice,” “Coffin Varnish,” and “Stagger Soup,” the concoctions sold as whiskey were often made with cheap raw watered-down alcohol, and colored to look like whiskey with whatever was locally available, including, old shoes, tobacco, molasses, or burnt sugar. These whiskies were frequently given an extra “kick” by adding red peppers or, extra “flavor” by adding other things, like snake heads, which tainted the liquid. Now you understand what the cowboys, as portrayed in the movies, meant when they asked the bartender for a bottle of “your best whiskey.” They were asking for a bottle of real whiskey distilled in a place somewhere in the Eastern United States, like Kentucky, or, Pennsylvania.

It is interesting to note that the best whiskey from out East, in a lot of saloons, meant rye whiskey, not bourbon. Rye was just as popular, if not more popular, as bourbon in those days.
source Texas Hill country
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Buildings, Thunder Mountain

ThunderMtnPOSaloon-aTwo 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.
Publisher Idaho State Historical Society
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Roosevelt [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

Earl Willson, 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 . . .
[h/t SMc]
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Recreation, Thunder Mountain

ThunderMtnSackRace-aSack race at Thunder Mountain. Men, children, and dogs are at play in a main street. Log cabins and tents are being erected.
Publisher Idaho State Historical Society
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Thunder Mountain – Restaurants

ThunderMtnRestaurant-aInterior view of restaurant at Thunder Mountain. The structure is made of logs and a tent. Furnishings are also of log.
Publisher Idaho State Historical Society
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Log Buildings, Thunder Mountain

ThunderMtnCabinDonkeys-aEight men outside a log cabin at Thunder Mountain, Idaho. Three men are mounted on donkeys.
Publisher Idaho State Historical Society
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Dwellings, Thunder Mountain

ThunderMtnCabin2-aSix men and one woman are posed in front of a log cabin. A variety of men’s clothing is represented. Earl Willson identifies the black woman as “Mandy” and the black man as “Brown Gravy Sam.” Possibly Roosevelt.
Copyright Idaho State Historical Society

Link: Thunder Mountain / Roosevelt History index page

page updated October 28, 2020