Idaho History November 19, 2017

1930’s Big Creek / Edwardsburg

1930 Mules at the Werdenhoff property

1930WerdenhoffStonebraker-a(click image for larger size)
Date: 1930
A corral of mules congregate near a log cabin on the Werdenhoff property. A man stands near them.
William Allen Stonebraker Photographs

source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
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1930 Census

(Marked as “Edwardsburg Mining District”, crossed off, then “Warrens Precinct” written in then crossed off and finally “South Fork Precinct” written in. Probably includes part of South Fork and Main Salmon River. This is from sheets 2, 3 and 4 of the South Fork Precinct 1930 Idaho Census.)

1930SoFkCensus3-a(click image for full size)

Name Gender Age Marital Status Relationship to Head Birth Year Birthplace

Claude M Taylor Male 43 Married Head 1887 Colorado
Elsie L Taylor Female 34 Married Wife 1896 Idaho
Robert B Joy Male 36 Widowed Head 1894 Texas
Zona V Joy Female 13 Single Daughter 1917 Idaho
Sidney R Joy Male 10 Single Son 1920 Idaho
Faith D Joy Female 8 Single Daughter 1922 Idaho
Frank Adair Male 71 Divorced Lodger 1859 Illinois
David Lewis Male 86 Single Head 1844 Illinois
Charles L Myers Male 70 Single Head 1860 Pennsylvania
Allan Stonebraker Male 48 Married Head 1882 California
Golda M Stonebraker Female 30 Married Wife 1900 Missouri
Adolph Stonebraker Male 13 Single Stepson 1917 Missouri
James Stanley Male 38 Single Head 1892 Tennessee
Mack C Musgrove Male 54 Married Head 1876 Missouri
Mary L Musgrove Female 49 Married Wife 1881 Missouri
Thomas Coski Male 32 Single Head 1898 Idaho
Samuel Hoppin Male 70 Single Head 1860 Oklahoma
Granville F Eyerman Male 34 Married Head 1896 Colorado
Clair K Eyerman Female 34 Married Wife 1896 Colorado
Chester R Eyerman Male 15 Single Son 1915 California
Albert H Vaux Male 30 Single Head 1900 Pennsylvania
Theodore Manersberger Male 54 Single Head 1876 Germany
William C Cooper Male 59 Single Head 1871 Oregon
John Becker Male 50 Single Head 1880 Pennsylvania
Earl K Parrott Male 63 Single Head 1867 Vermont
Ella Irwin Female 64 Married Head 1866 Missouri
Arline B Bunnell Female 12 Single Servant 1918 Michigan
Patrick H Irwin Male 27 Married Head 1903 Nebraska
Catherine V Irwin Female 21 Married Wife 1909 New Jersey
Patricia V Irwin Female 0 Single Daughter 1930 Idaho
William Berden Male 67 Single Head 1863 Ohio
Ruben J Lehman Male 36 Single Head 1894 Sweden
Charles H Custis Male 56 Divorced Employee 1874 Oklahoma
Lewis A Thompson Male 54 Married Head 1876 Missouri
Glenn Thompson Male 21 Single Son 1909 Idaho
William P Wilson Male 63 Single Employee 1867 Missouri
Joseph Parks Male 52 Single Head 1878 North Carolina
William J Newman Male 49 Married Head 1881 Iowa
Grace Newman Female 42 Married Wife 1888 Idaho
Arthur W Newman Male 18 Single Son 1912 Idaho
Adrian Carlson Male 66 Single Head 1864 Sweden
Roy C Romine Male 38 Married Head 1892 Montana
Irene Romine Female 26 Married Wife 1904 Washington
Albert Romine Male 2 Single Son 1928 Idaho
Margaret Romine Female 0 Single Daughter 1930 Idaho
Frank Williams Male 69 Single Head 1861 Missouri
Ellis C Winchester Male 64 Divorced Head 1866 Pennsylvania
Polly Berris [Bemis] Female 77 Widowed Head 1853 China
Thaddius Adams Male 51 Divorced Head 1879 Colorado
Harold Adams Male 19 Single Son 1911 Idaho
John M Condon Male 55 Widowed Head 1875 New York

from page 2 South Fork Precinct

William A Edwards Male 60 Married Head 1870 Georgia
Annie N Edwards Female 58 Married Wife 1872 Alabama
Napier A Edwards Male 31 Single Head 1899 Maryland
Anthony L Ladwick [Ludwig?] Male 78 Widowed Head 1852 Germany
Frank Lobear Male 45 Married Head 1885 Minnesota
Myrtle I Lobear Female 31 Married Wife 1899 Illinois
Leslie F Lobear Male 4 Single Son 1926 Washington
Joseph Davis Male 60 Single Head 1870 Washington
Harold Vassar Male 30 Single Head 1900 Idaho
Edward White Male 36 Married Head 1894 Iowa
Erik Janson [Jensen] Male 66 Single Head 1864 Finland
Jacob Janson [Jensen] Male 56 Single Brother 1874 Finland
Ernest E Elliott Male 39 Single Head 1891 Idaho
Oliver Pierce Male 42 Divorced Head 1888 Idaho
Charles Ekler Male 68 Single Boarder 1862 Germany
Theodore Taylor Male 28 Married Head 1902 Idaho
Eva Taylor Female 22 Married Wife 1908 Idaho
Walter A Estep Male 41 Single Head 1889 Pennsylvania
Charles Mahan Male 71 Divorced Head 1859 Iowa

source: Family Search
(link no longer working)
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Dan LeVan on Elk Summit
Photo thanks to Jim McCoy
(see more McCoy family photos here)
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You could not drive a vehicle to Big Creek until the Thirties, and even then you had to come in over Elk Summit, down Smith Creek then up the wagon road to Big Creek. There was no road between Big Creek and Edwardsburg until the 1930’s. The road between Yellow Pine and Edwardsburg was built in 1933.

source: CG (personal correspondence)
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Dog team hauling mail to the Big Creek country in 1929

Photo courtesy of Margaret and Ken Twiliger
Photo from “The Middle Fork and the Sheepeater War” by Johnny Carrey and Cort Conley – copyright 1977
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Valley County Fault Map

(click image for larger size)

source: Digital Atlas of Idaho
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Big Creek / Edwardsburg 1936

excerpted from: Geology and Ore Deposits Near Edwardsburg and Thunder Mountain, Idaho by Shenon, P.J. and C.P. Ross, 1936, Idaho Bureau Mines and Geology Pamphlet 44


This report embodies preliminary results of detailed studies carried on in the Thunder Mountain district and in the general vicinity of Edwardsburg in 1933 and 1934 by PJ Shenon, assisted by G.D. Emigh, together with data obtained by C.P. Ross in a brief visit to the Thunder Mountain district in 1926 and a month’s reconnaissance in the eastern division of the Idaho National Forest in 1929. …


All of the mining people who were met in the course of the field work gave information and assistance freely. Messrs. W.A. Edwards, Henry Abstein, F.C. Innes, A.F. Richards, James Hornberger, Walter Estep, A.C. Behne, Sam Wilson, Tony Ludwig, and N.G. Bush, of the Edwardsburg district, and D.C McRae, Robert McRae, C.W. Neff, William Timm, Samuel Hancock, and J.J. Oberbillig, of the Thunder Mountain district, spent considerable time and energy in assisting the writers.


Much of the area described in this report is relatively inaccessible, largely because of its ruggedness and severe winter climate. However, in recent years new roads have improved transportation facilities greatly.

A serviceable road now connects a branch of the Oregon Short Line Railroad at Cascade with Yellow Pine and Stibnite, respectively 70 and 84 miles distant. Until 1935(?) the only road into the Edwardsburg district was that from McCall by way of Warren. This road, which crosses several very high summits and deep canyons, is 84 miles long and is usually closed by snow from some time in October to about the middle of July. In 1933 a road was completed from Yellow Pine to Edwardsburg, which much facilitated access and lowered the freight costs considerably. In 1934 the Forest Service began building a road down Big Creek. This is to connect with another road started from Stibnite, which was completed as far as the head of Monumental Creek in 1934 and presumably will be continued down Monumental Creek through the Thunder Mountain district in the near future. A road down the Salmon River is also under construction and appears to promise the best all-year outlet for several of the mining districts when branch roads are built up the larger tributaries.

In recent years airplanes have been used to a considerable extent for winter travel and for carrying mail. There are now landing fields at Yellow Pine, Stibnite, Edwardsburg, Chamberlain Basin, and Soldier Bar.

1936MapIdahoEdwardsburg-a(click image for very large size)

Gold deposits of the Edwardsburg district


The Trigold property is across Big Creek and about 1 1/2 miles north west of Profile Gap and is reached by a trail that gains over 1,200 feet in altitude between the crossing at Big Creek and the mine workings. The hillside up which the trail passes has a slope of 30 to 40 degrees. The property was located in the seventies, but, so far as known, little or no ore has been shipped from it. In 1933 it was being prospected by the Lori Syndicate of San Francisco.

Moscow (Moore) mine

The Moscow group of claims, including those of Tony Ludwig, embraces 16 or more claims on the east slope of Moores Creek, 5 miles southwest of Edwardsburg … The first claims were located in 1902 by Si Boyles, who sold them to E. Moore in 1903. Moore constructed a 1-stamp mill in 1903 and for several years ran ore through it which he mined from a glory hole. Later Seeley B. Mudd and associates purchased the property, but in 1934 it was under option to the Lori Syndicate of San Francisco. The production of the property, about $9,000, came almost entirely from the small 1-stamp mill operated by Moore.

Golden Way Up

The Golden Way Up claims are on the ridge between Fall Creek and the North Fork of Logan Creek. Most of the workings are on the North Fork slope. The property is about 6 miles by road and trail west of Edwardsburg. The trail, which gains an altitude of 1,500 feet in about 2 miles, joins the Edwardsburg road at the mouth of the North Fork, near Tony Ludwig’s cabin.

The Golden Way Up was first located by Charles Crown in 1899. John Campion, C.S. McKenzie, and others, did considerable development work after 1908, but the property was later abandoned. It was relocated by George Laufer and Joe Davis in 1908 and is now owned by Davis. The development work consists of several tunnels, probably 1,000 feet or more in total length. They range from 30 to over 300 feet in length and are nearly all accessible.


The Dixie group (formerly the Goldman & McRae property) adjoins the Golden Way Up on the north. The claims extend across the divide between Logan and Government creeks. They are owned by the Copper Camp Mining Company, Inc.


The Independence property comprises ten patented claims on upper Smith Creek a short distance east of Elk Summit. The road from Edwardsburg to Warren crosses the property. …

Dan McRae located the Independence in 1898 and sold it to the Kansas and Texas Oil & Mining Company in 1901. The property is now owned by the Independence Mines & Power Company with offices in Topeka, Kansas.

Werdenhoff and Pueblo

The Werdenhoff property is on Smith Creek about 5 miles from its junction with Big Creek. A poor road 6 1/2 miles long connects the mine with the Warrens road near Elk Summit. A road was constructed up Smith Creek from Big Creek in 1933, so that the mine can now be reached from Yellow Pine by way of Edwardsburg and the Big Creek ranger station.

According to the 34th Annual Report of the Inspector of Mines for Idaho, 1932, the Werdenhoff group comprises 21 unpatented claims, which include part of the old Pueblo group. In 1933, the Werdenhoff property was not operating, although a well-constructed camp was maintained as a convenience to facilitate the road work and for handling supplies on the way to the Golden Hand mine, 2 miles north-east. Nothing appears to have been done at the Pueblo mine for years, and the tunnels seen are so caved that little was learned regarding it.

The Werdenhoff property was first located by Prindle [Pringle?] Smith, but was relocated during the Thunder Mountain boom by Mr. Werdenhoff. Most of the work was done on the property by the Keystone Mines Company after 1927. In 1933, the property was under the management of the Golden Hand, Inc.

Golden Hand, Inc.

The group owned by the Golden Hand, Inc., including the Old Neversweat, contains 26 unpatented claims. The property is near the head of Cache Creek, 6 miles by road north east of the Werdenhoff. The road is very steep in places and crosses a divide at an altitude of about 8,300 feet. A good camp has been constructed at the mine, and in 1933 a small Straub mill with a daily capacity of 6 tons was being operated.

Gold Deposits near Ramey Ridge

Ramey Ridge, on the north side of Big Creek between Ramey and Beaver creeks, is one of the widely mineralized areas in the region. It contains many prospects, but, although most of the deposits have long been known, there has been little development and almost no production, in part because of difficulty of transportation. Until 1934 the deposits were nearly a day’s trip by pack train beyond the end of the road. … The Arrastre (Mildred) group of five claims at the head of the east fork of Mulligan Creek, formerly owned by the late Walter Estep, is the best developed property on Ramey Ridge. … The Mahan property, on Mulligan Creek, has an old 5-stamp mill in dis-repair, a new hand-made, 1-stamp mill, and a few scattered short tunnels. The old mill is reported to have been operated for a short time on float ore picked up from the hillside below the Apex workings.

Arrastre (Mildred)

The Arrastre property is on Mulligan Creek, a tributary of Beaver Creek. In 1933, it was about 12 miles by trail from the nearest road at Big Creek headquarters, but in 1934 a road was under construction down Big Creek, which, when completed to the mouth of Beaver Creek, will shorten trail travel to about 3 miles. T.G. Thomas discovered the deposit in 1906, and it was known as the Mildred until after his death, when Walter Estep relocated it.

Jensen Group

The Jensen group of claims is on the north side of Crooked Creek about 5 miles above its confluence with Big Creek. It was located and has been developed up to the present time by two Jensen brothers, who came here during the Thunder Mountain boom. In the summer of 1929, equipment and supplies were brought to the property by pack train preparatory to an active campaign of development; in 1930, the mine was idle, but in 1933 and 1934 considerable development work was under taken.

When the property was visited in July, 1929, the new work had not yet started. There was a small, ingeniously constructed mill close to Crooked Creek and several short tunnels at intervals for several hundred feet vertically up the slope to the north. The principal working, high on this slope, was connected with a loading station in the gulch above the mill by a gravity tram.

Jensen Brothers Cabin

Copper Camp

The property, which for many years has been known as Copper Camp, was located in 1888. It is on the north side of Big Creek about 9 miles from the Big Creek ranger station. The Copper Camp property, which comprises 18 quartz and 2 placer claims, is held by the Copper Camp Mining Company.


The placer deposits are all more or less related to glacial and interglacial streams, although re-sorting and additional concentration have taken place up to the present time. The deposits are largely in or near the Edwardsburg district.

Two properties, those of the Big Creek Gold Mines, Inc., and the Smith Creek Hydraulic Company, are the principal placer prospects of the region. In addition, some preliminary test-drilling has been done in the Chamberlain Basin, and numerous small-scale panning and sluicing operations have been undertaken along the beds and on numerous terraces of a number of streams.

The Big Creek Gold Mines, Inc., controls 480 acres of ground in the meadows of Big Creek south of Edwardsburg. In 1929, this ground was tested with the intention of installing a dredge if results warranted.

The Smith Creek deposit is on Smith Creek above its confluence with Big Creek. It comprises 19 placer claims, but until 1934 had been worked only to a very slight extent, because of the difficulties entailed in handling the many large boulders in the deposit. For part o the summer of 1934 C.E. Dinamore and associates worked the property with drag lines and trucks, but they also had difficulty in handling the boulders.

Economic Considerations

Parts of the extremely large and continuous mineralized zone in the Edwardsburg district have already been mined on a small scale, and it seems likely that as more information is obtained on the gold content further mining will be done, either by selective, small-scale mining methods or by large-scale, low-cost operations. … At the present time, more adequate sampling is needed along the mineralized zone. No deep testing has been done, and possibly drilling at certain favorable places would be the most effective manner to make preliminary tests.
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1937 Big Creek

Big Creek in 1937. Right to left: pool hall-bar, store, hotel, and house. The hotel, built by Dick Cowman, did a thriving business at the time because of extensive mining activity.
Photo from “The Middle Fork and the Sheepeater War” by Johnny Carrey and Cort Conley – copyright 1977
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Big Creek, Idaho in 1939

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

by Emma Cox
EmmaCox-young-a“We arrived at Big Creek headquarters [March 1939] where Dick and Sophia Cowman operated a store, post office and hotel. I saw the ranger station and a Forest Service commissary building. We weighed our dogs, sled and ourselves with our load, which weighed 947 pounds for seven dogs.”

“The Cowmans had a milk cow and chickens, so they always had fresh milk and eggs to serve their customers. It was such good food. We all enjoyed our overnight stay there after our 32 mile [dogsled] ride.”
pgs. 71-72

“After hunting season, [1939] we all made a trip to Boise with the two pickups for our supplies for six months: groceries, stock salt, grain and horseshoes. We had to buy a lot of flour, as we baked our own bread and pastries. Returning from Boise, we hauled the load as far as the Snowshoe Mine. From there everything had to be packed in by mules the six miles to Mile High.

“We ordered two truckloads of hay from Cascade to be delivered at Big Creek headquarters. But a big snowstorm came in, so the truck driver unloaded on top of the summit. It was snowing so hard he could not see to drive any farther. He went back for a second load.

“The next day the driver came in with the second load. It had snowed all night. He got as far up Profile as Camp Creek, where he spun out and slid off the road. He hurried to cut the ropes on the hay to keep the truck from turning over, but most of the hay landed in the creek. He did save his truck from going in or doing any damage.

“The storm continued, and some people were about to be snowed in. Stibnite Mine had a crew working on the head of Smith Creek on Dan McRae’s claims. They were all snowed in, so the mining company got their cat to open the road from Smith Creek to Big Creek and on over Profile Summit. There were 17 vehicles that needed to get back to Stibnite.

“We were behind with our team and bobsled, going on over the top after a load of the hay. Lafe had to use the team to help get some of the vehicles over the top.”
pgs. 79-80

from “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books
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1937 Big Creek Topo Map

topo-id-big_creek-1937-a(click on map for full size image)

source: Topography by CA Stonesifar, Adolph Frankhauser, and RH McConnel Surveyed in 1935-1937

Updated September 22, 2020