Idaho History Aug 19, 2018

Mount Idaho, Idaho County, Idaho

(part 2) History

Mount Idaho, Idaho


Mount Idaho is a ghost town in Idaho County, Idaho, United States. The town served as county seat of Idaho County from 1875 to 1902.

A 45-mile (72 km) stretch of trail opened in 1860 in the Mount Idaho area is believed to be one of the earliest examples of a toll road on record in the region. According to local legend, the owner of this road, Mose Milner, was forced to sell the area to Loyal P. Brown after being permanently disabled in a fight with a mountain lion. Brown is considered the founder of Mount Idaho.

The town of Mount Idaho was founded around 1862 as an outpost serving nearby gold mining areas. By 1873 Mount Idaho was connected by stagecoach with Lewiston.

During the 1877 Nez Perce War a hotel in Mount Idaho served as a hospital. Some of the dead from that conflict were buried in the town’s cemetery.

By 1892 Mount Idaho was in competition with nearby Grangeville, some 3.5 miles (5.6 km) away, as the main town in Idaho County. The county seat was moved from Mount Idaho to Grangeville ten years later. By 1922, when the town’s post office closed, Mount Idaho had been effectively assimilated by Grangeville.

source: Wikipedia
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LP Brown Hotel Mount Idaho

undated – no credit

source: “History of the State of Idaho” By C. J. Brosnan 1918 (18 meg)
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Mount Idaho – Idaho County – Idaho

Idaho County was originally founded as a region of Washington Territory in 1861, named for a steamer called Idaho that was launched on the Columbia River in 1860. It was reorganized by the Idaho Territorial Legislature on February 4, 1864. In this context, the name of the county predates both the Idaho Territory and the State of Idaho. The county seat is Grangeville. Previous county seats were Florence (1864–75) and Mount Idaho (1875–1902).

Idaho County is the largest County in Idaho. It covers 8,503 square miles, and has 6,925 square miles of National Forest land within the county.

Mount Idaho is a ghost town in Idaho County. The town served as county seat of Idaho County from 1875 to 1902.

A 45-mile stretch of trail opened in 1860 in the Mount Idaho area is believed to be one of the earliest examples of a toll road on record in the region. According to local legend, the owner of this road, Mose Milner, was forced to sell the area to Loyal P. Brown after being permanently disabled in a fight with a mountain lion. Brown is considered the founder of Mount Idaho.

The town of Mount Idaho was founded around 1862 as an outpost serving nearby gold mining areas. By 1873 Mount Idaho was connected by stagecoach with Lewiston.

During the 1877 Nez Perce War a hotel in Mount Idaho served as a hospital. Some of the dead from that conflict were buried in the town’s cemetery.

By 1892 Mount Idaho was in competition with nearby Grangeville, some 3.5 miles away, as the main town in Idaho County. The county seat was moved from Mount Idaho to Grangeville ten years later. By 1922, when the town’s post office closed, Mount Idaho had been effectively assimilated by Grangeville.

source: Elmore County Press
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Mt. Idaho

The City of Graves and Springs; An Embryo Metropolis, etc.

The Nez Perce News Thursday, May 26, 1881

Mt. Idaho, the county seat of Idaho County was first located in 1875 and contains a population of about 400 souls. The town is admirably located on Butcher Creek, in a grove of timber on the base of the foothills at the head of Camas Prairie; being two miles from the Clearwater River and fifteen miles above the mouth of its middle fork and fifteen miles distant from Salmon river. An extraordinary volume of business for the size of the place is transacted here, as may be readily conceived when the fact is stated that all the numberless mining camps in the hundreds of miles of territory drained by the Salmon and Clearwater rivers are largely dependent upon this point for their supplies of the necessaries of life. From early summer till the winter rains have demoralized the roads, an almost endless procession of pack trains with freight en route from Lewiston to Mt. Idaho line the main thoroughfare between the two places. This continuous arrival and departure of pack trains lend to the streets of Mt. Idaho a scene of cheerful business activity that is heightened by the pleasant location of the town in the timber, while the presence of mules and idle Indians clad in the gorgeous blanket paraphernalia of burden and barbarism contrast admirably with the plain dress and somewhat abrupt manners of the miners and packers busily engaged around, and these again, combing with the spruce appearance of a few blue coats from the neighboring military post of Camp Howard and the broadcloth and white shirts of the resident citizens, blends into one harmonious whole and forms the picturesque foot ensemble of a model frontier mountain town.

Such is what may be termed a bird’s eye view of Mt. Idaho. To come down to the actual details of which the whole is composed, its business interests comprise three general merchandising stores, one flour and grist mill, a hotel, livery stable, saloon, variety store, two blacksmith shops, butcher shop, drug store, boarding house, cabinet shop, three attorneys, two saw mills in the near vicinage of the town, the finest court house building in the territory of Idaho, and a Large number of private residences built in the most approved styles of modern architecture. The stores of Mt. Idaho are more spacious and carry larger stocks of merchandise than many more pretentious places. The branch establishment of Messrs. Grostein & Binnard, of the city, under the management of Maj. Binnard and Mr. Greenburg is doing a splendid business and the firm as usual is always enlarging their extensive warehouse or building new graineries to accommodate their extensive transactions in the products of Camas prairie. J.P. Vollmer & Co., of this city, also have a branch store at Mt. Idaho under the management of Mr. Wallace Scott, the resident partner of the firm; they carry a large stock of goods adapted, to the varied interests which concentrate there, are doing a good business and will have a big two story brick store when bricks are cheaper. The establishment of Mr. H.C. Brown completes the merchandising interests of Mt. Idaho. Mr. Brown has a magnificent display of goods on exhibition and for sale, and has a large constituency of friends on the prairie and in the outlying mining camps. The Mt. Idaho hotel is a fine, hand finished building, owned and run in tip top shape by Hon. L.P. Brown, the original proprietor and locator of the town site and the father of the town. He also owns the grist mill on Butcher creek, fitted to run by steam power, and has also vast interest all through the Salmon and Clearwater country and in addition to being the great sheep raiser of North Idaho, he owns and operates the daily stage line between Lewiston and Mt. Idaho. John Denny has a variety store stocked with useful notions; John McPherson owns the livery stable where stock are carefully tended at living rates; at Auchinvole & Co.s Saloon, the choicest grades of Hybrid refreshments are served in real ? style by the boss mixolygist, J.J. Manuel; Dr. J.B. Morris is the resident physician and proprietor of the drug store and being an ? student of medicine is ? in the practice. Crooks & Sebastian supply the burg with the succulent meat for which Camas prairie is justly?. G. Ellsworth manufactures furniture at his cabinet shop; Mrs. ? ? private boarding house in the summer; the two blacksmith shops are operated by the one, by Adams Schubert , a thorough master of his profession, the other by C.R. Aben, who knows his business equally well. Shissler & Mathison’s saw mill is located on Butcher creek, three miles from Mt. Idaho and Bartley’s saw mill on three mile creek.

One of the solidest muldoons on the prairie is Hon. B.F. Morris, clerk of the District Court, who in conjunction with others, owns 1,200 acres fenced, and much of it under cultivation in the heart of the prairie, in the locality known as Centerville. The county officers of Idaho county who have their offices on the ground floor of the fine court house are, Treasurer, Wm. Baird, a brother of Ezra Baird of this city, and just as good a man, auditor and recorder, J.B. Chamberlain, as good a “watch dog of the treasury” as was ever elected to that position; sheriff, T.J. Rhoades, who knows his duty and goes for it on the spot; the probate judge is John Bower, in whose hands the interests of widows and orphans are ever safe; we can personally vouch that W.J. Rainey is a zealous assessor, for he stopped us on the trail and cinched a $4 poll tax out of us, but we forgive him for that as he serves Chinamen just the same way. The county surveyor is Fremont Cobb a late arrival from Kansas, who is inducing a large immigration to Camas prairie from that state by the glowing descriptions he is publishing of this favored country. The law practice is confined to A.H. Gordon, Hon S.S. Fenn and J.H. Forney. Mr. Fenn is North Idaho’s favorite statesman; he has represented the territory in Congress for four years as it was never represented before nor since; besides being repeatedly sent to different legislations; we accepted his hospitality for a night and gleaned much valuable information from his well stored mind, for which our thanks are due. Mr. J.H. Forney is a gentleman of southern birth and a natural born lawyer, who has so assiduously cultivated his talents by hard study that he has become a ripe scholar, ? we were not surprised to hear that he has been uniformly succeeded ? his practice, never having ? case, which speaks volumes for the industry ability and zeal which he puts into his clients cause, and accounts for the good practice he is building up.

At this point our notes are very indistinct so we are reluctantly compelled to bid a temporary adieu to Mt. Idaho an din so doing return our special thanks to Hons. L.P. Brown, B.F. Morris, J.H. Forney, F. Cobb, Joh McPherson and S.S. Fenn for valuable courtesics extended and also generally to a large number of other friends on the prairie including the county officials for favors and hospitality accepted and preferred. No stronger proof of the hospitable character of the people of Camas prairie can be advanced than the bare statement of the fact that we have accepted 30 invitations to dine with different hosts on Camas prairie on the coming glorious Fourth of July.

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source: Idaho County GenWeb
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Lumber Mill Mount Idaho 1870s


photo from Lewiston Morning Tribune – Jul 1, 1962
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Mill Men Wasted No Time

Jul 11, 2011 Lewiston Tribune

Because of the back-breaking task of whipsawing lumber, primitive sawmills were introduced early into Idaho mining areas.

Two of the first on record were established in 1862, one in the Pierce area and the other at Mt. Idaho. Alonzo Leland, later a Lewiston newspaperman and attorney, was instrumental in the start of the Pierce-area mill.

Lumber from the Mt. Idaho mill, which was probably the first to do any planing, was used for the construction of the DeFrance Hotel at Lewiston. L.P. Brown, who owned most of the town of Mt. Idaho and operated a sawmill for many years, probably started the mill there.

For most of the 28 territorial years, the Lewiston area was lumber hungry and whatever was produced was quickly used in building.

Mill owners of those years did not thrive, however. Instead they were plagued with hard luck of various types – machinery failed to come through or was forever breaking down and there were long waits for replacements.

Water power, which turned the wheels of the earliest mills, was undependable since the rivers were either too high or too low most of the time.

Worse still, fires often erased the work of years and insurance rates were considered prohibitively high.

excerpted from: The Lewiston Tribune (pulled from a seven-section volume of work compiled by Tribune staff during Lewiston’s 1961 centennial.)
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Notable Mount Idaho Residents

from “An Illustrated History of Idaho” 1899

One authority states that the first permanent settlement in Idaho was made at Mount Idaho, the present county-seat of Idaho county.
Pg 59

Jay M. Dorman

No man has been a more prominent factor in the growth and improvement of Mount Idaho than this gentleman, who for many years has been identified with its building interests, nor have his efforts contributed alone to his individual prosperity, for he belongs to that class of representative Americans who promote the public good while securing their own success.

A native of Delaware county. New York, he was born August 27, 1837, and is descended from an old American family, early settlers of the Empire state. His father, Anthony Dorman, was likewise born in Delaware county and married Miss Charlotte Bursack, a lady of German descent. Their only child, Jay M. Dorman, was left an orphan at a tender age and was reared by his aunt until fourteen years of age. With her he removed to Louisiana, where he learned the carpenter and joiner trade.

In 1861 he went to California by way of the isthmus route, sailing on the steamer North Star, which arrived in San Francisco in July. He worked in a sawmill on the coast range for a time, and by the water route went to The Dalles and then by mule train to the place of the gold discoveries in Idaho. He traveled with a company of eight, who ultimately reached Lewiston, which was then a town of tents, with only two log houses. Mr. Dorman proceeded to Elk City, and engaged in mining at different claims for nine years, but met with only a moderate degree of success. He had at times as high as three thousand dollars, but like many other miners sunk his capital in a bedrock tunnel. He, however, never lost anything through gambling or in the saloon, as so many men did in those early days.

In 1871 he came to Mount Idaho, at which time there was but one log house in the town. Here he began work at the carpenter’s trade, and since that time has been actively interested in the erection of most of the buildings of the place, so that Mount Idaho now largely stands as a monument to his skill, thrift and enterprise.

In 1877 he built his own commodious residence, one of the most attractive homes of the place. In connection with contracting and building, Mr. Dorman has also superintended the operation of his ranch, comprising three hundred and twenty acres of good land, on which he raises hay and grain.

The county-seat of Idaho county was established at Mount Idaho in 1875, and our subject erected the court-house and jail there. He served the county for two years in the position of treasurer and for one term as county commissioner, discharging his duties in a most prompt and commendable manner. In politics he has been a lifelong Republican, and in addition to the other offices mentioned he has served as school trustee, the cause of education finding in him a warm friend and one zealous in advancing its interests. Thus in many ways he has been prominently identified with the advancement of his county along material, political and educational lines, and at all times is a progressive, public-spirited citizen.

He was a volunteer in the Nez Perces Indian war, in 1877, and assisted in building a rock fort in Mount Idaho, which formed such a protection that the Indians made no attempt to attack the inhabitants of the town, and many settlers from the surrounding country also found shelter there.

In 1880 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Dorman and Mrs. Arabella J. Randall, widow of Captain D. B. Randall, who served his country as a lieutenant in the great civil war and as a captain of volunteers in the Indian war. She was the daughter of Captain A. P. Ankenv, of Virginia, and crossed the plains to California in 1849, going to Oregon in 1850. Mrs. Dorman was only four years of age when she went with her father’s family to the Sunset state. By her first marriage she had live children, namely: Oronoka L., wife of S. D. Ingram, of Lewiston; Henry A.; Bell J.; Maude E.; and Ada L., wife of Lewis D. Stevens. Mr. and Mrs. Dorman have one daughter, to whom was given the full name of her father, – Jay M. Mrs. Dorman is a member of the Episcopal church and is one of the honored pioneer women of Oregon and Idaho.

Our subject holds membership in Mount Idaho Lodge, No. 89, F. & A. M., has held various offices in the lodge and served as its treasurer for ten years. He is one of Idaho’s worthy and reliable citizens, and since early pioneer days he has labored for the welfare of the state, proving especially active in the upbuilding of the northern section. He is highly esteemed for his integrity in all the walks of life, and well deserves representation in this volume.
Pgs 318-319
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Evan Evans

… He remained in California until 1880, when he came to Grangeville, where he has since made his home. Here he was first employed in carrying the mail, under contract, between Mount Idaho and Pierce City, making the journey on horseback. He received a fair remuneration for his services, and continued that labor until the route was discontinued.
Pg 333
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Henry Spalding

A son of the pioneer [Henry Harmon Spalding (1803–1874), and his wife Eliza Hart Spalding (1807–1851).] H. [Henry] Spaulding, early in the year 1874, came to the Camas prairie for the purpose of organizing a grange. The population of that portion of central Idaho scarcely numbered three hundred white men. and the settlers were widely scattered; the prairie was a place of magnificent distances. In July a representative gathering was obtained, which met one day in a school-house near Mount Idaho. Sixteen persons signified their willingness to unite with an order to be known as Charity Grange. Initiations followed; William C. Pearson was chosen worthy master, and J. H. Robinson, secretary. The foundations of the city of Grangeville. the coming commercial center of the Clearwater country, were thus laid.

At that time the land upon which Grangeville subsequently grew was a pasture belonging to the farm of J. M, Crooks. Two stores were in existence in Mount Idaho, which made that place an outfitting place for miners, the only town between Florence and Lewiston. a gap of one hundred and twenty miles. Three miles below the foothills that serve as a site for the hamlet Mount Idaho, the members of Charity Grange commenced building a hall in 1876.
Pg 350
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Matthew H. Truscott

The leading merchant and efficient postmaster of Mount Idaho, Matthew H. Truscott, has been a resident of this state since 1865, and has therefore been a witness of the greater part of its growth and development, has seen its wild land reclaimed for purposes of cultivation, its rich mineral storehouses give forth their treasures, and the forests yield their trees to be converted into the homes of white men, who thus replaced the tents of the Indians. He was a young man of only twenty years when he arrived in the territory, his birth having occurred in England, March 20, 1845. He was educated in the schools of his native land, there learned engineering and was for some time employed in that line of industry and at mining.

In 1861 he went to Chili, and two years later proceeded up the Pacific coast to California, where he was engaged in mining and engineering until the spring of 1865, when he came to Idaho, making the journey on horseback through the Indian country, Nevada and the valley of the Humboldt river, to Idaho City, in the Boise basin. He remained there only a month or two, when, attracted by the gold excitement at Coeur d’Alene, he went to Clearwater station and mined in the different camps of Elk City and Newsom. He met with a fair degree of success and still has mining interests on the Clearwater.

On coming to Camas prairie he was employed as engineer in a saw and flouring mill until 1883, when he accepted the position of clerk in the Mount Idaho Hotel. In 1886 he was appointed by President Cleveland to the position of postmaster, an office which he has since filled most satisfactorily to the people of the town and most creditably to himself. He was also agent for the Wells-Fargo Express Company for two years, and in 1892 he entered into a contract with the firm of Vollmer & Scott to manage their general mercantile store in Mount Idaho. The following year he purchased that store, and has since carried on the business on his own account, having the principal establishment of the kind in the town. He is now enjoying a good trade and is meeting with excellent success in his undertakings.

In addition to his duties in the post-office Mr. Truscott has performed other public service, having been deputy sheriff, deputy county assessor, deputy county treasurer and deputy school superintendent, and at the present time he is capably filling the position of county superintendent of schools. In his political affiliations he is a stalwart Democrat, and keeps well informed on the issues of the day, doing all in his power to promote the growth and insure the success of the party. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity and has attained the twentieth degree of the Scottish rite. In his life he exemplifies the benevolent and inspiring principles of the order, and throughout northern Idaho he is widely and favorably known.
Pg 384
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Keith Wood White

In 1886 Mr. [Keith Wood] White was elected sheriff of Idaho county, and during his incumbency made his home in Mount Idaho, the county seat. He was also county assessor and also served for one term as deputy sheriff, during which time it was his unpleasant duty to aid in the execution of Walleck, who had been sentenced to death for the murder of a man at Warrens. He has always taken a deep and active interest in the upbuilding and improvement of his county and state, has given his support to all measures for the public good, and was especially zealous in maintaining order at a time when a lawless element infested this then new region.
Pg 713
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The legislature of 1889 appropriated fifty thousand dollars for the construction of a wagon road from Mount Idaho to Little Salmon Meadows. This section of the public highway, after it was completed, for a long time was the only means of communication within the state between the northern and southern counties.
Pg 529

excerpted from “An Illustrated History of Idaho” 1899
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“Judge” James W. Poe

The man known as “Judge” James W. Poe was a member of the original group of miners, headed by James Warren, who are credited with the discovery of gold on Warren Creek. James Poe was an important leader in the first years of Warren’s existence and then went on to a distinguished career as a lawyer in the Idaho Territory and then the State of Idaho. …

In 1869, Poe was admitted to practice in the district court, was elected the first district recorder of Warren’s mining district, and then practiced law at Warrens and Mount Idaho until 1876, at which time he was elected attorney for the district comprising all of northern Idaho. Poe then established a law office in Lewiston, where he served as deputy district attorney for ten years. James Poe was elected and served in the territorial legislature in 1879-80, taking an active part in shaping the destiny of the territory during that period. He was a leading member of the state constitutional convention, his knowledge of constitutional law rendering him an important factor in framing the organic law of Idaho. He also had the honor of presiding over the first mass meeting, which was called for the purpose of adopting measures to secure statehood for Idaho.

excerpted from: Pg 28-29 “A History of Warren Idaho – Mining Race and Environment”, by Cletus R. Edmunson

Link to Mount Idaho (Part 1) Pioneers
Link to Mount Idaho (Part 2) History
Link to Mount Idaho (Part 3) Transportation
Link to Mount Idaho (Part 4) News clippings
Link to Mount Idaho (Part 5) More News clippings

page updated Aug 10, 2020