Idaho History July 7, 2019

Thunder Mountain Gold Rush

(part 7)

Newspaper Clippings

Edwardsburg, Big Creek, Roosevelt, Thunder Mountain, Knox

(When we were in Idaho County)

Idaho County 1910

1910-Idaho-zoom-Logan
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Californian Recalls Gold Rush to Thunder Mountain

By Earl Willson

Yellow Pine – After exhaustive research into the Thunder Mountain gold boom of the 1900’s, this writer – publicity chairman for the Valley County Centennial Committee – has discovered a man who was an active participant in the hectic gold rush days.

Carl Clark, now 92, who now lives in Lone Pine, Calif., backpacked 90 pounds into the camp at one time during the construction of the remote mining hamlet of Roosevelt.

StoryEarlWilsonGoldRushThunderMtn-Carl

Clark, now 92, reminisced about time spent in those gold rush days.

He told of his warm acquaintance with the late Fred Burgdorf of the once famous Burgdorf Hot Springs, his many trips to the historical Schaffer ranch on the south fork of the Salmon River and his remembrance of Ross Kregbaum, the mail carrier who mushed the snow trails with his dog teams from the Lardo post office at Payette Lake to Warren around the turn of the century.

Clark, who said he was familiar with the early days on Logan, Smith and Big Creek, recalled that he was one of the judges for the packing contest at Roosevelt’s first fourth of July celebration when some of the Telluride, Colo., boys won.

Clark related how he helped the late Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Edwards organize a townsite near Big Creek, called Logan, and establish a post office by that name, which was changed to Edwardsburg because of the conflicting Logan, Utah, post office.

StoryEarlWilsonGoldRushThunderMtn-Annie

Napier Edwards, the son, has attempted to maintain the tradition of that pioneer establishment which still stands as mute evidence of a post office, library and mining recorders office around which isolated sourdoughs depended on obtaining some measure of solace after long periods of isolation, and then long tiring ski trips to and from their far-flung cabins.

StoryEarlWilsonGoldRushThunderMtn-Napier

Clark said at one time during the height of the feeverish [sic] gold excitement he remembers being a “millionaire” for two weeks until the assayer, (presumably the late Bill Timm) discovered his mistake in the assay.

Clark’s later years were dedicated to what he called “Clark’s Collies Of Knowledge,” intelligent dogs with whom he toured the country extensively, performing on stage and screen. The group of white collie dogs astounded hundreds of thousands of persons during tours of schools and clubs throughout the United States.

courtesy Kristy Gillihan Scaraglino (personal correspondence)
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1902 Roosevelt

Village of Roosevelt, Idaho [01]

1902RooseveltStonebraker1-a

A view of the mining town of Roosevelt near Thunder Mountain during the height of the gold rush nearby. Wooden buildings line the street.
Date 1902
(click for larger size at source)

Village of Roosevelt, Idaho [02]

1902RooseveltStonebraker2-a

Village of Roosevelt near Thunder Mountain as it looked at the height of the gold rush. A pack train walks down the street with wooden buildings in the background.
Date 1902
(click for larger size at source)

Village of Roosevelt, Idaho [04]

1902RooseveltStonebraker4-a

Wooden buildings in the mining town of Roosevelt, Idaho. A dog stands in the foreground with snow on the ground.
Date 1902
(click for larger size at source)

source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
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Terrible Journey Of Miners

Bodies of Snowslide Victims Drawn Over Mountain Passes.

Boise, Idaho, March 5, [1902] – A party of prospectors reached here to-day after a terrible fourteen days’ journey through the snow from the Thunder Mountain district, bringing with them the bodies of Bert Tullis, formerly a resident of Telluride, Col., who was killed in a snow slide at Thunder Mountain about a month ago, and of men named Campbell and Sykes, who were also victims of a snow slide.

The bodies, frozen and wrapped in hides, were drawn over the snow of the mountain passes, the prospectors undergoing almost incredible hardships to bring out the bodies of their dead friends.

source: (PDF) March 6, 1902 The New York Times
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Henderson Slide (Roosevelt) 1904

Idaho County Free Press March 3, 1904

Fatal Snowslide

On February 13th, a snowslide demolished the Edwards cabin about 7 miles up Monumental creek from Roosevelt. Avery Henderson, a well known mining man of that camp was first thought to be buried in the cabin. The cabin was shoveled out by the men of the camp and he was not found. His shoes were there, but a pair of trousers and a coat were missing said Edwards, who was batching with Henderson. Tracks in the snow were followed by the light of candles for about one-half mile until they were obliterated by another snowslide. They were unable to find any trace of him after three hours of searching.
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Idaho County Free Press March 17, 1904

It is almost certain that Henderson had a visitor and to date neither of the bodies have been found at the snow slide known as the Henderson Slide.

source: Idaho County GenWeb Project complied by Penny Bennett Casey
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Snowy cabin at Big Creek 1903

1903SnowCabinBigCreek-a

Description Dog at doorway of snow covered log cabin near Big Creek. An axe is forked into the roof.
Date 1903

source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
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Francis Steele (Missing Roosevelt School Teacher) 1905

Idaho County Free Press June 22, 1905

Young Man Perishes

Francis Steele was a school teacher and spent the winter and early spring in Mt. Idaho. He left Grangeville on May 8 for Roosevelt where he expected to teach school during the summer and assess the district for the county assessor of Idaho Co. On May 9 he appeared at Campbell’s crossing where he was supplied with food by Warren Cook. This is the last time he was seen.

He was directed by Cook how to follow the trail as miners and packers are constantly passing back and forth to the mines, and no trace of Steele had been found until Vance and Whitaker, of Roosevelt, found the assessment blanks and school books at the mouth of Ramey creek. They had evidently been on the ground several days as they were covered with mould [sic]. There was a bucket that had been taken from the cabin of Tom Lynch on May 20. Lynch was fishing and had left some grouse, fish and a lot of cooked beans in his cabin and when he returned he found the cabin had been entered and the greater part of the food was gone. There was a pair of gloves on the floor.

Search parties have spent several days traveling through the mountains where the papers were found, but no trace of the unfortunate man has been discovered. Steele leaves a wife in Portland.
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Idaho County Free Press July 27, 1905

Steele’s Body Found

Miners who arrived at Warren, Monday brought the news that the body of Francis Steele has been found near the mouth of Ramey creek which is about a half mile from the spot where he camped and ate his last meal. The supposition at the time of his disappearance is that he had attempted to cross Big Creek and was drowned. Details concerning the burial of the body have not been learned, but it is thought no effort will be made to bring the remains out of the country.
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Idaho County Free Press August 17, 1905

Steele’s Body Found

Word has been received that the body of Francis Steele has been found in Big Creek. A similar report reached here about two weeks ago but the body then found was evidently that of some other unfortunate. It is said that papers and other articles on the body leave no doubt as to his identity. Coroner Irwin and J.W. Evans, a brother-in-law of Steele’s expect to examine the body and it will be brought out for burial if possible.
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Idaho County Free Press Sept 7, 1905

Coroner Irvin passed through Warren with the remains of Francis Steele who was lost in Big Creek last spring. The remains were taken to Cottonwood for interment.

source: Idaho County GenWeb Project complied by Penny Bennett Casey
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Knox in 1905

Digital Library University of Idaho [h/t SMc]
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1905 Knox Murder

1905, Aug. 12 – T. J. Little killed Charley Hanlen at Knox when Hanlen went to clean out the Little camp and Little protected himself and property. Later Little convinced the court in Idaho City that it was self-defense and he was acquitted. One of Hanlen’s acquaintances was surprised that Hanlen lived as long as he did.

From the Aug. 26, 1905 The Prospector and Thunder Mountain News, Roosevelt ID.

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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Idaho Daily Statesman – Boise, Idaho – August 15, 1905

Shot to Death

Charles Hanlin Killed by Tom Little at Randall’s Transfer Station

Killing Held to Be Justifiable Homicide

Victim Struck By Two Rifle Bullets, One in the Heart, One In The Abdomen

Hanlin fires first and is shot down by Little in self-defense – Claimed Little should pay him an account owed by the company with which Little was employed – After words in a Saloon he returns to camp, secures a rifle and attempts to kill Little – Inquest held by man named Jones, elected by citizens for the purpose.

At Randall’s Transfer on the Roosevelt road on Friday, Charles Hanlin was shot and instantly killed by Tom Little. The latter had a hearing and was discharged on the ground that the killing was justifiable.

The men came out from Roosevelt together, where they had been employed. The company for which Little worked, it seems, owed Hanlin, and the latter thought Little should pay the account. They were drinking together and the subject of the debt came up in the saloon. The testimony at the hearing showed Hanlin was disposed to be ugly over the matter.

Little left and went to where he had pitched camp, being followed by Hanlin. The latter, upon arriving at the camp, walked over to a tree some 30 yards away, where his gun was standing. He picked up the weapon, according to the evidence, and fired at Little. The latter thereupon secured his gun and fired twice at Hanlin. ON shot pierced his heart and the other struck him in the abdomen. Death was instantaneous.

There was no justice of the peace of other officer authorized to hold inquest and the people elected a man name Jones to officiate. He heard the testimony of those having knowledge of the affair and turned Little loose on the ground that the homicide was justifiable.

Nothing is known of the antecedents of Hanlin. He had been in Roosevelt for two years, but none knows where he came from or where he may have had relatives. He was 45 years old

Little’s home is in Boise, where he has a family living on North Sixth street.
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Idaho Daily Statesman – Boise, Idaho – August 25, 1905

Tom Little is Liberated

Man Who Killed Charles Hanlin Given His Freedom

(Special Dispatch)

Knox, August 24 – Word has reached this place that Tom Little, who shot and killed Charles Hanlin at Randall’s Transfer on Friday, August 11, was exonerated after a preliminary examination at Roosevelt and liberated. Little was formerly a teamster in Owyhee county.

source: Idaho County GenWeb Project complied by Penny Bennett Casey
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T. J. Little Acquitted

T. J. Little, who killed Charley Hanlen at Knox on the 12th inst., was given a hearing before James McAndrews Monday.

The State was represented by F. W. Whitcomb and T. J. Hanlen was represented by W. H. Parkett.

The case was called for trial at – consumed and part of the evening. There were seven witnesses examined: Frank Gregory, E. Tennyson, John W. Brooks, Tom Moore, Ed Aldrich, and Thomas Nicholson, all of Knox, and Charley Myers of Roosevelt. The testimony given proved it to be a onesided affair although and was in defendant’s favor and he was acquitted. The evidence was clear that Hanlen went down to clean out the camp and get what he could. Mr. Little only done what any other man should do and that was to protect himself and property.

When it was definitely learned here Sunday that the trial would come up Monday there was a man in town who crossed the plaines in ’72 with Hanlen who made it a point to go fishing to avoid the trial, and expressed himself as being surprised at Hanlen living as long as he did.

Hanlan was tried in Salmon in ’97 for shooting at a man. He finally won out. This is enough to show he was hunting human scalps.

We congratulate Mr. Little in protecting himself and property.

From the August 26, 1905 Issue of the The Prospector and Thunder Mountain News

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History project by LeRoy Meyer
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Idaho Daily Statesman – Boise, Idaho – August 27, 1905

Story of Tragedy

Additional Details of the Killing of Charles Hanlin by Tom J. Little at Knox, in Thunder Mountain Country

The Roosevelt News gives the following additional details of the killing at Knox of Charles Hanlin by Tom J. Little, who was later exonerated after having been given a preliminary examination:

T.J. Little hire Mr. Hanlin here in Roosevelt some time ago and took him over to the Sunshine mine where they were going to do some work and after working three days (allowing a day to go over) and two days after arriving, Mr. Little was telephoned to close the mine down and nail it up. Mr. Little was acting as foreman for the Spears’ American Exchange and had sent the time in and gone over to Knox to wait instructions. Mr. Hanlin really had only two days coming from the company but was allowed time for three days.

They were camped about a half a mile from Knox, and were up at town when Hanlin demanded his money and told Little that “he would go down and take the camp and sell the horses.” Hanlin was drinking some and when under the influence of liquor was very abusive. They tried to reason him out of this idea but this he would not listen to.

Little went down to the camp to avoid trouble and Hanlin finally followed him down and before reaching the camp he picked up a 44 Winchester rifle which he had secreted a few feet from the tent and informed Little with an oath that “it was all off with him” an began firing and Little returned the fire with the above result. Mr. Little used a 44 rifle.

One bullet passed over the heart and one under and either would have proven fatal.

source: Idaho County GenWeb Project complied by Penny Bennett Casey
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C. C. Randall, Randall’s Transfer, Knox P.O. Store; Feed Barn, Wm. Howel, Manager; Post office history places Knox 25 miles NE of Cascade.

source: source: Valley County Idaho Gen Web Thunder Mountain News [h/t SMc]

see also: Knox, Valley County, Idaho History
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1905 Pack String

1905StonebrakerPackString-a

Stonebraker pack train [26] Date 1905
A pack of horses walks through a grassy area on a hill.

source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
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Big Creek (murder) 1905

Idaho County Free Press August 24, 1905

“Doc” Martin Accused of Arson and Maybe Murder

“Doc” Martin who just completed six months in the county jail for larceny was immediately arrested again on the charge of arson.

Just before the big fire at Warren, John F. Kroll, a respected and well to do prospector started for the Big Creek district to prospect.

Before leaving he cashed a check for about $70 and bought $15 worth of supplies. A few days after this the big fire occurred and Martin was suspected of setting the fire and ordered to leave town. He was searched for some evidence but nothing was found and it is known that he did not have a cent of money. He is interested in a mining claim on Big Creek where there is a cabin and provisions and it was supposed that he would go there.

The next heard of him was only a few days later when he appeared with Kroll on Big Creek and Kroll bought a part of beef from a butcher who was supplying the Wardenhoff mine. The next morning Martin returned alone with Kroll’s horse and brought the meat back. From that time no person has been able to find any trace of Kroll. Martin went to Roosevelt and got into a poker game and lost about $50. He went to a saloon keeper and borrowed $10, putting up a gold watch which has since been identified as Kroll’s. The following day he sold Kroll’s horse for $35 and since then a quiet investigation has been going on. The search is still being made for Kroll and if the body could be found it might go a long way toward clearing up the mystery.
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Idaho County Free Press October 12, 1905

“Doc” Martin Again

“Doc” martin recently stirred up the passengers of the Owl train at Lewiston Saturday evening. He said that someone had attempted to murder him and became boisterous and unruly and was taken in charge by some of the passengers and turned over to the sheriff at Moscow. It is supposed that he was under the influence of morphine, it being one of his pastimes to partake of the deadly drug. Martin was held in the Idaho county jail on several charges, among them being murder, arson and theft.
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Idaho County Free Press May 7, 1908

“Doc” Martin is the Man

E.H. Martin, who was at one time a citizen of this county and in the clutches of the law on several occasions, has been taken in by the police of Portland and held for the brutal murder of Nathan Wolff, a Jewish pawn broker. Martin is a dope fiend with criminal instincts. He was arrested in the Big Creek section of this county February 1905 upon the charge of burglary but it was understood at the time he was being held pending an investigation of murder. Sufficient evidence could not be secured and the authorities released him. Later he was arrested for an attempt to destroy the county jail but was again released. Near the close of 1905 he left his county and was arrested while passing through Moscow and examined as to his sanity. However, as usual, he was released and from that time until now had dropped out of sight.
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Idaho County Free Press December 3, 1908

“Doc” Martin, the notorious character, was found guilty of manslaughter in the court of Portland last week and given fifteen years in prison.

source: source: Idaho County GenWeb Project complied by Penny Bennett Casey
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Saloon (Roosevelt)

source: The Thunder Mountain Story Publisher Idaho State Historical Society [h/t SMc]
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Saloons – Roosevelt 1906

Idaho Daily Statesman – Boise, Idaho March 7, 1906

Many Saloons in Northern Idaho

Deputy Revenue Collector Fred White Says There Are 332 in Five Counties

An interview with Fred White, deputy United States internal revenue collector for the five northern counties of Idaho and whose territory also includes Flathead and Teton counties in Montana, the Lewiston Tribune learned that there are 332 licensed saloons in the northern section of the state.

Idaho County is third on the list with 59 saloons. Saloons are established in Adams, Clearwater, Comfort, Denver, Dixie, Florence, Freedom, Ferdinand, Half Way House, Glenwood, Harpster, Reardan Creek, Keuterville, Lucile, Mt. Idaho, Newsome, Kooskia, Tramway, Low Pollock and South Fork of Salmon River, each 1; Knox, Orogrande, Resort, Stites, Whitebird, Westlake and Hump, each 2; Elk City, 3; Cottonwood, 4; Grangeville, 8, and Roosevelt 9; Total 59

*There are lists in this article for Kootenai, Shoshone, Lewiston, Nez Perce, & Latah counties. For the purpose of this website, I have only transcribed the Idaho county ones.

The government license required to be paid by saloons for retailing liquors is $25 a year. The 332 saloons in north Idaho therefore pay into the federal treasury, $8300 annually. Of these saloons many are operating under tavern or precinct licenses ranging up to $300 a year, where the saloon is not located in an incorporated village or town. In incorporated cities or towns, the state license is $500 per year. It is probable that the license paid by the saloons in the north will average $300 each, so the state receives at total annually of $99-600 from them.

source: Idaho County GenWeb Project complied by Penny Bennett Casey
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1909

Roosevelt is in Ruins

Monster Landslide Cause of Flooding Idaho Mining Town

Roosevelt1909June3Spokane Daily Chronicle June 3, 1909

Boise, Idaho, June 3 – (Special) – Isolated in a mountainous region in central Idaho, the mining town of Roosevelt is today cut off from communication with the outer world, owing to a great land slide, estimated at three miles in length and 300 feet wide, which took place last night just above Roosevelt and piled up along what is known as Mule creek to a depth of 100 feet.

Instantly the water of the creek were shut off and the swollen stream flooded all of the houses in the mining town.

Judging from the latest reports, several lives were lost. Because parties are now being formed here and will be rushed into the district, entrance to which is gained through Smith’s Ferry. Roosevelt is located in Idaho County.

The terrific land slide forced the waters of the creek out of its bed and immediately the town was in a dangerous position, for it is located on the banks of the stream and in a dangerous position on the side of the mountain.

The placer property of Caswell and Curran was destroyed, while other valuable mining property is damaged beyond repair, the estimate of damages being thousands of dollars.

While no details with respect to the disaster are at hand, telephone messages from Smith’s Ferry are to the effect that everything is in a chaotic condition, and it is feared many miners have been drowned. A number of Boise mining men are in the district.

The town of Roosevelt is located along the creek on a narrow strip and near the confluence with Monumental river. The statement that the slide was three miles long indicates that it started at or above the Caswell and Curran placer claims on the side of Thunder mountain and followed Mule creek down to Monumental river and tore down that stream some little distance.
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1909 Roosevelt

Roosevelt landslide and flood [01]

1909RooseveltStonebraker1-a

“Rising waters of what became Roosevelt Lake near the head of Monumental Creek slowly inundating the town’s structures.”
Date 1909
(click for larger size at source)

Roosevelt landslide and flood [02]

1909RooseveltStonebraker2-a

“Rising waters of Monumental Creek slowly inundating the mining town of Roosevelt, Idaho.”
Date 1909
(click for larger size at source)

Mudslide above Roosevelt, Idaho [03]

1909RooseveltStonebraker3-a

Mudslide that blocked Monumental Creek and flooded the town of Roosevelt.
Date 1909-05
(click for larger size at source)

source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
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Roosevelt: From Boom Town to Mountain Lake

August 1999 by Sharon A. Murray

I first saw Roosevelt Lake in 1986 when I worked for Coeur d’Alene Mines Corporation at Thunder Mountain. On a clear, calm day you could see the remains of log cabins beneath the water’s surface. Progressing down the trail adjacent to the lake you could walk across a log dam to the other side of the lake and view the remaining headstones in the hillside cemetery, which is about all that remains to remind us of the once-thriving community of Roosevelt, Idaho.

Roosevelt was a product of the Thunder Mountain boom, Idaho’s last major gold rush. The Caswell brothers, Ben, Lew, Dan and Cort discovered flakes of gold in Monumental Creek in a remote mountainous section of Central Idaho in 1894. For the next couple of years, the brothers spent part of each summer placer mining Monumental Creek with little success. In 1896, when they were about to abandon their mining venture, one brother followed a tributary of Monumental Creek up the slope of the mountain and stumbled upon an exposed ledge of white quartz. He took a sample of the rock back to camp. The crushed and panned sample contained considerable free gold. The brothers staked a claim on the quartz outcrop and named it the Golden Reef.

The Caswells worked on the Golden Reef periodically during the summer months for the next several years. Material removed from the ledge was crushed and washed in a sluice box, built of whipsawed lumber, to recover the free gold. For fourteen weeks of work, the brothers reportedly recovered $20,358.

Edward Dewey heard about the Caswell’s operation and informed his father, Colonel William H. Dewey, who had made money in mining and other ventures in Idaho’s Owyhee Mountains. Colonel Dewey took out an option on the Golden Reef in 1900 and sent experts into the area to evaluate the prospect. Favorable reports compelled Dewey to exercise his option which he did by handing the Caswells a check for $100,000. Once the word of Dewey’s purchase hit the streets, a genuine gold rush was underway.

Experienced prospectors and novice argonauts flocked to Thunder Mountain in the spring of 1901. Access was via a crude trail cut from the old mining camp of Warren, over Elk Summit, to Big Creek and then up Monumental Creek to Thunder Mountain. In 1901, when the rush started, the area was one of the least accessible regions in Idaho. Not much has changed, even today.

With the influx of miners into the Thunder Mountain Mining District, there was a need for accommodations and other amenities of life including saloons, cafes, and stores. The town of Roosevelt was laid out in the fall of 1901 by the Idaho Land and Loan Company of Boise to provide these services. Lots sold for $100.

Roosevelt was built on the floor of a narrow, heavily-wooded, steep-sided canyon through which Monumental Creek flows. The townsite was one and one-half miles long and 300 to 500 feet wide. Most structures were erected on either side of Main Street. The first buildings were constructed of crudely-cut logs and canvas but as time progressed, many of these quarters were replaced by log and sawed-lumber buildings.

By 1902, the town was well established and resembled a typical frontier mining town with the requisite number of saloons, hotels, stores and eateries. A post office was set up in July 1902 with William L. Cuddy as postmaster. By 1903, 7000 people were getting mail at the post office. The town had expanded to include residences and businesses for a blacksmith, undertaker, doctor, dentist, several lawyers, assayers, and at least one carpenter. The town also boasted a four-room school house.

A road was completed to Roosevelt from Thunder City (near present-day Cascade, Idaho) in 1904. Mail service over this route commenced in December 1904, and a daily stage service was established by 1905. It took three days for the stage to travel the 76 miles between Roosevelt and Thunder City. Frequent stops were made at a number of way stations established on the route.

Roosevelt also had electricity and telephone service as of 1904. The Thunder Mountain News began publishing a local newspaper during the year. The paper carried local and regional news and sold advertisements.

By 1905, 1500 people resided in Roosevelt as over 100 houses stood on either side of Main Street. Many others lived at the Dewey and Sunnyside Mines, the largest producers in the area, as well as in other small settlements established in the vicinity. General merchandise could be purchased at J.B. Randell’s Pioneer Store in Roosevelt. B.F. Fransas also sold general merchandise including boots, shoes, hardware, stoves, stationery and mining supplies. Fresh meat was available at McKinney and Hanson’s Pioneer Meat Market. Sam Gillam’s saloon sold wine, liquor, beer, case goods and cigars as did Hunter, Crane and Company. Van Welche’s Wellington cafe carried cased and bottled goods, Old Bourbon & McBryer whiskies, wine, cordials, cigars, cigarettes and tobacco.

William Queeney operated a livery and feed stable. He also sold Hercules powder, caps and fuses. G.D. Smith and Lee Lisbenby were the proprietors of hotels and lodging houses. The Roosevelt Laundry cleaned, pressed and repaired “gents cloths.” Dr. C.T. Jones was the resident dentist. William H. O’Brien hung up his shingle to practice law as did Messrs. Pucket and Hawley. S.P. Burr advertised as a U.S. Deputy Mineral Surveyor. Timm & Goodsell assayed samples and guaranteed “correct results.” W.H. Upham acted as a funeral director and embalmer. He presumably took care of the 40 souls who were buried in the local cemetery.

Roosevelt also had a special place for social gatherings called the “Big Amusement Hall.” The establishment was equipped with a lunch counter, designated areas for social games and advertised orchestra accompaniment for dances and other community events.

Roosevelt prospered for several years and as can be seen, had most of the amenities normally found only in large towns, even though freight rates were seven cents per pound for items transported to the district from Emmett, Idaho. Some mining equipment, such as a gyratory crusher purchased for the Sunnyside Mine, cost as much as one dollar per pound to be brought in.

By 1907, mining activities were in decline in the Thunder Mountain District. Deposits did not live up to their early promise and both the Sunnyside and Dewey ceased operations. Some smaller operations continued work but when the larger mines closed, many people were forced to move from the area. By the fall of 1907, many of Roosevelt’s homes and businesses had been boarded up for the winter, as residents intended to return after the snow melted in the spring. By year’s end, only one store and the post office remained open.

The winter of 1908 saw one of the heaviest accumulations of snow in recorded history. By June at least seven feet of snow blanketed the area. A freak action of Mother Nature pushed the mercury up to 100 degrees on June 8, 1908 and the seven feet of snow melted rapidly; so rapidly that neither the ground nor the streams could absorb the volume. Loose slide-prone earth on the western slope of Thunder Mountain became saturated with the excess water. On June 8 and 9, the saturated earth began to move. Gaining momentum, it developed into a massive landslide. It thundered and groaned. Large fissures and cracks opened up in the mass. Water from snow melt poured into these openings and added fluidity to the muddy mess. By the morning of June 10, the entire mass of waterlogged dirt and debris began to move down the hillside. By 11pm on June 10, the slide had reached the toe of the slope of one of the canyon walls, near Roosevelt. The slide covered the floor of the narrow canyon and piled up against the adjacent hillside. It also dammed Monumental Creek, which caused water to back up into the town of Roosevelt. By daylight on June 11, the main street of Roosevelt was covered with eight feet of water. The town and all its buildings were quickly becoming inundated. An attempt by area miners to blow a hole in the slide, by using 1600 pounds of dynamite, failed.

The few residents who had remained at Roosevelt and surrounding mines, constructed rafts and attempted to salvage belongings from the boarded and locked homes and businesses. Rescuers soon realized their attempts were futile, in part because the water was rising so swiftly. Items that could be removed were removed. Some of the dwellings were anchored to rocks and trees on the adjacent hillside and left to let nature take its course. The waters continued rising until the town was completely covered.

The town remained in its flooded state for many years. Attempts by scuba divers were made periodically to salvage items from the lake. Most of these efforts were unsuccessful. During the winter of 1934, when the lake surface was frozen, the buildings that stood above the water were burned to the waterline. Now all one can see are the remains of a few buildings and a floating hand-hewn logjam at the far end of town.

Although several area mines have been worked intermittently until recently, Roosevelt and the Thunder Mountain Mining District have never seen the level of activity they experienced around the turn of the century. Mining could one day return to the area, but it is unlikely Roosevelt will never spring to life again. It will probably remain a pristine mountain lake, inhabited by beaver and a richly unique history.

References
“Annual Report of the Mining Industry of Idaho”, Volume 4,1901, pg. 35, Boise, Idaho 1902.
McRae, Ruth, “Search For Lost Mule Leads to Hidden Gold,” Idaho Statesman, October 3 & 10, 1937.
Thunder Mountain News, Roosevelt, Idaho, February 18, 1985, February 25, 1905, March 3, 1905, August 12, 1905, Idaho State Historical Library, Boise, Idaho.
© ICMJ’s Prospecting and Mining Journal, CMJ Inc.

source: (subscription) 10/25/2017 Roosevelt: From Boom Town to Mountain Lake – August 1999 (Vol. 68, No. 12) – ICMJ’s Prospecting and Mining Journal August 1999 by Sharon A. Murray [h/t SA]
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1905 Thunder Mountain Photos

Whipsawing near Thunder Mountain [01]

1903ThunderMtnWhipsawing1-a

One man operates the saw while another man sits petting a dog. Near the village of Roosevelt, Idaho.
Date 1905-03-19
(click for larger size at source)

Whipsawing near Thunder Mountain [02]

1903ThunderMtnWhipsawing2-a

A group of men work with a whipsaw in a snowy area near Thunder Mountain.
Date 1905-03-19
(click for larger size at source)

source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
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Link to Thunder Mountain and Roosevelt Stories