A Hunt in the Rockies 1892
Forest and Stream
A Weekly Journal of the Rod and Gun
July, 1892 – December 1892
Parts 1 through 3
A Hunt In The Rockies In Three Parts — Part I
August 11, 1892
It is hardly necessary to state that months of preparation and the usual fond anticipations were all gone through with before the arrangements were completed. My old companions in many a hunt, Messrs. A. C. Kepler, of Lancaster, and Frank B. Blood, of Conneaut, O., were anxious to go but could not. “Kep,” one of the most ardent and efficient hunters and trappers in the United States, and a royal good fellow, was building a new house and could not get away. Blood, the man with nerves of iron and deadly aim, was an important witness in court, and compelled, much against his will and inclinations, to forego what we considered the most gigantic hunting excursion on our list.
It must be admitted that my spirits sank somewhat below zero as I stood alone with my face turned toward Idaho, with the determination to go if 1 was obliged to “go it alone.” After all, much of the pleasure to be derived from an outing depends upon agreeable companions. But, as the old party was broken, and I was going, I called on the reserve, and wrote to my friend, fisherman, wing-shot and gentleman, H. W. Bush, Esq., assistant auditor and treasurer of the Kansas City, Fort Smith & Southern Railroad, at Neosha, Missouri. Well, were it not for the space it would take up I would insert his reply. It began thus: ”Dear Old Boy: Whoop ‘er up — I will be thar! Tell me how and what I must get ready,” and closed up by saying something about “dead-heading,” which of course I did not fully understand, but learned all about it later on. I had heard of and was in correspondence with that celebrated hunter, guide and Indian fighter, George W. Rea, of Beaver Canyon, Idaho, had his terms per diem for a complete outfit, and knew just what it would cost: and the possession of this bit of information caused me to feel very perceptibly the necessity of getting at least two more companions to join us, lest the hunt would, like the Indian’s gun, “cost more than it came to.” My enthusiasm was so great in that direction that I offered one or two of my friends who always had galore in their eyes $50 toward defraying expenses to join me; but business or some other good reason interfered, and they were reluctantly obliged to say no to my entreaties. Wonder if I will have the same difficulty to encounter this fall, when I expect to go to Newfoundland on a caribou hunt? Just as I was about giving up efforts to decrease the expenses by increasing the number of hunters, I received a letter from a perfect stranger to me. Christian Weber, of Baltimore, Maryland, who incidentally heard that I was going to the Rockies to hunt, and requested that he be added to the party. I was not long in writing him to show up with recommendations, which he promptly did: and soon the third and last recruit was mustered in, and a capital fellow he proved to be, besides being an amateur photographer and the possessor of a fine instrument.
I assumed command of the expedition, and at once issued orders governing the amount of baggage, and each man was limited to about the following articles, all to be packed in a carry-all, in order to facilitate transportation on pack animals: One hunting suit, two undershirts, two pairs drawers, two overshirts, four pairs stockings, one-half dozen handkerchiefs, one pair hunting shoes or boots, one pair gum boots, one pair gloves, one cap, one hat, one gum blanket, two woolen blankets, two towels, one piece soap, ammunition and loading tools to suit arm used, pipes and smoking and chewing tobacco, in case they used any, and any other small articles which would neither take up much room nor add much weight. In addition to the above enumerated articles I carried, as I always do, a limited supply of medicines, hypodermic syringe, bandages and adhesive plaster, etc. When all packed, each man’s luggage, independent of the arms and each a short light trunk rod and fly-book, weighed less than 125lbs.
“Shongo” And His Hunting Horse “Warrior”
From an amateur photograph.
What follows I take from my journal of outings, religiously kept for the last fifteen years; and if every one would take as much pleasure in looking over some of the old records way back, where big catches of fish and bags of game are truthfully recorded, in localities on the borders of civilization, but now under a high state of cultivation, they could pleasantly while away many an hour, and fight some of their battles over as the old war veterans are said to do.
Left Lancaster Sept. 30, at 4:45 A. M . fast line, on time — suppose it knew I was in a hurry to get on my way to the greatest hunt (to be) of my life. Arrived at Philadelphia on time, and, after practicing on a warm but delightfully tough steak, I was ready to take the 8:15 train, via Baltimore and Ohio, for Chicago; 10:40 we crossed the bay on transports and landed in “my Maryland.” At 1 P. M. passed through Harper’s Ferry, where I had not been since 1861, when I was a gallant soldier seeking to destroy him who would insult the American flag, or something to that effect. Arriving at Washington, D. C, the first man I saw, because I was looking for him as I presume, was Chris Weber, the little Herman recruit from Baltimore. We had dinner in the rear car, talked the proposed trip over, and each, I suppose, formed an opinion of the other. 1:35 P. M., “Martinsburg,” shouts the trainman, and that reminded me of the three months’ picnic. I recognized nothing familiar about the place, but away back in memory’s halls, on a back shelf, and molded from age and inactivity, I resurrected a picture of the destruction of a distillery, and can yet see streams of whisky flowing like water as the heads of the barrels were being chopped out with axes. I also see soldiers filling their canteens from depressions in the ground. 5:20 P. M. — Passing through the Cumberland Mountains, and now we stop at Deer Park, W. Va. The President’s cottage stands on a hill due north and about 500yds. from the station. It is the first cottage on the north side of the track, and a very modest structure when compared to the summer residences of some of the crowned heads of foreign countries. The scenery from Martinsburg to 20 miles west of Deer Park is romantic and magnificently picturesque. 7:10 P. M., Grafton. — A good supper and but 15 minutes to “bolt” it in.
Oct. 1, 5:30 A. M. — Just getting daylight. Had a good night’s sleep, and just passing Findlay, Ohio. Arrive at Chicago at 10:55, and leave for Kansas City at 12 M.
Oct. 2, 6 A. M. — Retired last night at 8 o’clock, and slept the sleep of the just. Crossed the Mississippi at 10:55 last night, and since then have been in the State of Missouri. Arrive at Kansas City at 7 A. M., and find the smiling face of Bush in waiting. After a square breakfast at the Blossom House restaurant, we do up the town. 11 A. M. finds us on board train en route for Denver, Col.
Oct 3, 7:45 A. M. — Here we are in Denver, the great city on the plains, an oasis in a desert. The ride from Kansas City to this point was not very interesting. Western Kansas and all of eastern Colorado is an arid plain, and resembles the ocean in general appearance: small cactus, scrub sage and ant hills go far to make up the very uninteresting picture of desolation. The earth was so dry that dust filled the coaches and made existence very unpleasant. 9:45 A. M. finds us en route again westward bound. Sixty-nine miles west of Denver, and the only thing interesting either in the animal or vegetable kingdom this far through this barren land to a traveler is the fact that it is almost impossible to look from the car window and not see prairie dogs sitting up right and sometimes within 10ft. of the track, looking cute and wise. How they live there and keep sleek and fat, where nothing grows but sage. I leave others who know to tell. Athol, Wyo., 1:35 P. M. — Colorado is now east of us, and owing to a wreck on a branch road we are delayed two hours; likewise at Cheyenne, which is a beautiful town of 8,000 inhabitants.
Oct. 4, 6 A. M. — Just arrived at Green River, Wyoming. The scenery here is grand beyond description. Weber becomes enthused and as we are again delayed and there is sufficient time, he gets out his camera and takes a view of Castle Rock, which is a magnificent pile, 600ft. above the railroad track, and fashioned by one of nature’s best architects. 9:20 A. M. — Off we are again, and our objective point is Pocatello, Idaho. 3 P. M. — Just crossed the line dividing Wyoming and Idaho. For the last hundred miles we have been traveling along the Bear River, and if we saw one goose, brant or duck we saw thousands. This Stream meanders along through the Rockies, and is the only one within many miles: and hence the waterfowl all congregate on its limpid waters and guzzle over its pebbly bottom. 10:30 P. M., we arrive at our destination, Beaver Canon, Idaho.
Oct. 5. — All hands up early, repacking our baggage and getting ready for our trip up the Shotgun Valley to Rea’s Ranch, which is 45 miles due east, and in the direction of the southern boundary of the National Park. We hire a rig for $24, or $8 each, for selves and baggage. 10:30 A. M., all aboard, and we are on our way behind two cayuses hooked to a light though strong wagon. Road good, though very dry and dusty. Stop at 2 P. M., and about half way, to feed. Route leads through a basin, which is bounded on two sides by high wooded mountains. Meet a band of about 150 Indians on their return from their fall hunt to their reservation at Blackfoot, Idaho, which is south of Beaver Canon. Their pack animals were loaded to the gunwales with meat and hides, and they had with them a fine herd of horses of all shades of color. We had quite a parley with their chief Tindo, who could speak some pigeon English, and inquired as to whether there were any Indians at Beaver. He was a fine, fat, sleek fellow, apparently about 50. To the question as to whether they got plenty of meat, his reply was, “Indian he get plenty meat.” Just at sun down we pulled up at our long-looked-for objective point, Rea s Ranch.
Well, almost any one could form a faint idea as to the extent of our curiosity and profound satisfaction at the picture before us, presented by a glimpse at this veteran hunter’s ranch. Bear, deer, antelope, elk, badger and mountain sheep pelts were tacked up wherever you gazed, and on the roofs of the building were securely anchored several pairs of elk antlers. During the afternoon we saw hundreds of sage hens, or chickens, as they call them here, and we bagged several by way of getting our hands in.
Rea’s Ranch is located on a bluff, about 200ft. from the Shotgun, and at an elevation of about 25ft. above the water. Rea named the stream, and says it came to pass thus: A way back in the sixties he and a partner were trapping on this stream. They had pack animals, and among other things too numerous to mention the “pard” had one of those old-fashioned, muzzle-loading smooth-bore guns, as heavy as a fence rail, and Rea says almost as long, “and not worth a white and black skunk skin anyway.” They had camped “on the west bank of the stream, about a mile and a half below the site of his present ranch. The snow was deep, the horses were over burdened and almost tuckered out; Rea was packing the last horse, when “pard” handed him the old gun to be strapped fast on the now over loaded horse. Rea says, “Keep your old gun, you are more able to pack it than the cayuse. For a thimbleful of beans I would chuck it into the creek.” “Pard” took the old gun’s part and reached for his revolver, which was always at his side. Rea promptly knocked him down, and that was the end of it. “Pard” pouted, stood the gun up against a cottonwood tree nearby, and the outfit moved on. They soon settled the difficulty and all went on as smoothly as before, but the old gun kept lonely watch leaning up against the cottonwood. Several years after the occurrence Rea came through the valley again, and remembering the circumstance as well as the location, visited the spot. Sure enough, there stood the old gun against the tree, looking much the worse from the action of the elements and its long vigil. Rea, true to his first intentions, took up the weapon and cast it into the stream. Since that time the stream is known as the “Shotgun,” and is so shown on the maps.
Rea And His Ranch.
From an amateur photograph.
We return to a description of Rea’s Ranch and its surroundings. The stream is not more than 10 or 12ft. wide 200ft. above the buildings. About 100yds. above it receives the waters from a spring which rises one-half mile further south, and where this spring empties into the Shotgun it is 60ft. wide and will average 8in. in depth. Below the building Rhea has constructed a dam, the back water covering several acres. The dam is so constructed that trout can go up but few can return. The consequence is that the water above the dam is alive with the speckled beauties of all ages and sizes, and furnishes not only fine sport but a handsome revenue from the sale of fish. He seines out of that dam yearly thousands of pounds, which net him 20 cents per pound delivered on the cars at Beaver Canyon. He has 920 acres of improved land, most of which is park or meadow, well set with natural grass, well watered and beautifully located. The buildings include of the dwelling, which is built of logs, with planing mill doors and window frames with glass. The roof is formed with poles, averaging from 4 to 6in. in diameter, laid side by side, in the interstices ropes of hay are carefully packed in, and covering the whole is about 10in. of earth, which becomes solidly packed and makes a good roof, shedding water well and besides resisting the sun’s rays in summer, as well as the chilling blasts of winter. A good-sized kitchen attached completes the dwelling part of the ranch: and, although not as elegant as a brown or green stone front, with the floors covered with Brussels and the windows draped with lace curtains, Rea’s Ranch on the Shotgun, located as it is in that beautiful valley in far off Idaho, furnishes finer scenery, with more solid comfort, rest and recreation for the brain-worker than either my pen or camera can depict.
The valley is about eight miles wide, bounded on two sides by spurs of the Rockies, some of them snow-capped and well wooded, and the air as pure as the rippling water. Near the dwelling is another building, known as the “dead house,” without windows, but two doors on opposite sides. The contents of this building furnished a medley for a tourist not soon to be forgotten. Here hung against the wall, to the left as we entered, the antlers and skull of a bull elk, which had been killed but two weeks before our arrival. In yonder corner hangs the saddle of an antelope, with a very large piece clipped out for our supper. Over there in that corner lies a pile of mountain sheep horns, antelope heads and horns. On the poles above our beads hang bear, antelope, coyote, lynx, badger, mountain sheep, elk and moose hides, and on the joists above rest our guide’s toboggan and Norwegian snow shoes (some of the latter 10ft. in length). On the ground floor are traps of all kinds, some for grizzly and silvertip bear, weighing as much as 50lbs. each, to which are attached ponderous chains. A great heap of riding and quaint-looking pack saddles finish up the contents of this unique inclosure, the sight of which helps to dispel the cares of business which still hover around us, though far from home and out of its reach.
The next structure adjoining is used for a general workshop, and has a forge, work bench and all kinds of artisan’s tools. Near by the latter is the stable for the horses, and connected with it is the corral, a large inclosure in which the cayuses are confined when not grazing. Below the dwelling and about half way to the edge of the water is a cave or “dugout,” such as many families lived in on the borders of civilization, where I used to hunt years ago in Iowa and Dakota.
The front of Rea’s cave is built of logs, and has a strong door. This is used as a cellar for the safekeeping of meat, etc. Supper was called, and we were all anxious to get there, as our ride of forty-five miles from Beaver Canyon and the additional exercise of taking a chance shot at sage hens gave us appetites for much less tempting grub than juicy antelope steak, brook trout and roast elk, with good bread and potatoes, which was- the bill of fare for supper, with the addition of coffee or tea as preferred.
Sunday Morning, Oct. 5. — We have all slept soundly. The sun is just peeping over yonder snowclad mountain top, the air is thin and cold, and a white frost covers the ground. That hoary-headed peak doesn’t look to be over five or six miles from here, but Rea assures me it is twenty good long Idaho miles off. So much for our judgment of distances in rarified air. As he and I stood in front of the door admiring the beautiful sunrise as it lit up the magnificent landscape, I kept him busy answering questions, when suddenly I thought I saw some thing move on the side of a small elevation off to the right. I called his attention to the fact. “Oh, they are antelope; I presume you can see them in almost any direction and at all times in the day from the ranch. Get your field glass and take a good look at them.” The glass was forthcoming, the same I carried through nearly four years of the late war, and sure enough there was a herd of ten antelope quietly grazing. I say, “George, how far are they off?” Again I was surprised, and took lesson No. 2 in computing distances in rarified air, as he replied, “At least two miles.” “Where are Bush and Weber? We will call them. They, too, must see the first four-legged game.” They soon appeared, half dressed, slip-shod and rubbing their eyes. The gentleman of German extraction became suddenly very much excited, and insisted on starting in pursuit at once, before breakfast, and although it was Sunday morning. “How far are they off?” queried one of us. One said three-quarters, the other thought they might be out about half a mile. When informed by George that they were at least two miles off, and that it would take most of the forenoon to get around them and under cover within shooting distance, our German companion became somewhat less enthusiastic, and gave up the idea of going for antelope on that particular Sunday morning before breakfast. A splendid breakfast over, and, after filling our pipes, we were busy doing up the ranch and its surroundings, lest some object of interest might have escaped our attention during the evening.
We soon learned that two new and important recruits had arrived during the night, and, as they were to form a very important factor in the outfit, I will devote a few lines to a description of who they were and what function they were to perform. One was “Bill,” known as the “Panama Kid,” who was a practical “cowboy” and an experienced “packer” — the latter avocation is a trade, calling or profession distinct from any other in the Rockies, and whose services are indispensable on a hunt such as we were about to engage in. His wages are fixed both by custom and usage, and if he understands his business his services always command his price. The packer furnishes his own outfit — horse, saddle, bridle, blankets, lariat, etc., and gets $3 a day and his grub. His duties are to pack the animals, which is quite a feat, and can only be acquired by long experience and constant practice, and in addition he cooks for the outfit.
The other recruit was Frank, a very estimable young man who had been a sheep herder for years, and who received $2 a day, his grub and a horse to ride. His duties were to assist the packer, picket the animals and do chores generally. Eight pack animals were required to transport our duffel, and it required the combined efforts of Rea, “Kid” and Frank all day Sunday to get every thing arranged for the start on Monday morning. Bush, Weber and myself concluded to try our horses, which had been assigned us by the guide, and they were saddled up. Warrior, Rea’s favorite hunting horse, was assigned to the writer. He was a noble fellow, almost white, and as gentle as he was good, and more will be said of him hereafter. Bush drew Wardrobe, a fine, wiry, jet black horse, smaller than Warrior, but a trump also. Weber got Buckskin, a somewhat tricky, fractious cayuse, and smaller still than Wardrobe, as” Weber was the light-weight of the party, only tipping the beam at 125.
— — — —
A Hunt In The Rockies In Three Parts — Part II
August 18, 1892
The day was all that could be desired, warm, clear and pleasant. We followed the Shotgun down to where it empties into a branch of the Snake River, three and a half miles below the ranch, and then went down the Snake about two miles, crossed over, and came up the right bank on top of the bluff to the forks, thence home. Ducks, geese and swan fluttered up at every bend in the stream, but as we were only on a pleasure trip we only carried our side arms. We got back to the ranch about 4 P. M. , delighted with our trip and the performance of our horses, and so sore from our first ride that we were much more comfortable standing than sitting. Weber, our German recruit, said he was not sore, but the saddle was. Our guide and the boys, “Kid” and Frank, had in the meanwhile arranged the pack saddles all in a row and placed to each one what belonged to it, which includes the saddle padding, tie ropes, double front and rear girths for saddle and girth for pack, also lariat or picket rope for horse. In another row opposite the saddles and their regalia were arranged the various articles of household and kitchen furniture to be pack«d on each saddle. These sundries consisted, in addition to our three carry-alls, of two wall tents, two large leather paniers, in which the bedding was to be packed in order to keep it dry in case of rain, one Dutch oven, one large iron pot for boiling and making “boss” game stews, two frying pans with handles, one shovel, one mattock, one double-bitted axe, one pole axe, one bag with potatoes and onions, two bags flour, one bag with mess pork, one with salt, one with roasted coffee and tea, one coffee mill, one sack containing horse shoes, nails of all kinds, tools, etc., including copper and annealed wire of different sizes, also several Newhouse traps for small fur-bearing game, a box containing canned grapes, peaches, cherries, jellies, condensed milk, etc.; a mess box also containing coffee-pot, knives, forks, spoons, tin plates and cups, Royal baking powder and pepper; in addition, many other small necessities too many to enumerate. As the whole outfit was furnished by our experienced guide, nothing was wanting to make our comforts as complete as possible.
Ready For The Start.
Prom an amateur photograph.
After moving around, observing the preparations which had been made for the start in the morning, we were informed that there would be a circus in the neighborhood of the corral before long, and if we were interested we would be dead headed, and would be allowed choice seats. The “Kid” and Frank were about to lasso, throw and shoe a rebellious cayuse whose feet were tender, and fears were entertained that he might give out on the hunt without shoes. We gladly accepted the kind invitation, and were much amused and highly entertained at witnessing the performance, which was entirely new to us. Kid was not long in casting a noose over the animal’s head, and although he objected to the fullest extent of his ability, it was not long until Frank had a slip knot around one of his ankles, and in shorter time than it takes to write it he was down and ready for the operation of shoeing. Then came supper, and after that a friendly smoke and a general trading of some very large hunting and fishing stories, the truth of which I could not vouch for, except those I spun myself. We also repacked our carry alls, and very solemnly discussed the forest fires which were raging all over the country on both sides of the valley. We all turned in at an early hour in order to be up in good time, that we might get as early a start as possible.
Monday morning, Oct. 7. — There were no laggards this morning — all on deck at break of day. A royal breakfast and coffee that, as “Nessmuk” said once to me as he extended an invitation to join him at Tarpon Springs, Florida, “takes you by the throat.” All hands to the helm, and in two hours we were ready to photograph the start. Our outfit consisted of eight pack animals, six for riding and four extras in case of accident, eighteen in all. We made a short ride across the valley to the timber line, and encamped about 4 P. M. in the lava beds, which our guide informed us extend from the geysers in the Yellowstone Park, following the general range of mountains, at the foothills of which we were, some 400 miles. The weather has been lovely since our arrival in Idaho, although our guide informs us that no rain has fallen during the whole summer. The drought and the presence of forest fires on all sides of us lead us to fear that the smoke and fire have already driven or will drive the game from their usual haunts, and make them restless and nervous even if they can be located.
As we camped in a cabin or shack and the time required to put up tents was spared us, supper was soon prepared and disposed of, and all hands, except the packers (who do no hunting) took a whirl up the mountain side afoot, anxious to find out whether the game signs were fresh or not.
Prom an amateur photograph.
In this particular locality there are but two kinds of timber growth, pine and quaking aspen. Some of the latter are as much as 20in. in diameter, while the pine seldom grows to be more than 1ft. The altitude at this point is about 6,400ft. above sea level. The water from a small spring seeps out from under an immense lava bed, some 150yds. below the shack, and furnishes water for our party, though the shovel had to be used vigorously in order to get a sufficient supply for our thirsty animals. Along the course of the moist ground several old game water holes are plainly marked with the hoof and claw prints of the elk, deer, antelope, bear and wolverine, some dried up and hard, others where there was still some moisture quite fresh and looking as if they had been made but a day or two before our arrival.
None but those who have experienced the excitement of the chase can form any idea of the sensations experienced by seeing fresh signs of new game, and in a brand new country. But the fire cast a gloom over the venerable weather-beaten face of our guide, and had a tendency to dampen our ardor more than once, especially when we could satisfy ourselves that the fresh tracks were made when fleeing from the fiery element.
Tuesday morning, Oct.8. — We all returned to camp last evening about dusk and had quite a tramp. Plenty of recent signs of elk, but not a hair in sight; grouse and sage hens until you could not rest; but now we were after bigger game, and having had satisfaction shooting small game, we paid no attention to them. Everybody well and in as good spirits as could be expected under the circumstances: and by the way, when I speak of spirits I don’t mean spirits of wine, inasmuch as we took only one quart of whisky with us, which was sealed, and said seal was not to be broken except in case of sickness or some other important occasion of equal emergency. We concluded to insert the latter clause for fear none of the party would get sick, and we might want to celebrate at the close of the hunt.
Wednesday, Oct. 9. — Mounted yesterday morning at an early hour and crossed a spur of the range through a low divide, riding about five hours. Had several light showers of rain. Game signs no fresher than day before. During last night it began snowing, and at sun-up this morning it was still falling. This gladdened our hearts, for two reasons, and very good ones; snow is the best thing out in which to track game, and puts out fire better than rain.
Camp Rea, on Rea’s branch of Snake River Valley, Idaho, Oct. 10. — We broke camp and headed for this point, which is at the foot of the range just crossed, and made camp by 2 P. M. Snow about 6in. deep. Leaving the packers to put up the tents, we divided up — Rea and Bush going south and Weber and I going north. Rea and Bush came up to a bull moose, and after following him for about six miles were obliged to return without getting an opportunity to administer a hypodermic of lead. No other signs of game seen, as most of the ground had out recently been burned over. The writer got into camp just before sundown, and out of the little stream just in front of our tents yanked a fine mess of trout for all hands in less than half an hour, with a brown-hackle. Supper over, we filled pipes and held a pow-wow, determining to push on in the morning in search of some country where the fire had not disturbed the habitudes of the “monarchs of the glen.”
Camp Kepler, on Split Creek, Rea’s Park, Oct. 11. — We pitched our camp in this magnificent grove of tall pines near the above-named little stream, which is not more than 4ft. wide, and from 12 to 15in. deep, and strange to say, the stream quietly disappears in a fissure in the earth not more than a mile from camp. The distance traveled yesterday was about eighteen miles. Rea’s Park is a large area of meadow land, surrounded by high mountain peaks, mostly treeless with well-wooded foothills and flats, and contains many thousands of acres, well set with buffalo grass, and through it wind the glittering waters of the tortuous Snake River. Deep, dark canons open out upon the entire plain, and through nearly all of them ripple beautiful streams of clear, pure, cold mountain water, which have their origin either from the snow-capped peaks or springs. These sparkling rivulets meander through the meadow lands, their banks fringed with water willows and their depths inhabited by speckled beauties, finally emptying into the Snake, that prince of rivers and the angler’s paradise.
The march through this splendid country was simply delightful. The weather was all that could be desired. The sun shone brightly, and the air was just cold enough to be bracing and exhilarating. The little streams were full of mallard, black and teal duck, and by the time we arrived in camp we had fowl enough for days. The honk of the wild goose and the peculiar piping sound of the beautiful swan could be heard in all directions and at all times during the day. The arms of civilization had not yet extended to this region, though the said arms are getting very long in America; but frequently we came upon tepee poles and Indian sweat boxes, showing where some poor red devil had been first warmed up to the boiling point with red-hot stones, and then treated to a cold plunge bath in the chilling waters of the beautiful streams always close up. Poor fellows! They had no business to be sick, and they would not then have been subjected to so heroic treatment, and in the majority of instances violent death. But it is the same old story — all manner of man kind must be doctored in strict accordance with some chosen plan.
Here and there also we noticed where hunters, trappers, or prospectors had camped at some time, from the fact that the marks of the axe or the picket pins to which the horses were tied could be seen. It is sad to notice throughout this whole territory the marks of that almost extinct species of American game, the buffalo. His bleaching bones, horns and old wallow holes were ever present, reminding us of the useless and wanton destruction of that noble game animal — gone never to return to his accustomed haunts.
As before stated, the game signs all indicated that they had traveled southeast, being driven in that direction by the forest fires. The snow, which but three days ago was several inches deep in the valley, has all disappeared, except on the mountain tops, which are still covered and reflect the rays of the sun, producing in the rarified atmosphere a magnificently weird picture never to be forgotten. The air during the afternoon has been so warm and balmy that the buffalo flies seem to have arisen from among the smouldering remains of their majestic namesakes, and to be trying to form a dress parade. They manifest an unusual amount of industry when on the bite, and insist upon creeping into our ears and nostrils, or investigating our eyes.
Oct. 12. — This was a cold, frosty morning. The sun came up clear and the day is warm. To-day is Sunday; we rest, write and darn our clothes. Rea says he is not tired and will go in search of fresh meat. Even this has been a grand, eventful day for us in this far-from-home wilderness. Rea returned to camp empty-handed about the middle of the afternoon. We cleaned our guns, slept, traded hunting and fishing stories, and the packers repaired the saddle pads and other paraphernalia pertaining to the outfit, and baked a supply of bread in the Dutch oven. My last act just before the sun went down was to sit astride a log which lay across Split Creek, and wash my handkerchiefs. Although only four feet wide and from twelve to fifteen inches deep, while thus engaged I counted eighteen trout flitting by, and not one of them was less than ten inches in length. We have trout baked, broiled, boiled and fried, and strange to say, we never tire of them. This evening we enjoy the camp fire, as the nights are cold and frosty. Rea’s reconnoitre during the day satisfies him to a certainty that the game has gone south, and the order was given the packers to be up before day light in readiness for an early start.
As we have had five days’ experience on the march, I must be pardoned for devoting a few words in relation to our faithful animals, the Rocky Mountain “cayuses.” No beasts of burden could be better adapted to the wants of the plainsman, prospector, hunter or ranchman. They can live wherever a goat can manage to subsist, by pawing away eighteen inches of snow, if necessary, in order to crop the buffalo grass which abounds in most of the region through which we traveled. “Warrior,” the horse which I ride, is strong, gentle, sure-footed and understands his business. I have ridden him both up and down mountain sides as steep as the roof of a house, and I never knew him to stumble or make a mis-step. He will pick his way through a windfall, stepping from one log to another, and intelligently trying each one to ascertain how strong it is before putting his whole weight upon it — leaping over the high ones, and breaking as few sticks as many men who think themselves still-hunters.
I ride up to a flock of ducks or geese, and as they rise shoot from the saddle, and I am positively sure that while I take aim or have the arm in position to fire, he holds his breath. It is not necessary, most of the time, to use the reins to guide our animals; all that is necessary is to sway the body slightly to the right or left as the case may be, and they obey. When left to themselves on the march, they follow in single file, and the one in front usually picks out the best footing in the most difficult and uneven ground. What has been said of “Warrior” can well be applied to “Wardrobe” and “Buckskin,” ridden by Bush and Weber respectively.
During our stay in this camp we scoured the country in all directions, and on many occasions found gameyards and water-holes at the foot of canons tramped up like sheeppens, and all signs not later than ten days or two weeks; the trails all going south in the direction of the Teton range and Jackson’s Hole country.
Camp Misery, Oct. 14. — This camp was named from the fact that it is located on a divide between a meadow and lava bed. We arrived here about 3 P. M., after having marched about ten miles over very rough, poorly watered country, and but little feed for our stock ; in fact, our present camp site afforded the first opportunity to graze our horses during all the day’s march. About half a mile east of camp, on a small branch of Warm River, we found a beaver dam inhabited by one family of that interesting rodent. We set three traps along the breast of the dam, but as it was dark before we were done they were smart enough not to repair so recent a break in the dam, and the consequence was that when we came to look them up this morning they were as we left them. Had we remained another night, we would have caught one or two of the cunning dam-builders without doubt. The signs of moose were very abundant, as evidenced by the fact that the tops of all the willows which line the banks of the stream were clipped off, and the tracks of the ungainly game could be seen every where in the soft soil.
Warm River, Wednesday Morning, Oct. IS. — Yesterday we made about twelve miles through a country composed of lava beds, scrub pine wind-falls, and here and there small patches of prairie. All the streams were dried up, and our animals suffered for water. We arrived here about 3:30 P. M. and were obliged to go into camp on account of not being able to make the next water before dark. We are near the head of the stream, and on the right bank. The water is so warm that there are few, if any, fish in it at this point, and it was never known to freeze over. It is about fifty feet in width, and the water in some localities is quite deep. During most of the day’s march yesterday, especially when we were on high ground, we could see the Teton Mountains in Wyoming, looming up to the south of us, and about fifty miles distant. The “Old Man” of the range, over 13,000 feet above sea level, especially appeared like a cloud ; and when the sun shone upon its snow-covered top, it resembled the fabled cloud said to have a “silver lining,” but on the outside.
After a hearty lunch we were off in different directions in search of fresh meat, and by sun-down when all had reported we had seven grouse, five hares, twelve ducks and seven squirrels. Yesterday evening after the tents were pitched, beds made and the stock attended to, the packers made a bean-hole, and the consequence was we had some very fine beans for breakfast this morning.
By the way, it might be interesting to some were I to describe the method of producing Boston baked beans in the wilderness. The trick is simple enough if you know how, and are in possession of the following ingredients, viz.: The beans, salt pork, salt, two or three tablespoonfuls of molasses, a metal stewing pot, with a good closely-fitting cover, and a spade or other instrument with which a hole two feet deep by eighteen inches in diameter can be made in the earth. Put the beans in the pot, interspersed with layers of thin slices of pork, add water sufficient to cover them and no more; then dig the hole, in which kindle a fire first with dry wood and keep it well filled with green hard wood if it is to be had. The fire should be kept up from early evening until bed time, if two or three hours all the better, which affords a good chance for any of the party whose turn it is to tell a whopper. When it is time to retire the coals are shoveled out of the hole, the molasses and pepper are added to the contents of the pot; and it is set in the bottom of the pit. The live coals are filled in around it and over the lid, and the whole covered to the depth of five or six inches with the earth which was taken out in making the excavation ; the burning faggots and those of the regular camp fire are placed over the grave, and there you leave it until morning. When breakfast is nearly ready, the pot is unearthed, and you will be sure to have No. 1 baked beans — tender, rich and finely flavored, and an agreeable change while on the march.
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A Hunt In The Rockies In Three Parts — Part III
August 25, 1892
Oct. 19, Camp on Robinson’s Fork. — After leaving our lovely camp on Warm River, en route for this point, we were obliged to work our way through gorges, scale mountains and cut trails through thickets. This stream is about half the size of Warm River, and its bed is composed of boulders, some of which are quite large and furnish ideal pockets for myriads of trout. The water is several degrees cooler than Warm River, but strange to say, not more than 60ft. from our camp boils up a spring, the water of which is as cold as ice water. We are about fifty miles from the nearest habitation.
On Thursday, the 17th, and the day after arriving here, Rea and the writer left with two days’ rations to look up game signs, returning yesterday morning, the 18th. We traveled over a large extent of country, ascending one of the highest ranges composing the continental divide, and in our ascent we went up places so steep that small rocks, starting to roll, would gain such velocity that they would jump from 20 to 60ft. at a bound before reaching the bottom of the canyon. Our trusted cayuses never missed a step. Warrior would nip bunch grass when descending places so steep that he seemed to be standing on his head. Our camp is within about fifteen miles of the Park line, and while on our scout yesterday and day before we were not more than eight miles from the Park line. Up to yesterday afternoon the weather was of the same character, heavy frosts at night and quite warm during the day. In the afternoon about 8 o’clock it began snowing, which was followed in half an hour by rain.
During our absence of two days Bush and Weber have been amusing themselves fishing and shooting small game in the neighborhood of the camp, and they have been quite successful, as is evidenced by a supply of fresh meat and several pelts on stretchers and tacked against trees near by. Yesterday evening on our return toward camp we struck a fresh elk trail, and this morning Rea, Bush and Weber started in pursuit, I concluding to remain in camp to write up my journal, repair some tears in my wardrobe, and arrange for an early march.
Fall River, Wyoming, Thursday Morning, Oct. 22. — Saturday afternoon about 4 o’clock Rea and Weber returned to camp and reported having found a freshwashed water hole by elk and moose, and we at once started for the vicinity, with blankets and provisions for two days. The game did not materialize, though we remained in ambush until long after dark. Weber and I were at the blind before daybreak and on the lookout. Rea scoured the hills and saw an elk, but he was too far off to get a shot. He killed a pine martin and shot a lynx, but too far back, and he was lost. We returned to camp about noon, empty-handed, solely on account of having no snow by which we could track the game.
During the night a bull elk came within 75yds. of our bivouac, and kept us awake by disturbing the stillness of the night with his peculiar whistle, well known to hunters where the wapiti abounds. The only water we could get had to be taken from the water hole which we had come to watch, and it was so saturated with the excrement of the animals visiting it that when our coffee was ready our friend of German descent could not drink it, neither could Rea and I without tasting more of the animal than the coffee flavor.
We spent all of Sunday afternoon getting ready to move early on Monday morning. I set two traps along the fork, and in the morning I had a fine specimen of the pine martin, which I carefully skinned for setting up, and it now adorns a secluded spot in my sanctum. Monday morning we were astir early, and made this camp about 4 P. M. We are camped in a beautiful canyon through which Fall River flows. Yesterday evening we caught in a short time all the trout we wished, and some of them weighed as much as 2lbs. They are of the salmon variety. Yesterday it rained all day and was somewhat unpleasant, until about 8 P. M. it cleared up, and to-day the sun is shining bright and warm. Six of the fifteen miles we traveled yesterday was through a burned district, and no signs of game were to be seen except what was made before the fire. We are heading for Jackson’s Hole on Like Wyoming, and as we will get an early start and have but about twenty miles, we hope to make it to-day. Bush, the mighty angler, is out whipping the stream, and by the time the packers are ready to start I expect him in with as many trout as he can take care of.
Tuesday Evening, Oct. 22. — As I expected, Bush came in with a fine string, and they tasted good for supper. We had some rain to-day, but it cleared off during the afternoon. To-day we passed over what is known as the Continental Divide, which puts us east of the grand old Tetons, which still loom up into the clouds, looking as grand and majestic as they did thousands of years ago, no doubt. On our march to-day we passed through what is known as the Teton Range, and at one point one of the spurs seems to have been cut abruptly off, leaving a beautiful meadow of say a hundred acres where the base of the mountain would have been. Imagine a spur of mountains ending in a perpendicular wall a thousand feet high, with here and there a stunted jack pine clinging to the rocks, its rootlets sucking an existence out of the interstices. Along the base meanders a small stream alive with trout, and soaring above its rocky summit were a dozen eagles, keeping watch over their favorite hatching places.
We are camped on the right bank of the Snake River, Wyoming, about six miles west of Jackson’s Hole, celebrated for the size of the trout caught in it and the seemingly inexhaustible supply.
Wednesday Morning, Oct. 23. — We had intended to take up our line of march for the lake this morning, but after a consultation Rea and myself concluded to take a hunt, the other boys, Rush and Weber, electing to remain in camp and fish at leisure.
Friday Morning, Oct. 25. — Here I am in camp alone — no. not altogether alone, for within 10ft. of where I sit are two members of that peculiar bird family well known to hunters and prospectors as camp robbers, picking up bits of meat, and just at this moment they are quarreling about a choice morsel. Although these birds are called robbers, no true hunter will harm them. More than once have I sat on a log or stone eating my lunch in the wilderness, not conscious of any living thing near me, when — as if by magic — one or a pair would appear, and frequently within a few feet of me.
As I was the sole occupant of our camp last night and of necessity my own cook and chief “bottle washer.” I have just finished a royal breakfast — good coffee, hot biscuit, and elk steak of my own killing. The history of this hunt in the Rockies, marred by the presence of almost universal forest fires, and the absence of snow, which was due over a month ago, only proves again that perseverance is always crowned with a certain degree of success, even under the most unfavorable circumstances.
Now to Wednesday’s hunt, which will explain why I am alone in camp. But before I proceed further it might be well to call attention to the locality in which we were encamped, Uintah county, Wyoming.
Jackson’s Hole, in Like county, is a continuation of that region beginning with the Washburn Range in the Yellowstone National Park, and continuing south and southeast, embracing the Teton Range, Wyoming Mountains and Wind River Range, for a distance of about 180 miles to the Sweet Water Mountains in southwestern Wyoming. I am fully convinced that there are more mountains, mountain gorges, deep canyons, high snowclad peaks, beautiful lakes and less park land here than any other section in which we have traveled. Directly east and across the Snake from our camp ran a range north and south, cut through with a deep canyon. We determined to make the summit, which could be seen covered with snow from the little valley below — the snow line being about midway between the summit and the foothills at the base, through which the Snake rippled over the pebbly bottom toward the lake.
An early start and a fearful ride through thickets, over high rocks and around canyons in an unbroken wilderness, brought us to the highest point of the range by 11 A. M. Here we dismounted, dropped our reins, and gently moved in the direction of the bluff or point where we were in a position to get a view of the country below us. We did not advance more than 50ft. until we were enabled to see over the whole top of the range — a country on top of the mountains. Below us was a scoop-out or basin, as near as we could calculate about two and a half by three miles in diameter, with a ridge or hog-back running through it from northeast to southwest. This basin was composed of small hills, open parks and clumps of stunted pines, with here and there a boulder, the general elevation being between 8,000 and 9,000ft. From our location we could see into nearly every nook of the territory composing the peculiar cup-shaped cavity.
For several minutes we scanned every part of the picture with our natural eyes, and just as I was about removing my field glass from its holster I thought I caught sight of four small objects which seemed to move, though they seemed not larger to the eye than a half-grown sheep, but dark in color. I said, “George, I’ve found them; look just this side of the divide, emerging from that clump of pines — what are they?” and handed him the glass. His practiced eye was not long in solving my enigma. “Elk! Game at last! See, they are still coming out of the clump of pines — 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18! Now for business!” One fine old bull with magnificent antlers, thirteen cows and four spring calves: they are our meat: we are entitled to it, and we need it. Keep cool and your powder dry, we will out-general them sure, if we can get down off this mountain and into the basin on the other side of the little divide. There we will leave our horses and slip on to them, and the battle will begin. They will get rattled and we may be able to drive them into the rocks beneath our feet, and bag the whole band. No time is to be lost! The top of the range was bald, that is to say without trees along the edge of the precipice, and for a distance varying from 50 to 200yds. to the timber line, tolerably well covered with bunch grass, and that with about 6in. of snow.
We were soon mounted, and after a brisk ride of about two miles, all the while on the lookout for a place to descend, we came upon the tracks of two elk. After following their trail for some 300yds., we were not surprised to find them good guides, as we suspected they had business in the basin, and they knew well where they could descend. Though very steep, we knew where elk could get down a cayuse could also.
Dismounting, we landed safely in the basin, and on the east side of the divide, after which we soon found a clump of trees in which to leave our horses. They were soon secured with the picket ropes. “Now,”‘ says George, “we will take off our coats, but all the ammunition we have must go along, for if we came up to that band of elk there will be a regular old-fashioned serenade, and that is what we want — follow me.”
Stealthily, though as rapidly as was prudent, we descended the west side of the divide, slipping from one clump of trees to another and pick over one little gulch to the top of another, until we came to their trail, which indicated that though being pursued they knew it.
Soon they turned to our left, toward the rocky range from the top of which we discovered them. “That is what we want,” whispered George, “we will bear off to the west and head them off.” To our right was a gulch running in the right direction. Hurrying down it 100yds. we crept up to where we could get a view of the situation. The guide was some 30ft in advance of me, and creeping on his stomach: suddenly he dropped his head and came running back. “I got sight of them just above us, and about 200yds. distant, and from the way they act I am convinced that they have winded us, but they are unable to locate us, as the currents of air in these basins have no regular course, one moment the elk would get a whiff of air from us, the next would be as like as not vice versa. Now we will follow this depression and get nearer, as we must make sure work.”
In a few minutes more we had by crawling on hands and knees gained our place of attack, and peering over the rise, our whole band was in full view at about 100yds., bunched or huddled together as closely as they could get. What a picture for a hunter! Eighteen of the noblest game in the Rockies, each one trying to see, hear or smell danger, which they felt was present, but no one of them being able to solve the mysterious disturbance of the atmosphere, and to complete the picture and make it still more interesting, on the opposite side of the herd from us towered the antlers of the only bull, who stood in a cowardly position, protected by the presence of the band of cows between him and our unerring rifles. “Have you got your wind yet,” asked the guide as I lay fiat in the snow on his right: “when you have, make sure work of that big cow in front. I’ll take care of the big one in front of me: perhaps my .45-90 will go through her and kill or wound another. When you are ready say fire, and off she goes.”
“Fire,” and the two cows fall. Still the herd stand, and quickly two more shots go into the band, both hits, and now they scamper up the mountain, which I omitted to mention was thinly wooded up to within about 200yds. of the rocky ledge, the point from which we first sighted them.
“Now come on, we will drive them to the rocks,” and off goes the giant, sixty years of age and six feet tall, bounding up the steep mountain like an antelope in pursuit. Were it to save my life I could not have followed him at his pace. In time I, too. got there, and I shall never forget the spectacle that met my gaze. Under two immense boulders as large as a 12ft. wall tent, at the very top of the mountain and some 200yds. from the timber line where we were, stood half of what was left of the band, including the bull. Some 50yds. lower down were the remaining half. We opened fire again, and it was not long before all save the four spring calves had shared a common fate.
Just as we had finished, a trapper named Joe Kemp, attracted by the firing, came to us and rendered valuable assistance in removing the entrails from the fourteen elk. It was 2 P. M. when we began, and at 5 P. M. we had succeeded in getting the bodies out from among the rocks and slid down to the foot of the range. By 5:30 we were ready to start down the mountain, a task which we feared would be not only dangerous but impracticable in the dark. Each of us strapped a hindquarter of elk behind his saddle for our hungry companions. Our new helper went with us, and after many detours over a terrible country, we at 10:30 reached the snow line, when the darkness of the night and the roughness of the route prevented further progress. We could do no better than build a fire and bivouac for the rest of the night, and without water for ourselves or horses.
In the morning, as soon as it was light enough for us to see our way, we started for camp, being obliged to follow the bottom of a gorge and in many places cut logs in order to make it possible to get through. Arriving at 9:80 A. M., we soon gladdened the hearts of our companions with the tale of our hunt, and at once set about organizing the pack train and getting it off to the scene of the killing.
Fortunately, within a mile of our camp the only other inhabitants of the section for many miles were in the trapper’s camp, Joe and his companion. A day or two before our arrival two men with a wagon had brought in their supplies for the winter, and were waiting to get meat and hides for a back load to Ricksburg, Wyo., as near as I can tell, about 105 miles from where we are located.
Hides And Horns.
Drawn from an amateur photograph.
At 1 P. M. I had the satisfaction of seeing the whole outfit off for the top of the mountain, consisting of 9 men and 17 horses — 5 of the horses ridden by our party, and 12 to be used for packing the hides, horns and meat. Someone had to remain in camp, and the writer preferred to fill that position, and that accounts for my being alone.
Sunday Morning, Oct. 27.—The skinning out and packing in the meat, heads, horns and hides of fourteen elk proved to be more of a task than was first supposed, and our people did not get back to camp until Saturday at 2 P. M. The hides we kept and as much of the meat as we could make use of on our march home, and the rest we gave to our trapper friends, who were glad for so valuable a back-load. During my lonely vigil in camp I had full satisfaction with the rod and line, fishing in the Snake, and was not obliged to go more than a few hundred yards from the magnificent pool just in front of our quarters. The largest specimen weighed 3 1/2 lbs., caught with a small spoon bait. He made a good fight, and became the subject of a photograph, also of the process of skinning. While up the mountain the outfit came in sight of another herd of twenty-six elk, most of which could have been killed, but we had all that could be taken care of, and there was no object in pursuit except wanton destruction, and that ingredient did not enter into our composition.
The antlers of the bull elk proved to be of unusual size and perfect in every particular. It took me two hours yesterday to prepare the head for transportation on the animals, as it had to be sawed through its center and the flesh carefully trimmed off, our German artist making a good picture of the operation during its progress.
Yesterday evening we built a fire on the point of a small peninsula in the river, and tried the experiment of fishing by firelight. In three-quarters of an hour we caught 26 very fine trout by casting the line down stream as far as we could and then reeling up, when scarcely a single cast failed to get a strike, and mostly a fine trout.
To-morrow morning (Monday) the trappers’ team will start for their destination, and if the snows do not come they will get through inside of a week. This will afford us the first opportunity of sending out mail since leaving the ranch, and by arrangement we are to deposit the letters in a Royal Baking Powder can at the end of a log two rods north of the trappers’ camp, they being up the mountain bringing down the balance of the meat which they were unable to transport yesterday.
Rea’s Ranch on the Shotgun, Idaho, Nov. 2. — We arrived here yesterday at 4:80 P. M., after a continuous march of six days. We did no hunting or fishing, except the catching of a few fish as we needed them, and picking up a few ducks and an occasional wild goose while on the march.
The only incident worthy of note occurred one morning as we were nearly ready to take up our line of march. Three swans came flying along; Bush, who happened to have his gun in his hand, made the remark that he would have swan steak broiled for his supper, and as he made the remark he stepped a few feet from the fire, took aim and fired — and to the utter astonishment of all present the last swan in the row toppled and fell dead to the ground just 210 steps from where he stood. Swan invariably fly in single file and he averred that he aimed about 4ft. in front and 3ft. above the first swan. Upon examination it was found that the ball had passed through the neck 2in. behind the head. This was one of the most remarkable chance shots on record, at least in my experience, as the ball did its work not less than 16ft. further back than where it was aimed.
All hands were now busy attending to the hides, photographing the horses and their riders and arranging for the departure of Bush and Weber, who started for home next day. I remained a few days until the hides were in a condition to ship, when Rea and I took up our line of march to Beaver Canyon, where they were crated and shipped by freight East. As I write the sightless glass eyes of the bull, two cow elk and a black-tail buck appear to be looking down upon me from the walls of my office, and continually remind me of my most remarkable outing in the Rockies.
— Shongo. Lancaster, Pa.
source: George Rea 1892 Forest and Stream.pdf
[courtesy Neal Wickham]
by Neal Wickham
“By 1892, George Rea had acquired enough fame that Forest and Stream, the nation’s premier outdoor magazine, sent reporters to Glen Rea to write an article about Rea and his ranch.
Rea’s real fame would come 8 years later when Rea defended Teddy Roosevelt’s honor as a sportsman in the national press after opponents in the 1900 election accused Teddy of shooting a trapped bear.
This is a great read as it’s very descriptive of Idaho in the 1890’s including a good description of a large group of Bannock also on a hunting trip.”
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The frontiersman and Army scout, George Rea, who passed through the Island Park area in 1877, guiding Howard and his troops in pursuit of Chief Joseph and his people, and returned to settle on Shotgun Creek, has a pass, a peak and a post office named for him.
Rea’s post office was one of the stage line stations of the Bassett lines from Spencer to West Yellowstone, Mont., with the Arangee Co. Hotel as a stage stop.
Excerpted from: Fremont County History
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George Rea was the third settler of Island Park. He built his home in the Shotgun Valley just a few miles south of Henry’s Lake. George Rea not only operated the first cattle ranch and trout farm in Island Park, but he was a successful hunting guide. His most famous customer was President Theodore Roosevelt, whom he guided on several occasions through Island Park and the Yellowstone country. The George Rea had one of the very first private fish farms/hatcheries in the State of Idaho on his homestead in the Shotgun Valley.
excerpted from: History of Island Park, Idaho
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Harriman State Park Of Idaho And The Railroad Ranch: A History
In 1872 [Yellowstone] the country’s first National Park. The early descriptions of Colter and Bridger had been confirmed, and the whole country became enamored by the wonders of the Park. Experienced outdoorsmen like Leigh, Bridger and George Rea made comfortable livings serving as Yellowstone guides.
George Rea was the first homesteader in Island Park. In 1877 Rea joined General O.O. Howard in his pursuit of the Nez Perce Indians, and greatly admired the Shotgun Valley which Howard’s troops passed through. In 1878, following the end of hostilities, Rea returned and filed a homestead claim there, establishing a ranch named “Glen Rea.”