Category Archives: Weekly History

Idaho History Oct 15

McRae Family

1897 Dan McRae Pioneer History

My first trip to Thunder Mtn. was in 1897 – a party of us: Curly Brewer, Hank Babendorf, Jim Stanton, Clark Rolland, Dan Leach and myself. Also a mining man and his son (I think their name was White, but not sure.) There was no bridge at the South Fork of the Salmon and below the mouth of Elk Creek at that time, and water was too high and swift to ford so we went on up the river a few miles where there was a row boat. There we took our packs across with the boat and swam the horses. The regular trail up Elk Creek and through Big Creek was on the opposite side of Elk Creek from us and that creek being too swift and rocky to ford, we went on up the river to Slim Willy’s ranch and over the Sheep Creek Trail to Yellow Pine basin. We picked up Theodore Van Meter on East Fork below YP basin and he went with us.

At that time there was no one in the basin. From there we went up Quartz Creek and crossed onto Big Creek by the way of the Cleveland mine. Thence we went down Big Creek to the mouth of Lick Creek. There we got onto the old Government Trail and on which we went up Lick Creek and down West Fork of Monumental Creek to the forks. Then we went up Main Monumental to the mouth of and up Mule Creek.

At that time there was only a few men at the camp and included the Caswells, Bert Zebrie, Ritchie and our party. Curley Brewer, Hank Babendorf and Jim Stanton were going down on Cornish Creek to placer, having a whip saw to cut lumber for boxes. I can still show the whipsaw pit where they worked that season.
Note: This was typed by Dan McRae a few months before he passed away in June of 1954.
(Shared by Sandy McRae email 4/2010)
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Daniel C. McRae and Grace Carrie Turner McRae

Dan McRae married Grace Carrie Turner in 1906 at Meadows. They had two children, Robert “Bob” (born in 1908) and Marjorie (born in 1912).

source: The Wolf Fang – Deep in the Mountains, a Family Mine By Robin McRae
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Dan McRae had mining claims on Big Creek and Thunder Mountain. He and his wife Grace’s children were Robert James born 1908, married Carolyn Ruth Cook 1934 and Marjorie G. born 1912 who married E. James Collard 1935.

excerpted from “Free Land! Hopes and Hardships of Pioneers of Valley County, Idaho”, Valley County History Project, Valley County Genealogy – Compiled and edited by Eileen Duarte, pg 281
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Morris Hill Cemetery

Daniel C. McRae, b. 1874, d. 1954

Grace Carrie McRae, b. 1885, d. 1974

Robert J. McRae, b. 1908, d. 1969

From Valley Couty, ID GenWeb
[h/t SMc]
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Grandma Grace’s Honeymoon Diary 1907

Grace McRae Part of her life.

These are the things I prize and hold of dearest worth
Light of the sapphire skies, Peace of the silent hills
Shelter of the forests, comfort of the grass. Music of the birds
Murmur of the rills, Shadows of the clouds that swiftly pass
And after showers, the smell of flowers
And the good brown earth. And best of all, along the way,
Friendship and mirth.

Honeymoon Trip

1907 Trip from Meadows, Ida. to Grangeville, Elk City, Clearwater and Little Salmon near the Montana Line. Dan and my brother Elmer and I.

June 22, 1907 — Saturday morning at 9 oclock we started. Drove until 8 oclock then camped at McCullys. We had a hard day and at night it rained.

June 23, — Sunday — Started late and drove 20 miles to Levanders. Halfway. Camped early, We were tired and slept. Dan has a dreadful caugh.

June 24, — We drove 30 miles to White Bird. Got there after dark so stayed at the hotel. It has about 200 people. They are obliging and enterprising. Every store is painted white and with electric light it is quite a city.

June 25, — A year ago today we started out trip to Yellowstone Park on our wedding trip. Today at 5 oclock we arrived in Grangeville. I was disappointed in not seeing Mrs. W. Jones. We camped about half mile from town. Dan met Mr. Ricker, a friend.

June 26, — Dan was sick- We bought our supplies, about $40.00 worth.

June 27, — I went down town. Grangeville is not as large as Hidley. The valley or prarie is very wide and all cultivated. It is a wonderful wheat country. I never saw such grass. It is a cattle country, no sheep.

03tent-aJune 28, — Friday – We left our camp in Grangeville at 9:30, passed through Harpster, a small town on the Clearwater river. We then followed down the river for 3 miles. Camped at 3:30 on a nole under a big pine near a fine fruit ranch. We put up the tent for it began to rain. It rained every day since we came in sight of Grangeville. At time of writing we are all under the tent very cozy. Elmer and Dan reading. Dick, the dog, is asleep. We are 15 miles from Grangeville. We had a fine fried chicken.

June 29. — We had a long hard days pull for all our journey was crossing the divide between 10 mile creek and Clearwater. We camped late at a stage station on an old camping ground. We did not put our tent up and about 3 oclock A.M. it began to rain. Dan had to get up and put things away. We pulled the tent over our bed but things got pretty wet. I cooked by a campfire and the wind blew and with the rain I had a terrible time. We made 16 miles today.

June 30, — It rained on us all day. We came to Newsome creek and are now camped two miles down it. All the ground is placer here and been mined long ago. We came 10 miles today. It is 17 miles to Elk City.

1907 – July

July 1, — We had a nice warm day but the longest, muddiest roads we have seen. Nig, the horse, fell off the road down the mountain side. We had a time to get him up. We arrived near Elk City at 3 oclock. We put the horses out on the hills and flat. The first time that we have had feed without paying high for it. We camped about 1/2 mile in a pine grove on a flat near Elk City. The town looks like Meadows.

July 2, — A very warm day. Had to grease the horses to keep the flies away. Dan and I went to town. We bought some groceries.

July 3, — I was sick all day. Dan got breakfast and dinner. Elmer washed the dishes. A year ago we were in Seattle.

July 4, — We were awakened with several deafening salutes and they have been going on ever since. It is a cooler day and I feel better. We are getting ready to move into the hills. We will go to see the ball game and races this P.M. We took in the sports but they were tiresome and the weather cold so we returned to our tent. (A year ago we were in Seattle attending the races. Two years ago I was in Halley with Addie.) I took an awful cold and have a bad caugh.

July 5, — Still caughing hard and can’t move to the mountains.

July 6, — Still camped near Elk City and caughing. I think I have the whooping caugh. The boys took the wagon and harness to town and stored them. We are getting ready to leave.

July 7, — Got up at 4:30, Elmer went for horses, Dan got breakfast as it was so damp. My caugh is the same. Travelled 14 miles today. Started at 9:30. Arrived at the beginning of the Hot Springs and Nez Perce trails. We are camped near a ranch owned by the Harsh Brothers.

July 8, — Still camped at Harsh brothers. Dan left his box of caps at the camp near Elk. Elmer went back for them and brot them and some graham flour and other things. Dan went prospecting. I was in bed all day, My head hurt dreadfully from the Heron tablet.

July 9, — It rained hard in the morning so we couldn’t get up early. The boys left to look over the trail. I am going to wash. I feel much better today.

July 10, — Sick in bed all day until the boys came home at 2. Elmer shot a deer tonight. Dan and he have gone with pack horse to pack it in. I feel better. Wrote Mama.

July 11, — Thursday – Felt fine all day. Left for Hot Springs at 8 oclock. It is a 11 mile trail. The water is fine. Rode home in 3 hours, it rained a little and thundered much. At 6 PM. I am ready for bed. We all had a fine bath and are tired from the ride.

July 12, — Elmer and I went to Elk City and brought the wagon out to Harsh Bros. It was a nice day but it was awful riding in the wagon over the rough road. Dan had washed up everything and had supper ready for us. We rode in in 2 1/2 hours and drove back in 4. I made some caugh medicine.

July 13, — Saturday- Dan and Elmer shod the horses. We had to send to Elk for shoes so wont leave until Monday.

01trout-aJuly 14, — Saw a deer in the Harsh Bro. field while we were at breakfast. Went fishing. Elmer and Mr. Harsh caught a nice lot. At 2 oclock it began to rain, continuing until night. Got ready to start.

July 15, — Started at 11 oclock. Mr. Harsh came from Elk brought our mail. I got my shoes. We came up in the mountains 8 miles and camped where some forest reserve men were. It snowed and rained on us. Got into camp about 3 oclock.

July 16, — Started at 10:30. We have now turned our watches an hour faster than at Elk. Our time is now like Meadows. We came over an enormously high divide, traveled until late. Found good feed near the Salmon River. We have come 18 miles today. Dan has been quite sick since we ate some black berries and fish.

July 17, — Left our camp this morning at 10 oclock and came over the worst trail. The horses had to jump fallen timber and Dan had to chop some logs. We only came 3 or 4 miles today. Found a nice dry camping place and stopped. Put up the tents and are planning to stay here a while. (A year today we returned to Meadows from the East). The boys will look over the mountains and trails. We have named this camping place “Prospectors Resort”. So many people have camped here and left their names on trees. We are 43 miles from Elk, 105 miles from Grangeville. The boys are making me a fine table. My stove is put up high on legs. We will have our bed in with the kitchen. Elmer will have his in the other tent with the alforkoses. The tents are very cozy this way and not crowded.

July 18, — The boys left at 9:30 and tramped all day over the high range of mountains without seeing chicken, deer or bear or mineral. Dan lost his pipe and they came home tired and disgusted. Tomorrow we will take the other side of the river. I had a good dinner waiting for them at 2 oclock but they did not come until 5:30. For dinner I had rice with raisins, brown beans with pork, stewed apples, roasted venison and potatoes and biscuits and tea. The mosquitoes are big and quantities of them also gnats. I sat up until 11:10 to bake my six loaves of bread. I had fine luck with it and it tastes good after doing without it three weeks.

July 19, — We took our saddle horses and followed the Nez Perce trail for 7 miles. It was rough and steep. We stopped on a high ridge and from it we could see “Old Granite” near Meadows also all the mountain ranges and ridges that we have travelled over to the east we had a fine view of the Rockies that bound Idaho on the east. It looks very dangerous in that direction and not very much sign of mineral. To the South we could see the snow capped Thunder Mountains and could locate Warrens and Big Creek. Beside the trail we saw 5 and 6 feet of snow in some places tho most of the ground was dry & bare. We traveled longer today without seeing water than ever before on this trip. Dick, the dog, was nearly famished. The boys had to carry him a good way. And My! the way he bathed and lapped the water when we did come to a mountain stream. Dan didn’t like the looks of the country we were headed for so we will return and take another trail in to some other mts. WhaeT we got back to camp, our other horses were gone. Elmer went after them. About 4 miles on the trail home he found Old Prince had caught his hobbles on a log and fallen. He had to help him up and when he arrived in camp he was scratched and bleeding and dizzy laying with his head down hill so long. We doctored him and he was glad to see us and the other horses again. This is the nicest day we have had. But it is threatening and thunder showers at 6 oclock.

July 20, — Elmer was sick all day. Dan shod the horses and I washed a big washing. Dan made me a fine washing machine out of a can and stick. It beats a patent machine. About 3 oclock two nice looking men with 4 horses came up and camped near us. They were from Spokane Wash. We are packing up to return about 10 miles if Elmer is well and it looks a nice day. Today was quite rainy.

July 21, — We got started at 9:30 and came 23 miles. The Forest rangers had cleared the last 11 miles of our trail so it was like traveling on a road. We are camped tonight at Mountain Meadows. Just about a half mile from here it began to rain on us and it rained and hailed so we had to fix up our camp in the rain. We had everything fixed up and I was getting supper at 6:15 after coming 23 miles in a Mt. trail. That is pretty quick work. Mr. Roche and Schrader were the men who camped with us last night. They went on to the Montana line today. Well it is the 21st of July and still it rains on us every day or night. We are getting tired of it.

July 22, — Got started at 9:30. Came 8 miles to Harsh Boys. Got here at 2 Oc. We had lots of mail. I received a card from Mrs. Jones. She is coming out to Elk City on a camp trip. I think she will arrive in Elk tonight. Dan and I are going to town. We met she and the 4 others she is chaperoning. They will stay a few days near us at Mrs. Finleys.

July 23, — Dan and I started at 9 oclock to town. Rode in in 2 1/2 hours. Had dinner at the Hotel. Mrs. Parrs. She was lovely to us. We got several letters. Dick followed us and got there almost as soon as we did.

06bread-aJuly 24, — Made light bread. Went over to Finleys to see Mrs. Jones, Miss Moore, Miss Snell. Had a nice visit until 11:25. Came home to mix my bread. Cleaned camp. Helped Dan get things packed to go and also the things that we are to leave. Baked my bread in Mr. Harshs stove. Also two pies. It was all fine. At night we built a big camp fire and Mrs. J., Miss M. and Mr. Cole came over. There was a partial eclipse of the moon. We all sat around the camp fire watching it. Went to bed at 9:30. Got up at 4:20 to get started.

July 25, — Started over the Hot Spring Trail. Went to Coyote Camp. Had a bath. Met some Elk City people.

July 26, — Traveled about 25 miles over a hard trail. Started at 8 oclock. Traveled until 6 oclock. Found a poor camping place. Met the Wiley boys cattle, Had to stop.

July 27, — Came 1 mile up the Clearwater or Selway. Have a nice camp and good feed. It is 13 miles to Wileys. We are 59 miles from Elk City. This is a rough country. No mineral at all so far. There is a Railroad set of surveyors through here. They will come thru from Grangeville across the state to Montana. This country is worth nothing I can see except as a game reserve and timber to hold water. There is very little good timber, mostly small and stragley. We got some white or yellow pine gum and it was fine. Dan cached some of our provisions here.

Sunday July 28, — We didn’t start early, about 10 oclock thinking it was only 12 miles farther on. Dan discovered he had left his louger at our last camp. We picked huckleberries and sarvice berries. Came to the Lone cabin at 4 oclock and having traveled over the worse trail inmaginable, just up one big mt. and down so the horses would have to slide to get down, I never saw such berries in my life. Bushes just black with sarvice berries. After deciding the Lone Ranch was not Wileys we sent on, and on crossing the river 3 times. It was quite high and rocky then up steep trails and so bushy you had to dodge right and left or have your eyes put out. We had to carry Dick and our berries and lead the horses. It was the worse predicament we have yet been in. Finally at 8 oclock we decided to camp on top of a level Mt. where there was good feed but water 1/4 mile away.

04horse-aJuly 29, — Started at 8. Went down the steepest mountain yet. It was awful. Came 3 or 4 miles and found the Harsh and Wiley Ranch. We found a nice camping place. Pitched our tent, arranged camp. Elmer got some new potatoes at the ranch of the trapper who lives there. He is a young and bright looking man. Very generous. We got some soap of him. Dan having forgot to put ours in, also some bear oil for lard. He had no sugar. I thought there was plenty but the can was not full so we will have to return soon. We went fishing, caught 13 nice ones. I gathered berries to dry for winter. I made 2 huckleberry pies. They were delicious. We had oyster soup, pie, new potatoes, homony and biscuits for dinner.

July 30, — We are 70 miles from Harshes. The horse flies and gnats are something terrible. We built smudges for the horses then they bite us. We couldn’t eat our supper for them this afternoon. The gentleman who lives on the ranch made us a visit. Elmer has gone to swim and shoot a deer. Dan to see the horses. I am packing up as we will start tomorrow morning back again.

July 31, — Instead of going back we all went with the trapper to a elk lick to see some elk. We rode 6 miles up and back thru a hot sun and then we didn’t see any. Dan took pictures of the licks. They have a cable ferry to ferry one across the river. It is a sort of chair seat suspended from the cable. I went out on it. Dan took my picture while I was hanging in the air over the rushing river. We came home got supper and I am in bed while the men are at the ranch. This is 1500 feet high. We saw a fine piece of land for a farm today just joining this Wiley ranch. They only have 2 feet of snow here and can raise fine fruit of all kinds. It is more on the tropical order of any of the places I have ever seen in this state. Sarvice berries are the thickest and biggest! I hate to leave them to dry up.

Thur. August lst, — Started at 9:30. The boys had to shoe some horses. We forded the river 6 times. Came 10 miles. Stopped at the Running Ranch. The hardest part of our trip is over safely. This was the worst trail we have gone over. The horses are having a feast of timothy grass. I will now note the trappers name as I forgot it betgore. W. J. Murtha. The horse flies and no seeums are thicker than ever as it is so warm.

Aug. 2, — Started at 8:10. Arrived at Warm Springs Bar 4 oclock. 13 miles more of our trip over and the hardest is all over. We found our provisions that we had cached were all OK. I wasn’t feeling very well. We had a nice supper of chicken and huckleberry pie. I have fish for breakfast. It is glorious to eat berries and get fresh game and make your meals on them. Dan lost his knife. The huckleberries were the biggest we ever saw. We gathered enough for two pies.

Aug. 3, — Left Warm Springs Bar at 8:15. Came 18 miles to below Green Mountain. The horses are having a feast of lovely fine bunch grass. I was sick today and riding seemed so tiresome so we camped at 4 oclock and did not make the Meadows.

August 4, — Came on to Harshes. Stopped at the meadow near the Springs for lunch. Arrived here at 6 oclock. Traveling 21 miles.

August 5, — Camped at Harshs. Got a lot of mail. We are resting and straightening up camp.

August 6, — Got up early, washed a big washing. The boys did nearly all of it. In the PM they went prospecting and I took my light bread over to the Harsh cabin and baked. It was fine.

August 7, — Washed a few more pieces then went to pick huckleberries. Dan fixed up our pack outfit. We will only stay a few days, just until the H. boys brought the wagon, old Dan and harness. There doesn’t seem to be much mineral here. No gnats or horse flies but lots of house flies.

Aug. 8, — Went to see the boys mine. It looks fine. We are preparing to leave early tomorrow.

Aug. 9, — Left at 9 oclock. Took a short cut to Orogrande by a trail. It began to rain and was awful cold. The bushes near the trail got us soaking wet. When we came to a mine and mill called “The Cleveland” we took a wagon road instead of keeping on our trail, the road brought us 5 miles from Elk. When if we had kept the trail we would have been 10 miles from Elk. We struck a camping place about 5, still it was raining.

05Huckleberry-aAug. 10, — Still cold and rainy – I nearly froze to death. We did not leave our camp until 11. Then it cleared off. We came to Orogrande at 1:30. Stopped to pick huckleberries. They are the thickest and biggest I ever saw. Orogrande, I had heard a great deal of and imagined it was quite a place but it isn’t. It was the dirtiest, oldest, decrepted looking town we have gone thru. Some few mines working but the big mill is closed. We came on over the summit to an old deserted mining camp. The buildings were standing like skeletons. Machinery, furniture and all inside fixtures were taken away and what had once been a lively booming camp was now left to squirrels and the winter snows, save but the rushing mountain stream, there was no sound. It was cold, we camped in an old blacksmith shop and soon had things warm. The Buffalo Hump is 3 1/2 miles from here.

Aug. 11, — Sunday – Our road wound around and up the Buffalo Hump Mts. It is a beautiful road. Mountain streams and springs come gurgling down the Mts. every little way. The mountains are high and masses of gigantic rocks. As we ascended to the summit, we could look back and see our road several miles behind us, also the town of Calendar, which is now the deserted mining camp. Looking toward the right of the gulch we could see the buildings of the “Cracker Jack” mine and hear the thumping of the mill. The first working mill we have seen on our trip. At the top of the summit we saw the famous “Big Buffalo Mine” owned by Sweeny of Spokane. It was also in a dilapadated state, altho men who have worked there say it is very rich. The owner is workihg some kind of a mining scheme. We took the wrong road and after traveling 2 1/2 miles we came to the town if Concord. The original town of the Buffalo Hump camp was on the mountain near the Big Buffalo mine. It now lays in burned ruins. This is the best looking country we have seen. It is 26 miles from Elk to B.H. We travelled 6 or 7 miles from B.H. and are camped near a meadow.

Monday Aug. 12, — Came 6 miles by road towards Adams Camp. Met a prospector who told us of a trail by which we could reach Florence this evening. We followed it about 12 miles and came to Florence about 4 oclock. Found another apparently deserted village, there was a hotel and store combined where we found some one living. We saw 6 or 7 girls and a band of cattle to remember the town by. It is an old placer camp. We saw rotted cabins and banks of rock and dirt where the old timers placered. Tall trees have now grown up on the banks.

Aug. 13, — Left Florence at 8:30 and came down to the Salmon River 12 miles to the ferry. It was very warm. Camped on a side hill the levelest place we could find on the Salmon River. Even the ranches have to have a picket rope attached to them or they would slide down hill. Dan had to level me off a place to put my stove and for me to stand and cook. Then my cooking utensils would slide down hill ever once in awhile. We killed three grouse and I picked lots of sarvice berries.

Aug. 14, — Started at 10:20. We expected to go to Resort but coming along the road we picked up some quartz, so decided to camp 6 miles from there at 2:30.

02mulestring-aAug. 15, — The boys went prospecting, I stayed at camp and washed, sewed and read.

Aug. 16, — We are now on the mountain where we found the quartz. The boys are working. We can’t find anything of value so came to camp at 12, ate lunch, packed and started by 3. We had gone about a mile when the horses took fright at some ladies and a dog. Billy, the horse, I was riding plunged to one side then ran down the hill. I was taken so by surprise that it was several seconds before I knew what to do. I finally stopped him and got him turned up hill. Jack, our pack horse with the stove, ran thru the brush and timber tearing all his pack off that he could. Dan was still at camp so he didn’t know of it until the pack horses came running into our old camp. It was all done in 10 seconds but took much longer to get things all together. We came to the resort. Met Mrs. Burgdorff and several men that Dan knew. Camped a half mile from Burgdorf at Thorpes cabin at the saw mill. It is a lovely big meadow. Went back to resort for a bath.

Aug. 17, — Left camp early, went to Resort, phoned to Resort. Met Harold Culver. “Ships that pass in the night may run adrift of each other again.” Expected to stay all day but packed up at noon, came to Secache meadows 6 mi. so the horses might have good feed. I havn’t felt well for a few days.

Aug. 18, — The boys layed over today as they thought they had found a good prospect and I needed a days rest. Dan met Mr. Ross of the Golden Rule. He is operating in Mexico and wants Dan to go there. I hope he can. We got ready at 10 and came to Resort. Stayed at Resort.

Aug. 19, — Came to Fishery. Saw the biggest bear track.

Aug. 20, — Came home. Mrs. Jones and party were here. All had rooms here. Went to a party at the hall that night.

[Aug.] 21, — Baked all day,

[Aug.] 22. — Rested, wasn’t well.

[Aug.] 23, — Baked. Had Mr. and Mrs. J to dinner also Mr. Fenton. Ate ice cream.

[Aug.] 24, — They all left at 3 oclock.

The winter of 1907 and 1908 was spent in Meadows.

June 14, 1908 we made the trip to Big Creek. Ida, Carl and E1izabeth Brown, Miss Ulm and our dog Dick. It took us two weeks to make the trip because of the snow. We spent July at Big creek and returned to Meadows on August 5th. [handwrtten] Horseback over snow on summit – Elk Summit.

August 11, — Robert was born. Monday at 11:30 PM.



(courtesy Sandy McRae)
Gram’s Honeymoon Diary 1907.pdf
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[My] “Grand parents went from the Gold King to the Dewey mine by foot in April of 1914, so my dad was 6 years old and Marge was 2 years old, they stayed over night at the Condon cabin the other side of Bear Lake and then made it to the Huges Ranch on Big Creek and then to the Dewey mine.
– Sandy McRae
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Grace McRae Sunnyside Wagon 1935

Grandma Grace circa 1935 at Sunnyside Mine.
(Photo courtesy James Collord)
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United States Census, 1940 Big Creek Election Precinct, Valley, Idaho, United States

Dan C Mcrae Male Age 63 Married Head Birthplace Minnesota Birth Year (Estimated) 1877
Grace Mcrae Female Age 54 Married Wife Birthplace Idaho Birth Year (Estimated) 1886
James E Collord Son-in-law Male Age 29 Birthplace Idaho
Mar Collord Daughter Female Age 28 Birthplace Idaho
Grace K Collord Granddaughter Female Age 2 Birthplace Idaho

[h/t CEP]
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[1940] “… Mom [Kay Collord] was 2, … they were at the Sharpel’s cabin in Big Creek, (when you start up Gov’t Creek its that old cabin at the Y between the Logan road and Gvt road.)

[S]he spent her first Christmas there crawling on wood floor getting splinters.” — said Grandma Marge

– Carrie Ellie Pitts
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Grace and Dan McRae in Stibnite 1950

Grace and Dan McRae on the steps of their Stibnite house, circa 1950.

(photo courtesy Jim Collord)
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Grace McRae 1961

To the delight of Browns and many others, Grace McRae was nominated by Valley county as Idaho Mother for 1950. She had been a young teacher at Old Meadows in 1905 when she met Dan McRae. He ran a livery stable and. owned the townsite. He also owned the Sunnyside mine in the Thunder Mountain region and was a stockholder in the Independence – that was where he and Carl Brown first met. Even then Dan was “mining glad” – his wife’s word.

They were married in 1905 and her livelier life began. She lived at mines and away from them, wherever circumstances dictated, but like Ida Brown, she was forever cheerful. Once she and Ida rode along a narrow lake road so slick with ice their wagon began to slide toward the edge. Because Ida was half ill Grace was driving, and she shouted desperately to the men ahead with the horses and packstock. They rushed back and held the wagon on the road until danger was past. But this slowed things down and that night the party camped in the snow. Ida, it was clear, was getting worse rather than better, but she had Grace to lean on and refused to turn back.

In 1908 Bob McRae was born, and when he was three, Grace went to Thunder Mountain to live, taking two days for the ride, holding the little boy in her arms all the way. At the mine they lived in a house built by the fabled Colonel Dewey of Nampa, which enjoyed steam heat from the mine – when the mine operated. When Bob was ready for his Three R’s, his mother taught him. A second child, Marjorie, was born later.

In 1924-25 Grace McRae taught school in McCall, when two of her pupils were Dorothy and Margaret Brown, who loved her. During the Depression, the McRaes spent two years in Boise, then returned to Sunnyside for another ten years.

After 1945, Dan McRae was associated with the Bradley Mining company, and the family moved to Stibnite. Here Grace again taught for three years. Their son Bob, now a family man, was also employed by Bradley as chief metalurgist, and Grace had her own grandchildren in her school.

After Dan McRae’s death in 1956, she moved to McCall to make her home. Strangers could hardly believe that this well-informed, carefully dressed woman had lived in isolated mine cabins, and knew the weary, sometimes dangerous trail. She was a genuine pioneer who didn’t look like one.

That Mrs. McRae didn’t win in the state Mother finals was a big surprise to McCall, but not a thing to grieve about. Her friends had had a chance to present her name and to dilate on her accomplishments and worth. If judges didn’t realize her superiority over other candidates, that was their misfortune.

Extracted from “The King’s Pines of Idaho; a Story of the Browns of McCall” by Grace Edgington Jordan, Binfords & Mort Publishers, Portland, Oregon, 1961; p. 196

source Valley Couty, ID GenWeb
[h/t SMc]

Grant U. Smith 1864-1942


“Grant Smith was the watchman at the Dewey Mine and stayed longer than he should have so he had to come out through the snow. The year was 1941 that it happened, and my mother along with our dog found the body. The dog smelled the body and led my mom to his resting place. Mom was carrying me on her back in a pack sack. Grant was found in late June of 1942.”
– Sandy McRae

“Our great uncle Gus — froze to death in the 1940s coming out from Thunder Mountain, eaten by a bear, and buried right below Monumental.”
– Jim Collord

“Grant was Grace McRae’s uncle. Pa (Jim Collord Sr.) was on the detail that gathered his remains and buried him there in a draw before the switchbacks going up Monumental; there is a little rock tower on [the] side of [the] road and a big marble stone on grave from later years. The part they don’t talk about is that a bear found him in spring before Grace’s dog did. Pa always said that was reeeallllly rough detail duty.”
– Carrie Ellie

“Uncle Gus” (Grant U. S.) was rather a mystery because no one knew why he walked out alone or stayed later than everyone else, whether he’d felt poorly and lingered at Thunder Mtn or ?? When they found him, they said he had every piece of clothing he owned on. Grandma said he sat against a tree and froze. Grandpa said the bear chewed at everything that wasn’t covered by deep clothing, and that they had to gather certain bones and pieces. Grandma seemed to think he was too far to the left and was confused about the summit.
– Carrie Ellie
— — —

Grant U Smith Story
1864 – 1942
(Grave on Monumental Summit)

Mr. Floyd Gibbons, I am sending you this Story to see if you think it is worth putting before the public. This experience happened about 50 years ago:

It was early in the spring that a friend and I staked two old-time prospectors at Haley, Idaho, and we set out to prospect for gold in what is now Teton County, Wyoming. We had four horses, two mules and a pack outfit. The two mules and two of the horses belonged to me. It was a long trip northeast around the tributaries of the Snake River through rough country to where we discovered gold. Having located it we started back to civilisation for a stock of supplies.

On our way down Snake River we had to cross Grovont River. This was in April and the trappers we met in that country warned us not to try to ford this river while it was high as several trappers and prospectors had been drowned attempting to cross it because of the swift undercurrent. We camped a week waiting for the river to go down. Instead it kept rising. All that was left of our supplies was some dried elk meat. The water was very high and so we decided to start out the next day to go to the head waters, cross the tributaries and come back down the other side. This would take five days.

We made camp for the night opposite from where we had camped on the other side of the river a week before. Before turning in I proceeded to hobble the horses, but one of the old prospectors who was a great lover of horses didn’t like the idea of horses being hobbled, and so I let them loose. The next morning after breakfast only one of my horses and the other two could be found. After searching until late afternoon we saw the two mules and my other horse across the river where we had camped the week before. The mules had the habit of returning to an old camping spot.

It was 150 miles to civilization down the river and there Were four of us and only three horses to get us there. One of the old prospectors asked me “What are you going to do, Smith?”, and I told him I intended to cross the river after the animals. They pleaded with me not to do it, said that meant suicide. The current was swift – the river about 300 feet wide. I took off all my clothes in case I would have to swim, kept only my hat on, and in the band of it stuck a tin box of matches. I plunged into the river on the back of my horse. The current was so swift that although the horse was an extra good swimmer he was pulled along with it about 200 yards where rapid rocks stuck up about 20 feet out of the water in the center of the river. A sharp turn in the river caused a whirlpool and we were pulled into it, otherwise we would have gone into the rapids. But, the undercurrent combined with my weight started to take my horse under water. I slid off his back and grabbed on to his tail, and he managed to head to the only place where he could land, which was a space between two rocks near the shore. We were across!

By this time, believe me, I was pretty stiff from the cold. I rode out to the mules and the horse, caught them and brought them near the river. I set fire to some pine boughs and a stump and after warming up a bit took the mules and the horses up the river for enough so as not to drift into the rapids in crossing. However, it would have taken a locomotive to get the mules in the water. I guess they realized the danger. I was forced to give up and turn them loose again. It was getting dark and snow had started to fall. I had to do some one fast thinking. I tore off a piece of my saddle blanket and blindfolded my horse and rode farther up the river to a cut bank where the water was three or four feet deep. I led the horse up alongside, took a run at him and pushed him in the river. Then I jumped in, climbed on his back and we got across and back to camp.

The next morning I tied half of our jerked elk meat, about three or four pounds, in a couple of blankets behind the saddle on any horse and we swam the river. I caught the horse and the mules again and tied them in a string and fastened the rope to the horn of my saddle. We started up to go around, but after three or four miles the mules began to pull back. I blindfolded them and after much pulling and shoving got them over a cut bank in the river. I loosened the rope from my saddle so as not to pull my horse and me into the river in case something happened. It was a tough trip but we all got safely back to camp.

I was twenty two years old at the time this incident took place. The other men in the party were older than myself and are now dead. I give you my word of honor that every word is true and this happened just as related to you. As I have no living proof, other than my own word, I am sending you some evidence of my past which you need not return unless you care to. You will notice that the signature on the notes is the same as the signature on this story.

Submitted by:

Grant Smith
35 West Lucy Street
St. Paul, Minnesota
(courtesy McRae/Collord Family)
Grant Smith Story.pdf


Idaho History Oct 8

The Wolf Fang

Deep in the Mountains, a Family Mine

By Robin McRae

Photos Courtesy of Robin McRae

Recently, the author provided an account of minerals prospecting by his family as part of a 2017 report compiled by Richard H. Holm, Jr., for the Payette National Forest Service Heritage Program, USFS. The following story includes numerous verbatim passages used with permission from that report.

During summers of my youth in the 1950s, I left Boise to help my parents run their mining operation, McRae Tungsten – or the Wolf Fang, as most everyone called it, after the nearby mountain peaks – in the remote upper reaches of Elk Creek Summit east of Warren in the Payette National Forest.

In 1955, after I finished ninth grade, I was paid $1.25 an hour to do janitorial work and to split wood for the cookhouse. The latter was my main task, because the wood stove was kept going from 5 a.m. until 8 or 9 p.m. to cook breakfast and dinner for six or seven men. A diesel engine from a PT boat ran the whole camp, including a generator that provided electric light from about 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Miners entered the tunnel at about 7:30 a.m. and the first load came out roughly an hour later.

On days off, I hiked trails and fished the beaver ponds on Smith Creek, always catching the limit. I fondly remember how the year-round employees trained the local marmot population to join them during their lunch hour. Some of the marmots had become tame enough to practically eat out of their hands, but not out of mine – the critters didn’t trust the summer help.

Our camp had a little commissary, where employees and their families could buy small goods. I lived in the bunkhouse, which was an eye-opener for a fourteen-year-old. The men were unmarried and worldly about women and liquor, although the camp itself was a dry space. One subject I became familiar with was what it meant to visit Pioneer Street in Boise wherever a blue light showed in a window. Evenings in the bunkhouse, a lot of card games were played, cribbage most popular among them, and many paperback mysteries were read.

In 1955, my friend Curt Clarkson worked with me at the camp for a month or so. We had grown up in Stibnite and had gone to grade school together. His family moved to California and he was homesick for the Idaho mountains, so my dad hired him for part of the summer. That year, ore had been stored while the crusher was being remodeled, so we shoveled the ore into wheelbarrows, which we pushed to the mill.

In 1956, my jobs included operating the jaw crusher when it was filled with ore, adding pine oil to the slurry, and watching the magnetic separator, which extracted iron pyrite from the concentrate. I also roasted the concentrate on a plate heated by fuel oil injection, which burned off sulfides. Like iron, the sulfides were impurities, which decreased the price paid for each twenty-pound bag of concentrate. Another of my jobs was to stencil each bag with the company’s name. I also drove to the post office at the Big Creek store to retrieve mail for the camp.

As the recent history of the Wolf Fang written by Richard Holm points out, my grandfather, Dan McRae, came to the Thunder Mountain/Big Creek area in 1897 from Warren. A self-taught prospector/miner, he located what became the Independence Mine near Fawn Meadows in about 1898. He established himself as a knowledgeable miner, geologist, and businessman in the area and spent his career owning and working several properties, including the Gold King, the Dewey, and the Sunnyside. He married Grace Carrie Turner in 1906 at Meadows, and they had two children: my father Robert “Bob” (born in 1908) and my Aunt Marjorie (born in 1912). Bob married my mother, Ruth Cook, and Marjorie married James “Jim” Collord.

The early prospectors were not too successful in locating gold in the upper reaches of Elk Creek Summit and Smith Creek, but several deposits of tungsten ore were found, including large traces of two of its primary minerals, scheelite and hübnerite. With the onset of WWII, tungsten was in demand as a hardening agent in steel production. Between the early 1940s and the early 1960s, my family located several ore bodies of tungsten in the upper reaches of Elk Creek Summit, which can be divided into two areas.

The first, which became known as the Upper Snowbird mining claims, was operated only during the summer months between 1942 and 1944. The mine was chiefly hübnerite, and my grandparents sold their unpatented claims to an investor, but they continued to work there as employees.

A few years later, my father looked at various zones east of Upper Snowbird at about three hundred to four hundred yards lower in elevation. Locating a vein that he thought had good potential for tungsten, he obtained several samples and determined they had a ratio of eighty percent hübnerite to twenty percent scheelite. By 1951, these three claims morphed into eleven unpatented claims, commonly referred to as the Wolf Fang.

In spring of that year, my father was given a ride with two other men, Harry Sargent and Wilbur Wiles, to a spot about four miles from the Big Creek airport heading toward Elk Summit, after which snowshoes were required to go farther. The men hiked to the base of Elk Summit and then climbed about twelve hundred feet to the ridgetop, where the snow was about seven feet deep. They spread “lamp black” on the snow to melt it, so they could dig an ore discovery pit.

Wilbur spotted a dead tree stump just above the snowline and lit it to melt snow and make tea. About a half-hour later, the stump burned down into pitch, and flames rose four feet in the air.

“If the Forest Service sees those flames, they may call in a fire,” Harry said.

“If the rangers are that dense, so be it,” Wilbur replied with a smile.

The men snowshoed eleven miles back to Big Creek. When they returned a week later, the lamp black had melted the snow to the ground, allowing them to dig their discovery holes. Results from the samples were good, and my dad and grandfather procured a TD-14 bulldozer and put together a crew in 1951-52 to build a road along the Middle Fork of Smith Creek to the claims. Wilbur, today the eldest resident of Big Creek at age 101, was among the main crewmembers, and he did a lot of jackhammering to carve the road through the rocky terrain.

At about the same time, Dad applied for and received a loan from the Defense Minerals Exploration Administration, whose goal was to help expand the production and supply of strategic and critical metals and minerals. By then, tungsten was in demand because of the US conflict with Korea. The terms of the loan required full payment only if the critical metals/minerals were found, but if our family came up empty-handed, the loan would be forgiven. As it turned out, Dad was able to pay back the twenty thousand dollar loan in full.

Once he had the loan in place and was making progress on construction of the road, he began looking for more capital. His friend Charlie Chaffee, a Boise businessman, put him in touch with Dick Graves, who owned gambling concessions in Garden City. Graves was interested, and after a tour of the mine in 1953, he lent Dad thirty thousand dollars at a competitive interest rate. The loan was promptly paid back. My dad and grandfather used that extra cash to acquire two 1930s prefabricated wood-framed buildings from the defunct mining community of Stibnite that they dismantled, trucked to the Wolf Fang Mine, and reassembled. One building became the cookhouse and the other was assigned to the superintendent. Another building, built as a prefab by my grandfather and hauled to the site, became the bunkhouse for employees. Two new twenty-foot aluminum travel trailers also were hauled in to help house fulltime employees. The same summer, Dad built a wood-framed machine shop and a warehouse, and helped to bring over extra needed equipment from the Sunday Mine and the Sunnyside Mine at Thunder Mountain. Sadly, as the Wolf Fang was nearing startup in 1954, my grandfather died.

When the snow melted, my father contracted with Martin Construction Company of Boise, which had built the majority of the homes and mining improvements at Stibnite, to construct the main building to house the mill. The Wolf Fang was designed for ore to be hauled out of the tunnel in a cart by cat/dozer for about a half-mile, where it was dumped into a crusher that reduced the material to about the size of baseballs and golf balls. It was moved by conveyer belt to the mill for further reduction, and then to a motorized table slotted with riffles that moved back and forth, separating materials of higher and lower density. Discarded material became tailings (waste) and the saved material was moved onto a second table, where it was separated into high- and low- grade. During this process, water mixed with pine oil and a solution of chemicals was distributed across the tables to remove unwanted particles. The water for the process was diverted from natural runoff and springs and the wastewater was used several times before being moved to settling ponds below the mill site. Additional water in the late summer was often pumped up to the site from the Middle Fork of Smith Creek.

Another of my jobs involved ore processed by the rod mill, a cylinder perhaps twelve feet long, lined inside with high-test steel plates made in a Boise machine shop. Six-foot-long iron rods tumbled inside the rotating mill to grind the ore, and new rods were added periodically as the old ones wore thin. This was by far the loudest noise inside the mill building. As the mill feed fell onto the jig tables that separated fine and coarse ore, I watched to ensure that the streams of ore material being pushed off the tables went into their proper channels.

After these concentration processes, lower-grade material was bagged and moved to warehouses in Boise, as the value was not high enough at the time to justify further processing. The higher-grade material was moved onto the magnetic separator. Initially, the Wolf Fang didn’t have this piece of equipment, and the high-grade material had to be hauled to Stibnite for further processing. But in 1955, my dad got his own magnetic separator, which essentially was a brick furnace with a metal top on which super-wet tungsten was placed and heated to up to nine hundred degrees Fahrenheit. This process not only dried the high-grade material but caused a certain amount of the remaining sulfides to evaporate, causing further reduction and refinement. After that, I stenciled the burlap bags that held the final product.

When the rod mill was finished in 1954, the main tunnel was yet to be completed. Not wanting to waste time or money, my parents leased the nearby Red Bluff Mine from Wilbur Wiles. He and my dad had sampled the unpatented claim and discovered it was much smaller than the Wolf Fang vein, but it was slightly richer. Wilbur “drove” or opened the tunnel himself, and the Red Bluff provided enough material to keep the mill running until the Wolf Fang tunnel was finished. The latter was framed in timber for the first forty feet and then went into solid rock that ran roughly twelve hundred feet deep.

The mine operated year-round from 1954 to early 1958. The mine superintendent was Harry Sargent, who had helped my dad dig discovery holes on Elk Summit. Harry managed a fulltime crew that included an assistant, one mill helper, about four underground workers, a cat driver, and a camp cook. Harry’s wife Opal was the company clerk. Jack Walker, who ran the cat, had recently been honorably discharged from the military and moved to the camp with his wife Ruth and a young son. The Walker family lived in one of the two aluminum trailers on the site. Jack, who has maintained ties to Big Creek and its mines ever since, still spends summers at his property on Logan Creek.

Each summer, the mined tungsten was driven to Cascade and placed on a train, where it eventually was delivered to a US government collection point in New Jersey for examination. The logistics of moving the tungsten out in the winter were more difficult. After a year of operation, Dad acquired a snow cat from Horace Fereday, the then-owner of the Big Creek Lodge. Horace had owned the cat only a short time before a friend drove it off Profile Summit Road on the way to Yellow Pine. The friend was injured in the accident and was forced to spend the night at high elevation, losing several of his toes. After that incident, Horace no longer wanted the machine. He and my father struck a deal, in which Dad obtained the snow cat and Fereday gained a minority interest in the Wolf Fang. (The mine was never publicly traded and our family was the majority owner, but we had several minority investors, including the Sargents and a few other families associated with the community of Stibnite.) Once we had the snow cat, the tungsten could be hauled down to the Big Creek Ranger Station in the winter on mail day. From there, it was flown out of the forest and delivered to the train stations in Cascade and Boise.

When President Eisenhower began his second term after the 1956 election, he started dismantling many of the economic policies associated with the Korean conflict. No longer seeing the need for a large quantity of strategic metals, he discontinued the government’s purchasing program. This decision caused the value of tungsten to plummet. From 1955 to 1957, tungsten from the Wolf Fang earned about fifty dollars per twenty-pound bag, but by 1958, the price fell to about thirteen to fifteen dollars, making the operation unprofitable.

In early 1958, my parents were forced to close the mine. My father had found a buyer for it in 1957 but he withdrew when the price of tungsten fell. At the end of production, my parents determined that the mine had a net profit of more than ninety thousand dollars. A portion of this money was used to pay out the few investors, complete the minimal cleanup required at the time, remove a few buildings, and maintain the claims. The mill was salvaged, the equipment was sold in Boise, and the metal-sided warehouse was removed and later rebuilt at the property of my Aunt Marjory and Uncle Jim in nearby Edwardsburg, where it still stands.

In the summers of 1958 and 1959, Wilbur Wiles and I took down the mill building and sold the lumber to folks around Big Creek. Through the example of Wilbur’s work ethic, I learned to do my best on whatever task I undertook. He remains the most honest individual I have ever known, and that was why my dad trusted him to do any job he was assigned, including sampling properties for the Bunker Hill Mine after he received geological training from my father.

My parents sold the unpatented Wolf Fang claims and the remaining improvements to a consortium of investors based in St. Louis, who made a few payments and then defaulted. The mine was then sold to Howard Hollingsworth of Kellogg, prior to my dad’s death in 1969. Hollingsworth was a speculator who did little with the property, except for some minimal assessment work to keep the claims active. As I recall, his “assessments” mostly involved dynamite that he set off on some rocks every couple of years.

Hollingsworth’s dynamite became an issue around 1972, when my mother received a telephone call from the Valley County Sheriff’s Department. Apparently, someone had found five or six cases of rotted dynamite in one of the buildings at Wolf Fang. The sheriff’s department inferred that our family should take responsibility, calling the dynamite a “public hazard.” My mother explained that we hadn’t owned the mine for years and knew nothing about the explosives. Unable to determine the direct ownership or a responsible party, the sheriff’s department called in a National Guard bomb disposal squad.

Hollingsworth died in Sitka, Alaska, in the early 1980s, after which his son Wiley took over the Wolf Fang claims. Jack Walker later staked the area and today Conway Ivey owns the claims, having purchased them and others from Walker. In the early-1960s, the timbered portion of the Wolf Fang tunnel began to cave in but over the years, the Forest Service has carried out reclamation work at the site, returning it to nature. The housing was destroyed and the small tailings pond was covered and replanted with meadow grass. All that remains is an outhouse built by my grandfather and a small toolshed.

I still think about the marmot families, always looking for a handout and responding if you whistled to them. I don’t think there are many places left where they’ve survived in such numbers. And there’s something else I still see: images of the men and women who came together to make a success of our family mine in such a rugged place.

Winter in Big Creek.
Robert McRae with his right-hand man, Wilbur Wiles.
Bob McRae and Charlie Chaffee at the Wolf Fang’s entrance.
Bob and Wilbur with tungsten samples, 1950s.
Bob with the snow cat.
A boulder marked what would become the mine’s entrance.
View of the camp below the Wolf Fang Mine.
Bob with sacks or ore.
Flying the tungsten to Cascade.
These houses were moved from Stibnite to the mine.
A Marine transport vehicle was used in winter at the mine.
Napier Edwards, whose father William was among the area’s early miners.
The mill.
The tunnel.
Wolf Fang Peaks.

Photos by Robin McRae

About Robin McRae
Robin McRae was born in St. Luke’s Hospital in Boise, has lived in McCall, and moved to Stibnite in 1943. He returned to Boise in 1954 to attend high school. He then attended Boise Junior College, and graduated from the University of Oregon and Pacific University College of Optometry. He has lived in Boise for fifty-five years, spending most summers and falls at Big Creek.

published in IDAHO Magazine
courtesy Jim Collord

Idaho History Oct 1

History of the Stibnite Mining District

Excerpts from: “Midas Gold Stibnite Gold Project Valley County, Idaho Plan of Restoration and Operations” Appendix D

Stibnite Mining District History

The Stibnite Gold Project (Project) is located in the historical Stibnite Mining District (District) in central Idaho.

Over the past century, the District has been subject to considerable prospecting and exploration, underground and surface mining, milling, tailings disposal, smelting, ore heap leaching activities, spent ore disposal, waste rock disposal, hydro‐power development, water retention dam construction, forestry, saw mill, housing camps, the town of Stibnite with its multiple neighborhoods, and associated infrastructure to support the mineral activities as well as various restoration activities.  In addition, the Project area has been impacted by numerous forest fires.

These historical actions have changed the course, nature and quality of rivers and streams in the area, and left substantial surface disturbance, detrimental environmental impacts and residual surface features that persist to this day.

The mining history in this region of Idaho began in 1894 when the Caswell brothers began a sluice box operation in Monumental Creek in what is now known as the Thunder Mountain Mining District, located about ten miles east of Stibnite.  In 1902, a gold rush was underway to the Thunder Mountain District with associated development of roads and the creation of the town of Roosevelt.  By 1909, the gold rush was finished, and the town of Roosevelt flooded and was abandoned in the spring of that year after a mudslide blocked Monument Creek creating present‐day Roosevelt Lake.

During the Thunder Mountain gold rush, many prospectors had passed through the District, discovering mercury (east of the District), antimony, silver and gold, but no substantial mining activity occurred in the District until around 1917, when the World War I demand for mercury led to the development of several properties in the Cinnabar area, east of the present‐day Midas Gold Project area.

Two periods of major development and mining operations have occurred in the Stibnite area of the District: one from the late 1920s into the early 1950s and another from the late 1970s through the mid‐1990s.  District activity has principally occurred in three general locations: Hangar Flats, Yellow Pine and West End.  …

Hangar Flats Deposit

Gold and antimony mineralization were discovered in the Hangar Flats area around 1900, but development was slow given the remoteness of the area and the technical complexity involved with milling of refractory gold and antimony ores at the turn of the century.  When the lead up to and start of The Great War (World War I) caused an increased demand for metals, especially antimony, Albert Hennessy, who had studied the property a decade earlier, staked the first claims here in 1914.

In 1919, Albert Hennessy and his partners (who included J.J. Oberbillig, a Boise mining engineer and assayer, and J.L. Niday, a Boise lawyer) established the Meadow Creek Silver Mines Company and, in 1920, began initial (albeit minimal) underground development work on what would eventually become the Meadow Creek Mine in what is now referred to as the Hangar Flats area.

Meadow Creek Underground Mine

In 1920, the United Mercury Mines Company acquired the Meadow Creek Silver Mines Company with the intent to consolidate mining properties in the area.  This effort of property consolidation continued for the next several years, along with sporadic underground development work.

In 1925, Homestake Mining Company from Lead, South Dakota, optioned the Meadow Creek Mine property and conducted sampling and metallurgical investigations but decided to forego purchase after their metallurgists were unable to determine a suitable milling method for the gold‐antimony material.  With Homestake’s option dropped, the United Mercury Mines Company continued their underground development work during 1926.

In 1927, F.W. Bradley, a San Francisco mining engineer and President of the Bunker Hill & Sullivan Mining & Concentrating Company, optioned the Meadow Creek property, under an entity known as the Yellow Pine Company.  This company invested in a major expansion program, that included immediate improvements to the Meadow Creek mine camp and new facilities at the Meadow Creek Mine.

Bradley foresaw the need for a good access and service road into the Meadow Creek Mine site from Yellow Pine, one that could handle trucks to haul mine and mill equipment and supplies to the site, and also one that could be used for worker access. In 1928, construction started on a 12‐mile road that would parallel the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River (EFSFSR), and would connect Yellow Pine to the mine site.  Bradley negotiated an agreement with the Forest Service, wherein Bradley funded 50% of a four‐and‐a‐half‐mile stretch of the new road through the EFSFSR canyon area south of Yellow Pine, and the US government financed the other 50%. The Yellow Pine Company funded and constructed the remainder of the road, moving north from the Meadow Creek Mine area.

Development work intensified in the Meadow Creek Mine in 1928, and a new adit, known as the North Tunnel (located approximately a mile and a half north of the Meadow Creek Mine portal) was started to follow the strike of the Meadow Creek fault. …

The year 1928 also saw the installation of a sawmill at the Meadow Creek Camp that provided lumber for underground activities and the construction of a new warehouse, machine shop, compressor building, bunkhouse, individual houses, and remodel and upgrade of existing camp buildings.  Sufficient supplies were brought to the site during the summer and fall of 1928 to allow development and construction activity to be conducted during the winter months.

In 1929, the road between Yellow Pine and the Meadow Creek Mine surface facilities was finished, and along this road, about a half mile north of the confluence of Fiddle Creek and the EFSFSR, the Yellow Pine Company began construction of a new surface camp (which became known as Monday Camp) that included mine support facilities and a large boarding house.  Nearby, the company started to drive two long adits, identified as: (1) the Monday tunnel, which would head southward in the Meadow Creek fault and (2) the Cinnabar tunnel, which would be driven eastward into the company’s gold and mercury deposits.

By 1930, underground development work within the Meadow Creek Underground Mine was well underway, and the mine had considerable surface facilities (including a small mill) to support the underground operations.

Photo 1, Meadow Creek Mine Camp (circa 1930)
Source: Photograph courtesy of Robin McRae

Near the Meadow Creek Mine surface facilities, in a level area on the west side of the EFSFSR, an air strip was constructed that allowed passengers, mail and light supplies to be delivered to the site from the town of Cascade on a regular schedule from November through June. (*1)

(*1) Until 1941, the road from the town of Cascade into the site was closed during the winter; access to the site in the winter until that time was by snowshoes, dog sleds or ski‐equipped airplanes.  

Monday Camp

Work also continued in 1930 at the Monday Camp.  This included underground extension of both the Monday and Cinnabar tunnels. Additional surface facilities were constructed which included more housing, warehouse storage, a miner’s change facility, a machine shop, an assay office, post office, a compressor house, woodsheds, and oil‐fired furnaces

Photo 2, Monday Camp (circa 1931)
Source: Photograph courtesy of Robin McRae.

A long trestle bridge was constructed across the EFSFSR to connect the portal areas of the Monday and Cinnabar tunnels; this allowed easier accessibility for workers and equipment across the EFSFSR

Photo 3, Trestle Bridge at Monday Camp (circa 1931)
Source: Photograph courtesy of Robin McRae

To provide electric power for the existing and planned mine and expected mill facilities, the Yellow Pine Company installed a new 525 kW hydroelectric power plant on the south side of Sugar Creek near its confluence with the EFSFSR; the generator was driven by a Pelton water wheel, operating under a 520‐foot head.  Transmission lines were installed to distribute electric power to the site’s facilities.

A water retention dam was also constructed on the East Fork of Meadow Creek to create a reservoir to provide water for milling and for electric power generation for the mining and milling operations, the housing and other facilities at the Meadow Creek and Monday camps, and (eventually) for the community of Stibnite. To provide water to the power plant, an 11,000‐foot long, 28‐inch diameter redwood‐stave pipe, coupled with a 1,620‐foot long, 24‐inch diameter steel penstock, was installed (see Photo 4). Additional water retention structures were built at later dates at Garnet Creek, Hennessy Creek and in Fiddle Creek.

Photo 4, Water Delivery Pipeline for Power Plant on Sugar Creek (circa 1930)
Source: Photograph courtesy of the J Nock family.

Also, during 1930, metallurgical testing continued at the Berkeley Laboratory in California to determine the best and most economic process to mill the gold‐silver‐antimony ore and, by the end of the year, the flotation process and testing was positive enough (and the Yellow Pine Company had developed sufficient ore at the Meadow Creek Mine) to justify the construction of a mill with the capacity to handle 150 tons of ore per day.

The year 1931 proved to be another busy year.  Underground mining continued at the Meadow Creek Mine and, to further support operations, a new cookhouse, bunkhouse, warehouse facilities and additional housing was constructed.  The biggest effort in 1931 was the construction and completion of the new mill, and, by year’s end, the milling of ore began (see Photo 5).

Photo 5, Meadow Creek Mill (circa 1931)
Source: Photograph courtesy of Robin McRae.

In 1932, work ceased on the Monday and Cinnabar tunnels, and the primary focus of the Yellow Pine Company involved production from the Meadow Creek Mine. The mill capacity was increased to 200 tons of ore per day, with most of the mill concentrates being sold and transported to a smelter in Utah.  Mill tailings were being discarded in an area adjacent to the mill near the EFSFSR.  By year’s end, the Meadow Creek Mine had become the largest producer of antimony in the United States and the top gold producer in Idaho.

Throughout its life, the Meadow Creek Mine operated from six distinct underground levels with numerous drifts, crosscuts, raises, winzes, and stopes. In total, over 25,000 feet of underground workings were developed within the mine, with substantial subsurface exploration drilling as part of the operation.

From 1931 into 1938, the Meadow Creek Mine extracted gold, silver and antimony ore, which was milled at the adjoining Meadow Creek Mill. …

In early 1938, the Meadow Creek Mine was shut down, and ore production shifted to surface mining at the newly discovered Yellow Pine deposit. …

In 1943, an attempt was made to re‐open portions of the old Meadow Creek Mine workings to explore for antimony and tungsten in support of the war effort.  From 1943 to 1945, additional core drilling was completed in the mine. A small amount of tungsten mineralized material was reportedly extracted during this period from underground mine levels that had not caved or been abandoned.  After World War II, activity at the mine ceased, and the Meadow Creek Mine went dormant.

In 1949, Bradley raised the dam on the East Fork of Meadow Creek (the one built in 1931 to provide water for the hydroelectric power plant on Sugar Creek) to accommodate increased water demand created by the construction of a new smelter.

Photo 6, Reservoir on East Fork of Meadow Creek (circa 1950)
Source: Photograph courtesy the J Nock family.

Defense Minerals Exploration Administration

As active mining ceased at the Yellow Pine pit in 1952, the Bradley Mining Company (BMC) was awarded two contracts by the Defense Minerals Exploration Administration (DMEA) and performed exploration work through 1955, both around the Yellow Pine Pit and north of the former Meadow Creek Mine.  The impetus for that work was provided by the Defense Production Act of 1950. It provided monetary assistance for companies to locate new reserves of strategic and critical minerals. If mineralized material was discovered, the companies that received assistance were required to reimburse the government from the proceeds of the operation. If no economic mineralization was discovered, the government loans were forgiven.

Through the DMEA program, BMC developed nearly 5,000 feet of underground workings with an associated adit and waste rock dump on the north extension of the Meadow Creek orebody, in three underground levels on the north side of the Hangar Flats Deposit. …  Underground mapping, sampling and drilling activities were conducted over the three‐year period, but this effect did not trigger the resumption of any mining from the Meadow Creek Mine.

Post 1960 Activity in Hangar Flats Area

After the completion of the DMEA program in 1955, there was no additional underground (or surface) mining activity in the Hangar Flats area, but there has been sporadic exploration activity.

In June 1965, more than a decade after the closure of the Stibnite Mill and Smelter, high runoff caused a catastrophic failure of the dam on the East Fork of Meadow Creek; the dam built in 1931 to provide water for the hydroelectric power plant on Sugar Creek (see Photo 7). Damage at the time was substantial, and the drainage remains a major source of sedimentation due to active, high‐flow head cutting and erosion.  The head cutting has also lowered the water table in the upper valley, reducing the quality of the wetlands in that area.  This area is now often referred to as Blowout Creek.

Photo 7, Failed Dam Site in East Fork of Meadow Creek (circa 2014)
Source: Midas Gold collection

In the late 1970s, Ranchers Exploration Company (Ranchers) acquired interests in the area from BMC and completed a large soil grid over the trace of the Meadow Creek Fault system, including the area adjacent to the old Meadow Creek Underground Mine.  Ranchers’ work outlined a number of large gold‐in‐soil anomalies over the old underground mine area, along the trace of the Meadow Creek Fault system, and north to the Yellow Pine Deposit. Ranchers completed some trenching, but they did no drilling on the anomalies in this area; instead they focused their work on the Yellow Pine deposit.

In 1984, Hecla Mining Company (Hecla) merged with Ranchers and continued trenching and geophysical surveys, as well as drilling shallow reverse circulation (RC) holes in the area of the historical Meadow Creek Mine. Their trenching and RC drilling outlined a broad, but poorly‐defined zone of gold mineralization above the old workings and along strike to the north, as well as under the historical Stibnite Mill and Smelter complex along the base of the hill (where the Meadow Creek Mine adits were located).

In 1986‐7, under a toll processing agreement with Pioneer Metals Corporation (Pioneer), Hecla initiated a program to leach historical Bradley ore and waste rock stockpiles from the Yellow Pine Pit area at Pioneer’s leach pad complex. … Subsequently, Hecla constructed their own gold heap leach facility (principally over the site that was historically occupied by the Stibnite Mill and Smelter), and Hecla operated this heap leach facility from 1988 to 1992 (see Photo 11).  The ore for Hecla’s heap leach facility was mined from an area known as the “Homestake Pit”, an area adjacent to the historical Yellow Pine pit (within the footprint proposed new Yellow Pine pit), and was trucked to the heap leach facility.

Photo 11, Hecla Heap Leach Operation (circa 1991)
Source: US Forest Service archive photo.

In the 1980s and 1990s, several mining companies operated heap leach gold and silver facilities in the area in the vicinity of the former Meadow Creek Mine, the Stibnite Mill and Smelter, and related facilities.  These other leach pads still exist but have been covered by fill.

In the mid‐1990s, Hecla’s heap leach processing facilities were decommissioned and removed, and the site was reclaimed; however, the Hecla heap leach pad and pile was left in place and remains visible today (see Photo 12).  After the early‐1990s, no new exploration or mining‐related activity occurred in the Hangar Flats area until Midas Gold began exploration work in 2009.

Photo 12, Hecla Heap (circa 2011)
Source: Midas Gold files.

The U.S. Forest Service, Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have performed several removal actions in this area, including removal of minor quantities of legacy tailings and the smelter stack in 2003, re‐channelization of lower Meadow Creek in 2005, … and covering certain legacy tailings‐related impoundments with clean fill in 2009. In spite of these actions, legacy tailings remain buried over much of the area, including under the airstrip and adjacent to Meadow Creek.

Yellow Pine Deposit

The Yellow Pine deposit (and subsequent mining activity) is located approximately two and half miles north of the Meadow Creek Mine; this deposit is situated north of the confluence of Midnight Creek and EFSFSR and south of the confluence of Sugar Creek and the EFSFSR. …

The first claims were staked in the area of the Yellow Pine deposit in 1923 by prospector Al Hennessy, who formed the Great Northern Mines Company with J. L. Niday.  Minimal work was completed on the deposit during the time period of 1926 through 1928; at the end of 1928, there were three adits in the general vicinity of the site, with a combined development length of less than 200 feet.  These adits were known as the North Tunnel, the Monday Tunnel and the Cinnabar Tunnel.

In 1929, the claims were optioned to F.W. Bradley’s Yellow Pine Company (predecessor to the Bradley Mining Company). The Yellow Pine Company constructed a road through this area to the Meadow Creek Mine, installed a pipeline and a hydroelectric power plant near the confluence of Sugar Creek and the EFSFSR, erected surface facilities and a housing camp on the west side of the confluence of Midnight Creek and the EFSFSR, and drove the aforementioned Monday and Cinnabar tunnels on opposing sides of the valley.  However, after 1932, the Yellow Pine Company did little additional work on the property, and instead focused on their mining and milling activities associated with the Meadow Creek Mine.

Yellow Pine Pit and Associated Activity

In 1933, J.J. Oberbillig purchased the claims in the area of the Yellow Pine deposit from the Great Northern Mines Company, and he immediately re‐optioned the claims to the Yellow Pine Company.

No activity occurred at the site until early 1937, when a leak in the redwood pipeline conveying water to Yellow Pine Company’s hydroelectric plan washed dirt and rock off the hill on the east side of the EFSFSR and exposed a mineralized zone that would eventually become the east side of the Yellow Pine Pit. This mishap led to BMC (successor to the Yellow Pine Company) developing short adits on both sides of the EFSFSR, from which exploration drilling was conducted. In the late summer of 1937, the BMC began mining ore material from the west side of the EFSFSR, at a site designated as the “West Quarry”, which would eventually become part of the larger Yellow Pine Pit.

During early 1938, the Meadow Creek Mine was shut down and, from mid‐1938, BMC shifted its entire mining focus to the Yellow Pine deposit. The EFSFSR was diverted in the area of mining, which eliminated fish passage up the EFSFSR (which has not been restored to this day). While the West Quarry was being mined and ore material being trucked to the Stibnite Mill (formerly the Meadow Creek Mill), the BMC conducted surface drilling exploration on the east side of the EFSFSR; this drilling revealed higher gold values than the West Quarry area, and nearly 600 feet of underground adits and crosscuts into the east area confirmed the surface exploration results.

In 1939, BMC’s operations were conducted from the area designated as the “East Quarry”, again in the area which would become part of the larger Yellow Pine Pit, and ore was hauled by trucks to the Stibnite Mill (formerly known as the Meadow Creek Mill), where construction was underway to expand the its capacity from 200 to 400 tons per day.

With the looming concern that the U.S. might be drawn into the war in Europe (World War II), the U.S. Congress passed and President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Strategic Materials Act in June of 1939.  This new law allowed the federal government to purchase mineral commodities that the Army and Navy Munitions Board had classified as strategic, and this Board designated both antimony and tungsten (two of the minerals prevalent in the Yellow Pine deposit) as strategic.

With the rising U.S. government interest in locating reserves of both antimony and tungsten, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Bureau of Mines initiated separate sampling, mapping, trenching and drilling projects to investigate the Yellow Pine area.  The USGS concentrated on mapping, sampling and core logging, with a particular interest in tungsten.  The Bureau of Mines, in conjunction with BMC, began exploration and development drilling in the Yellow Pine deposit area.  This joint drilling program, one of many such joint programs over the next decade and a half, was originally prompted by 1939 Strategic Materials Act, and later expanded by the entry of the U.S. into World War II and later into the Korea War.

With the discovery of tungsten in 1941, the BMC expanded the Stibnite Mill to produce a tungsten concentrate, and mining intensified in the Yellow Pine pit to produce tungsten, antimony and gold ore, and haul this ore by truck to the mill (see Photo 14).

Photo 14, Yellow Pine Pit (circa 1943)
Source: Photograph courtesy of the J Nock family.

Until 1942, mining was conducted on both the east and west sides of the EFSFSR, but, during this year, it became apparent that, if the Yellow Pine pit was to be expanded and deepened, a more efficient means to divert the EFSFSR had to be developed since the existing surface ditches constructed in 1938 to divert the EFSFSR were becoming inefficient. In late 1942 and into early 1943, the BMC drove a 3,500‐foot tunnel to divert the EFSFSR around the open pit to the east. The tunnel, which became known as the Bailey Tunnel, was driven by mining crews working from each end and measured about seven feet wide by nine feet high. The tunnel entrance was located on the east side of the EFSFSR while the tunnel outlet was located in the Sugar Creek drainage.  Upon completion, water was diverted into the tunnel to allow for Yellow Pine Pit expansion. (*2) (see Photo 15).

(*2) During the winter months and low flow conditions in the summer, BMC used the tunnel to facilitate removal of ore from underground workings beneath the open pit.

Photo 15, Bailey Tunnel: Diversion of EFSFSR into Sugar Creek (circa 1943)
Source: Photograph courtesy James Collord.

Throughout the era of World War II, the BMC recognized the vital importance of antimony and tungsten to the war effort and was diligent to expand and upgrade the operation and efficiency of the Stibnite Mill.  New ball mills, additional flotation cells and miscellaneous auxiliary equipment were added to the milling circuit.  Tailings were initially dumped in the Meadow Creek valley downstream of the mill and, later, upstream of the mill (see Photo 16).

Photo 16, Stibnite Mill and Tailings Pond (circa 1943)
Source: Photograph circa 1942, courtesy of James Collord.

Given its convenient location just south of the Yellow Pine Pit, the Monday Camp, which was originally installed in 1928 as a base area for driving the Monday and Cinnabar tunnels, was converted for use as a truck maintenance shop, machine shop, fuel storage facilities, and truck parking area (see Photo 17).

Photo 17, Monday Camp (circa 1944)
Source: Photograph courtesy James Collord.

Throughout World War II, the BMC payroll ranged between 300 to 400 workers, and the population of the community Stibnite had grown to approximately 750 people.  The town site area included employee homes, a recreation center with a bowling alley, an auditorium for weekly movies and monthly dances, a hospital with surgical facilities (*3), a four‐room school, an automobile service station, a general store, a restaurant, and a municipal waste landfill.  Stibnite also featured a ski team and a high school football team (see Photo 18).

(*3) This was the first hospital in Valley County.

Photo 18, Stibnite Town Site (circa 1945)
Source: Photograph courtesy James Collord.

Other “neighborhoods” existed in outside the main site for the town of Stibnite, including the Fiddle and Midnight neighborhoods (see Photo 19). The neighborhood of Fiddle is located in the lower Fiddle Creek Valley that is located slightly right of center in the photo, and the neighborhood of Midnight is found in the lower part of the photo, between the two pine trees.

Photo 19, Fiddle Creek and Midnight Creek Neighborhoods (circa 1945)
Source: Photograph courtesy Robin McRae.

In 1943, electric power demands at the Stibnite Mill complex and the surrounding administrative and housing areas had risen beyond the capacity of the existing hydroelectric power plant. Electric power for the Stibnite Mill was supplemented with twelve diesel generators (with its related fuel haulage requirements), but electric power demand was nearing the site’s capacity.  Idaho Power Company began construction of a 106‐mile long electric transmission line to Stibnite, and, in 1944, the line was completed with the capacity of 66,000 volts of electricity.  This new line replaced the site’s hydroelectric plants and diesel generators as the primary source of electricity to the site, and allowed the capacity of the Stibnite Mill to reach 800 tons per day.

During the summer of 1945, the BMC installed a crushing plant in the open pit.  The ore passed through a jaw crusher, up a 500‐foot long conveyor to a cone crusher, and then up another 500‐foot conveyor to a secondary crusher and then to ore storage bins (*4) (see Photo 20).

(*4) The conveyor system was powered by a series of Pelton water wheels housed in the floors of the crushing buildings.  These Pelton wheels used water from Hennessy Creek.

Photo 20, Yellow Pine Pit (circa 1946)
Source: Photograph courtesy Robin McRae.

In the fall of 1946, a new rod mill was added to the Stibnite Mill, which increased its capacity from 800 tons per day to 1,800 tons per day.  Later in the year, additional infrastructure was added to the mill that further boosted capacity to 2,400 tons per day.

By 1946, tailings disposal had become a logistical problem (*5).  The Bradley Mining Company was running out of room to discharge tailings adjacent to the mill, and the EFSFSR was being subjected to ever increasing sedimentation and turbidity from leakage and overflow from the existing tailings impoundments.

(*5) Before 1946, mill tailings were simply discarded into impoundments west of the mill or discharged directly into Meadow Creek.

During 1946, to alleviate this situation, the BMC constructed a large embankment west of the mill to create a storage area that was nearly a mile long and approximately 1,400 feet across at its widest point.  In conjunction with the expanded tailings storage area, the company dug a one‐mile long diversion canal (*6) to divert Meadow Creek around the south side of the new tailings facility and added a down gradient secondary settling basin to aid in the clarification of water being discharged from the tailings storage area before its release into Meadow Creek.

(*6) In 1959, the Forest Service ordered the BMC to breach the Meadow Creek diversion; this action allowed Meadow Creek to resume a more natural course through the tailings.  However, over the next 25 years, an estimated 10,000 cubic yards of tailings were eroded and carried downstream.  In 1998, contractors for Mobil Oil Corporation, the successor to one of the former mine operators, constructed a new channel around the SODA and the USFS completed that project.  In 2005, contractors working for state and federal agencies constructed a new channel around the lower Meadow Creek legacy tailings disposal site to re‐route Meadow Creek around the tailings in this area.

From 1946 to 1952, the Bradley Mining Company deposited an estimated 4 million cubic yards of mill tailings into this new tailings disposal facility (see Photo 21).  Note that the disposed tailings are found in the upper part of the photo, above the mill complex.

Photo 21, Stibnite Mill and Tailings (circa 1948)
Source: Photograph courtesy of James Collord

In 1947, after being the top U.S. producer of primary antimony for nearly a decade and with existing smelters having difficulty in recovering antimony and gold from the Stibnite Mill concentrates, combined with rising costs for transportation of concentrates from the site, the BMC decided to invest in the design and construction of an on‐site antimony smelter adjacent to the Stibnite Mill (see Photo 22 and Photo 23).  This project required new housing for construction crews and added employees.

Photo 22, Antimony Smelter under Construction (circa 1948)
Source: History of the Stibnite Mining Area, Valley County, Idaho.  Report prepared by Victoria E. Mitchell of Idaho Geological Survey, dated April 2000.

Photo 23, Completed Antimony Smelter (circa 1949‐50)
Source: History of the Stibnite Mining Area, Valley County, Idaho.  Report prepared by Victoria E. Mitchell of Idaho Geological Survey, dated April 2000.

The BMC continued to haul ore material from the Yellow Pine Pit for milling and smelting at its Meadow Creek facilities (see Photo 24).

Photo 24, Ore Haulage to Stibnite Mill and Smelter (circa 1950)
Source: USFS archive photo.

With the start of the Korean War, the BMC intensified its exploration efforts to locate additional tungsten resources.  The in‐pit crusher was moved, allowing the company to mine the remnant tungsten ore body beneath it.  In 1951, the company set up a 2,000‐cubic‐yard‐per‐day placer plant to reprocess tailings that had been released downstream of the Meadow Creek Mill that had mixed with alluvial gravels and to recover scheelite (tungsten ore) from the glacial till and gravels between the crest of the pit highwall on the north side of the pit and the confluence between the EFSFSR and Sugar Creek (see Photo 25).

Photo 25, Tungsten Placer Operation (circa 1951)
Source: Photograph courtesy of the DeMoss Family.

In 1952, the Yellow Pine Pit was more than 450 feet deep, with 40 to 80‐foot‐high benches.  Ore was being mined at a rate of 2,500 tons per day, with an ore‐to‐waste rock ratio of 1:1½.  The BMC was also awarded a government‐sponsored exploration program authorized by the Defense Minerals Exploration Administration under the Defense Production Act of 1950 that allowed this agency to provide economic support (generally 50 to 75% of the costs) to locate reserves of strategic and critical minerals. This government program did not change lack of demand or the price for antimony in 1952, which plummeted from nearly $0.52/pound in January to $0.36/pound at the end of the year.  In response to lack of demand and falling antimony prices, operations at the Yellow Pine Pit were suspended in June of 1952; the Stibnite Mill ceased operations in July; and the Stibnite Smelter was shut down in August.

The Yellow Pine Pit had operated continuously for nearly 14 years. …

After 1952, the Yellow Pine Pit was never re‐activated.

The EFSFSR diversion tunnel around the Yellow Pine Pit was abandoned, and flow from the EFSRSR was allowed to cascade into the abandoned pit, forming a pit lake. Despite the renewed flow down the valley, the un‐reclaimed highwall on the south side of the Yellow Pine Pit remained as a continuing barrier to fish passage (replacing that presented by the original diversion channel constructed by BMC in 1938 and later by the BMC water diversion tunnel installed in 1942) into the upper reaches of the EFSFSR and Meadow Creek (see Photo 26).

Photo 26, Yellow Pine Pit (circa 2014)
Source: Midas Gold collection

For several years after pit closure, the BMC conducted sporadic and limited contract milling and smelting from ore shipped into the site from mines external to the District; however, this activity proved uneconomic, and, in 1958, the smelter was dismantled and removed from the site.

Most residents left the community of Stibnite after operations ceased in 1952.  The town continued to exist for a short time, but with a continued dwindling number of residents. In the mid to late 1950s, many of the abandoned Stibnite houses were moved to Cascade and McCall, but the mill and mine support facilities, along with the remaining Stibnite houses and facilities were simply left to the elements of nature (see Photo 27 and Photo 28).  Through the years, remaining structures at the site were stripped of metal, burned on site and buried under a thin layer of cover material.  Nothing remains visible of the old Stibnite town, mill or smelter today, except for a few foundations.  The remains of two structures that housed the in‐pit crushers remain visible in the abandoned Yellow Pine pit.

Photo 27, Abandoned Meadow Creek Mill Site (circa 1978)
Source: Sharon McConnel

Photo 28, Abandoned Stibnite Recreation Center (circa 1978)
Source: Midas Gold collection.

Post 1960 Activity at Yellow Pine Deposit

After the closure and removal of the Stibnite Smelter in 1958, no substantial exploration was conducted at the site until the 1970s, when Ranchers and, later, its successor, Hecla, conducted drilling campaigns on the Yellow Pine Deposit that continued through the mid‐1990s.  This drilling was supplemented with trenching and geologic mapping, coupled with engineering, environmental and metallurgical studies.  The 1970s brought an interest in low grade oxide mineral deposits from which gold could be extracted using the heap leach extraction method developed by the U.S. Bureau of Mines.

From 1988 to 1992, Hecla developed a surface pit in an area, known as the “Homestake Pit”, which was adjacent to the old Yellow Pine Pit and that lies within the footprint of the proposed new and expanded Yellow Pine pit (see Photo 29).  This pit provided oxide material for Hecla’s heap leach operations that were located at the site of the surface facilities used for the historical Meadow Creek and Yellow Pine mines.

Hecla recovered gold from the Homestake pit and associated heap leach operations. …  Note the abandoned Yellow Pine Pit (and pit lake) in the upper right part of the photo.

Photo 29, Homestake Pit (circa 1991)
Source: Midas Gold collection

In the early 1990s, American Barrick Resources (Barrick) optioned the property; in a joint venture with Hecla, Barrick completed additional drilling and metallurgical test work before dropping the option.  In the late 1990s, Hecla relinquished its control of the property back to the Bradley estate interests after closure and reclamation of the operations at the Homestake Pit and associated heap leach facilities.

In 2003, Vista Gold Corp. acquired an option on the Yellow Pine Deposit from BMC and completed an independent mineral resource estimate and preliminary assessment of the site, but this firm did not undertake any exploration drilling work on the site.  No additional exploration activity was conducted at the Yellow Pine Deposit until Midas Gold acquired their interests from Vista Gold’s subsidiary Idaho Gold LLC in 2011.

West End Deposit

Gold mineralization was first discovered along the West End Fault by BMC in the late 1930s or early 1940s; during this time BMC’s exploration focused on replacement of reserves at their Yellow Pine operation.  Subsequent work, sponsored by the USGS, outlined a large biogeochemical and soil anomaly that led to follow‐up by Canadian Superior Mining (U.S.) Ltd. (Superior), and its successors.  A modern era of exploration and development stretched from the mid‐1970s to the mid‐1990s, prompted primarily by the rise in gold prices and the development of the aforementioned heap‐leach oxide gold recovery methods.

Superior conducted geological, geophysical, and geochemical investigations from 1974 to 1977 to evaluate the potential for heap‐leach oxide gold and silver in the West End and adjacent Stibnite deposit (now collectively known as West End Deposit). In 1979, Superior Oil Company, Canadian Superior’s parent company, purchased Superior’s outstanding shares and became sole owner of the West End Deposit, referred to as the West End Mine. After completion of an Environmental Impact Statement and the issuance of a favorable Record of Decision by the Forest Service, a 2,000‐3,000 ton‐per‐day (tpd) open pit oxide mining operation began in 1982 (see Photo 30).

Photo 30, West End Pit (circa mid 1990s)
Source: USFS archive photo

Superior installed a gold leaching process plant (see Photo 31) and constructed five “on‐off” heap‐leach pads on the west side of the EFSFSR, and north of the historical Stibnite Mill area. …  Between 1982 and 1996, Superior (and its successors) hauled oxide material from the West End Mine to the leach pad site, crushed this material, and placed it on one of the five lined pads.

Photo 31, Canadian Superior Heap Leach Process Plant (circa 1984)
Source: USFS archive photo

After the ore material was leached with a cyanide solution to recover gold, the material was neutralized and rinsed and became what miners call “spent ore”.  Superior (and its successors) removed this spent ore from the pads and hauled it for permanent placement over historical Stibnite Mill tailings (*7) that had been discarded into the upper Meadow Creek valley west of the now abandoned Stibnite Mill and Smelter.  Superior (and their successors) placed more than six million tons of spent ore in this location, which is commonly referred to as the Spent Ore Disposal Area (SODA); …

(*7) The Yellow Pine Mining Company and the BMC placed more than 4 million cubic yards of tailings materials in this area.  The majority of the legacy tailings are now located below the alluvial water table.  In addition, the upstream wetland, located west of the legacy tailings and SODA (formerly a water storage area related to Bradley’s operations), is also underlain by tailings.

As part of its spent ore disposal activity, Superior also constructed a new diversion channel to route Meadow Creek around the south side of the SODA.  Upon completion of gold and silver heap leach and processing activities, which included disposal of spent ore, the processing area, leach pads, and SODA area were reclaimed and seeded (see Photo 36).

Photo 36, Spent Ore Disposal Area (circa 2014)
Source: Midas Gold collection

In 1984, Mobil Oil Corporation (Mobil) purchased Superior Oil, and, in 1985, suspended mining at the West End Mine; however, the heap leach processing of previously mined material continued.

In 1986, Pioneer Metals Corporation (Pioneer) purchased the West End Mine from Mobil and re‐initiated mine operations and exploration activity, which continued until 1991, after which the site went through a series of owners and operators: Pegasus Gold Corporation (1992), MinVen Gold Corporation, later changed to Dakota Mining Company (1993), and Dakota Mining Company’s subsidiary company, Stibnite Mine Inc. (SMI), from 1994 until 1996.

During 1994‐1996, SMI conducted sporadic drilling and development of the West End Mine, including a small area on the east side of the West End Deposit known as the Stibnite Pit and a small pit, known as the Garnet Creek Pit (see Photo 37), located approximately 1.5 miles to the south of the Stibnite Pit.  The Stibnite and Garnet Creek Pits were short‐lived open pit mines. Ore material removed from the Stibnite and Garnet Creek Pits were leached on the Superior on‐off leach pads.

Photo 37, Garnet Creek Pit in 1997
Source: USFS archive photo

Gold and silver were produced from the West End Deposit from 1982 to 1996. … There has been no mining activity at the West End Deposit since 1996.

source with more (and better) photos and tables:
[h/t Midas Gold]
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History of the Stibnite Mining Valley County, Idaho

by Victoria Mitchell for the Idaho Geology Survey


Idaho History Sep 24

The Willey Ranch

Willey Family GenealogyWilleyFamilyP1000324

Compiled and edited by Eileen Duarte

Simeon A. (Sim) Willey and his wife Mary Alma Vickers homesteaded on the South Fork Salmon River in 1895. They had ten children, Ray, George, Arcie born 1982, Willys, Edith, Blanche born 1905 who married A. Gilbert McCoy, Earnest, Mary V. born 1908, Pearl born 1903 and Warner born 1900 married Margaret Lange. Sim died at is ranch in 1939. Norman Willey, Sim’s brother was Idaho’s second Governor.

source: “Free Land! Hopes and Hardships of Pioneers of Valley County, Idaho” by the Valley County History Project.
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Norman and Simeon Willey

by Sheila D. Reddy

… Norman Willey and his brother Simeon were born in New York State and educated there. Norman was twenty years older than Simeon, and he was working in the California gold fields when Simeon was born in 1859.

California was the training ground for early placer and quartz miners. By the time Norman came into the Idaho Territory in 1864, he understood the processes and the mechanics of mining, and the dynamics of living in a mining town. Willey settled in the Warren gold camp, and Simeon joined him there in the early 1880s.

Local newspapers, happy to receive word from the outlying mining camps, recognized Norman Willey’s correspondence as being far above average. The editors of the Boise and Lewiston newspapers were openly delighted to find a column from him in their in-coming mail. Willey later became friends with “Idaho Statesman” editor Milton Kelly; perhaps it was that friendship, combined with Norman’s interest in the political progress Idaho Territory was making towards statehood that drew Willey into a political career as a governor of Idaho.

Norman Willey’s term as governor was filled with strife and soon after he left office in 1893 he returned to the mines in California.

Simeon had married Mary Alma Vickers. Soon after Norman left Warren, Simeon, his young wife, and two small children packed their belongings and moved to a cabin on the South Fork of the Salmon River.

When Simeon made application for homestead on the South Fork ranch in 1918, he stated that during 26 years all members of the family were away from the claim only one night.

Homestead records indicate the Willey’s log ranch house was 40 by 60 feet, with an ell, 24 by 12 feet. This was a relatively large house. It was needed because the family had grown to nine children. The children attended school in a log bunkhouse on the ranch. One of their teachers was the famous pioneer, Mary Zumalt. Mary’s husband, Charles, drove the stage into Warren in the summer months and the mail sled in the winter, while Mary taught school.

One of the saddest facets of the Willey history took place in 1921. Penniless, Norman Willey’s eyesight and hearing began to fail and he moved to Kansas to be with a sister. He died there alone on November 2, 1921 at the country poor farm.

Simeon lived on the South Fork ranch until he died on November 26, 1939. The “Idaho County Free Press” wrote in his obituary, “Old Slim, as he was known to the people along the river and in Warren and McCall, was a genuine pioneer. His reason for seeking the seclusion of the Salmon River wilderness was never known.”

source: “Free Land! Hopes and Hardships of Pioneers of Valley County, Idaho” by the Valley County History Project.
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Sim Willey’s First Ranch

“The next ranch upstream from the South Fork located on the west side of the river was the Curley Brewer ranch. Brewer was not the first one to occupy this ranch. Simeon or Sim Willey was there sometime in the early 1880s. In 1896, the Willey family moved up river to Sheep Creek. …”

source: Homesteads (South Fork Salmon River) By C. Eugene Brock “Valley County Idaho Prehistory to 1920” Valley County History Project pages 211-212
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Willey Ranch

by Deanna Riebe

“Sim Willey homesteaded on the South Fork Salmon River in 1895, a few miles below the mouth of the Secesh River. He raised a large family there and provided a school for them on the ranch. The Willey Ranch was always a gathering place, and some say you could find a variety of people at the Willey’s for Sunday dinner – Chinese miners, local Indians, travelers passing through, and even the governor. Normal Willey was Idaho’s second governor, and also Sim Willey’s brother.

“The Willeys were also very much a part of the Yellow Pine community. Ted Abstein (the son of Henry Abstein) recalls that Sim Willey and his family would drive a steer from their ranch on the South Fork all the way to Yellow Pine for the Fourth of July celebration. The seer was barbecued on a spit through the night with men working in shifts, turning the spit, feeding the fire and basting. … Abstein also recalls family trips from Yellow Pine to the Willey Ranch by trail, in an over-the-mountains route, before a road was built along the river.”

source: Valley County, Idaho Prehistory to 1920 – Valley County History Project page 344.
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Willey Ranch Homestead Patent 1923
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Simeon A. Willey (1859 – 1939)

Simeon Willey dies at Ranch

December 7 (FP*) – The death of Simeon Willey, 80, at his cattle ranch on the South Fork of Salmon river on Sunday, November 26, removed another interesting patriarch from the Salmon river wilderness country.

He went to Warren in the early 80’s from New York state. At that time mining activity in Warrens camp was at a boom stage. Mr. Willey and his young family packed their worldly possessions on horses and said goodbye to Warren and civilization and crossed Warren summit into the South Fork canyon. They penetrated the rugged canyon country nearly fifty miles, following along the South Fork until they came to a spot where the canyon floor widened and on this spot they set their stakes. Young Willey and his youthful wife built a cabin and settled down to conquer the wilderness and raise a family.

While Simeon took to adventures in mining camp, his brother, Norman B. Willey, turned to adventure in the political life of the territory. Both were intelligent, educated men. Norman was elected lieutenant governor and when Governor George L. Shoup resigned to accept a seat in the United States Senate in 1890, the lieutenant governor took his place.

For many years the Willey’s nearest neighbors were the “Dead Shot” Reeds who has squatted on the South Fork 20 miles above. Occasionally during the year members of the two families would meet on the trail; it is said that neither family encouraged visitors.

The Willey family packed farm machinery on horseback from McCall, mowing machines, rakes, haystacker. An original small bunch of cattle was developed into a band of several hundred head. Abundance of range land and wild hay on the bar make the cattle venture a profitable one.

The elder daughter assisted her father with cattle on the range for many years. Two sons later helped. One of the boys was drafted during the World War and was killed. Except for an occasional prospector and hunters in the fall, the sparsely settled South Fork canyon was dominated by the Willey and Reed families.

Lou Thompson, at his place on the South Fork below, related his experience in taking the young Willey boy to McCall at the age of about 14 where the youth saw for the first time a train, automobile, stores, motion pictures – in fact, he got his first glimpse of civilization. The children had been taught at home by their mother.

“Old Sim” as he was known to people along the river, in Warren and McCall, was a genuine pioneer. His reasons for seeking the seclusion of Salmon river wilderness was never known.

Extracted from Cheryl Helmer’s Warren Times/A collection of news about Warren, Idaho. Henington Publishing Company, Wolfe City, TX., 1988.

* Idaho County Free Press, Grangeville.

He is buried on the ranch he homesteaded, next to his son Ray who died in 1918. (See Private Cemeteries).

His daughter Pearl Hitchcock’s obituary gives additional family history.

[h/t SMc]
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Pearl Willey Hitchcock

(1903 – 1993)

(From Pearl’s funeral, courtesy of Janet Cox Harshfield)

Pearl was from, and a part of, a pioneer family with a lot of history behind her – especially Idaho history. I found it extremely interesting so I want to share a little of that, not really as an obituary of her life, but rather a few interesting highlights from an intriguing family history. The family was here in America very early for there is the record of them being admitted to a Church in Boston in 1634. You realize that is only 14 years after the coming of the pilgrims on the Mayflower.

Pearl’s parents family originated in New York. Her grandmother was a Rosevelt.

Her father and his brother were part of the 1849 Gold Rush to California. Then when gold was discovered in Idaho they came to the Idaho Territory. Her uncle Norman Willey was a colonel in the Idaho militia during the Sheepeater war. Her father and uncle went into Warren as gold miners.

Her father’s brother, Norman Willey became the First Lieutenant Governor of Idaho and became the the second Governor of the State when Governor Shoup went to Washington D.C. as a senator. Her father moved to the Salmon River in 1895 to establish the Willey Ranch. (Valley County)

The Willey Ranch became the gathering place for everybody along the Salmon River country. When the circuit riders came through the people would gather at the Willey Ranch for church services.

They had the largest library in that part of the country. Both Pearl’s father and uncle graduated from the University of Kansas. Her uncle graduated from the University at age 17. They brought with them many books when they came to Idaho.

They had a private School on the ranch. Pearl went through 8 grades there. The population was so scattered that not too many neighbors got there but some did including such names as Dead Shot Reed’s family.

She took care of both her father and mother. In fact she nursed her father for the last few years of his life and ran the ranch herself for his last three years.

The ranch was the gathering place for neighbors and for travelers coming through, including the Nez Perce Indians who camped on their land during the salmon run and when snow got deep in mid-winter. When Pearl prepared dinner, especially Sundays, she never knew how many would be there. It would sometimes include Indians, very often some of the Chinese and forest rangers who might be in the area. The Willey’s were criticized severely because their dinner table and home was always open to the Chinese or the Indians as well as anyone else.

Pearl came to Emmett in 1933. She joined the Church in 1940.

She was married to Floyd Smith from 1941 to 1949. She was married to Robert Hitchcock from 1951 to 1959. So she was a widow for her last 33 years.

During her working years she did a lot of things but nursing was one of the dominant things. She did home nursing care before the term was coined. She also worked in the packing sheds, and for a number of years at Ore-Ida just after the company was started. Then of course she worked at the Senior Citizens – part of the time as a paid cook and served for a long time as a volunteer.

She has been a member of the first Baptist Church for nearly 53 years, and so very active. I remember her walking to church even from the South Slope area for a time, but she was always in every service for many years. And much of the time she had gathered up some of the neighbor kids and made sure they were in Sunday School and church. She remained faithful to her church to the end. She had nearly perfect attendance in 1992 in the morning services, and was in church the Sunday before she died. It is a rarity to see people as faithful and dedicated to their church over so long a time span as she.

source:  Gem County, IDGenWeb project
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Willey Ranch – Rebillet Ranch

One homestead had already been established during the Warren mining boom downriver at the mouth of Sheep Creek by Sim Willey. The Willey Ranch, as it was called, when the forest was organized, was later bought by Clarence A. Rebillet in the 30’s and is now referred to as the Rebillet Ranch.

“Bury My Soul at Krassel Hole” by Tom Ortman 1975
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Rebillet Family Tree

Clarence A. Rebillet
Birth: 1905 Guernsey, Platte County, Wyoming, USA
Death: Nov. 11, 1963 Camas County, Idaho, USA
Spouse: Marriage Date 7 Jun 1927
Reva Hortense Moon Rebillet (4/7/1903 – 8/11/1968 )
Clarence and Reva Rebillet are buried in the McCall Cemetery Block C-04, Lot 7 & 6
Louis Rebillet (1929 – 1985)
Bonnie Bertha Rebillet (1931 – 2001)
— —

Louis G. Rebillet
December 20, 1929 – August 18, 1985
Birth: Dec. 20, 1929 Guernsey, Platte County, Wyoming, USA
Death: Aug. 18, 1985 West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida, USA
Clarence Arthur Rebillet (1905 – 1963)
Reva Hortense Moon Rebillet (1902 – 1968)
Burial: McCall Cemetery, McCall, Valley County, Idaho, Block C-07, Lot 28
Husband of Rose Saleen. Father of Loues, Jill & Katy. Stepfather of Bill, Tom, Merrill, Dan, Steve, Rosana Saleen Little & Janet Saleen Meckel. SA, Navy, Korea, 1950 – 1951.
— —

Bonnie Bertha (Rebillet) (Don Caward) Davis
Birth: May 25, 1931 Wheatland, Platte County, Wyoming, USA
Death: Age 70; August 8, 2001, McCall, Idaho
Burial: McCall Cemetery, Block C-04, Lot 5
Clarence Arthur Rebillet (1905 – 1963)
Reva Hortense Moon Rebillet (1902 – 1968)
Mother of Joyce (Harold) Lukecart
Married Del Davis February 1967
— — — —

Louis G. Rebillet

Louis Rebillet regularly traveled the South Fork from the mouth of the Secesh River to Mackay Bar and Elk Creek during winters, and from Warren to the Willey Ranch during summers from 1946 to 1962.

— — — —

Louis Rebillet and Rose Marie Saleen

(photo courtesy C. Gillihan)

… “On June 7, 1974, when the older children had left the nest and the youngest was in his mid-teens, Rose married a childhood friend she had gone to school in Cascade with, Louis Rebillet. Louie, as he was affectionately known, was an elk and deer hunting outfitter in the South Fork of the Salmon River and Big Creek regions. He also hunted cougar in the wintertime and had killed 40 cougars by 1968. After a few seasons operating the outfitter business together, Louie sold the operation and moved to Boise with Rose. However, the big town of Boise was not to his liking. Soon, they were back in the mountains operating the hunting business at Mackay Bar and managing the Hettinger Ranch on the South Fork, where they fed about 60 head of horses and mules in the winter. Later, with Louie and Rose back in Boise, Louie took a truck driving job. In 1985, at age 55, he passed away while making a delivery stop in Florida. The years riding the trails with one of the best outdoorsman Idaho has ever known were incredibly good years for Rose.”

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Hunting transferred from Rebillet to Davis

Idaho Outfitters and Guides Board Meeting

August 14, 1960

“Transfer of Warren [hunting] area from Louis Rebillet to Del Davis was approved.”

— — — —

Bonnie Bertha Rebillet (Caward) and Del Davis

“Following military service Davis returned to Idaho, married his sweetheart, Bonnie, and settled on the ranch, which had belonged to his wife’s family. “Bonnie was very much the maverick woman,” remembers Fowler. “She was like Annie Oakley, and she loved being in the mountains.” They, along with their children, lived on the property year-round.”

source “A life in the Saddle”
— — — —

Del Davis

A life in the saddle

January 15, 2009


Text: Greg Wilson Photography: Jim Fowler

Early outfitters were a rare breed in Idaho, perhaps because there seemed to be no need for the moniker.

Informal guiding, on the other hand, dates back—at least—to the first time a stranger stepped onto the soil, long before statehood, and asked a Native American to point the way. If you lived in the Idaho wilderness, you found your own paths through it and shared them with anyone who may have asked for directions. Licensing? Why?

If you could stay alive out there, well, that seemed like license enough.

Nonetheless, in 1954, Idaho did license its first guides and outfitters—a few hardened men whose way of life evolved naturally into a way of making a living. Primarily fishermen and hunters, they emerged from the backcountry, the heart of the land, to share outdoor skills and local knowledge with “outsiders,” helping them bag a trophy elk or land an impressive rainbow, but also sharing a unique brand of Western personality, companionship, and wisdom. More than 400 licensed outfitters operate in Idaho today, employing more than 2,000 licensed guides; but, fifty years ago, they were few and far between.

Although many of these men are gone now, their stories, handed down by those who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with them in the backcountry, are still being told. The legend of hunting guide Del Davis, one of Idaho’s early outfitters, lives on through the words of fellow hunter, guide, and devoted friend, Jim Fowler, who says, “Del was tough as nails, sinewy and strong.” Davis was rugged, a reflection of the landscape in which he lived.

— — — —

Delton Arlie “Del” Davis

(1921 – 1990)


South Fork of the Salmon River – Delton Arlie “Del” Davis, 69, of the South Fork of the Salmon River, died Saturday, Oct 20, 1990, in McCall after a struggle with cancer.

Funeral services will be held at 2pm Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the Heikkila Funeral Chapel, McCall. Dan Rohrbacker will officiate. Burial will be at 2pm Thursday, Oct, 25, at the Willey Ranch Cemetery on the South Fork of the Salmon River.

Del was born in January of 1921, and reared and educated in Midvale. At age 20, he started as a packer and guide for geological survey crews and hunters. Later, Del worked for Boeing Aircraft in Seattle, until he joined the U.S. Navy during World War II. Upon being discharged at the end of the war, he returned to Boeing for a time, and also managed a fish plant on the coast. Del returned to Idaho and continued as an outfitter and guide until his illness this year. He married Bonnie Rebillet Caward in February of 1967, and they had since lived on the old Willey Ranch on the South Fork.

Del enjoyed having a place away from phones and the hustle and bustle of the outside world where his friends could come to relax. He loved the mountains, river, and animals; the company of friends and good stories; and the challenge of big game hunting.

Survivors include his wife, Bonnie Davis; three daughters, Judy Meyer of Bethel, Alaska, Cheri Bates of Boise and Kathey Stone of Weiser; a son, Delton “Buzz” Davis of Weiser; a stepdaughter Joyce Lukecart of McCall; 12 grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and three sisters, Margie Towll in California, Georgie Towll in Oregon and Dean Rotert in Washington. He was preceded in death by his parents; three sisters; two brothers; and his former wife and mother of their children.

Memorials may be made to Mountain Search & Rescue, Box 859, Cascade 83611.
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Delton Irvin “Buzz” Davis

(1944 – 2006)


Following a long and courageous battle with lung cancer, Buzz Davis quietly slipped away at home on March 29, 2006.

Born in Seattle, Wash. on Feb. 12, 1944, Buzz´s family moved to Weiser in the early 1950s. He was known to his friends and family as a cowboy, gold miner and a real good ole´ boy who loved life and lived it to it´s fullest. The son of an outfitter, Buzz had many fond memories of the back country and the people who, like him, appreciated the beauty and majesty of Idaho´s wilderness.

In 1991 Buzz returned to his roots and became a licensed Outfitter and Guide operating on the South Fork of the Salmon River for many years. He made lifelong friends from the East Coast to the West Coast.

In later years Buzz enjoyed gold mining, hunting, deep-sea fishing, and Karaoke singing with family and friends. Buzz loved helping folks out, be it working on their home, running heavy equipment or going on a much loved cattle drive. He touched every one he came in contact with in a very special way, we will miss him very much. He is survived by his life partner, Sharon Driessen, his children; Cheri and Joey Severence, Jay Davis and Diane and Jim Martin; sisters and their husbands, Cheri and Marc Meyer, Kathy and Alan Stone, a half brother Casey McMullen, Sharon´s children Lee Driessen and Shawna and Randy McKinnis, five grandsons and many nieces and nephews.

His mother, Thelma McMullen, his father, Del Davis and his sister, Judy Bates, preceded him in death. His family would also like to thank all of the Mountain States Tumor Institute doctors and wonderful staff for their support and care of Buzz during his illness. It was there he made many new friends. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations are given in Buzz´s name to MSTI in Fruitland c/o Thomason Funeral Home, Weiser, Idaho. Services will be held Saturday, April 1, 2006 at 3 p.m. at Thomason Funeral Home.

Published in Idaho Statesman on Mar. 31, 2006

[Ashes scattered along South Fork of Salmon River near Hamilton Bar]
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Willey Ranch Now

Mike Dorris at the Willey Ranch 2015

Photo and story by Debbie Gary Air & Space Magazine October 2017

… Before we flew back to McCall, Dorris landed at Willey Ranch, the steepest runway in Idaho—550 feet long at a 23-degree incline. One day his wheels got stuck in snow there, halfway up the runway. He and his passenger took turns holding the brakes to prevent the aircraft from sliding backward while the other man dug a path through the snow for the wheels.

Dorris used to deliver mail to Willey Ranch until someone burned the house down smoking in bed. He’d taken me there just to share the thrill. Imagine flying toward a mountain, then instead of turning, crashing, or climbing, you pitch the nose up just enough to land on it.

— — — —

Cessna 180 Departing Willey Ranch, Idaho


Cessna 180 Departing Willey Ranch, a private airstrip, on the South Fork of the Salmon.


Idaho History Sep 17

George Fritser

Fritser Ranch South Fork Salmon River

Homestead patented March 27, 1926 by Harry Fritser

Patent Image
— — — — — —

George Fritser

South Fork of the Salmon Wild and Free

An On-line Book by Jerry Dixon © 2001

July, 1972 Chapter 1

… and hiked out to the South Fork Guard station. There we met the Forest Service guards who knew all the old timers from the area. One who particularly interested me was a resident who had lived on the river at Fritser Creek for 70 years. The following summer, July 1973, I hiked in with fellow smokejumper, Jeff Fereday, to meet him.

“Is your name George Fritser,” Jeff inquired when we arrived.

“Used to be,” was the laconic reply.

George Fritser with weathered face, creased hands and bright eyes, was the son of an original Idaho homesteader. He lived on the site where he was born, January 5, 1902, for almost 90 years. There he tilled the land his father had settled on before the turn of the century. George was born in a log cabin that sat a stone’s throw from his latest house.

The Fritser homestead still lies on a sandy bar 50 ft. above the pellucid waters of the South Fork but it is empty now. It is rimmed in by steep mountains that allow only three hours of sun to filter in during December but there is no old timer that comes out to feed “his deer” and “chickens” (spruce hens) on brisk winter days. The large orchard with apple, plum and cherry trees is a remnant of what it was, the branches having been broken by foraging bears and the large beautiful garden is gone. Above the home where two large hay fields once were and livestock grazed is only a harrow that was carried in almost a century ago.

When George’s father, Harry Fritser Sr., came to the South Fork from Oregon in 1898 it was still a wild and perfect country. The river was teeming with Chinook salmon and wolves as well as brown bears roamed the steep mountains or river breaks as the locals referred to the canyon walls. Two Canadian miners Hollaway and Dunaway were mining the site that would become the Fritser homestead. They in turn had leased it to Chinese who mined but could not legally own land in America. In the 1980’s archeologists would find “spectacular” Chinese gardens that George knew about his entire life.

Harry Fritser Sr. claimed the bar where Hollaway and Dunaway had mined. The two Canadians had taken off down the river in a boat after their claims played out. They lost 500 feet of rope in the first rapids (probably Devil Creek). We can only speculate how far they got in a raft as the South Fork is a Class IV+ or V- depending on water level.

George was the first born to Harry and Charlotte Fritser, coming on a cold January day in 1902. After that followed 10 brothers and sisters, all brought into the world without the help of a midwife or doctor. The nearest town was Warrens which was a day’s ski away out of the gorge that is deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Charlotte Genant was living with her family on the South Fork when she married Harry Fritser. Harry took his bride and moved to a log cabin he had built on his homestead. The nearest neighbors were the Willy’s two miles upstream or the Hinkley’s one mile down river. In either case it meant getting across the South Fork which until recently called for rowing a boat or fording during low water.

South Fork of the Salmon River was at times a difficult place to grow up. To make ends meet, Harry Fritser would sell a cow in the fall or herd sheep in the summer. The large Fritser family did not have many conveniences. George described the good old days when, “We ate weeds and grass and drank milk mostly.”

Nonetheless, the Fritser children grew up in the serenity and beauty of the spectacular river gorge. Life was hard but Harry and Charlotte Fritser provided a stable family life for them. Then tragedy struck when Charlotte Fritser died during childbirth bearing her eleventh child. George, then 17 years old, skied to Warrens to get a doctor.

The only “doctor” he could find was Chinese so George brought him back to the river by descending the 5000 foot breaks (this historic trail is very close to where I jumped in 1972). The “doctor” administered herbs but could do nothing about the real cause of the problem which eventually led to Charlotte’s death on May 28, 1919. She was buried above the ranch on a shady knoll overlooking the river.

That fall (1919) the county superintendent of schools, Tersey J. Wayland, rode into the Fritser homestead on a borrowed horse. She had heard of the Fritser children (10 now, one daughter had died) living on the river with no mother and no school near. It was the law that all children had to go to public school. Mrs. Wayland wanted to bring them out to Boise to give them a chance to have a formal education. When she arrived at the ranch there was apprehension among the siblings because for the children to leave the ranch meant that Harry Fritser Sr. would be left alone.

George was in Cascade at the time fighting a fire. A vote was taken by the children when the school marm explained whey she had come. Some wanted to stay on the ranch and others wanted to see what life was like outside the canyon walls. They all eventually decided to leave with the superintendent. George later said that because of the law, the children’s vote was probably moot.

Traveling by horseback, the caravan of nine children and Mrs. Waylaid rode down the South Fork and up into Warrens where they spent the night in the old Warrens Hotel. Then they traveled to Boise where the children were all put up for adoption. It would take two years before they would all find a new home. George returned home to the South Fork after fighting a forest fire and left that fall for Boise, where he enrolled in school. When he tried to find out where his siblings were the adoption home denied him the information. It was 19 years before he found out where all of them were.

George stayed in Boise with the Witlock family until February 1923. He found Harry Jr. in Cascade staying with the Tersey J. Wayland family. During the time the brothers stayed there they had talks with a pastor in town who told the Fritser brothers they were working hard and receiving little in return. They would plow with four horses out in the Wayland’s field and then go to school. George remarked, “They would work us like slaves and never paid us anything.”

On a clear summer night in July of 1923 the brothers stole away from Cascade and the Wayland home. They only had a small sack of sugar between them and one rifle. They had planned to make it to the South Fork of the Salmon River in one day almost 67 miles. Sleeping at Scott Valley at the foot of the Salmon River Mountains, the next day they rose before the sun and crossed Big Creek summit and dropped into the headwaters.

The usually clear river was high and brown, and they had to descend to the ’49 ford before they dared cross. Even then they were in chest deep water. It took three days to reach home and a joyful reunion with their father. These were the only two of his children that Harry Sr. would ever see again . The sons stayed with the father until his death in September of 1927.

George and Harry Jr. became two of the earliest Forest Service employees. Harry Jr. died of “tick fever” in 1936 while packing horses in the Salmon River country. George said, “When they pulled the tick off his back it was as big as your thumb and the welt on his back was as big as your hand.”

Into his ninety’s George pulled ticks off himself every spring. He maintained that if a person paid attention you could feel them crawling on you and besides, “Ticks got to be on your skin for 24 hours before they stick their head in you.”

Except for brief periods when he served in WWII or worked as a watch repairman George has lived on the river. The conflagration of 1949 burnt down the original log cabin George was born in. The fire can only be compared to the ones that torched Idaho in 2000. Directly across the river, all that remains of the dense Douglas fir stand are small trees. But the two 50 ft trees shading his house he remembers as saplings in his youth. In 1951 he drug enough wood to build his house over the South Fork breaks. The entire house was built with $200 of lumber.

George was 70 years old when the first kayakers led by J. Cal Giddings kayaked the river in 1972. During the next decade I would be able to spend much time on the river with George and a part of every month. The last time I saw him was with Jeff Fereday and family in 1987, and like the river, he seemed to have changed very little, except that he was more ornery. Then in the winter of 1992 I received a call to my Alaskan home from Jeff, “There was a house fire, George could not get out.”

He had been staying three miles upriver at the Willy ranch, when a house fire started on a sofa spread quickly. George’s memorial is above the ranch where he spent his life next to his mother, brother and infant sister.

A weathered marker stands at the grave site.

The book South of the Salmon Wild and Free is copyrighted © 2001 by Jerry Dixon
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George Fritser

South Fork of the Salmon River

March 22, 1978 by Pearl Boydstun

Harrison Fritser was born in Missouri in 1867 his wife Charlotte Jeanott) was born in 1884.

Harrison traded his land in Garden Valley for a wagon, team of horses, cow and some chickens and moved to the South Fork of the Salmon River in 1898. He lived in a tent the first winter and the next summer he cut logs and built a house. Mr. and Mrs. Fritser were married in Roseberry, Idaho 1901.

They raised produce and packed on horseback to Warren, panned gold along the river to get money enough to pay their taxes and buy a few clothes, wild game and fine fish were plentiful so meat was no nroblem. One year they made $65.00 panning gold.

Mrs. Fitser died during childbirth May 28, 1919 she is buried on the South Fork ranch. After Mrs. Fitser passed away the County School Superintendent Tirza Wayland hired a Mr. Whitlock who had a string of rack horses in Warren to go to the Fitser ranch with her to bring the children out to attend school, they were taken to the children’s home in Boise excert the two older boys, George and Harry.

Harry stayed with the Waylands and George lived with Whitlocks. George was 17 years old and had never been inside a school house before he began working in the first grade and at the end of that term he was in the fifth. He attended the Maple Grove School in Boise Valley, his teacher was Bonnie Fisher. He stayed with the Whitlocks and went to school until 1923, he finished the 8th grade in Cascade, Idaho.

He went back to Boise Valley to see his brother Harry who was living with the Waylands. Mrs. Wayland became very ill so George stayed on to help with the work until she passed away.

While there he and Harry attended the Free Methodist Church, George was baptised in the Ridenbaugh Canal when he joined the church.

George and Harry decided they should go to see their father whom they had not seen for four years. They left the Wayland place in Boise early one July morning walking all the way to the South Fork, they traveled most of the time for three days and nights, sleeping only when they got too tired to walk, each carried a burlap sack which they would wrap up in under a tree to sleep.

When they reached the ranch Mr. Fitser was not there, he had gone to Warren for supplies, when he returned and found his sons there he was very happy, they sat un all night and talked.

Harry took a job packing supplies to the Split Creek Lookout and was stricken with tick fever (1935) he was taken to the hospital in Ontario, Oregon but it was too late he passed away and was buried in a cemetery in Ontario.

George went to work for Bailey Dustin who also had a ranch on The South Fork near Pony Creek then worked for a time for Brad Carey. He went back to Cascade to get some clothes he had left there and stayed to go to High School during the winter, then returned to the South Fork ranch the next summer. The ranch comprising about 45 acres lying along the river, it is patented land and now belongs to one of George’s younger brothers Who is a doctor in Twin Falls.

George has lived on the land most of his life and worked for the Forest Service until 1946. He raises a garden and some fruit especially berries, he winters horses for people who live in the surrounding mountains where the winters are long. He took a picture of a cougar that came into his yard in 1971 and laid down under a bush.

George is almost 76 years old now, a kind friendly man who has many friends, young and old.

McCall Public Library Collection
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Backcountry life’s for him

The Star-News 8-8-1984 By Mike Stewart


Where are the mountain men?
They’re down by the river
Big rollin’ river
gonna sweep right over you

Some kind of livin’
when you’re down by the river,
feeling that you’re home
and you’re never really lonely

Big Rollin’ River
Song by Ken Kuhne, McCall

The house sits on a bench above the South Fork of the Salmon River at the five-mile marker, north from the end of the South Fork Road.

A corrugated tin roof tops the structure. That’ s not unusual in snow country. But, what is unusual is that the exterior walls of the cabin are also corrugated metal.

George Fritser is the home’s builder and lone occupant, if you don’t count his dog Chipper or the rats which preclude his leaving for any lengthy periods.

Fritser won’ t say so, but one wonders if the metal sides have something to do with the fact that the first cabin Fritser lived in at the site burned to the ground in the Pidgeon Creek Fire of 1949. That cabin was the same one in which Fritser was born 82 years ago.

He built his current house in 1951, packing in the materials necessary on an old wagon road and hauling them across the South Fork on his cable car.

Fireproofing a house’ s exterior is the sort of caution that seems fitting for a man who, with the exception of a few years in Boise for schooling following World War I and summers working for the U. S. Forest Service, has spent his entire life working a 45 -acre ranch in the Idaho back country.

The eldest of 11 children born on the ranch to Harry and Janotte Fritser, George has watched over his small, isolated corner of the world for the better part of a century.

“The river hasn’t cut any deeper. It looks about the same. I can’t tell any difference,” he said.

But he has seen a great difference in the numbers and types of people he sees traveling up and down the river.

During his early years, the population of Warren, numbered around 1,000.

With their small parcel of land, Fritser’ s family worked as many of the Chinese in the area worked, raising and hauling fruits and vegetables into Warren for sale to the miners.

At the peak, Fritser said about 600 “Chineemen” lived along the river growing produce for resale to miners or “skim digging,” which Fritser defined as “working here or there wherever there was a hotspot.”

Produce would be packed to Warren and sold by the Chinese, who would then return with human waste from Warren to be used for fertilizer, he said.

A five-gallon coal oil can filled with strawberries was worth $5 at Warren, and one entire acre at the Fritser place was planted in the small red fruit, George said.

One of the terraced Chinese gardens located near Bear Creek, a few miles downstream from the Fritser place, was irrigated by a two-mile long ditch, he said.

“It took them two years to dig that ditch, and that’s where the two last Chineemen lived. They’ d come up here to visit every once in a while,” he said.

About 1918, the two, known as Chinee Bob and High Pockets, left the area. One went to Boise and the other returned to China, Fritser said.

The population in the area didn’ t peak, however, until the 1920s, when Fritser said about 2,000 miners worked on the dredges in the Warren area.

At its largest, the boom town of Warren had three general stores, he said. Several mines in the region had tunnels extending a mile or more into the mountains.

But he said the number of people in the area had a definite effect on the number of deer and elk.

“In 1916, there were only about three deer in the whole country,” he said. Happily, that has changed as the number of permanent residents along the South Fork has dropped since those days.

Life in the back country was not without hazards, one of which is aptly demonstrated by a story Fritser tells about himself and brother, Harry.

With their father gone herding sheep to raise grocery money for the winter’s supplies, the two were using a small boat to row back and forth across some “ripples” in the river above their ranch.

They stopped to land on a rock in the middle of the river and became stranded when they lost a grip on the rope tied to the boat. Attempts by their mother and another brother, Bob, to throw them a rope from shore proved futile, and the two spent the entire night sitting on the rock.

Finally, a neighbor living three miles upstream at what is now the Del Davis Ranch came to their rescue by swimming his horse out to the rock to pick up each of the boys.

“That was the longest night I ever put in,” Fritser said. “It rained a bit in the middle of the night and the river raised a bit.”

George and Harry were the only two, residents of the ranch after their father died in 1927. Their mother had taken the children to Boise in 1919, and, with the exception of occasional visits, their father was alone until 1923 when Fritser and another brother, Eric, returned to the ranch.

“Dad, he was glad to see us,” Fritser said.

Following their father’ s death, George and Harry took care of things until Harry died a young man in 1936 from “tick fever.”

“So, I was. by myself in 1936,” he said.

By himself, but not alone, as Fritser remembers the days when salmon and steelhead used to run up the river in large numbers, and when huge dolly varden trout could be caught by the hundreds in a fishing hole just below his place.

“I have to get out fishing one of these days,” he said, spurred on by the talk of big fish. He said it’s been several years since he went fishing in the river that’s only a stone’ s throw from his house.

Fritser is now living on the pension he earned working summers for the forest service, seven of which were spent on the Tailholt fire lookout a few miles above his place.

The Fritser acreage, once nearly taken up by, cultivated garden, has almost returned to a natural state. Only a ‘ few apple trees stand in the otherwise grassy meadow above his cabin.

Four of George’ s sisters are still alive, three in Boise and one in Twin Falls, but he is the last of the brothers with whom he grew up.

Why has he stayed on in the South Fork, alone, when most people his age are living in retirement centers or with other family members?

Besides the rats, which he said would take over the place if he left it unattended, Fritser said he likes it along the river.

“I’m always catching a cold out in town,” he said.

Besides, he added, “A man just gets used to living out here.”

Here’s to the heroes
that live down on the river
here’s to ol’ George Fritser
who endured the
strongest storm

And when his life is over
no small man shall
put him under;
his spirit shall continue
in the legends and the songs

McCall Public Library Collection
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Cabin blaze claims backcountry old-timer

South Fork-Salmon River — An aging backcountry man died in a cabin blaze here early Monday morning.

Valley County Coroner Marvin Heikkila said George Fritser, 89, died of smoke inhalation in a cabin on the Del Davis Ranch, where he had been cared for over the last three years by Bonnie Davis and her stepson, Buzz Davis. The cause of the fire, which burned the cabin to its foundation at approximately 6:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9, remained undetermined as of Tuesday.

“The cabin was totaled,” Heikkila said, “all except the concrete.”

Heikkila and Valley County Sheriffs Deputy Dave McClintock recovered the remains Monday afternoon. Buzz Davis, who had apparently been sleeping in the basement when the conflagration began, was treated for second degree bums on his hands. Davis and his stepmother, who was not present, had cared for Fritser for some time.

This gentleman had lived on the river all his life, and he was to the age where he couldn’t take care of himself,” Heikkila said. “He did not want to come out, so about three years ago he moved up there and they started taking care of him.”

The cabin where Fritser died is about three miles south of his own cabin on the South Fork. Ironically, he had carefully fireproofed his own cabin with corrugated sheet metal, possibly because the cabin in which he was born burned to the ground in the Pigeon Creek Fire of 1949.

On the river all his life, Fritser was witness to hundreds of “Chineemen” skim digging and selling vegetables to miners along the river. He saw the deer population along the river nearly eradicated by Warren’s mining boom in the teens and 20s of this century, and also saw fish runs along the river such as those in following generations may never see again. Fritser was so much a, part of the backcountry that he refused to be moved out for geriatric care or even cataract surgery, reports said.

No investigation is planned.
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George Albert Fritser


Davis Ranch — George Albert Fritser, 89, died Monday, Dec. 9, 1991, at the Davis Ranch on the South Fork of the Salmon River.

Memorial services will be held in his honor at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18, at the Relyea Funeral Chapel, 318 N. Latah, Boise.

George was born Jan. 5, 1902, at the Fritser Ranch on the South Fork of the Salmon River in Valley County, Idaho, the first child in a family of 11 children of Harrison and Charlotte Fritser. His mother and father both came to the South Fork in 1898 to homestead.

George had lived most of his life on the South Fork where he worked for the Forest Service from 1926 to 1935, while living at the Fritser Ranch. In the fall of 1942, he entered the armed forces and was stationed at Hammers Field, Calif., and later was transferred to the 22nd Air Corps at Davis Monthan Field, Ariz.

During his lifetime, he traveled to many interesting places, but George always returned to the family ranch on the South Fork and his peaceful existence in the mountains of Idaho. Over the years, many family members and friends visited George and experienced the wonderful Idaho outdoors with him.

Survivors include four sisters; and numerous nieces and nephews. The family suggests that memorials may be made to Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue, P.O. Box 741, Boise 83701.

Idaho History Sep 10

Deadwood City

Started in 1867, the first settlement lasted only a few years. Since then, there have been bursts of activity now and then with the latest occurring in the 1940s. The present Deadwood Lodge is a stopping place for those wishing to explore the old camp, which is located on the upper Deadwood River behind the Lodge. There one will find the remains of the mine buildings. Along the road below the Lodge are the remains of several old miner cabins.

Submitted by Henry Chenoweth
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Idaho State Historical Society
Refrence Series Number 223 September 1996

Excitement over placers in Deadwood Basin attracted several parties in the early summer of 1863, and the Golden Age of July 15 announced that prospects ranged as high as 12½¢ to the pan. A company of Frenchmen worked most of the summer of 1864, and several placer finds on the South Fork of the Payette River, not far from the mouth of the Deadwood, kept prospectors in the vicinity. Interest in the Deadwood placers grew that fall when a mining district was organized on October 17. Reports of finds running 50¢ to $1 per pan brought many men there from Boise Basin. One company made $600 in one day, but the commotion was a temporary one. When mining at Deadwood began again in 1867, the district was regarded as brand new.

Nathan Smith, one of Idaho’s most distinguished prospectors and a member of the Florence discovery party, revived the Deadwood mines. The miners’ meeting over which he presided on August 16, 1867, and in which a new district was organized, may be regarded as the serious beginning of Deadwood placer operations. When the story of the new discoveries reached Idaho City, a stampede to Deadwood resulted on September 8-9, 1867. J. Marion More’s party found a gulch that prospected 50¢ to $2 to the pan, and two or three other gulches also promised to yield well. After James A. Pinney, postmaster in Idaho City, returned on September 14 with a good report, it was hoped for a time that Deadwood would build up Idaho placer mining to something like that of the earlier boom days. By the time mining ended for the fall, however, only four gulches had proved workable. Deadwood City already was “quite a little town.” But aside from arranging to construct a substantial ditch for use in the dry gulches the next spring, little could be done that fall.

Mining commenced in earnest about the beginning of May 1868.

One hundred men went to work in the older (August 1867) placers, and about thirty prepared to open up a new placer area as soon as the snow melted. One three-man company in the old snow-free district cleaned up $5,000 with a giant hydraulic in two weeks, and production increased when the new 300- to 400-inch ditch came into use on May 4 (water was supplied at what was regarded as a reasonable rate of 50¢ to 65¢ an inch for twenty-four hours). At the very beginning of the season, two men in the newer placers made $212 in two days, and in the middle of May two men took out $70 in one day with a rocker in a dry gulch. The average daily production for the most successful company reached $100 during the season that ended early in July. Those were the high figures for the area, but even so, placers were worked easily and promised to last for more than one season.

Quartz possibilities in Deadwood Basin pointed the way to the main future production of the district. On May 16, 1868, one prospector worked a rich outcrop at the rate of sixty-two ounces to the ton, using a “rough process,” and another good vein was discovered on June 2. Then in July, J. G. Bohlen, whose experience in the mining country had been limited to running the Idaho City Dancing School, astonished everyone with still another very rich quartz ledge. These quartz prospects could not come into production instantly, but they finally accounted for most of the Deadwood yield.

Interest in Deadwood diminished in 1869 with the gold rush to Loon Creek, and by 1876 Deadwood City had become a ghost town.

Mining finally resumed there from 1924 to 1932. By 1947, a Deadwood lead-zinc property had yielded about $1 million.

(This information has not been edited.)
Publications–450 N. 4th Street, Boise, ID 83702–208-334-3428
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History of the Deadwood Mine, Valley County, Idaho

Author Victoria E. Mitchell Year: 2007
Idaho Geological Survey
Morrill Hall, Third Floor
Staff Report 07-2 University of Idaho


The Deadwood Mine is in the Deadwood mining district in secs. 11 and 12, T. 13 N., R. 7 E., on the Bernard Mountain 7.5-minute topographic quadrangle. The mine is approximately 25 air miles east-southeast of Cascade, Idaho (Figures 1, 2, and 3). The mine is at about 6,000 feet in elevation, and the mill ruins are about 200 feet lower. The mine is on Pilgrim Mountain near the head of Deadwood River.

The Deadwood Mine is actually a consolidation of the properties owned by two separate mining companies: the Lost Pilgrim Mining Company and the Hall Interstate Mining Company (Table 1). The claim blocks of these companies adjoined each other and covered parts of the same vein system. A third company, the Deadwood Mining Company, Limited, owned claims adjacent to the Hall Interstate Mining Company.

Access to the property from Cascade is 35 miles of paved road and 17 miles of gravel road. Between January and June, snow closes the road, and the only access is by snowmobile (Reimers, 1981). The first time Idaho Mine Inspector Stewart Campbell visited the property in 1922, he left Boise at 5:30 a.m. by automobile, traveled via Lowman and Bear Valley, and reached the mine at 11:30 p.m. that night after walking the last 8 miles from the end of the wagon road (Campbell, 1931). Conditions had improved greatly over that arduous trip by the time Bunker Hill took over operation of the property in the mid-1920s, but the following description from Campbell (1930, p. 38) shows how isolated the mine was:

From about the 10th of November to the 20th of June each year the roads are closed to wheeled vehicles, and the only means of communication, other than Forest Service telephone, is by dog sled [Figure 4]. The teams are employed under contract, and two are necessary to meet the schedule of three mail deliveries to the mine per week. The trip between the mine and Cascade requires two days. The contract calls for a 100-pound load and the transportation of one company official or injured employee when necessary, but the contractor is obliged to carry only the mail. Two cents per pound is paid for freight and five cents per pound for personal baggage.
Click image for larger size

During the summer months three 5-ton dump-body trucks [Figure 5] are used for hauling the concentrates and supplies. The trucks operate on a 24-hour schedule and make two round trips per day. All hauling is done under contract at a price of $10.00 per ton in each direction. As supplies of all kinds in sufficient quantities to maintain operations throughout the winter months must be hauled during the open season, the trucks moving in both directions are usually fully loaded.
DeadwoodTrucks-aClick Click image for larger size

continued w/maps and photos:
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Pictures from Earl Waite

(courtesy of Scott Amos)

(click image for full size)


(click image for full size)

(click image for full size)
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Deadwood Mine

Preliminary Assessment Report

Valley County, Idaho
February 2000
Monica Tonel – Task Monitor
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Deadwood Mine is an inactive gold and silver mine located in Valley County, Idaho. The site operated from 1924 to approximately the mid-1940s. A former mill, laboratory, bunkhouse, and cabin are present on the site. Tailings piles, several waste rock piles, adits, and seeps were also observed. The START observed water discharging from the adits into an unnamed creek on the site. The START also observed tailings migrating into a suspected wetland adjacent to the Deadwood River. Based on site conditions, further action at the site under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) is recommended.

full report:
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Deadwood Dam

Deadwood Dam is located in west-central Idaho on the Deadwood River about 25 miles above its confluence with the South Fork of the Payette River and about 90 miles above Black Canyon Diversion Dam. The damsite is located in a narrow canyon where the Deadwood River has cut into granite bedrock, approximately 53 miles northeast of Boise, Idaho. The dam lies on the western slope of the Sawtooth Mountains with elevations in the basin varying from 5311 feet by the dam to about 8,696 feet at Price Peak. Deadwood Reservoir is three and one half miles long and covers 3,180 acres. Deadwood Dam is a concrete-arch structure with a structural height of 165 feet and a total capacity of 154,000 acre-feet, providing a regulated flow for the powerplant at Black Canyon Diversion Dam and for irrigation in the Payette Division and Emmett Irrigation District.


Foundation: Hard, sound granite, massive at left abutment and fissured with sheet and block joints at right abutment. Two tightly filled fault-zone seams cross foundation on right side.

source US Bureau of Reclamation
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Deadwood Reservoir

Deadwood Reservoir is a reservoir in the western United States, in Valley County, Idaho. Located in the mountains of the Boise National Forest about 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Cascade, the 3,000-acre (12 km2) body on the Deadwood River is created by Deadwood Dam. The river flow south from the dam and is a tributary of the South Fork of the Payette River. The reservoir and vicinity is commonly used for camping, water skiing, fishing, canoeing, and other outdoor recreation. The full pool surface elevation is just above a mile-high at 5,334 ft (1,626 m) above sea level.

Approved by President Coolidge in 1928, the isolated site required substantial road building. Construction of the concrete arch dam itself began in late 1929 and was completed in March 1931.

continued Wikipedia

Construction of the Deadwood Dam in 1930

Deadwood Dam in summer 2010

Bureau of Reclamation
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Deadwood Reservoir

Species Present: Rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, landlocked fall chinook salmon, Atlantic salmon, bull trout and cutthroat trout.

Seasons: Late June to October. Fishing rules and regulations in the Boise National Forest are established by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. See current fishing regulations, call (208)334-3700, or write Idaho Department of Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID 83707.

Access: Deadwood Reservoir is on the Deadwood River in the South Fork Payette watershed. It’s at 5,300′ elevation. The Deadwood Reservoir is commonly accessed by Forest Roads 555, 582, and 579. The roads into the reservoir normally do not open until mid to late June. Please check with the Lowman Ranger District for current road conditions.

Camping: There are four campgrounds, Barneys (6 units), Cozy Cove (11 units), Howers (6 units) and Riverside (9 units), and a boat ramp at Cozy Cove.

Maps: Deadwood Reservoir map

Lake and Reservoir Fishing Opportunities on the Lowman Ranger District

Bull Trout Poster

Comments: Please note that threatened bull trout inhabit these waters and must be released unharmed immediately if caught.

Please read the Bull Trout Alert.

The Boise Forest Fisheries Program Manager would appreciate information about large bull trout that are captured in the reservoir.

Trolling from a boat is a popular method of fishing. With plenty of other fish to eat the weight of chinook and Atlantic salmon in the reservoir can reach double digits so anglers will need to match their gear accordingly.

More Information: Lowman Ranger District, (208) 259-336. Idaho Department of Fish and Game Idaho Fish and Game Southwest Region, 3101 S. Powerline Rd, Nampa ID 83686 (208)465-8465.

source Boise National Forest
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CL-415s Scooping from Reservoir 21Aug16

airailimages Aug 22, 2016

A pair of adroitly piloted CL-415 amphibious air tankers scooped water from Idaho’s Deadwood Reservoir on 21 August 2016 for use against the Pioneer Fire not far away. The billowing bloom of smoke from the fire provided a backdrop for the aircraft as well as the local population of ospreys. At day’s end, in the valley far below the reservoir a Firehawk and Skycrane helicopter settled in for the night at Cascade, Idaho, with smoke from the fire coloring the sunset. Thanks to all the wildland fire professionals working this and other fires.

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Deadwood Lodge & Outfitters

Deadwood Lodge offers Idaho backcountry wilderness activities any time of the year! Since 1969, our family owned and operated outfitting service has been customizing Idaho vacations for individuals, families, and groups from 2 to 30! Our remote wilderness setting is a favorite location for family reunions, family vacations, corporate retreats and getaways, women’s retreats, individual vacations and even for groups of friends. Our guests arrive looking for everything from a peaceful, relaxing setting, to adventure trips; to a combination of both and at Deadwood Outfiitters Lodge we have it all!

By popular request, we also host several clinics and special events during the year, including our annual photography clinic, fly fishing clinic, and shooting skills classes. Sign up for our newsletter or contact us if you would like to be notified of upcoming clinics or special events. All of our special events and clinics offer time for learning and plenty of time for hands on experience. You won’t be disappointed!

Deadwood Lodge & Outfitters sits one mile from the boundary of Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area, the most scenic & pristine area left in the country. Our facility consists of a rustic lodge, three 2-story guest cabins, wood-fired hot tub, barn, corrals and bunkhouse. Comfortable, yet maintains the atmosphere of the backcountry. The perfect setting to “experience” Idaho’s wilderness and all its’ splendor just as the cowboys did before cars, television, and cell phones were invented!

more info:

Idaho History Sept 3

Labor Day History

Rosie the Riveter “We Can Do It!” by J. Howard Miller

Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon of World War II, representing the women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II, many of whom produced munitions and war supplies.
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Labor Day

Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend and it is considered the unofficial end of summer in the United States. The holiday is also a federal holiday.

Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor. “Labor Day” was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, which organized the first parade in New York City. In 1887, Oregon was the first state of the United States to make it an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day.

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History of Labor Day

Labor Day: What it Means

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Labor Day Legislation

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

he First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

A Nationwide Holiday

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday.

excerpted from US DOL
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The bloody history of Labor Day

Jeff Spross September 5, 2016 The Week

Everett Collection/Newscom

Most people probably don’t think of Labor Day as a holiday commemorating struggle and death. But that’s what it used to be.

The period between the Civil War and the Great Depression was a time of massive upheaval: The industrial revolution swept in, and millions of Americans were forced to leave their farms and move to cities in search of work in the newly-formed rail, steel, textile, and shipping industries.

Economic policymaking was still ad hoc and primitive. Massive recessions regularly created mass poverty and threw enormous numbers of people out of work. The rules, both legal and social, were still being formed for how employers could treat employees, and how the wealth they all collectively produced would be distributed. Inequality soared to enormous heights by the end of the period. The minimum wage, the 40-hour work week, laws against child labor, and more were only instituted after pitched political combat. Unions were growing as the one avenue by which workers could fight for their interests, and the economy saw waves of regular strikes and work stoppages that would be unheard of today.

Sometimes, the battles were literal: Employers and politicians were not shy about busting unions with police forces and hired enforcers. Riots, deaths, and bombings were not uncommon.

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The US celebrates Labor Day because of a bloody clash over 100 years ago that left 30 people dead and cost $80 million in damages

Áine Cain Business Insider Sept 2, 2017

Labor Day tends to be a pretty low-key US holiday.

Workers across the country typically receive a Monday off to enjoy the unofficial end of summer and shop the sales.

But the history behind the day is far more dramatic and charged than this modern day observance suggests. US President Grover Cleveland signed the holiday into law just days after federal troops brought down the bloody Pullman strike in 1894.

Indiana state professor and labor historian Richard Schneirov, who edited “The Pullman Strike and the Crisis of the 1890s,” told Business Insider that this particular strike proved to be a sort of “culmination” of the fraught debate over labor, capital, and unions in the 19th century.

A contemporary drawing depicts strikers clashing with troops. Wikimedia Commons

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This Day In Labor History: July 11, 1892

By Erik Loomis On July 11, 2012 (Blog)

On July 11, 1892 striking silver miners in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho blew up the Frisco Mill, a mine building filled with guards, after getting into a firefight with Pinkertons, killing two mine employee and taking about 60 mine guards prisoner. This led the governor of Idaho to declare martial law over the mining district, crushing the mine strike.

Conditions in the northern Idaho mining district were as bad as you’d expect in the 1890s. High number of deaths, endemic poverty, etc. In order to invest in new machinery, the mine owners wanted to cut costs. Naturally, they chose to make their lives of their workers more hellish. They demanded an increase in the work day from 9 to 10 hours, 7 days a week and with a pay cut on top of it.

In response, the miners decided to strike. What’s interesting in this strike was the sense of industrial solidarity expressed by the workers. The 3000 miners demanded not only good wages for themselves, but for the 500 common laborers who toiled in the mines.

Typically, the mine owners responded in two ways. First, they shipped in thousands of scabs, mostly from Montana. The Idaho miners did have some success in turning them toward the strike, but it was an uphill battle.

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Miners’ uprisings

During its first years of statehood, Idaho was plagued by labor unrest in the mining district of Coeur d’Alene. In 1892, miners called a strike which developed into a shooting war between union miners and company guards. Each side accused the other of starting the fight. The first shots were exchanged at the Frisco mine in Frisco, in the Burke-Canyon north and east of Wallace. The Frisco mine was blown up, and company guards were taken prisoner. The violence soon spilled over into the nearby community of Gem, where union miners attempted to locate a Pinkerton spy who had infiltrated their union and was passing information to the mine operators. But agent Charlie Siringo escaped by cutting a hole in the floor of his room. Strikers forced the Gem mine to close, then traveled west to the Bunker Hill mining complex near Wardner, and closed down that facility as well. Several had been killed in the Burke-Canyon fighting. The Idaho National Guard and federal troops were dispatched to the area, and union miners and sympathizers were thrown into bullpens.

Hostilities would again erupt at the Bunker Hill facility in 1899, when seventeen union miners were fired for having joined the union. Other union miners were likewise ordered to draw their pay and leave. Angry members of the union converged on the area and blew up the Bunker Hill Mill, killing two company men.

In both disputes, the union’s complaints included pay, hours of work, the right of miners to belong to the union, and the mine owners’ use of informants and undercover agents. The violence committed by union miners was answered with a brutal response in 1892 and in 1899.

Through the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) union, the battles in the mining district became closely tied to a major miners’ strike in Colorado. The struggle culminated in the December 1905 assassination of former Governor Frank Steunenberg by Harry Orchard (also known as Albert Horsley), a member of the WFM. Orchard was allegedly incensed by Steunenberg’s efforts as governor to put down the 1899 miner uprising after being elected on a pro-labor platform.

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Angry Union Men Blow Up Wardner Mill, Kill One Non-Union Worker

South Fork Companion April 19 (blog)

Wardner mine before bombing, ca 1899. Washington State Archives.

On April 29, 1899, a train packed with perhaps a thousand angry union members rumbled along the tracks leading from Burke and Wallace into the Kellogg-Wardner area. They were headed for the concentrator mill of the Bunker Hill & Sullivan (BH&S) Mining Company in Wardner, Idaho.

Near Wallace, they had loaded up with “giant powder” (an early form of dynamite). The act of violence they planned arose from years of labor-management confrontation, which had reached a “critical mass” in the previous few months.

Few “good guys” appeared in this tragic opera. The companies generally extracted substantial returns from their properties, while paying the miners as little as possible for their dangerous and debilitating labor. For years, many refused to recognize the miners’ union as a legitimate bargaining unit. Plus, they routinely placed spies in the union ranks.

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Bunker Hill & Sullivan Concentrator…before and after the wreck.

by John T. Richards Jr.

link to photos
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This Day In Labor History: December 30, 1905

By Erik Loomis December 30, 2011 (Blog)

On December 30, 1905, former Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg walked home after a snowstorm in Caldwell, Idaho. When he arrived he pulled open his outside gate, triggering a bomb that blew him ten feet into the air and killing him. The assassination of Steunenberg led to one of the biggest show trials in American history, as prosecutors decided to try several leading American radicals, most notably Western Federation of Miners executive and future Industrial Workers of the World head Big Bill Haywood.

Steunenberg had arrived in Idaho from Iowa in 1887, quickly getting involved in local politics. In 1890, he was elected to the state legislature and in 1896 won the governorship at the head of a Democratic/Populist fusion ticket. Like a lot of Populists (William Jennings Bryan to his credit was an exception), Steunenberg was elected with labor support but became a tool of corporate power once he achieved office. The mines of northern Idaho were a hotbed of radicalism in the 1890s. The Western Federation of Miners, precursor to the I.W.W., were organizing workers around their terrible wages and working conditions, as well as violent suppression of unionization through the use of Pinkerton spies to fire anyone who signed a union card.

The miners had two reasons to elect Steunenberg. First, he claimed to represent working-class interests. Second, many of these miners were working in silver and silver coinage was a key part of the Populist platform. But when the workers went on strike in 1899, Steunenberg betrayed them, taking bribes from the miners to crush the strike.

Steunenberg declared martial law and convinced William McKinley to send in federal troops to crush the strike. Hundreds of activists were rounded up and kept in stockades for months without trial. Steunenberg stated, “We have taken the monster by the throat and we are going to choke the life out of it. No halfway measures will be adopted. It is a plain case of the state or the union winning, and we do not propose that the state shall be defeated.”

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Idaho Department of Labor Agency History

The Great Depression

Widespread unemployment on an unprecedented scale following the economic collapse in 1929 led the federal government to create a nationwide system of public employment offices in each state. These offices, created under the Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933, were designed to manage labor exchange functions at the local level and reduce huge federal expenditures for public works and civilian relief. In 1933 the National Re-employment Service was established as a temporary measure until each state could establish its own employment service. The Idaho Legislature accepted the provisions of the Wagner-Peyser Act and in May 1935, the Idaho State Employment Service was opened in Boise.

Unemployment Insurance System Created

In 1935, Congress enacted the Social Security Act, which established a system of employer taxation to support the unemployment insurance program. To secure administrative funding and tap the federally established trust fund, the Idaho Legislature enacted the State Unemployment Compensation Law in August 1936. It provided for payment to Idaho claimants beginning in September 1938. Claims for unemployment benefits had to be made through Idaho’s employment offices, which by then numbered 21 throughout the state. Idaho law placed both the Employment Service and the Unemployment Compensation divisions under the Industrial Accident Board.

World War II Federalizes Employment Service

To meet war production needs, Idaho’s Employment Service Division was federalized during World War II and focused on placing unemployed workers in public service jobs. After the war, labor exchange functions were returned to the states and efforts were aimed at finding jobs for returning veterans. While these functions reverted back to the states, financing the Employment Service Division was assumed by the federal government. Both the labor exchange and the unemployment insurance programs remained under the control of the Industrial Accident Board until 1951 when the Legislature revised the State Employment Security Law to consolidate these functions in the independent Employment Security Agency of the state of Idaho, reporting to the governor.