Category Archives: Weekly History

Idaho History Dec 10

Knox, Idaho


John Wesley Knox prospected in the Warm Lake area. The mining company that bought his and his partners claims named the way station “Knox” after him.

Ca 1898

Charles C. Randall filed a mining claim, built the first structures, and began to rent lots to others as Knox became a major stop for miners taking the Thunder Mountain Road into Roosevelt. In 1904 he was postmaster at Knox. For a short time the site was called Randall. Randall filed a homestead entry on Knox in 1909 but didn’t get it patented. He operated a hotel, store, and stable. The town served about 200 people. He left about 1912.
From notes in the Knox file at the State Genealogical Library, author unknown.


Dewey obtained public funding to rebuild a pack trail into a wagon road from Crawford (E. of Cascade) to Knox (NW of Warm Lake). The road was not completed until 1904.
Source: Rivers & Rails p28 & 29.


Knox had a post office.
From History Of The Boise National Forest p145 & Trails of the Frank Church – River Of No Return, p 292.

1905, Aug.12

T. J. Little killed Charley Hanlen at Knox when Hanlen went to clean out the Little camp and Little protected himself and property. Later Little convinced the court in Idaho City that it was self-defense and he was acquitted. One of Hanlen’s acquaintances was surprised that Hanlen lived as long as he did.
From the Aug. 26, 1905 The Prospector and Thunder Mountain News, Roosevelt ID.

1905, Nov. 17

A post office was established at Thunderbolt with Wm. L. Standatler as postmaster. It was discontinued Sept. 29, 1906 with Knox as the nearest post office.
From the book Post Marked Idaho. Apparently this was the mine/mill site on Cabin Cr. four miles north of Paradise Valley.


Gold Bar Placer plotted on Cabin Creek, the mill & mine. Knox had 50 people. (BLM) John Wesley Knox, John Reeves and Elmer Bell had sold to the Trappers Flat Mining and Milling Company of Nampa Idaho.
From Bob Barr audiotape


Bill & his wife (Aunt) Molly Kesler moved to Knox and later built the Warm Lake hotel (between the existing lodge and the lake).


LaVells L. Bush was Knox postmaster
(from the book Post Marked Idaho and reported in the Warren Times newspaper).


The first telephone line construction began on the former Payette National Forest with the purchase of a private line from Crawford to Knox. In 1910 Knox was connected to Stolle Meadows and adjacent places.
Source: History of the Boise National Forest p127.

Nov. 3, 1910

An Emmett Examiner article this date states, “ A message was received last evening that C. A. (Arthur) Cline (Billy Kline on USFS sign at Warm Lake) was found dead on the streets of Knox yesterday.” Arthur Cline was his legal name on the 1905 homestead applications with the USFS. His grave is north of the junction of the Warm Lake Highway and Stolle Meadows road. He had farmed the area by raising potatoes and hay. Irrigation water was obtained from a ditch that carried water from Warm Lake (at beach area to his farm). He did not complete the requirements to qualify for a homestead (USFS). Kline Mountain west of Warm Lake was named after him. He raised potatoes for sale to the miners on about 20 acres. The 1910 census of the Roosevelt precinct gives his age as 51 so he was born in 1859. Retired Ranger Val Simpson says Cline had been badly injured in a blasting accident at Thunder Mountain. From the Idaho World weekly newspaper at Idaho City on July 15, 1910 is the following article “Blown Out Of Tunnel, Report comes from Crawford that a Mr. Cline was brought in there from a hundred miles out in the mountains the other side of Knox pretty badly shot up. He was running a tunnel and was in 25 feet. He put in three shots of dynamite and two of them worked all right. He went to see what was the matter with the third and just as he reached the breast of the tunnel the last shot exploded, blowing Mr. Cline clear out of the hole. He was badly cut about the face, head and body and a number of stitches were necessary to sew him together again, but the doctor has hopes he will recover. Owing to the phone lines being down we were unable to get further details.” He died 3.5 months after the blasting accident.


Daniel D. Robnett filed a new homestead entry on the Knox property. He built a log house and barn. Several acres were fenced and cultivated. Most of the older structures were not used. It is unknown why he left without obtaining a patent in 1916.
From the State Genealogical Library file on Knox.

Spring 1914

The Reed family moved to a farmstead on the South Fork, 20 miles north of Knox.

1915 May 20

The land contest at Knox of Wm. Kesler vs D. A. Robnette was tried before commissioner F. S. Logue at Thunder yesterday. The evidence was all submitted and the commissioner will render a decision in a few days (Cascade News). Bill & Molly Kesler bought 8 buildings and their home from a fellow they thought was the owner. A year later Robnette appeared and claimed title to all 9 buildings. Molly ran him off the place and down the road 3 miles where he took refuge with an old miner. They thought there was to be a future for Knox. They were fleeced and the “fleecer” was gone.
Source: Boise Statewide newspaper Jan. 24, 1947 titled “Molly of the Mountain”.


Daniel D. Drake took up residence at Knox and filed the third homestead entry in 1918. The patent was granted in 1922. Drake operated the lodge and later built a new lodge “Drakes Lodge”. He was a packer too. In 1929 he sold the place to Benjamin H. Seward.

June 1919

Dead Shot Reed at the Reed homestead site 20 miles north of Knox shot and killed George Krassel.
Cascade News June 27, 1919.

1919, Sept. 19

Jesse Thompson age 14 was accidently shot while shooting salmon near Knox.
Cascade News


Clayne Baker’s grandfather Howard F. Baker built the Baker cabin on lot 1, on the east side of the lake. The logs were from a cabin at Knox that they bought. Burt Bostwick, a mountain man and prospector, lived at the Baker cabin for a time starting in 1926.
Clayne Baker oral history


The road was constructed from Knox down the South Fork of the Salmon River.


The road was constructed up the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River.


Benjamin H. Seward bought the Drake property at Knox. He operated a lode mine on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and headquartered his outfitting operation at Knox. His lodge burned down in the early 1930’s. He and assistant Frank Forbes constructed a new (the existing) lodge in 1934-35. In the winter Seward delivered the mail to Yellow Pine by dogsled. He sold out in 1946.

March 1939

Knox Lodge was open, snow was shoveled off roofs of all cabins at Warm Lake.
Cox book


Knox ranch was purchased from Seward by Charles R. and Constance Reineke and the family owned it until 1976.
Genealogical Library file on Knox


Knox population estimated at 10, Warm Lake population at 8.
Source: Gazetteer of Cities.


Knox ranch was purchased by Bud Hoff of Hoff Lumber Co.
from Ramona Reineke.


Knox ranch was traded to the USFS for other land by Hoff Lumber Co. Knox went through three broad historical phases. First was the initial settlement by miners and transients. Second the historical establishment of a homestead and development as a town serving the travelers to the Thunder Mountain and Roosevelt area. Third was the decline due to improvements on road travel, decreased mining, and growth of tourism in the area.
(Genealogical Library notes) From Carolee Fogg’s senior seminar paper on Knox Ranch, 2000.

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer

Randall’s Transfer


C. C. Randall, Randall’s Transfer, Knox P.O. Store; Feed Barn, Wm. Howel, Manager; Post office history places Knox 25 miles NE of Cascade.

source:  SMc
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Knox, Idaho Post Office

Established April 5, 1904, by Charles C. Randall
La Velle L. Bush, May 6, 1907
closed June 30, 1908 mail to Thunder (rescinded)
discontinued Oct. 15, 1908 mail to Thunder
25 miles NE of Cascade, SE Sec. 2, T15N, R6E.

source: Valley County GenWeb
[h/t SMc]
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The Packers’ Rest – Knox

J. Kelly & L. McShane, Knox Post Office

source: Valley County GenWeb Thunder Mountain News, April 22, 1905
[h/t SMc]
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Knox during Thunder Mountain Rush

source: The Thunder Mountain Story
Publisher: Idaho State Historical Society
[h/t SMc]
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Knox in 1905

1905 photo, Univ. of Idaho Library digital collection, Idaho Cities and Towns.

source: University of Idaho
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Trails and Roads


… 1925, the former Payette National Forest, in cooperation with the private Yellow Pine Syndicate, constructed a road from Knox down the South Fork of the Salmon River, and it was continued in 1928 up the East Fork of the South Fork. The forest and the syndicate shared the work and costs on a 50-50 basis. A double shift was used in the work on the Knox-South Fork road, believed to be the first double-shift road construction in the Forest Service’s Intermountain Region. Two carbide floodlamps and twelve Coleman lanterns were used on the night shift. Much of the road work in the next decade was done by Civilian Conservation Corps workers…

source: History of the Boise National Forest 1905-1976 By Elizabeth M. Smith
— — —

East Fork South Fork Trail

by Ron Smith

Before the trail, 1920

Lafe Cox and Ron Smith with last pack horses to come over East Fork Trail at Caton Creek. The Road Crew blasted the trail into the river after we returned from packing camp to Deadman Bar for right-of-way cutters, 1952.

Story and more photos: Valley County GenWeb
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“… There were two main routes into the upper end of the South Fork. The best was from the town of Cascade east through the old towns of Crawford and Knox. From Knox travelers could come down the river onto the District.”

excerpted from: “Bury My Soul at Krassel Hole” – A History of the Krassel District, Payette National Forest by Tom Ortman 1975
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Angel Flight Trail

by John S. Sumner

Angel Flight was the very steep old road between Trout Creek Summit and Knox near where the present Idaho Power line runs. The name of the stream there was Cabin Creek. The present road now goes over Warm Lake summit about 6 miles to the south east. Most of the map names and designated historic places, such as Angel Flight Trail, Cabin Creek Route, Thunderbolt Mill, and Halfway house cabins, appear to have been eliminated by the U.S. Forest Service in more recent years. … An easement to the historic Angel Flight Trail and the Cabin Creek Route, which was the earliest access to Yellow Pine, has been given by the U.S. Forest Service to the Idaho Power Company for use of their power line (not “Telephone Line” as shown on the U.S. Forest Service maps) in the Yellow Pine region.

Excerpt from pg 101 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner
— — — — — — — — — —

On the Route to Thunder Mountain

From the west, especially later, Cascade was the starting point (Cascade, in time, absorbed Thunder City, Crawford and Van Wyck), and they passed through Knox, beyond the south fork of the Salmon, and Landmark.

Excerpted from: The Ghosts Walk Under the Water by Faith Turner from “Scenic Idaho”, Winter 1954
[h/t SMc]
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1940 Map


Benjamin H. Seward place at Knox near Warm Lake
(click to go to source, larger size)

Page 042 – Township 15 N., Range 6 E., Payette national Forest, Salmon river
From Valley County, Idaho Published by Metsker Maps in 1940
[h/t SMc]
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Knox 2007

On August 13th, 2007, the Cascade Complex wildfires – in Central Idaho – overran a fire camp [at Knox] where several hundred firefighters and support personnel were camped.

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Knox in 2012

photo credit Local Color Photography 08-17-2012
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Knox Trivia

So, did you know that Paul Bunyan has an Idaho connection? Stories about Paul Bunyan and his giant blue ox, Babe, circulated around lumber camps across the country for decades before anyone thought to write them down and publish them. Eventually, many people did. One of the best-remembered tellers of those tales was author James Stevens who spent much of his childhood in Idaho. Sinclair Lewis called Stevens “the true son of Paul Bunyan.”

Stevens was a soldier in France during World War I. He did more than fight, though. He published his Paul Bunyan stories in Stars and Stripes.

After the war he knocked around the country as an itinerant laborer, educating himself in local libraries wherever he went. He published poetry in Saturday Evening Post, and more Paul Bunyan stories in American Mercury.

Stevens’ 1945 novel Big Jim Turner, about an itinerant working man and poet who grew up around Knox, Idaho (now a ghost town), has many autobiographical elements in it.

His best-known work, though, is probably his Paul Bunyan book (pictured), published in 1925. Stevens died in Seattle in 1971.

by Rick Just Speaking of Idaho


Idaho History Dec 3

Big Creek & Edwardsburg 1960s 1970s 1980s (roughly)

Smith Children with Napier Edwards’ wagon, Edwardsburg 1948

The Lawrence and Paul Smith kids from Stibnite playing with Napier Edwards wagon at Edwardsburg. The Passengers are: (L to R) Patty, Karen, Lorene and Gary Smith. The two ‘critters’ doing the pulling are Ron on the left and cousin Tim on right -1948
“Nape Edward’s wagon is what they used to call a ‘Hack,’ a light, get-there-quick-type of wagon, sort of a poor man’s buggy.” – Ron Smith.
(photo courtesy of Ron Smith)
source Valley County, ID GenWeb Project
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Napier Edwards

photo courtesy Sandy McRae

Napier was the son of William and Annie Edwards, founders of Edwardsburg.
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1973 USGS Mining Report

Excerpts from The Ramey Ridge and Edwardsburg Mining Districts

Challis Volcanics Big Creek

(excerpted from Summary)

The Ramey Ridge district has a record of yielding $270,063 worth of gold, silver, copper, and lead ore, mostly from veins at the Snowshoe mine in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. Although numerous other veins occur in the district and many claims have been staked, very little exploration has been done. Some exploration has been done on a few properties in recent years, though. Most veins are small lenticular bodies of quartz, valued chiefly for gold and silver, but the grade of the ore is low. The veins at the Copper Camp property, however, are composed mostly of quartz and magnetite with copper minerals of marginal grade. Because of the low grade and discontinuous character of the veins, the resources of precious and base metals in lode deposits in the district probably do not exceed a few million tons of material of marginal and submarginal grade. One prospect may contain a small resource of antimony. Moderate quantities of gravel occur along some streams in the district, but the gold content of most placer samples is too low for these gravels to be of economic interest.

The Edwardsburg district yielded a recorded production of gold and silver from lode deposits of about $44,000, all from the Golden Hand mine. The reported amount of placer gold recovered is negligible, but the actual recovery is estimated to be between $70,000 and $100,000. Lode deposits are mostly thin, discontinuous quartz veins that average a low content of gold and silver, but which probably contain small pockets of high-grade ore. Estimated resources in these lode deposits total about 200,000 tons of submarginal material. About 17,000,000 cubic yards of gravel that averages 10 cents in gold per cubic yard (at a price of $47.85 per ounce) is along Smith Creek. Although this is a submarginal resource, small quantities of the gravel may be of sufficient grade to be worked at a profit.

Mining claims page 64

A search of county records in Idaho, Lemhi, Valley, and Custer Counties disclosed about 5,400 recorded mining claims in the study area. The earliest claims were located in the 1890’s. Most were located in the Thunder Mountain, Ramey Ridge, Pistol Creek, Monumental Creek, and Edwardsburg districts and the Greyhound Ridge addition. Field investigations made by the Bureau of Mines were concentrated in the areas of mining claims.
In most of the mineralized areas, claims overlap or coincide with earlier locations. Courthouse records, therefore, show a great many more claims than are indicated by workings. Undoubtedly, some were not found. Evidence of recent mining activity was noted on many mining claims. Sixty claims have been patented, and many more were surveyed for patent.

Primitive Area Mining Districts

Ramey Ridge district page 107

As judged from past mining activity, concentration of mining claims, and current prospecting activity, the Ramey Ridge district is one of the most important districts in the Idaho Primitive Area. Significant quantities of gold, silver, copper, and antimony minerals occur at several properties. …

Total recorded metal production from the district is $270,063, most of it from the Snowshoe mine (fig. 30, No. 64). The amount of early placer gold production is not known but is thought to have been small. No significant mineral production has been reported since World War II, when the Snowshoe mine was shut down.

Mining in the Ramey Ridge district started in the late 1890’s in conjunction with the Thunder Mountain mining boom. Copper Camp, located before 1900, is probably the oldest lode prospect in the district.

Later, during the Thunder Mountain boom, the Snowshoe mine was located by the Jensen brothers. The property, now known as the Orofino, was discovered by T. G. Thomas in 1906.

County records indicate that lode mining claims were staked as early as 1890 in the vicinity of Copper Camp. The period 1902-07 was one of intensive claim staking, and nearly all the mineralized areas described in this section of the report were originally located prior to 1912. Most of the recent activity has been at the Snowshoe mine area on Crooked Creek, the Copper Camp and Golden Bear properties adjacent to Big Creek, and the Orofino mine on Ramey Ridge. Placers were apparently worked in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, primarily confined to the Beaver Creek area near the mouth of Hand Creek. Courthouse records indicate that approximately 600 mining claims, orgroups of claims, have been located in the Ramey Ridge district during the past 80 years. Many of these are actually relocations of older claims, even though the names are different and their location descriptions do not exactly agree.

Beaver Creek area page 113

Prospects in the Beaver Creek area are easily accessible from the well maintained Forest Service trails that parallel Beaver and Hand Creeks. They include a few small lode prospects east of Beaver Creek and potential placer “ground” on upper Beaver Creek near the junctions with Hand, Cache, and Boulder Creeks.

Mulligan group

The Mulligan group is in the NW14 sec. 5, T. 21 N., R. 10 E., about one-half mile up Mulligan Creek. County claim records indicate that the prospect was originally located in 1904 by William Banner as the Deer Lodge group. John S. Roberson of Yellow Pine, Idaho, located the property in 1948 and is apparently the present claim owner. There is no record of production, and recent development has been limited to assessment work.

Other lode prospects page 116

Sulfide prospect

The Sulfide prospect was located in 1938 by Messrs. Irwin, Roberson, and Chambers. It may now be part of the Mulligan group held by John S. Roberson of Yellow Pine, Idaho.

Wild West group

The Wild West group of four unpatented lode claims is currently held by Messrs. Roberson and Kofoed of Yellow Pine, Idaho, and is on the east side of Beaver Creek about 1 1/2 miles above the mouth of Mulligan Creek. Prospect workings are on a steep southwest-facing slope about 250 feet above Beaver Creek.

Last Chance claim

The Last Chance claim was staked by John S. Roberson and R. H. Nissoula in 1961 and is located on the east side of Beaver Creek about 1.5 miles north of its junction with Big Creek.

Ramey Ridge area page 120

Ramey Ridge area includes the high mountainous areas bounded roughly by Beaver, Big Ramey, and Big Creeks. Ramey Ridge, the principal topographic feature in the vicinity, extends for several miles in a northsouth direction and reaches its maximum elevation of 8,595 feet at Dead Mule Point. Outcrops are few, but quartz-vein float is common in the overburden and talus slopes.

The Ramey Ridge area contains one of the highest concentrations of individual lode mining claims in the Idaho Primitive Area. Most of the past exploration activity was near the headwaters of the East and West Forks of Mulligan Creek. The area was most actively rospected during the years from the early 1900’s until the start of World War II.

Orofino (Estep, Mildred)

The Orofino mine is the most extensively developed prospect in the Ramey Ridge area. It is in sec. 32, T. 22 N., R. 10 E., at the headwaters of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek. Workings are at altitudes ranging from 6,500 to nearly 8,000 feet.

T. G. Thomas reportedly discovered the deposit in 1906; it was known as the Mildred until relocated by Walter Estep. John Roberson and Guy Kofoed relocated the claims as the Arrastre group in the 1950’s and later changed the name to the Orofino group. Ray Nissoula and Lew Morgan are reportedly the latest partners in the mining venture.

The first recorded production was made by T. G. Thomas, who recovered $37 in gold (at $20 an ounce) from a test lot of 1,800 pounds of ore run through an arrastre. During 1938-41 recorded metal production was $2,718 in gold and silver Guy Kofoed and Lew Morgan reportedly recovered about 1,000 pounds of concentrates in 1967 by tabling. The ore was apparently sorted from the old dumps and small stockpiles, because little development work has been done in recent years. Presumably, small amounts of ore are periodically processed at a small ball mill on the property.

Mohawk group

The Mohawk property is an enlargement of the Mohawk group of claims mentioned by Shenon and Ross (1936). The original property, plus some additional ground, was restaked as the Gold Pan group in 1931 by E. A. Williams and has been held since 1960 by assessment work of Lew Morgan.

Mahan group

The Mahan group of gold prospects is along the upper half of the West Fork of Mulligan Creek in sees. 29, 30, 31, and 32, T. 22 N., R. 10 E. The main workings are west of the creek at elevations ranging from 6,900 to 7,300 feet. Probably all the workings along the West Fork of Mulligan Creek were once considered to be part of the Mahan group. County records show that from 1907 to 1940 Charles Mahan and his son located more than 12 groups of mining claims on the West Fork of Mulligan Creek. In 1936, the Mahan property consisted of an old 5-stamp mill in disrepair, a new handmade 1-stamp mill (the Paymaster), and a few scattered short tunnels, according to Shenon and Ross (1936). The old 5-stamp mill was reportedly operated on float ore from the talus slopes east of the mill. No production has been recorded, and apparently it was small. The latest Mahan group of three claims was staked in 1961 by Messrs. Cahill, Leatherman, and Earl.

Beaver Ridge (Aniti, Mother Lode) prospects

Numerous old workings are on Beaver Ridge, between Beaver Creek and the West Fork of Mulligan Creek. They are about 1,000 feet west of the Mahan group at altitudes of about 7,400-8,000 feet. The only location notices found in the area were listed as part of the Mother Lode group staked by J. I. Zorton and others in 1940 and the Aniti group staked by Scott Williams in 1948. Other old location posts were found, but the claim notices were gone.

Little Gem No. 7 claim

The Little Gem No. 7 claim is about 1,200 feet east, up a steep talus slope, from the old Mahan mill. Charles Mahan staked the Little Gem group of seven claims in 1914. The other six claims continued northward from No. 7 to include claims that have been relocated as the Mother Lode, Gold Reef group, Pharmacist, and Gold Slide.

Other lode prospects page 134

Mother Lode prospect

The Mother Lode prospect was probably first located by Charles Mahan in 1914 as part of the Little Gem group and was apparently restaked in 1940 by J. I. Zorton and Mahan as the Mother Lode. The prospect is on the east side of the West Fork at Mulligan Creek, between the Little Gem No. 7 and Gold Reef group.

Gold Reef group

The Gold Reef group was staked by J. J. Flynn in 1916 and restaked by I. Dolbow in 1919.

Pharmacist claim

The Pharmacist claim was recorded by J. I. Zorton in 1926.

Gold Slide group

The Gold Slide group of three claims is on a steep talus slope at an altitude of approximately 7,800 feet. The claims were first recorded by R. B. MacGregor in 1905.

Colorado claim

The Colorado claim was originally located in 1908, by T. G. Thomas.

Gold Dollar group (Trade Dollar, Little Annie)

The Gold Dollar group of lode claims was staked originally by J. M. Hand in 1902.

Luzon claim

This claim was originally located in 1906 by W. W. Burr but may have been relocated in the Mahan group.

Valley View claim

The Valley View claim is about one-fourth mile northwest of the Luzon claim; it was located originally by T. J. Lynch in 1904.

Gold Bug Cabin prospect

The Gold Bug Cabin prospect workings are near the junction of West Fork Mulligan Creek (Mahan) and Ramey Ridge trails. The cabin is at an altitude of about 8,000 feet, near a small spring at the head of the West Fork of Mulligan Creek. The cabin is referred to locally as the Gold Bug Cabin but none of the mining claims listed in courthouse records appear to fit this location.

Gold Bug prospect

The Gold Bug prospect workings are principally on the east side of the West Fork of Mulligan Creek about 800 feet south of the Gold Bug Cabin.

Badger claim

The Badger claim was staked by Charles Mahan in 1926. It is on the west side of the West Fork of Mulligan Creek, midway between the Valley View prospect and the Happy Jack claim.

Happy Jack prospect

County records indicate that the Happy Jack prospect was located by Craig Short in 1933. The prospect is on the west side of the West Fork of Mulligan Creek, about 600 feet south of the Gold Bug Cabin.

Portland prospect

The Portland prospect is midway between the headwaters of the East and West Forks of Mulligan Creek but on the east side of Ramey Ridge. It was located by Mr. Hollester in 1902 and is accessible by the main Ramey Ridge trail.

Avenger prospect

The Avenger prospect was staked by Hazel and Jack Griffen in 1939. It is atop Ramey Ridge near the junction of the Ramey Ridge and Orofino mine trails.

North Mildred claim

The North Mildred claim was staked by Walter Estep in 1929, probably as part of the original Arrastre (Orofino mine) group. It may also be on a partial overstake of the Florence “A” group. It is on top of Ramey Ridge at the head of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek.

Protection claim

The Protection claim was staked by W. A. Estep and Frank Lobear in 1929. It is on the west side of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek near its head and is accessible by either the Ramey Ridge or the Orofino mine trail.

Florence “A” group

The Florence “A” group of five or more lode claims was originally staked by M. B. Merritt and others in 1904 and probably included some of the adjoining prospect areas to the east that are described under other claim names. The old prospect workings are near the top of Ramey Ridge, northwest of the headwaters of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek, about 200 yards south of the East Fork trail and Ramey Ridge trail junction.

Ajax group

The Ajax group of lode claims was staked by William F. Yeates in 1915 and may be a relocation of the Golden Age group recorded by T. J. Lynch in 1906. It is at the head of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek, about 800 feet northeast of the principal Orofino workings.

B. J. prospect

The B. J. prospect, first located about 1904 by H. W. Burton and others, is on the summit of Ramey Ridge, at the head of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek.

Paymaster prospect

W. S. Boyles and others staked the Paymaster No. 1 and No. 2 lode claims in 1911. The claims are at the head of the East Fork of Mulligan Creek and north of the Orofino group.

Submarine claim

The Submarine claim adjoins the Paymaster on the southeast and the Orofino group on the northeast. It was originally located in 1906 by L. C. Stephenson.

Gold field group

The Goldfield group of lode claims was originally located by B. B. Scott in 1907. The prospect workings are about 200 feet west of the top of Ramey Ridge.

Gold Crown group

The Gold Cown group of claims is about midway between the Ramey Ridge trail and the [old] bulldozer road to the Orofino property. Between 1935 and 1939, the claims were recorded by Burt B. Spilman, administrator of the Estep estate.

Schley No, 3 group

The Schley group of three claims was located in 1904 and 1905 by R. D. Amond. The discovery work for the Schley No. 3 is on top of Ramey Ridge about 100 feet northeast of the main Ramey Ridge trail. The other claims apparently extend northwestward to include ground later staked as the Gold Crown group.

Lucky Strike claim

The Lucky Strike claim was staked by Frank Lobear in 1932. It is on top of Ramey Ridge and is accessible by the Copper Camp-Orofino … trail that passes through the prospect.

Gold Bug No. 5

The Gold Bug claims Nos. 1 through 4 were located apparently along the crest of Eightyeight Ridge. They include several small prospect pits that no longer penetrate the overburden. The claims were located in 1945 by Frank Lobear.

Betty Jane claim

The Betty Jane claim was staked by Messrs. Thomson and McLaughlin in 1925. It is atop Eightyeight Ridge and about 1 1/2 miles east of Ramey Ridge.

Virginia group

The Virginia group of claims is located on top and along the south side of Eightyeight Ridge, 300-1,000 feet east of the ridge’s junction with Ramey Ridge. The claims were staked in 1928 by Craig Short.

Big Creek area page 144

The Big Creek area includes lode properties less than a mile north of Big Creek and placer sites along both sides of the 8-mile-long section of Big Creek included in the Ramey Ridge district. No property is more than a mile by trail from the [trail] that parallels the creek. Elevations range from 4,600 feet at Monumental Bar to about 6,200 feet at the highest lode working.

Copper Camp mine

The property, known for many years as Copper Camp, is roughly bounded on the east by Camp Creek, on the west by Copper Creek, and on the south by Big Creek. It is 8.5 miles northeast from the Big Creek Ranger Station by way of [trail] that parallels Big Creek.

The mine was first located in 1888 and was organized as the Copper Camp Mining Co. in 1903. The 29 lode and 5 placer claims making up the present property were relocated in 1953 by the present owner, Copper Camp Consolidated Mines, Inc., Boise, Idaho. The property was leased subsequently by Highland Surprise Consolidated Mining Co. of Wallace, Idaho, who made the first systematic geologic evaluation of the property. … On the basis of the near-surface showings, they recommended diamond drilling and underground exploration and development work. Inability to raise the necessary capital for this venture resulted in curtailment of operations by 1957. The property remained essentially inactive until April 1969, when Rocket Mines, Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia, acquired a lease and option-to-purchase agreement from Copper Camp Consolidated.

Sunlight group

The Sunlight Nos. 1 and 2 lode claims were staked by L. E. Curtise in 1947 and 1960, respectively. The claims are one-fourth to one-half mile northeast of the mouth of Little Ramey Creek.

Golden Bear group

The Golden Bear Nos. 1 and 2 claims were staked by Wilbur Wiles and Ray Thrall in 1961. The claims are one-half mile north of Big Creek and about midway between Little Ramey Creek and Crooked Creek, on the west side of Carpenters Gulch. Nearly all development work has been on the Golden Bear No. 1 claim.

Other lode prospects page 157

Big Sun/lower No. 1 claim

The.Big Sunflower No. 1 claim, was staked by G. W. Winters in 1936. The discovery pit is 130 feet north from the junction of Big Ramey Creek with Big Creek and about 15 feet west of the Big Creek [trail].

Black and White claim

The Black and White claim was staked in 1912 by J. J. Flynn as the Gold Dollar and was restaked in 1950 by J. O. Vines as the Black and White. The prospect is about 800 feet east of a cabin at the mouth of Big Ramey Creek.

Gold King group

The Gold King group of four lode claims was staked by Sortero Bolenzello in 1932. The claims are about 2,000 feet north of Big Creek and opposite the mouth of Gold Creek.

Crooked Creek area page 163

Principal mineral properties in this area are within 1 mile of the [trail] that parallels Crooked Creek.

Elevations range from 4,628 feet at the mouth of Crooked Creek to 7,750 feet at Acorn Butte. South- and east-facing slopes are relatively open and support sparse clumps of grass, sagebrush, and other vegetation. North- and west-facing slopes are heavily forested with undergrowth of bushes, shrubs, and grasses.

Snowshoe mine

Based on past metal production, the Snowshoe mine is the most important mineral property in the Ramey Ridge district. It is in Snowshoe Gulch, on the north side of Crooked Creek, about 19 miles by [trail] from Big Creek, Idaho.

The Snowshoe group consists of 16 lode and two placer claims. Principal mine workings are on the steep talus-covered east slope of Snowshoe Gulch at elevations ranging from 5,400 to 5,700 feet. Snowshoe Gulch is dry except for mine water seeping from the lowest (No. 3) portal.

The property was first located during the Thunder Mountain boom in 1904 by Jacob and Eric Jensen. They worked the claims intermittently for 25 years and then leased the property to Big Creek Gold Mines, Inc., of New York. The lease expired in 1934, and the mine was sold by the Jensens to Pierce Metals Development Co. Extensive development followed until World War II. The camp reportedly housed more than 60 people at one time. Seven bunkhouses were constructed at the mouth of Snowshoe Gulch, and a schoolhouse was built 300 yards farther up Crooked Creek. A blacksmith shop, an assay shop, a 25-ton-per-day flotation and amalgamation mill, and a cookhouse were built at the mine site. Mining activity continued until the War Production Board Order L-208 forced closure of gold mines in October 1942. Some production and development work was, however, reported in 1943. Assessment work was carried on by Thomas Nevitt until his death in 1964. Dale Creech, president of Far West Mining Co., Boise, Idaho, acquired the rights to buildings and equipment, and the mining company currently holds the unpatented claims. All the old buildings are in a state of disrepair, and the underground mine workings are mostly inaccessible.

… Recorded production prior to 1937 is not complete, but 1937 mine maps show a mined-out area equal to about 210,000 cubic feet, 17,500 tons, of ore. Even at an average value of $3 per ton, metal production prior to 1938 would have exceeded $50,000. Therefore, total metal production from the Snowshoe mine is estimated at more than $300,000, mostly in gold, mainly during 1934-43.

Yellow Jacket group

The Yellow Jacket group of eight mining claims was staked by Jacob Jensen in 1906. The claims were later purchased by the present owner, M. C. Scott, of Olympia, Wash. Scott’s cabin and storage sheds are three-fourths mile west of the Snowshoe mine, 4 miles up Crooked Creek from Big Creek. … Elevations range from about 5,100 feet at Scott’s cabin to about 6,000 feet at the prospect workings.

Idaho-Rainbow group

The Idaho-Rainbow group of seven contiguous lode claims adjoins the west side of the Snowshoe group. The principal mine working is about 500 feet north of Crooked Creek. The property was originally known as the Buckhorn claim and was probably first located by J. T. Bell and others in 1902. The property was later acquired by Noel and John Routson, who leased the property with option to purchase to H. T. Maib and associates in 1937. Maib and associates formed Idaho Rainbow Mines, Inc., in 1938, and by 1946 they had completed nearly all the development that has been done on the property.

Galena prospect

The Galena prospect is about one-half mile south of the Snowshoe mine and three-fourths mile north of Acorn Butte Lookout. Old mining-claim descriptions are vague but indicate that the prospect was located at least as early as 1935; it is commonly referred to as the Galena or Galena Lead.

Other lode prospects page 176

Acorn Butte No. 1 prospect

About 800-1,000 feet west of the Acorn Butte No. 2 prospect is a 300-foot-wide, 1,000-foot-long outcrop of quartzite.

Brown Bear prospect

At the bottom of a small canyon about 1 mile S. 55° W. of Acorn Butte is an old exploration pit 8 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 4 feet deep (fig. 30, No. 72). The pit is the only remaining evidence of the Brown Bear claim staked by J. T. Bell and others in 1902.

Acorn Butte No. 4 prospect

A 4-foot-wide, 10-foot-long quartz vein exposure was observed about 1 mile S. 75° W. of Acorn Butte Lookout.

Acorn Butte No. 2 prospect

A discovery pit and trench were observed on a ridge crest one-half mile north of Acorn Butte.

Acorn Butte No. 3 prospect

The prospect is one-half mile S. 80° W. of Acorn Butte Lookout.

Silver Dome claim

About 300-400 feet south of the caved adit is the Silver Dome claim, located in 1956 by Clifford Shepardand Roland Clark.

Edwardsburg district page 230

The Edwardsburg district has a record of gold and silver production and a potential for development of additional resources. The district covers about 35 square miles. It includes the northern part of the much larger Edwardsburg mining district described by Ross (1941).

Few prospects in the district are more than a mile from an old mine access road. Most slopes are steep and densely forested. Brush is thick near the creeks. Altitudes range from 8,868 feet near Placer Lake to about 5,000 feet at the confluence of Beaver and Big Creeks. Except on ridge crests, bedrock is generally concealed by at least 1 foot of overburden.

Little mining or prospecting activity was done prior to 1900, but most mining claims were located prior to 1910. Total recorded lode production is about $44,000 in gold and silver, produced from the Golden Hand mine in 1932-41. Only a few ounces of placer gold production has been recorded, but an estimated 3,500 ounces valued at $70,000 to $100,000 has probably been recovered from the Smith Creek-Big Creek placers. Considerable underground exploration work has been done at the Werdenhoff mine, but there is no record of production.

Early gold prospecting was concentrated near the Golden Hand and Werdenhoff mines. Recent prospecting in the area south of Smith Creek has attempted to find tungsten deposits, similar to that at the Snowbird mine just west of the study boundary.

Golden Hand mine area page 231

Numerous lode prospects are in the Golden Hand mine area, roughly bounded by Pueblo Ridge and the drainages of Cache, Beaver, and Clark Creeks.

Golden Hand Mine

Golden Hand mine

The Golden Hand mine is near the head of Cache Creek, about 12 miles by unmaintained dirt roads from Big Creek, Idaho. Altitude at the mine is about 7,000 feet. The deposit was discovered originally by J. M. Hand in about 1889. He located placer claims on Beaver Creek near the mouth of Cache Creek and later discovered two small gold quartz veins on the north side of Cache Creek. The veins were developed by two short adits named the Arrastra and Hand. Ore was treated in an arrastra and the Hand brothers reportedly recovered $1,200 in gold. Shortly after the Thunder Mountain boom, the Penn-Idaho Co. acquired the property and drove two adits on the Neversweat No. 1 claim on the south side of Cache Creek. In 1933 the property consisted of 26 unpatented mining claims (22 lode and 4 placer) owned by Golden Hand, Inc. The company mined from an opencut on the Neversweat No. 2 claim and processed the ore in a 6-ton-per-day Straub mill. Claude Elliot relocated the claims in 1963.

Bureau of Mines production records show that 1,368 ounces of gold and 301 ounces of silver were produced from 1,648 tons of high-grade oxidized ore during 1932-34. An additional 200 ounces of gold and 50 ounces of silver were recovered from about 485 tons of ore in 1938. Minor production was reported in 1940 and 1941. Total recorded gold and silver production is valued at $44,212. No production or development has been reported since 1941.

Total development work includes 18 adits, numerous pits and trenches, a small mill, a two-story cookhouse-bunkhouse, and several cabins.

In 1933 total development work at the Neversweat No. 2 claim consisted of two short adits, 70 and 130 feet long, and two opencuts, less than 50 feet long and 25 feet wide. Most past production apparently came from these near-surface workings. R. N. Bell (unpub. consultant’s report, 1934) described a pit probably 40 feet square and 15 feet deep, that yielded 1,800 tons of ore from which $32,000 in gold was recovered by plate amalgamation.

Other lode prospects page 236

Vee prospect

The Vee prospect is about three-fourths mile southwest of the Golden Hand mine, near the head of Cache Creek.

Snowslide prospect

The Snowslide claim is about 1 mile east of the Golden Hand mine and one-fourth mile west of Beaver Creek.

Wolf prospect

The Wolf prospect is one-fourth mile west of Beaver Creek and about 1 1/4 miles southeast of the Golden Hand mine.

Triple A. prospect

The Triple A. prospect is about one-third mile southeast from the Golden Hand mine.

Nelly More prospect

The Nelly More prospect is 1 mile northeast of Pueblo Summit and less than one-half mile southeast of the Golden Hand mine.

Big 4 prospect

The Big 4 prospect is along the Golden Hand access road, less than 1 mile northeast of Pueblo Summit.

Bell prospect

The Bell prospect is about three-fourths mile northeast of Pueblo Summit, near the Golden Hand access road.

Powder prospect

The Powder prospect is about one-fourth mile northeast of Pueblo Summit.

Dynamite prospect

The Dynamite prospect is about 1,000 feet north of the Powder prospect.

Hercules prospect

The Hercules prospect is about 0.6 mile southwest of the Golden Hand mine.

Werdenhoff mine area page 241

The Werdenhoff mine and numerous small lode prospects are near North Fork Smith Creek, between Pueblo Ridge and main Smith Creek. None of the prospects are more than one-fourth mile from the Werdenhoff-Golden Hand mine access road. Altitudes range from 6,237 feet at the road junction on Smith Creek to 8,581 feet at the crest of Pueblo Ridge, a distance of about 2 miles.

Werdenhoff mine

The Werdenhoff mine is on the east side of the North Fork of Smith Creek about 1 mile by road from Smith Creek. The original property comprised 21 unpatented claims that included part of the Pueblo group.

The property was located originally by Prindle [Pringle?] Smith and was relocated by Mr. Werdenhoff during the Thunder Mountain boom (1902-05). Most development work was done by Keystone Gold Mines, Inc., in 1927-34. The Werdenhoff Mining Co. of Tacoma, Wash., was incorporated in 1952. They filed a report with the Idaho Inspector of Mines in 1958 listing 33 unpatented claims for the property. Jack Walker of Vale, Oreg., purchased the milling equipment and located several claims in 1967.

Several buildings, including a 25-ton-per-day mill, are on the property. Mill equipment includes a jaw crusher, 5-stamp mill, rod mill, two concentrating tables, jig, diesel engine, assorted pumps, screens, and miscellaneous equipment. Lack of wear on the crushing equipment, together with the small amount of mill tailing, indicates that little ore was processed. A 1,250-foot-long tramway that was constructed between the mill and adits in 1932 has since been removed.

Pueblo group

The Pueblo group of claims is about one-half mile west of Pueblo Summit. Exploratory work consists of three distinct sets of workings. Several log cabins have been built. Mining claim records date from 1902. The deteriorated condition of the mine camp and the caved workings indicate that little has been done since the early 1900’s.

Blue Stone prospect

The Blue Stone prospect, formerly part of the Werdenhoff mine group, was relocated by Wilbur Wiles in 1969. It is about one-fourth mile northeast from the mouth of the North Fork of Smith Creek.

Other lode prospects page 248

Lost Packer prospect

The Lost Packer prospect is about three-fourths mile northwest of Pueblo Summit.

July Blizzard prospect

Exploration work on the July Blizzard prospect consists of four caved pits located about one-half mile northwest of Pueblo Summit.

Queen prospect

The Queen prospect is on Pueblo Ridge midway between the Lost Packer and July Blizzard prospects.

Black Swan prospect

The Black Swan prospect is one-half mile S. 30° E. from the Werdenhoff mine. It was part of the original Werdenhoff mine group staked by C. Werdenhoff in 1902.

Hilltop prospect

The Hilltop group of claims is about 1 mile northwest of the Werdenhoff mine.

Snow Drift prospect

The Snow Drift prospect is 1 mile north of the Werdenhoff mine.

T. T. claim

The T. T. claim is on the crest of Pueblo Ridge about one-fourth mile northwest of Pueblo Summit.

Wabash prospect

The Wabash 1 and 2 claims are about three-fourths mile north of the Werdenhoff mine. Two old cabins and two caved adits are on the property.

Lucky Boy prospect

The Lucky Boy claim is about one-fourth mile southwest of the Wabash prospect.

West Extension prospect

The West Extension prospect is about three-fourths mile northwest of the Werdenhoff mine.

Crest prospect

The Crest prospect is about one-fourth mile north of the Werdenhoff mine.

Area south of Smith Creek page 249

Six lode prospects were examined in the rugged area bounded by Smith Creek on the north and the ridge crest that forms the district boundary on the south. Principal access to the area is the road along Smith Creek.

Rocket (White Bluff) prospect

Several minor scheelite (CaWO3) occurrences are found on the Rocket (White Bluff) claims about 1 mile southwest from the junction of the Smith Creek and Werdenhoff mine roads.

The original group of six lode claims was located as the White Bluff group in 1953 by Wilbur Wiles of Big Creek, Idaho, and later sold to the Werdenhoff Mining Co. Mr. Wiles relocated part of the claims as the Rocket group in 1971.

D. D. prospect

The D. D. prospect is less than 1 mile south of the mouth of the North Fork Smith Creek. Claims covering the prospect area were staked by D. T. Davis in 1906.

Other lode prospects page 251

Lakeside prospect

The Lakeside prospect, which lies at an altitude of 8,550 feet, is at the head of a cirque about one-half mile southwest of Placer Lake. It was staked recently by Wilbur Wiles of Big Creek, Idaho.

Placer Lake prospect

The Placer Lake prospect is on the ridge crest one-half mile north of Placer Lake.

Summer-trail prospect

The Summertrail prospect is one-fourth mile south from the mouth of the North Fork of Smith Creek.

Gold Hill group

Prospect workings on the claims are along the south side of the Smith Creek road about 1 mile from the Werdenhoff mine road junction.

McFadden Point area page 252

Five lode prospects are known in the McFadden Point area. Four of them are grouped together less than 1 mile west of McFadden Point at altitudes ranging from 7,500 to 8,000 feet. The fifth prospect is on the north side, of Big Creek, 1 1/2 miles southeast of the other prospects, at an altitude of about 5,000 feet.

Hollister prospect

The Hollister prospect, locally known,as the Hollister mine, is 1,000 feet west of McFadden Point. It is.the besi explored prospect in the McFadden Point area.

Other lode prospects page 253

Dagnapan prospect

The Dagnapan prospect is three-fourths mile northwest of McFadden Point.

Hillside prospect

The Hillside prospect is 1 mile west of McFadden Point.

Trio group

The Trio group of five lode claims is three-fourths mile northwest from McFadden Point.

Tenderfoot prospect

The Tenderfoot prospect is on the north side of Big Creek, approximately 1 mile, by road, east of the Smith Creek bridge.

Excerpted from:
Mineral Resources of the Idaho Primitive Area and Vicinity, Idaho
By F. W. Cater, D. M. Pinckney, W. B. Hamilton, and R. L. Parker, U.S. Geological Survey, and by R. D. Weldin, T. J. Close, and N. T. Zilka, U.S. Bureau of Mines
With a section on the Thunder Mountain District
By B. F. Leonard, U.S. Geological Survey, and a Section on Aeromagnetic Interpretation by W. E. Davis, U.S. Geological Survey
Studies Related to Wilderness Primitive Areas
Geological Survey Bulletin 1304 : 1973
Library of Congress catalog card No. 73-600164
An evaluation of the mineral potential of the area
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Geologic Map of the Central and Lower Big Creek Drainage, Central Idaho

(click image to get large pdf file)
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Wilbur Wiles

Wilbur Wiles has lived in the Idaho back country since 1936. He moved to the Big Creek area when the CCC completed the road.
(from interview with Mr. Wiles by visitor to Big Creek Airstrip)

Picture of Wilbur taken by Hilda Hansen in the 1950s / 60s photo shared by Jim Collord
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Link to Wilbur Wiles stories

Idaho History Feb 21, 2016 (updated recently)
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Fog over Wilbur Wiles’ Cabin at Big Creek.

Photo by Marcia Franklin. Outdoor Idaho August 25, 2016

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Edwardsburg and Big Creek Area (1974)

(map source “Southern Idaho Ghost Towns” by Wayne C. Sparling)

Today, Yellow Pine is the jumping off point for the Big Creek and Thunder Mountain areas. A favorable location, coupled with a reasonably light snowfall, made Yellow Pine a natural site for a settlement, and for years a genial Mr. Behne operated the store and post office. When the road from Yellow Pine to Edwardsburg was completed in 1933, it was a great boon to the miners and ranchers along Big Creek. The Edwards ranch, with a post office under the name of Edwardsburg, served the remote Big Creek country for many years. The Edwards were Southern aristocracy who migrated north during the later years of the mining rush and took up a homestead near the mouth of Logan Creek. While Mrs. Edwards ran the post office, Mr. Edwards became interested in the mining game, holding claims at Copper Camp and for a time operating the Sunday and Moscow mines on Logan Creek.

Placer mining down in the meadows along Big Creek was undertaken by the Golden Placer Mining Company. A short ways up from the mouth of Smith Creek is the old camp of the Smith Creek Hydraulic Mining Company, farther on is the huge mill at the Werdenhoff Mine, and at the head of Smith Creek is the Independence Mine, located in 1898. Ramey Ridge, the Golden Hand, Copper Camp, and the Snowshoe Mine were all names familiar to the miners along Big Creek.

Big Creek Store and Big Creek Ranger Station are now the centers of activity for the valley. The road in from Yellow Pine is good as far down Big Creek as the mouth of Smith Creek. Beyond there it gets very rough and narrow, possibly the most miserable road Idaho has to offer. Another road leads from Big Creek to Warrens so that a loop drive can be made from Yellow Pine to Big Creek, up over Elk Summit and down across the South Fork of the Salmon River to Warrens and back out to McCall. Elk Summit, where alpine flowers still bloom in August, affords a panoramic view of Idaho’s intriguing back country. Past Elk Summit the descent into the South Fork seems almost unending; long before you reach the valley floor, you’ll swear there’s an odor of brimstone in the air. Finally the road does level off a bit and crosses the river on a good steel bridge, only to begin the long climb back up through the fragrant pines to Warrens.

excerpted from Chapter 5 “Southern Idaho Ghost Towns” by Wayne C. Sparling 1974
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Edwardsburg and Big Creek (c.) 1982

Photo from “The Idaho Rambler” by Betty Derig & Flo Sharp, Copyright March 1982

Scenic drive from Yellow Pine to Edwardsburg and Big Creek

On to Big Creek and a ribbon of road that winds around hairpin curves and a profile grade that will keep you wide awake. However, the feeling of wilderness compensates for the mountain miles. You look down to cascading white water and up to craggy peaks; reel in the forest of pines and tamaracks, the quaking aspens and small, flowered meadows that come as brief surprises.

Finally you reach the old settlement of Edwardsburg and a mile beyond that you round a corner and a break in the woods exposes Big Creek Lodge.

Almost every map of Idaho marks this little settlement, yet it qualifies as neither a city or town. It is a rustic lodge, long an outpost on the fringe of the Primitive Area in the Salmon River drainage.

Nearly 60 years ago the hand-hewn cabin (now enlarged) served as Headquarters for the Forest Service. Now, with newer Forest Service buildings 1/2 mile away, Big Creek lodge caters to the back country hiker and fisherman, hunter and miner.

Big Creek hasn’t changed much since 1923 when Jake and Eric Jansen split the logs for the little Forest Service camp. A few more summer people come in now and a mountain-meadow airport reminds us that we are late in the Twentieth Century. The cook at the lodge says she can tell who is coming to dinner by the color of the airplane.

Communication with the outside is mostly by radio although the sprinkling of mountain residents can ring each other on big wooden wall phones, 1920 vintage. This may be one of the few places where you talk after cranking out two shorts and a long….

Mining brings more activity to the area now with a lot of heavy equipment coming in for the old Golden Hand and Yellow Jacket Mines just outside the borders of the Primitive Area. The old ways continue, however. Dave Stucker came riding down the road with his pack string headed for Chamberlain Basin. According to one of the wranglers, John Turner, each summer they set up at least nine camps and guide 40 parties or more on hunting and fishing trips in the primitive area. The core of the business is the permanent herd of 2,000 elk that roams the back country.

However, you don’t need a guide to find several interesting nearby places. Hike approximately 3 miles to Logan Lake to catch some big rainbows. Inquire at Big Creek Lodge for directions….

A public campground is less than 1/2 mile from Big Creek Lodge. Turn off the main road just before the airport and you will find an attractive wooded area by a small creek. No hook-ups. Watch for deer along the creek and by the salt lick near the barn.

Excerpted from “The Idaho Rambler” Copyright March, 1982 by Betty Derig and Flo Sharp
ISBN 0-9609754 Printed in the USA by Lithocraft Inc. Boise, Idaho
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Edwardsburg Fire Station


Idaho History Nov 26

1940’s Big Creek – Edwardsburg

Independence Mine 1940s

(click image for larger size)

“The Independence cabin some time in the 1940s, not sure who the man in the pic is.”

– photo courtesy Sandy McRae
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1940 Census Big Creek Edwardsburg Precinct

(click image for full size)

Name Sex Age Marital Status Relationship to Head of Household Birthplace Birth Year

Claude M Taylor Male 54 Married Head Colorado 1886
Elsie E Taylor Female 43 Married Wife Idaho 1897
Roland A Clark Male 29 Single Head North Carolina 1911
Willard V Wiles Male 24 Single Partner Iowa 1916
Thomas Brummett Male 60 Widowed Head Texas 1880
Orville Jackson Male 50 Single Head Washington 1890
Robert Rentahl Male 46 Single Partner Idaho 1894
Alfred O Ricksen Male 30 Married Head Norway 1910
Annabelle Ricksen Female 18 Married Wife Washington 1922
Annette Ricksen Female 0 Single Daughter Washington 1940
John Mclean Male 53 Widowed Lodger Scotland 1887
Jacob Janson [Jensen]Male 66 Single Head Finland 1874
Erik Janson [Jensen] Male 76 Single Brother Finland 1864
George H Mccoy Male 27 Married Head Idaho 1913
Marion Manis Male 29 Married Head Idaho 1911
Grace Manis Female 38 Married Wife Idaho 1902
Richard H Cowman Male 34 Married Head Canada Alberta 1906
Sophia M Cowman Female 30 Married Wife New Jersey 1910
Mary C Cowman Female 0 Single Daughter Idaho 1940
Miles Howard Male 67 Widowed Lodger Arkansas 1873
Wade M Justin Male 34 Married Head Iowa 1906
Helen Austin Female 29 Married Wife Colorado 1911
Eleanor Austin Female 5 Single Daughter Idaho 1935
Beverly Austin Female 3 Single Daughter Idaho 1937
Ronald Austin Male 1 Single Son Idaho 1939
Louis Butler Male 40 Married Head Nevada 1900
Letha Butler Female 25 Married Wife Oregon 1915
Delva Butler Female 4 Single Daughter Idaho 1936
Darla Jean Butler Female 4 Single Daughter Idaho 1936
Dan C McRae Male 63 Married Head Minnesota 1877
Grace McRae Female 54 Married Wife Idaho 1886
James E Collord Male 29 Married Son-in-law Idaho 1911
Mar Collord Female 28 Married Daughter Idaho 1912
Grace K Collord Female 2 Single Granddaughter Idaho 1938
William A Edwards Male 71 Widowed Head Georgia 1869
Napier Edwards Male 41 Single Son Maryland 1899
William Lotspeich Male 66 Single Head Mississippi 1874
Linsey Smith Male 35 Widowed Head Washington 1905
Joe Davis Male 70 Single Head Washington 1870

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Big Creek (Gold)

Prospecting of the Salmon River mountains increased considerably after the Sheepeater War of 1879, and organization of Alton district on Big Creek, June 15, 1885, extended mining from Warren’s east into that region. Although there were a number of prospects on upper Big Creek, the main production was realized at the Snowshoe which yielded $400,000 between 1906 and 1942.

source: Mining in Idaho Number 9 – 1985
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Charlie with Danny and Wanda LeVan at Big Creek

Photo from “The Middle Fork and the Sheepeater War” by Johnny Carrey and Cort Conley – copyright 1977
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Snowshoe Mine

“The Snowshoe Mine Is The Most Important Mineral Property In The Ramey Ridge District. It Is In Snowshoe Gulch, On The North Side Of Crooked Creek, About 19 Miles By Rough Single-Lane Road From Big Creek Idaho. Workings Also Extends Into Valley County.”

source: Western Mining History
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Snowshoe Mine

by Fred Fred Bachich

(first trip 1926, this story from second trip)

… We went on down Monumental Creek and ran into packstrings down on Big Creek that were hauling supplies into the Snowshoe Mine, which had developed into quite a property at that time. It recalls the old Jensen boys who had sold this mine and our earlier trip through there.

from “Yellow Pine, Idaho” complied by Nancy G. Sumner Pg 64
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Blackie Wallace packing pipe to the Snowshoe Mine on Crooked Creek, tributary of Big Creek. The rig could carry two lengths of pipe.
Photo from “The Middle Fork and the Sheepeater War” by Johnny Carrey and Cort Conley – copyright 1977
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Jensen Brothers and The Snowshoe Mine

by Duane Petersen from information provided by Ron and Myrna Smith

When the gold rush hit the Salmon River Mountains in the 1800’s, the miners came from everywhere; the gold fields of California, Nevada and from about every country of the world to strike it rich. Two of these men, Eric and Jake Jensen, were more into following the booming camps for reasons other than mining. Both were professional gamblers earning their money from cards rather than a pick and shovel.

In 1889 they, along with their sister Olga, had migrated from Finland to the United States. Their sister didn’t like the idea of the rugged mining camps and decided to stay in Fort Bragg, California. The two young men ended up in Grangeville in the Idaho Territory. From there they followed the new gold strikes and camps, first to the Buffalo Hump area, then on into the Thunder Mountain District. Here they found the boom-town of Roosevelt in which to ply their trade. To say they only gambled wouldn’t be right. They did do a lot of prospecting, but the gambling supported them. It is said that somewhere in this area Eric was in a big poker game. In one pot he bet a bear hide and $100 against a quit claim deed for claims on Crooked Creek. Eric won, and that was the start of the Jensens living in Crooked Creek and the beginning of the Snowshoe Mine. The first winter the brothers trapped to help keep grub on the table and worked to get the mine ready to operate the following summer.

The Snowshoe mine is located about eighteen miles north east down Big Creek from what was then called Edwardsburg. It was later changed to Big Creek headquarters. The Snowshoe Mine was located along the route from Warren to the Thunder Mountain mining region. With a large enough open area, it was served not only by a trail, which later became a road. In later years, the mine also had air service.

In those first years Eric traveled south to California with his fiddle to spend the winter. Play his way south with the fiddle and cards, he would then try to save up a nest egg to buy supplies for the summer back on Crooked Creek. It was told by a good friend that one year things didn’t work out too well, so come spring Eric wired Jake for money to come home. When Jake got the message back at the mine, he wired his brother back: “You fiddled your way to California; you can fiddle your way back.” In the mean time, Jake was working alone to get the mine ready to operate. He was a master builder with almost any material. When Eric was at the mine, Eric did the cooking, house cleaning and mucking in the mine.

The brothers moved down to Crooked Creek where they first met and befriended John Routsen. John had a ranch about seven miles from the Snowshoe Mine. John was looked upon by neighbors as the country doctor of the area. He had very little formal training but was always ready and willing to help, sometimes at the risk of his own life. John noticed that many of his patients were people suffering from a tooth ache. So on one trip out Routsen consulted with a dentist in Weiser. The man was very helpful. He gave John two forceps, one for using on the smaller front teeth, and another one for the bigger teeth. Then the dentist spent time showing John how they should be used.

Once back in his mountain home it wasn’t long before word got around that John could pull teeth. Soon John had removed several teeth for local neighbors. Most of their teeth were almost gone before they ever came to have them removed. To ease the pain, John only had a jug of whiskey on hand that he freely gave out before the tooth was pulled.

Noel Routsen, a son of John’s, wrote stories in a newspaper about his dad. He said that whenever a person came to get a tooth pulled John always sent the kids away. Of course, like all kids they never got very far away. They usually hid somewhere close by where they could watch the show. Even with the whiskey beforehand, the squirming, screaming and shouting was a good show for the kids. The patient would be down on his back, usually out in the yard. Then, with John holding their arms with his knees, his left hand was placed on his or her forehead. The forceps were held in his right hand, and put in place deep down on the tooth. The dentist had shown him just how to twist to get the right leverage. Like everything else John did for the people of that region, he never charged a dime for his services.

Noel wrote that one patient was Eric (Spider) Jensen. He showed up one day with a badly ulcerated tooth and wanted John to pull it. After two water glasses of whiskey, Eric decided his tooth felt fine. He didn’t need it pulled, especially after he saw the forceps in his neighbor’s hand.

The Jensens were what the people called “Russian Finns”. They spoke with quite an accent. With a little whiskey, Eric’s speech usually got worse. Telling John his “toot” felt better, he added, “brutter Yake is a bleeder.” He said he might be the same and could bleed to “det”. He went back down the trail singing a Russian song.

A week later Eric showed up again complaining about his tooth. He begged John to pull it. Again, after a couple glasses of whiskey he tried to back out. This time John held strong, “all you want is to drink my whiskey we use for medicinal purposes. Now, this time the tooth is coming out.” Sure enough it did. Eric never did bleed to “det” either.

In December 1915 was another occasion the Routsens were awakened in the night by dogs outside raising all kinds of hell. When John opened the door Eric was calling as he ran towards the house, “John, John, John! Come quick, my ‘brudder’ Yake is dying.” Before John could find out more, Eric was heading back down the trail calling for John to hurry. John finally got him somewhat calmed down and, after much pleading, found out what was wrong with Jake. ‘Yake’ hadn’t had a bowel movement in two weeks. He was running a high fever and was out of his head. John packed up some supplies and tried to follow the little man back to the Snowshoe Mine. John was a good traveler on snow shoes after traveling this country for many years delivering mail, but this night he couldn’t keep up with the little miner. Eric raced ahead calling back for John to hurry. They made the seven-mile trip from Routsen’s to the Jensen cabin over the narrow, icy, steep trail in one and a half hours. John was able, with use of many a mountain home cure, to get Jake back on his feet.

In February of the [next] year the Routsen’s family saw something coming down the trail that was hard to figure out. When they figured it out, it was Eric in a harness pulling a queer looking sled. Following it was Jake steering the sled with handle bars. It turned out to be an old fashioned baby cradle. It would have made many a furniture maker jealous. John’s son, Noel said, “My mother was pregnant at the time. The cradle was Eric and Jake Jensen’s way of saying thank you to dad for his efforts in saving Jake’s life.”

When talking of the Jensen brothers you can’t leave out Eric and his fiddle. Whenever there was a party, Eric would show up with his violin in a case slung over his shoulder. To him he was without a doubt one of the best fiddlers of that time! As Noel said, “Eric and his fiddle to us kids meant some good entertainment was ahead. It wasn’t he played that good, it was just fun to watch him play.” He added, “at times the kids would sneak off to the bedroom to laugh so they wouldn’t hurt his feelings.” On one occasion Noel’s ten-year-old brother Emmit asked him to play Turkey in the Straw. Eric turned to the boy very indignant to say, “you nincompoop, I just got through playing that.” This brought down the place with laughter.

Over the next few years the Snowshoe Mine grew. It now had a water-powered mill, built by Jake with Eric’s help. The water wheels and belt pulley were hand built of wood. All joints were doweled, not a nail or bolt was used. The craftsmanship was almost unreal because of the tools they had to work with. Eric’s favorite statement when anyone was talking about Jake was, “My brudder, Yake, is a yeenus.”

By the 1920’s the mine was having good and bad years. Like most mines they had good ore and then would run into streaks of poor ore. About the time they were ready to give up they would hit a hot pocket of rich ore. Then things were great again. The ore at the Snowshoe usually was around $20 to $50 dollars a ton (gold was $35 an ounce). During this time, investors would buy and lease out the smaller mines. The Snowshoe wasn’t any different than the other mines. Payments would be missed and the mine repossessed, to be sold again to someone else.

A story in the Okanogan County Rancher in 1936 mentioned the Snowshoe Mine. It stated that, “H.T. Maib and Thomas W. Nevitt recently packed a stock of supplies into their gold mine, the Snowshoe, located 27 miles south of the Salmon River near the old Thunder Mountain camp. Nevitt is a resident of Clarkston and former superintendent of schools. Consulting Engineer E.J. Daily of Seattle recently completed a five-week inspection of the property and will submit his report soon. The Snowshoe Mine has been in operation for two years past, during which time from eight to forty-two men have been constantly employed. The average value of the ore is $32 per ton in gold. The mill on the property will start running about June 1st, when the number of employees will increase to twenty men. This is the property that gained a good deal of publicity last winter when food was dropped from a plane into the mine due to the camp being snowbound and short of supplies.”

The last buyer, in 1936, who paid the Jensens in full was Pierce Metals Development Company. They paid $50,000 for the mine. Between 1902 and 1942 the Snowshoe Mine produced somewhere around $400,000 in gold. It also produced Silver and Copper. The Jensens developed another mine not far from the Snowshoe Mine. They named it the Yellow Jacket. After possibly many other owners, this claim was sold to a Mr. Scott. In the 1980’s it was still being worked.

Noel Routsen and one of his brothers sold a mine they had started between the Yellow Jacket and the Snowshoe that they called the Buckhorn. They got $3000 for the claim.

Many people were neighbors and friends of the Jensens. Besides the Routsen family, there was Jess Root and the famous cougar hunter who was known as “Uncle” Dave Lewis. Lewis lived at the place on Big Creek now called the Taylor Ranch. It is currently owned by the University of Idaho.

In 1939 Lafe and Emma Cox came into the area as newlyweds. Lafe subcontracted the 45 mile mail route from Yellow Pine down to Cabin Creek. They lived at Mile High and when Lafe was busy Emma would deliver the mail. Her route was from Yellow Pine Post Office to the Post Office at Big Creek. The mail would be separated and sorted for delivery to all the mines and families on down Big Creek. By this time a road had been build from Edwardsburg to the Snowshoe Mine so when she could, Emma delivered the mail in their pickup truck. The road was very narrow and not much wider than the pickup. Emma wrote in her book about her and Lafe’s lives, that when they started a family she had a crib alongside her in the cab and her baby, Janet, went with her. On her trip to the mine she had to cross over two very narrow bridges with little or no railings. She dreaded crossing them whenever they were covered with snow or frost. People at the mine knew when she was to arrive, so they traveled the road accordingly.

Emma says she wishes now that she had written down many of the stories they [Jensen brothers] told her. From listening to Emma talk about Jake and Eric, I think the feelings were mutual about how they felt about each other. The mail route on down to Cabin Creek was either by horse-back or walking.

Several miners who worked at the Snowshoe Mine over the years have told stories and written about their lives there. One of these men was Loyal (Red) Rice. Red had been working in the Coulter Tunnel at Cornucopia, Oregon. The rock was hard to drill, and the tunnel was very wet. After losing a finger on his right hand, he decided the hole was “deep enough”, as the miners would say when they were ready to quit. He went to work at the Snowshoe Mine as the underground foreman in the late 1930’s.

During this same time Red talked of having bad teeth. Friends called a dentist in Cascade to fly in and pull all of his teeth. He worked the graveyard shift, then walked eighteen miles up to Big Creek Headquarters. The dentist pulled all twenty-six teeth at one time. Red spent the night then walked back to the mine the next day in time to go back on his graveyard shift. He wrote later, “It’s a wonder I didn’t land in the graveyard by trying to prove how tough I was!” Because of stories like these, we realize what life was like for men working in these remote mines.

Fred Bachich, a long time resident of Yellow Pine wrote an article about the Snowshoe Mine for Nancy Sumners’ Yellow Pine book. He talked about the craftsmanship of the Jensens in building the mill at the mine. He seems to have the brothers’ names and abilities sometimes mixed up.

Fred stated, “They had dug a ditch around the mountainside for at least a mile to get a head of water for the overshot waterwheel. This overshot waterwheel was about 12 feet in diameter and made of hand hewed lagging. Jake had hand hewed these boards about 2 inches thick. This wheel fitted together very beautifully and was doweled. There wasn’t a nail in it any place. This wheel had a small bull wheel on it and flat belt that drove the bull wheel and a one-stamp mill. A very symmetrical and beautiful job. That little one-stamp mill they had there, I have no idea where they got it. The only metal in the whole thing was the battery, the stamp and naturally the shoes, dies, camshaft and the amalgamating plate.”

excerpted from: Jensen Brothers and The Snowshoe Mine by Duane Petersen from information provided by Ron and Myrna Smith, “Pans, Picks & Shovels – Mining in Valley County, Idaho”, Valley County History Project. Pages 27-34
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Emma’s Mail Run (1940’s)

by Emma Cox

from “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books pgs. 99-108

That spring [1942] Lafe subcontracted a mail contract. The mail was to be delivered from Yellow Pine to the Big Creek post office, then on down Big Creek to the Snowshoe Mine and on down a trail from there to Cabin Creek. The contract was for 45 miles, to be traveled by auto when accessible, in summer and early fall. In the winter mail was flown in by Penn Stohr from the airfield at Cascade to Big Creek, to be taken the rest of the way by horseback, dog team or team and sleigh.

We purchased a pickup to deliver from Yellow Pine to the Snowshoe Mine. The baby and I rode along with Lafe so I could learn the route, as he had to deliver up a few side roads to places I had never seen. We knew I would have to be the substitute driver when hunting season opened.

That fall Lafe catered to his hunting parties and would be gone a week to ten days at a time. We had a tent house at Jake and Eric Jensen’s place on Crooked Creek neat the Snowshoe Mine. A book should have been written on these two fine Finlanders who had built their home and other outbuildings on their property. They were both skilled carpenters, log home builders, cooks — you name it. It was interesting to hear of their experiences and stories about the time they operated a saloon at Roosevelt. They were always very careful how they expressed themselves in front of me. They were such gentlemen!

When Lafe was hunting, I drove to Yellow Pine to pick up the mail, … I delivered mail and freight from the Yellow Pine post office to the Big Creek post office, where it was sorted and put in mail sacks for each of the individuals along the way, and for the 12 to 18 employees at the Snowshoe Mine.

The road was narrow. At one point, above the transfer camp, was an incline where you could not see over the hood of your pickup. You had to know which way the road turned. I also had to drive across two bridges, that I often think about today. The bridges had very little railing and the logs were laid crosswise. When the first frost came, this was dangerous. It was always bumpy — rough driving over. About the only time the baby was disturbed was when we crossed these two bridges, due to the roughness and noise. The stream at Big Creek was almost the size of some rivers. I always breathed a sigh of relief when I reached the other side.

The miners always knew when I was coming. If their trucks were coming out with loads, they always waited at a turnout for me.

The people at the mine were always glad to see me come. Perhaps they were concerned with my driving — I will never know. However, they really looked forward to their mail. Someone was always there to help me unload the mail and freight, as at that time everyone ordered through the Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogs. In the spring they ordered seed from the catalogues to plant in their gardens.

On mail days everyone at the mine gathered at the large dining room table, where the mail was sorted out. While this was going on, Mrs. Rodman, the cook, always had a cup of hot cocoa and a piece of pie or cake for me. I could also warm up the baby’s bottle on her stove.

The caretaker at Mile High met me at the mine to pick up the ongoing mail down Big Creek, which was only accessible by horses. He delivered to the Phil Beal ranch, Cabin Creek and Mile High, which at one time was a designated post office called Clover. In early days settlers came there for their mail. When we sold the ranch many years later, the post office pigeonhole cabinet was still hanging on the wall.

In the summer we delivered the mail every Tuesday and Friday; the rest of the time it was just once a week. Otherwise the baby and I stayed at Jensen’s place awaiting Lafe’s return from his hunting trips.

In November the snow on the summit got too deep for the pickup. Even though we had a compound gear, it was too hard on the vehicle.

Johnson’s Flying Service based in Cascade had the contract to fly the mail directly to Big Creek airfield. Penn Stohr did the flying. He was not only a great pilot, he was a wonderful person.

Before the snow got too deep …, Lafe picked up the mail by auto. On the way to the mine he had to make a stop at Copper Camp and Little Ramey cabin. The others who lived along the route had gone out for the winter.

It was typical snow country and each day we watched it pile up. Some days a real blizzard would blow. As the snow accumulated, we knew it was set in for the winter.

The next trip, Lafe got as far as Little Ramey, where he had to leave the sleigh. It would stay where he left it until spring, as there was too much snow. He loaded the outgoing mail onto one of the work horses and rode the other, continuing his trip to the Big Creek Post Office.

Soon it was time for Lafe to make another mail run. He started out by riding one of the work horses and packing the other, but after several tries, he could see he couldn’t make it. So he took the horses back to the mouth of Crooked Creek and started them back up the road to our cabin at the mine. He left the riding and pack saddles at the Little Ramey cabin to be picked up later. He put a pack sack with the outgoing mail on his back and webbed up to Big Creek. The trip took him two days. It was real arduous going with snow falling hard. In places the drifted snow was three to four feet deep.

From Copper Camp, Lafe phoned to tell me the team would be coming in sometime that night. I put hay and grain in their feed boxes in the barn, thinking they would go right in to the hay.

For Lafe’s next return trip back, he had rented three dogs and their harness from an old timer living near Big Creek. With so much snow, he needed a dog team to travel. He also called his dad, asking Clark to try to locate some good dogs with harness and have them flown in with the coming mail plane.

Clark sent a good lead dog and two others. With the dogs the old timer had given him, and his own dog, that gave Lafe seven dogs, which were what he needed for some of the loads that went to the mine.

On the crank Forest Service phone in our cabin, I could talk to Lafe in Big Creek. He called real often to check on the baby and me.

With lots of snow, Lafe made weekly trips by dog team. Sometimes the weather would warm up and cause snow slides. You had to keep an eye on the mountain above the trail in case a slide came in. That year there were several small slides and two or three large ones. The dogs all worked well together, and each knew their duty.

We continued to deliver mail all summer [1943], driving over Profile summit to Big Creek. The mail route went over many side roads, as the summer people were back, then on to the cabins that were occupied year round, and then to the Snowshoe Mine. It was the same route as in the winter, but now we were driving a vehicle.

Hopeless point – the mail run up Big Creek
Photo from “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books
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Skis and Skiers

by Harry Withers

In the mining boom days, skiing as a sport in this part of the country wasn’t considered at all. At least, I have never heard any of the real “Old Timers” speak of it as such. Skiing was only a very necessary mode of travel. Some of those old timers were the real experts when it came to making arduous trips such as getting mail into the back country: Thunder Mountain, Warren, Florence, Dixie, Buffalo Hump, and others.

I know some of those old timers and heard some of their accounts of their experiences and never grew tired of listening to them. To name a few, there were All Hennessey, Charley Newell, Jake and Eric Jensen, Rufe Hughes, Ray Call, and Dan McRae. Bug Dan was strictly a snowshoe man.

from “Yellow Pine, Idaho” complied by Nancy G. Sumner Pg 42

Idaho History Nov 19

1930’s Big Creek / Edwardsburg

1930 Mules at the Werdenhoff property

(click image for larger size)
Date: 1930
A corral of mules congregate near a log cabin on the Werdenhoff property. A man stands near them.
William Allen Stonebraker Photographs
source: Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
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1930 Census

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

(click image for full size)

Name Gender Age Marital Status Relationship to Head Birth Year Birthplace

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

source for sheet #3
source for sheet #4

from page 2 South Fork Precinct

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

source for sheet #2
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Dan LeVan on Elk Summit

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

Dog team hauling mail to the Big Creek country in 1929

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

(click image for larger size)
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Big Creek / Edwardsburg 1936

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


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


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


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

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

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

(click image for very large size)

Gold deposits of the Edwardsburg district


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

Moscow (Moore) mine

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

Golden Way Up

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

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


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


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

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

Werdenhoff and Pueblo

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

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

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

Golden Hand, Inc.

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

Gold Deposits near Ramey Ridge

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

Arrastre (Mildred)

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

Jensen Group

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

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

Copper Camp

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


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

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

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

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

Economic Considerations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(click on map for full size image)
Topography by CA Stonesifar, Adolph Frankhauser, and RH McConnel Surveyed in 1935-1937

Idaho History Nov 12

Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]

Petroglyph at Buffalo Eddy

On either side of an eddy formed by a series of sharp bends in the Snake River are densely grouped clusters of petroglyphs and a few pictographs. The unique petroglyphs of this area are evidence of the longevity of the Nez Perce in the region and contain hundreds of distinct images that date from as early as 4,500 years ago.

source Nez Perce National Historical Park:
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The People Before, The Ancient Ones and the First Nations

by Diane Marie Molter

There were sites along the Salmon River where the early peoples would go, areas where hot springs or ‘sweet water’ would draw those who were elderly or ill. Also several special groves or ancient trees were considered Big Medicine. Story stones have petroglyphs and petrographs. The original native peoples were driven out by the miners. Some spots still are regarded with awe or superstition. Especially the ancient trees.

In talking with the local folks, the USDA Archaeologists and some of the people who had come out to study the area ( University of Chicago, U of BC in Vancouver, and a field study crew from Colorado University) the common thinking related four successive waves of Paleo and First Nations peoples.

Before the Ancient ones – migrations south and east from the Pacific coast- Paleoglyphs and Petroglyphs with some stone tools. Some indications of hunting large herd animals like moose, bears, totems and jewelry. circa pre 6000bce to 1000bce.

Ancient ones- successful and “rich” peoples with basketry of complex and refined patterns, astrological markers and sun circles, stone markers and petroglyphs with Shamans , seasonal markers ( animals, fish, birds), even Kokopelli’s indicating trade routes. Circa 1000bce to 1400s – may have been wiped out by the Black Death.

Indigenous people (actually Migrants pushed from the Great Lakes around 1700). Indications of people under stress, living a poor and hard life in conflict with the Cree, Crow and Ute to the south and West. Circa 1650 to 1850ace.

Second Indigenous Peoples, migrations from the Lakota and Dakota displaced Crow, South and east moving Nez Pierce and Northern Plains all compressing into smaller and smaller areas as Industrialization and Western Development through Gold and Silver rushes, Lumber industries, ranching and farming homesteads. The most common theme was from the miners who thought the “Native Indians” were a poor lot, unhealthy, slackards and downright pathetic in most cases. There were few around and the introduction of the Common Cold, measles, small and chicken pox proved more than deadly. Not to mention the habit of Miners shooting them for entertainment and as nuisances. Circa 1850 to 1900s.

There were sites along the Salmon River where the early peoples would go, areas where hot springs or ‘sweet water’ would draw those who were elderly or ill. Also several special groves or ancient trees were considered Big Medicine. Story stones have petroglyphs and petrographs. The original native peoples were driven out by the miners. Some spots still are regarded with awe or superstition, especially the ancient trees.

In talking with the local folks, the USDA Archeologists and some of the people who had come out to study the area (University of Chicago, U of BC in Vancouver, and a field study crew from Colorado University) the common thinking related four successive waves of Paleo and First Nations peoples.

source Secesh Area History:
[h/t B Johnstone]
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The Nez Perce Horse

(click image for larger size)
Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service, Nez Perce National Historical Park Circa 1890, Susie James, Mrs. Jesse Hart, and Jesse James Hart at Stites, Idaho. NEPE-HI-2808. Photo by Jane Gay
source w/history and photos
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The Coming of the Horse

By Sheila D. Reddy
Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service
Regions 1 and 4 Heritage Program August 1996

The moccasin tracks of “the walking” Indians have been hidden by the wind, but the memory of Idaho’s early peoples should not be forgotten. Following Indian roads and trails that crisscrossed the Snake River Plain and wound north and south into the mountains, “the walking” Indians moved through the seasons. Within that ancient circle they traveled great distances, carrying little.

In the spring, bands left winter camps located along the Snake and Salmon Rivers and their tributaries to dig camas bulbs and other roots in wet meadows. After quantities of camas had been collected and roasted the bulbs were shaped into cakes and dried in the sun. Leaving the camas, harvest, small family bands mover over the land to hunt and gather, hoping to find plenty so the excess could also be dried, cashed. As leaves began to fall, stored goods were collected and taken to supply winter villages.

Some caches sites held not only food, but locally specific medicine/basketry plants, or leather pouches of chipping stone for making arrowheads, scrapers and knives. Locations of these caches, hunting camps, gathering sites, and stone quarries were retained in tribal memory, for it was a life without writing. Tribal strength and knowledge lay in remembering and recounting.

From ancient times dogs had been used by “the walking people” to transport goods: meat from a kill, provisions, furs, leather, or extra moccasins on the trail. But a dog could carry a pack of 50 pounds or less and only for a few hours, limiting their use.

By the mid-1500’s Spanish explorers arrived in the Rio Grande Valley and Texas Panhandle with the first horses. But, as writer Fancis Haines points out, early Spanish military expeditions did not travel with even one mare in their remudas. It would be late 1600 before the tribes had horse herds of their own; only after the Spanish established ranches in New Mexico and the Pueblo Revolt (1680) did various Indian tribes secure breeding stock.

According to Haines, the Comanche were among the first to become mounted hunters and warriors on the Southern Plains. The Northern Shoshone traded often with their Comanche relatives and not long after the Comanche had the horse, the Shoshone were riding north toward the Snake River on mounts of their own.

Horses, often referred to as “big dogs” by early Indians, transformed the newly mounted people’s lifeway. Small bands could move easily. By joining together for safety, large groups began traveling east into the “grass Plains” to hunt buffalo.

An excellent food resource, the male buffalo stands as much as seven feet high at the shoulders and weighs as much as 2,000 pounds; buffalo cows average five feet at the shoulder and weigh from 700 to 900 pounds. With a horse trained to run with the buffalo, a skilled hunter could bring down several animals.

Buffalo also supplied robes for warmth, hides for lodges, and skins for clothing; horn, bone and hooves for utensils; sinew for sewing and bow stings; hair for padding; fat and tallow. But, the most important resource was meat that could be dried and stored. Dried meat, pounded then mixed with melted fat and poured into hide containers made pemmican. The high calorie, nutritious food could be carried, eaten on horseback, or stored for times when snow covered the earth and bitter winds closed the land.

The first buffalo hunting bands traveling east encountered unfamiliar tribes on the Great Plains. At trading fairs westerners were exposed to different foods, clothing styles, religions, medical plants, horse gear, weapons, decorative items, and, etc. Returning to the Plains the next season their pack horses were loaded with dried salmon, camas, baskets, skins, bows, and obsidian for bartering. They later returned to the Snake River country with meat and an array of goods and ideas that would alter the traditions and lives of “the walking people,” forever.

Following the Plains Indians and Northern Shoshone, Bannock and Nez Perce tribes were quick to adopt leather lodge covers that could be carried by a pack horse from camp to camp and set up quickly in any location. Clothing of the tribes soon became more tailored following eastern styles. The first white traders with goods like iron kettles, steel needles, knives, guns and ammunition were encountered at eastern trading fairs and later at trading posts.

With sufficient meat carried by the horse to winter camps people became healthier and more children lived to adulthood. Tribal populations had started to increase when waves of European diseases slipped like dark mists through camps and villages. Smallpox often wiped out while bands, leaving tribes decimated.

Indian populations had no resistance to foreign germs. In 1781 and again in the 1830’s, smallpox epidemics swept across the Americas. Smallpox was not the only illness that threatened Indian populations; mumps, measles, cholera, diphtheria – killing sicknesses for which healers had no medicine or cure.

The horse had carried the American Indian across and ocean of grass into great change leaving behind some of the ways of the ancient tribes who had walked across the land for thousands of years. On the horse, the future expanded ideas, but it also held mysteries to be wary of. In transition the old ways might be forgotten, but the circle of the seasons lies deep within a people and the land. Today in our search for the future we need to recognize the moccasin prints of a past hidden in the dust by the wine. It is a past to be recognized, remembered, to learn again.

Your Role in Protecting Archaeological Sites

Wilderness Archaeologists are currently working to preserve, protect and understand the prehistory of the ancient people who lived in the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness. As this prehistory is discovered and understood, they will share it with the public through educational monographs ad other publications. You can help in this effort by leaving artifacts where they lie, and informing Forest Service Wilderness managers of your discovery. Take pride in our American heritage. Take nothing but photographs.

source Secesh Area History:
[h/t B Johnstone]
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Nimíipuu [Nez Perce]

(click image for larger size)
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“Stout likely men, handsom women, and verry dressey in their way. …”
– William Clark October 10, 1805
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Nez Perce Lewis and Clark

National Geographic

The Nez Perce were the largest tribe Lewis and Clark met between the Missouri River and the Pacific Coast. They ranged across today’s central Idaho, southeastern Washington State, and northeastern Oregon, from the western base of the Rockies to the falls of the Columbia River.

In the 1830s there were an estimated 6,000 Nez Perce. “Nez Perce,” (French for “pierced nose”) referred to the nose pendants which some of the Indians wore.

As typical plateau Indians, the Nez Perce fished the Clearwater and Snake Rivers and harvested camas roots. When Clark and other members of the expedition emerged exhausted and starved from their journey through the Bitterroot Mountains, the Nez Perce greeted them with dried buffalo, camas root bread, and fish. Unfortunately this rich diet had an adverse effect on the digestive systems of the explorers.

William Clark approached three Nez Perce boys carefully, afraid he would frighten the boys and make a bad first impression on the tribe. Offering the boys gifts of ribbon, he eased their fears and was soon led to the settlement of tepees.

After Lewis joined them a few days later, the expedition discussed the trade alliances and peace proposals that they proposed to every tribe they encountered. The Nez Perce were clear on what they wanted—guns, so they could compete with the Blackfeet and Atsina for buffalo and defend their villages.

The Corps felt comfortable leaving their horses with the Nez Perce, known for the Appaloosas they bred, while they continued westward by canoe. The Nez Perce, watching the sickness-weakened explorers try to create canoes from inadequate tools, showed them how to burn out a log to make a canoe.

When the Corps returned in May 1806 they claimed their horses and spent a couple of months with the Nez Perce, waiting for the snow to clear the mountain passes.

The U.S. government took control of large portions of their territory during the mid-1800s. In 1863 the Nez Perce were mostly confined to a portion of northwest Idaho. In 1877, a band of Nez Perce still living in Oregon and led by Chief Joseph refused to leave their lands but were defeated. Many of those Oregon survivors were moved to the Colville reservation in Washington, where descendants still live.

Today many Nez Perce also live on a reservation in Idaho. As of 1990, 4,000 Nez Perce lived in the United States.

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Map of Nez Perce War

(click for larger size)
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Western Forts

The early posts of the old West were seldom solidly constructed forts as we conceive of them today. Often there were no high stockades or permanent buildings. Sometimes there was only a blockhouse or two at opposite corners of the area being inhabited. Occasionally an underground shelter was the fort. Many fortifications were constructed by traders to protect their businesses and by settlers to protect their homes.

As more and more settlers moved west, the U.S. Army was called upon to move with then. Occasionally the Army would occupy fortifications already constructed by early settlers. Usually the soldiers were required to build their own forts. The material used in constructing these forts varied with the geography of the surrounding countryside. In the desert, adobe was used; in forested areas, wood was the material of choice; in rocky areas, rock was used if masons were available to shape it.

During the years of western expansion, Army posts were established on the basis of anticipated use. As the Indian tribes of the East moved to new reservations in the west, the Army was called out to keep the tribes from waging war with each other. As settlers cleared new lands, the Army moved their posts to protect the fledgling settlements from hostile Indians and to protect the Indians’ lands from being encroached upon by settlers and merchants. After gold and silver were discovered, the mass migration of miners and settlers began crowding the large Indian territories. As the Indians had no place to move, war between the whites and Indians intensified. The Army was ordered to subdue the Indians and keep them on their reservations.

Reacting to the fast changing needs of the country the Army would set up a post and then abandon it when no longer needed. In order for a post to be designated a fort, however, a contingent of troops had to be permanently assigned to it. Regardless of the life of the fort, each new outpost opened a new era in the history of the frontier, a new chapter written in courage by the soldiers, settlers, and Indian braves who fought, built, bled, and often died while creating the history of the country’s growth westward. These western forts are monuments to this heritage, and to the rich history of the period known as Idaho’s Indian Wars.

Little or nothing is known of Indian warfare in Idaho prior to the arrival of horses of Spanish origin in the eighteenth century; until about that time, though, most of Indians had not organized into bands capable of carrying on anything resembling wars. Various western Indian tribes gained important advantages in warfare when were able to get horses and guns of European origin. White explorers and fur traders who reached the interior Pacific Northwest found the Indians eager to acquire the white man’s weapons. By that time, the peoples now regarded as the Indians of Idaho ranged over a large area, and other Indians – particularly the Blackfeet – often raided into the Snake River country. Not many accounts of the Indian battles of that era are preserved, and none but a few of the very last of them are known at all. British traders who became active in Idaho as early as 1808 found that Indian inter-tribal warfare interfered seriously with fur hunting, and soon they managed to get the local Indians to bring their fighting to a halt. From that time on, when Indians fought each other, they generally did so only during white campaigns when Indians served as scouts for white armies against other Indians.

In the years of the fur trade, the Indians of Idaho had no major wars with the white newcomers. Hostilities were limited to minor incidents aside from a battle or two. The most important early fights were Finnan MacDonald’s chastisement of the Blackfeet in the Lemhi country in 1823, and the battle of Pierre’s Hole which pitted a Gros Ventre band against the combined forces of the trappers and the Nez Perce in 1832. But the fur trade did not upset the Indian way of life seriously, and most early mining was done in places that the Indians did not care very much about. Farm settlement, however, ruined the country for many of the Indians – especially for those who did not become farmers themselves – and after white farmers and ranchers began to take over more and more of the Indian country serious trouble broke out.

Even before Idaho was established, there was warfare. Practically the entire Coeur d’Alene people had gotten into battles with the United States Army in Washington in 1858, and with the beginning of farming and mining in southern Idaho, military expeditions proceeded against the Cache Valley and Salmon Falls Shoshoni in 1863. In the most colossal Indian disaster in the west, Colonel P. E. Connor’s California volunteers wiped out the Cache Valley Shoshoni in the battle of Bear River on January 29, 1863. Volunteers from Boise Basin and from Oregon searched the country west of Salmon Falls, with limited success, in 1863 and 1864. Trouble in southwestern Idaho – where most of the early settlers concentrated continued to plague the army at Fort Boise and soon grew into the Snake War of 1866-1868. Indians from Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, and California were involved before General George Crook was finally able to round up the unhappy Shoshoni and Paiute bands and to enforce a peace settlement.

Major Indian wars did not afflict Idaho until years of friction and minor incidents precipitated two important outbreaks in 1877 and 1878. A clash in North Idaho came first. Part of the trouble was imported from Oregon, where stockraisers had tried for years to drive a Nez Perce band led by Chief Joseph (who was soon to be nationally famous) out from the Wallowa Valley in Oregon into North Idaho, a part of the Nez Perce reservation established by the Walla Walla Treaty of 1855.

In 1860 gold was discovered on the Nez Perce lands near Orofino Creek. Soon a gold rush to the reservation was underway. Lewiston became a main supply town for the rush and prospectors began flooding into the area. Encroachment by the whites was in direct violation of the Walla Walla treaty and the Nez Perce petitioned Washington to stop the rush. A company of cavalry was sent to the Nez Perce Reservation in 1862 to attempt to prevent whites from settling on Nez Perce lands. The troops were ineffectual, and a second cavalry company was sent to establish a fort at Lapwai.

Although originally intended to protect the Nez Perce treaty rights the Fort soon became the center for U.S. attempts to convince the Nez Perce to relinquish treaty lands that contained gold. In 1863 the federal government entered a new treaty that reduced the reservation established in 1855 to only 1,000 square miles. The reduced reservation was called the Lapwai Reservation and the Nez Perce were told to move onto it. This treaty became known as the “Thief Treaty” as only about 1/3 of the Nez Perce Chiefs signed the document, yet the U.S. Government insisted it applied to all Nez Perce.

Some of the Nez Perce refused to leave the Wallowa Valley in Oregon. Among them were Old Chief Joseph and his band. TheseNez Perce were allowed to occupy a small strip of the Wallowa Valley in Oregon. When Old Chief Joseph died in 1871 his son, Young Chief Joseph (born in 1840) became the leader of the Wallowa Nez Perce. He was given the name Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, or Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain. Over the next years Chief Joseph would become a national celebrity and earn a place in history as one of the greatest leaders of all time.

In 1877 the Federal government ordered all Nez Perce, including those in the Wallowa Valley, to move onto the Lapwai Reservation. Having no wish to leave their homeland, Chief Joseph argued for the rights of his people to remain in Oregon. They were denied, and an ultimatum was issued by General Oliver Otis Howard, stating that if they did not relocate war would be inevitable. The General imprisoned one of the Nez Perce priests to help with his persuasion.

Chief Joseph was not a military leader (the War Chief of his band was Chief Looking Glass), and did not wish to fight. He also wished to free his friend. Thus, Joseph and his band prepared to move to Lapwai. Before they could do so however a band of Nez Perce led by Chief White Bird ambushed a massacred a group of whites in the Salmon River country in northern Idaho. Although Joseph’s people were not part of that band, as “non-treaty” Indians they were now considered hostiles and cavalry was dispatched to avenge the Salmon River incident. It seemed war was now inevitable. Chief Joseph gathered his band and together with White Bird’s (and others) they began their famous journey of over 1,200 miles towards Montana hoping to find shelter with the Crows who were traditionally friends of the Nez Perce.

United States military operations in the Nez Perce War commenced with an army campaign which came to an abrupt halt when the Indians routed the numerically superior white force that came out to attack them on White Bird Creek. This became known as the battle of White Bird in which a large number of U.S. soldiers were killed, but the Nez Perce suffered only a handful of casualties. After successfully turning back the forces Howard had sent to White Bird Creek, the Indians did not counter with a military campaign against the United States Army or even against white settlers in the general vicinity. Rather, they crossed the Salmon River so that they might avoid any further military operations. When Howard pursued them across the Salmon, they eluded him again by returning to Camas Prairie and then moving over to the south fork of the Clearwater.

In all these various moves, they suffered almost no losses. They had routed the first unit (numerically a force equal to their own) which Howard had sent against them, and with commendable skill they had avoided further warfare – except for some incidental skirmishes which they had won with little difficulty. But nearly four weeks later, at the end of the battle of the Clearwater, July 12, the fighting Nez Perce – still outnumbered, but now grown to a maximum strength of 325 men in four bands – were dislodged from their stronghold. Even Joseph had to concede that Howard would continue to annoy them unless the non-treaty bands moved away from that part of the country. So the entire group decided to join their old friends, the Crows, in Montana. This move is often described as the Nez Perce retreat over the Lolo Trail. Except for the fact that it was an exodus in which the Indians were bringing along their women and children and hauling all their possessions, the trip resembled a traditional hunting expedition to the buffalo country. The Indians paid no attention to Howard, who followed too far behind to pester them.

After they entered Montana, a small military force from Missoula failed to hold them on Lolo Creek. Finally an army under Colonel John Gibbon caught up with them at Big Hole on August 9. Recovering from the surprise of Gibbon’s attack at dawn, the Indians proceeded to besiege him. But two days later, they abandoned the siege and continued their journey when they found that Howard’s army was catching up with them. Their route from Big Hole took them back across the Continental Divide into Idaho, which they crossed on their way to Yellowstone Park. Then Looking Glass (one of the four band leaders) proceeded to consult the Crows only to find these old friends less than enraptured at the thought of having any part of the Nez Perce War wished off onto them. With the Crows promising nothing better than neutrality, the Nez Perce force had to turn north to seek refuge in Canada. If the Nez Perce had suspected that they were being pursued by still another army unit, they might have speeded up their pace and reached their destination without further incident. But they were not engaged in a military campaign, nor were they retreating; they were simply leaving a hostile area (originally their homeland and now overrun by white intruders) where they had been made to feel entirely unwelcome. Hence they were traveling in a leisurely fashion when, as they approached the United States-Canada boundary, they were overtaken by United States Army troops commanded by General Nelson A. Miles on September 29, while resting a short distance south of the border.

In their final major battle of the Bear Paws, the Indians were able to hold back the white attack. However, they could not extricate their entire band to continue their journey northward a few miles to Canada. After several indecisive days, Joseph at last negotiated his long-wished-for agreement with the army by which his band would relocate to the Lapwai Reservation in Idaho. (That had been his original objective in June, and finally it seemed he had a chance to get settled there, although his route had been somewhat roundabout.) White Bird along with the greater number of warriors decided it would be safer to go on to Canada than to return to Idaho. They feared, with good reason, that they would be far from welcome. Joseph had remained firm in his belief that the lesser evil was to move to the reservation. He had been reluctant to fight, and now that he had the opportunity to accomplish his objective by peaceful means, he accepted it. Unfortunately, the United States government disregarded the settlement Miles and Joseph had reached. Instead of recognizing the terms of the agreement, which allowed Joseph and his followers to return to Idaho, the government exiled them to Kansas and then Oklahoma, where they remained for eight years. Eventually they were relocated to the Colville Reservation in Washington. Joseph’s greatest triumph – upon which his reputation largely rests – came when he at last persuaded the United States government to return his band to the Idaho even though he himself was not allowed to leave Colville.

Those who interpret the Nez Perce War in terms of a United States Army campaign have all too frequently presented a military picture which distorts Indian operations during that conflict. The use of military concepts and terms is appropriate when explaining what the whites were doing, but these same military terms should be avoided when referring to Indian actions. True, the Indians did fight a number of battles which lend themselves to military description. Yet much of what they did – particularly between battles – was not at all in the nature of a white military operation. General Howard was indeed engaged in a military campaign, but the Indians certainly were not. In the process of trying not to fight a war, they had made Howard’s military campaign look foolish. But to describe their success in avoiding war (under the considerable handicap of having the United States Army out trying to fight a war against them) as some kind of successful military strategy simply confuses the issue. The Indians did not even have an army. Their forces consisted of a group of individual fighters with leaders who could recommend but not command, either in battle or in peace. Indian objectives during the Nez Perce War provide an explanatory key. In the first place, Joseph, White Bird, and Looking Glass would have preferred to remain as non-treaty Indians living in their old homelands (generally off the reservation). But by the beginning of the war, Joseph had concluded, with deep regret, that he had no choice but to move onto the reservation. General Howard had left him no alternative short of war. In choosing the lesser of two evils, Joseph had rejected war. As matters turned out, Joseph became involved in a war anyway as a result of the White Bird incident. Despite the fact that his plans received a setback because of this action, Joseph still hoped to conclude hostilities and to settle on the reservation as soon as the details of such an agreement could be worked out. And that, eventually, was exactly what he arranged to do.

Joseph’s agreement with General Nelson A. Miles is usually reported as a surrender. From the Army point of view it was – and much was made over this “surrender,” perhaps to conceal the obvious fact that Miles had not won the battle. Only 79 Nez Perce warriors elected to return to Idaho, and 98 decided that it would be wiser to seek refuge in Canada. Since Miles’s objective had been to round up all the Nez Perce warriors, he could hardly boast of a victory. As a matter of fact, he deceived himself by construing the war as a two-sided military operation and by supposing that when he dealt with Joseph, he was dealing with the military commander of the Nez Perce Indians. Actually even during the battles, the Indians had no single military command in the white man’s sense. Thus, when Joseph was negotiating with Miles, he was speaking only for himself and for those who wished to follow him. By Nez Perce standards, White Bird and those who elected to go on to Canada were perfectly free to do so. And the Indians were adhering to their own standards, not to some white military tradition of which they were probably unaware. Under the white man’s system a surrender meant that the Nez Perce commander, had there been one, would have been held responsible for the surrender of his entire army, which in this case did not exist, at least not as the kind of organization the white man understood. Little of this made sense to the Indians, who were not surrendering anyway. General Miles probably could not have succeeded in explaining to Joseph the white man’s concept of a military surrender, even if he had thought to try. And in any event Joseph had no army to surrender and no authority to make other Nez Perce warriors come to any agreement or terms. Thus, since Miles was unable to capture the Nez Perce warriors, he was forced to abide by Nez Perce procedure and deal with the lndians as individuals. Such a procedure was as foreign to Miles as the concept of surrender was to the Nez Perce.

In 1965 the United States Government founded the Nez Perce National Historic Park. Thirty eight sites, scattered across the states of Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana, have been designated to commemorate the legends and history of the Nee-Me-Po and their interaction with explorers, fur traders, missionaries, soldiers, settlers, gold miners, and farmers who moved through or into the area. The Park was also created to honor Chief Joseph and his brave band. The areas encompassing these sites display the great diversity of the American West — topography, rainfall, vegetation, and scenery, ranging from the semi-arid regions of Washington, to the lush high mountain meadows of Idaho and Oregon, to the prairies of Montana. As you travel from site to site you gradually sense the importance of the land in contributing to the rich and diverse cultural history of the Nez Perce people.

excerpted from Digital Atlas of Idaho
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Chief Joseph

Chief Joseph. (Photo: MPI/Getty Images)
(click image for larger size)

source w/more photos:
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Chief Joseph



The man who became a national celebrity with the name “Chief Joseph” was born in the Wallowa Valley in what is now northeastern Oregon in 1840. He was given the name Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, or Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain, but was widely known as Joseph, or Joseph the Younger, because his father had taken the Christian name Joseph when he was baptized at the Lapwai mission by Henry Spalding in 1838.

Joseph the Elder was one of the first Nez Percé converts to Christianity and an active supporter of the tribe’s longstanding peace with whites. In 1855 he even helped Washington’s territorial governor set up a Nez Percé reservation that stretched from Oregon into Idaho. But in 1863, following a gold rush into Nez Percé territory, the federal government took back almost six million acres of this land, restricting the Nez Percé to a reservation in Idaho that was only one tenth its prior size. Feeling himself betrayed, Joseph the Elder denounced the United States, destroyed his American flag and his Bible, and refused to move his band from the Wallowa Valley or sign the treaty that would make the new reservation boundaries official.

When his father died in 1871, Joseph was elected to succeed him. He inherited not only a name but a situation made increasingly volatile as white settlers continued to arrive in the Wallowa Valley. Joseph staunchly resisted all efforts to force his band onto the small Idaho reservation, and in 1873 a federal order to remove white settlers and let his people remain in the Wallowa Valley made it appear that he might be successful. But the federal government soon reversed itself, and in 1877 General Oliver Otis Howard threatened a cavalry attack to force Joseph’s band and other hold-outs onto the reservation. Believing military resistance futile, Joseph reluctantly led his people toward Idaho.

Unfortunately, they never got there. About twenty young Nez Percé warriors, enraged at the loss of their homeland, staged a raid on nearby settlements and killed several whites. Immediately, the army began to pursue Joseph’s band and the others who had not moved onto the reservation. Although he had opposed war, Joseph cast his lot with the war leaders.

What followed was one of the most brilliant military retreats in American history. Even the unsympathetic General William Tecumseh Sherman could not help but be impressed with the 1,400 mile march, stating that “the Indians throughout displayed a courage and skill that elicited universal praise… [they] fought with almost scientific skill, using advance and rear guards, skirmish lines, and field fortifications.” In over three months, the band of about 700, fewer than 200 of whom were warriors, fought 2,000 U.S. soldiers and Indian auxiliaries in four major battles and numerous skirmishes.

By the time he formally surrendered on October 5, 1877, Joseph was widely referred to in the American press as “the Red Napoleon.” It is unlikely, however, that he played as critical a role in the Nez Percé’s military feat as his legend suggests. He was never considered a war chief by his people, and even within the Wallowa band, it was Joseph’s younger brother, Olikut, who led the warriors, while Joseph was responsible for guarding the camp. It appears, in fact, that Joseph opposed the decision to flee into Montana and seek aid from the Crows and that other chiefs — Looking Glass and some who had been killed before the surrender — were the true strategists of the campaign. Nevertheless, Joseph’s widely reprinted surrender speech has immortalized him as a military leader in American popular culture:

I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohoolhoolzote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say, “Yes” or “No.” He who led the young men [Olikut] is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are — perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.

Joseph’s fame did him little good. Although he had surrendered with the understanding that he would be allowed to return home, Joseph and his people were instead taken first to eastern Kansas and then to a reservation in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) where many of them died of epidemic diseases. Although he was allowed to visit Washington, D.C., in 1879 to plead his case to U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, it was not until 1885 that Joseph and the other refugees were returned to the Pacific Northwest. Even then, half, including Joseph, were taken to a non-Nez Percé reservation in northern Washington, separated from the rest of their people in Idaho and their homeland in the Wallowa Valley.

In his last years, Joseph spoke eloquently against the injustice of United States policy toward his people and held out the hope that America’s promise of freedom and equality might one day be fulfilled for Native Americans as well. An indomitable voice of conscience for the West, he died in 1904, still in exile from his homeland, according to his doctor “of a broken heart.”

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Chief Joseph


Chief Joseph was born on March 3, 1840, in Wallowa Valley, Oregon Territory. When the United States attempted to force the Nez Perce to move to a reservation in 1877, he reluctantly agreed. Following the killing of a group of white settlers, tensions erupted again, and Chief Joseph tried to lead his people to Canada, in what is considered one of the great retreats in military history.

Early Years

The leader of one band of the Nez Perce people, Chief Joseph was born Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt in 1840 in the Wallowa Valley in what is now Oregon. His formal Native American name translates to Thunder Rolling Down a Mountain, but he was largely known as Joseph, the same name his father, Joseph the Elder, had taken after being baptized in 1838.

Joseph the Elder’s relationship with the whites had been unprecedented. He’d been one of the early Nez Perce leaders to convert to Christianity, and his influence had gone a long way toward establishing peace with his white neighbors. In 1855, he forged a new treaty that created a new reservation for the Nez Perce.

But that peace was fragile. After gold was discovered in the Nez Perce territory, white prospectors began to stream onto their lands. The relationship was soon upended when the United States government took back millions of acres it had promised to Joseph the Elder and his people.

The irate chief denounced his former American friends and destroyed his Bible. More significantly, he refused to sign off on the boundaries of this “new” reservation and leave the Wallowa Valley.

Leader of His People

Following Joseph the Elder’s death in 1871, Chief Joseph assumed his father’s leadership role as well as the positions he’d staked out for his people. As his father had done before him, Chief Joseph, along with fellow Nez Perce leaders, chiefs Looking Glass and White Bird, balked at the resettlement plan.

As tensions mounted, the three chiefs sensed that violence was imminent. In 1877, recognizing what a war could mean for their people, the chiefs backed down and agreed to the new reservation boundaries.

Just before the move, however, warriors from White Bird’s band attacked and killed several white settlers. Chief Joseph understood there would be brutal repercussions and in an effort to avoid defeat, and most likely his own death, he led his people on what is now widely considered one of the most remarkable retreats in military history.

Over the course of four long months, Chief Joseph and his 700 followers, a group that included just 200 actual warriors, embarked on a 1,400-mile march toward Canada. The journey included several impressive victories against a U.S. force that numbered more than 2,000 soldiers.

But the retreat took its toll on the group. By the fall of 1877 Chief Joseph and his people were exhausted. They had come within 40 miles of the Canadian border, reaching the Bear Paw Mountains of Montana, but were too beaten and starving to continue to fight.

Having seen his warriors reduced to just 87 fighting men, having weathered the loss of his own brother, Olikut, and having seen many of the women and children near starvation, Chief Joseph surrendered to his enemy, delivering one of the great speeches in American history.

“I am tired of fighting,” he said. “Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohoolhoolzote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say, ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ He who led the young men [Olikut] is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are—perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

Final Years

Regarded in the American press as the “Red Napoleon,” Chief Joseph achieved great acclaim in the latter half of his life. Still, not even his standing among the whites could help his people return to their homeland in the Pacific Northwest.

Following his surrender, Chief Joseph and his people were escorted, first to Kansas, and then to what is present-day Oklahoma. Joseph spent the next several years pleading his people’s case, even meeting with President Rutherford Hayes in 1879.

Finally, in 1885, Joseph and others were allowed to return to the Pacific Northwest, but it was far from a perfect solution. So many of his people had already perished, either from war or disease, and their new home was still miles from their true homeland in the Wallowa Valley.

Chief Joseph did not live to see again the land he’d known as a child and young warrior. He died on September 21, 1904, and was buried in the Colville Indian Cemetery on the Colville Reservation in the state of Washington.

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Chief Joseph and family, c. 1880

(click image for larger size)
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Chief Joseph, Nez Perce (Nimi’ipuu)

Chief Joseph, as Remembered by Ohiyesa (Charles A. Eastman)

Chief Joseph, known by his people as In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat (Thunder coming up over the land from the water), was best known for his resistance to the U.S. Government’s attempts to force his tribe onto reservations. The Nez Perce were a peaceful nation spread from Idaho to Northern Washington. The tribe had maintained good relations with the whites after the Lewis and Clark expedition. Joseph spent much of his early childhood at a mission maintained by Christian missionaries.

In 1855 Chief Joseph’s father, Old Joseph, signed a treaty with the U.S. that allowed his people to retain much of their traditional lands. In 1863 another treaty was created that severely reduced the amount of land, but Old Joseph maintained that this second treaty was never agreed to by his people.

A showdown over the second “non-treaty” came after Chief Joseph assumed his role as Chief in 1877.

After months of fighting and forced marches, many of the Nez Perce were sent to a reservation in what is now Oklahoma, where many died from malaria and starvation.

Chief Joseph tried every possible appeal to the federal authorities to return the Nez Perce to the land of their ancestors. In 1885, he was sent along with many of his band to a reservation in Washington where, according to the reservation doctor, he later died of a broken heart.

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Reservation Map

(click image for larger size)
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Perhaps you think the Creator sent you here
to dispose of us as you see fit.
If I thought you were sent by the Creator,
I might be induced to think you had a right to dispose of me.
Do not misunderstand me, but understand fully
with reference to my affection for the land.
I never said the land was mine to do with as I choose.
The one who has a right to dispose of it is the one who has created it.
I claim a right to live on my land
and accord you the privilege to return to yours.
Brother, we have listened to your talk coming from the father in Washington,
and my people have called upon me to reply to you.
And in the winds which pass through these aged pines
we hear the moaning of their departed ghosts.
And if the voices of our people could have been heard,
that act would never have been done.
But alas, though they stood around,
they could neither be seen nor heard.
Their tears fell like dorps of rain.
I hear my voice in the depths of the forest,
but no answering voice comes back to me.
All is silent around me.
My words must therfore be few. I can say no more.
He is silent, for he has nothing to answer when the sun goes down.

– Chief Joseph

Idaho History Nov 5

Sheepeater Indians

click image for larger size
William Henry Jackson’s 1971 Photo of a Sheepeater Family
source Cabin Creek Chronicle:

The Tukudika – Indians of the Wilderness

By Sheila D. Reddy Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Regions 1 and 4 Heritage Program October 2002

Along the banks of the rivers and stream in the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness are the remains of the homes of the American Indian people called the Tukudika, or Sheepeaters. The Tukudika were and are Northern Shoshone, members of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe whose tribal offices are located on the Fort hall Reservation near Pocatello, Idaho.

Northern Shoshone speakers are included within a larger related group identified by common elements in their language. The Northern Shoshone belong to the central branch of the Numic sub-family of the Uto-Aztecan family of American Indian languages.

Between one and four thousand years ago early ancestors of the Northern Shoshone were living a rhythmic life of seasonal hunting and gathering within the arid desert core of the Great Basin. In the surrounding country were tribal groups whose lifeways depended and focused on lake/marsh settings and riparian environments.

About 1,100 years ago an episode of climatic change resulted in a serious decline in seasonal rain and snowfall. Tree-ring, pollen, and sedimentary records indicate an extended period of drought that resulted in a more arid regional landscape.

Groups who depended on wetlands for food and other resources saw marshes, rivers, creeks and springs turn to dust and remain dry. Tribes and bands who were unable, or unwilling to adapt to the desert environment began migrating, abandoning dusty riparian camps, village sites, hunting and gathering areas.

Ancestors of the Shoshone were well adapted to living in a drier environment. With the threat of competing tribes lessened, Numic bands began moving north and east into abandoned areas. Within their formal traditions the Shoshone carried ancient knowledge and a vast memory of technical information that would prove successful in drought-effected environments.

One group, the Northern Shoshone, continued migrating north until they reached the Snake River Plain. Their tribe was made up of bands of hunters and gatherers, people who traveled in small groups over the landscape utilizing all resources as they became available.

They moved with the seasons. Each spring after warming winds dried the old trails, families traveled to harvest camas and other roots in wet mountain meadows. Later when salmon and steelhead spawned, groups would gather with other families or bands at fishing camp sites on the lower Snake River, Salmon River or their tributaries to build weirs and fish traps. After catching and drying the fish the excess would be cached or stored for winter. After the aspen leaves began to leaf out, family bands returned to the mountains to hunt elk, deer and mountain sheep.

As the small fluid bands of Shoshone moved from one resource to another, they were named or identified by the food they were harvesting, or for a specific animal they hunted; one might say they became that food. For example, at Shoshone Falls on the Snake River, the bands fishing below the falls were referred to as “Salmon-eaters.” If a group moved east and hunted buffalo, they were called “Buffalo-eaters.” In the central Idaho wilderness a mountain band came to be identified as hunters of mountain sheep, the Tukudika or “Sheepeaters.”

Bands of Tukudika often remained to winter along the banks of the Salmon River and its tributaries. Hunting, fishing and gathering enough through the war seasons they cashed dried meat, fish, berries, and roots near winter camp sites. Those families living along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River built semi-subterranean pit houses on sandy river terraces, collecting driftwood from the river’s edge for their winter fires.

Even after explorers, fur trappers and traders, miners and farmers came into Idaho Territory, the Tukudika remained within their mountain stronghold. In Idaho’s last Indian war, the Sheepeater Campaign of 1879, the quiet reclusive hunters of the mountain sheep were forced into battle. From spring to late fall they defended their ancient homeland. Only after months of flight and constant fighting, after their homes and winter caches of meat had been destroyed, only after autumn had faded ad snow covered the ground did the Tukudika walked out of the trees towards the soldiers and the Indian scouts who had pursued them.

Along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River travelers can still see the remains of ancient fire hearths, pit houses, talus slope, talus slope hunting blinds, cached pits, pictographs (rock paintings). Out of respect for all people leave with empty hands, memories and photographs of the wilderness; remembering your footsteps mingled with those of the Tukudika within the wilderness.
source Secesh Area History:
[h/t B Johnstone]

The Sheepeater Indians

Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series
Number 24 May, 1972

In identifying the different groups of Shoshoni Indians who lived in the Snake River country, one of the most common early mistakes was to regard them as consumers of distinctive foods and to name them for whatever they happened to be eating at the moment. (Some of them did specialize more than others in certain foods, but they all had to have a fair variety in order to survive.) Depending upon where they were at a given time, a Shoshoni group might subsist upon a particular food: a band fishing at Salmon Falls, for example, would be living off the salmon there, and a group digging camas on Camas Prairie might naturally be dining regularly on camas. Moreover, mounted bands of Shoshoni buffalo hunters, when accosted by white explorers or travelers, proudly referred to themselves as buffalo hunters. Most humble Shoshoni groups engaged in hunting rabbits likewise called themselves rabbit eaters, while the very same individuals, if found out gathering seeds or pine nuts became the seed eaters or the pine nut eaters, as the circumstances of the occasion determined. Since any given Shoshoni family or group usually went through several seasonal food-gathering phases, they might in the course of a year have been designated as several different kinds of eaters. This system had some merit for accuracy in designating the various people who might be in a particular place (such as Salmon Falls, or a pine nut area), but it did not accommodate bands or groups at all, since the groups were transient and thus capable of having altogether too many names ending in “eater” to be of much value for identification.

Some Shoshoni groups had become proficient at hunting mountain sheep in parts of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, and were referred to as sheep eaters. (They actually called themselves big game eaters, but since their kind of big game proved to be mountain sheep, their name in English was corrupted into sheep eater.) But the sheep eaters of the Salmon River Mountains, when they camped on the Salmon to fish, turned into salmon eaters. One of these Salmon River sheep eater and salmon eater bands gained widespread fame at the beginning of the nineteenth century because it was the band to which Sacajawea belonged: that particular group had acquired horses and advanced to the noble station of buffalo hunters by the time that Lewis and Clark crossed the Continental Divide in 1805; and as horse owners, Sacajawea’s band was able to provide the explorers with pack horses to traverse the Lolo Trail on their way to navigable waters of the Clearwater. In later years, after the Mormon Salmon River mission at Fort Lemhi brought a new geographic name to the area, Sacajawea’s people eventually became known as the Lemhi Indians. Other central Salmon River groups, though, continued their skillful and highly-respected mountain sheep hunting, and were known as the Sheepeaters on through the nineteenth century.

Until the end of the Bannock War of 1878, the Sheepeaters lived relatively unmolested in their Salmon River mountain wilderness. Dr. Sven Liljeblad describes them as “less dependent on the gathering of wild crops than the Shoshoni south of them originally were. Their skin products were highly praised by other Indians and by the white fur traders. As the gold prospectors moved into their country and ruined their fishing, many of them joined their relatives among the Lemhi Indians for living and protection.” He notes further that “they lived as peaceful villagers under the leadership of trusted headmen; they shared cultural inventory and social traditions with all other Idaho Shoshoni in the early days. In many respects, they were culturally superior to any other Shoshoni groups on a pre-horse level of culture. Other Indians respectfully referred to them as ‘hunters of big game.'”

Except for Leesburg and Loon Creek miners, and for a few scattered ranchers on their borderland, whites had not penetrated very much into the Sheepeaters’ central wilderness area before the Bannock War. A number of Bannock refugees from the war were thought to have joined them when the Bannock cause collapsed as a military venture, and from that accretion they seem to have gained an entirely undeserved later reputation as a band of outcasts from other tribes. During the Bannock War, an ambush of four whites in Long Valley was attributed perhaps to the Sheepeaters, and the next winter the Loon Creek Chinese massacre at Orogrande was blamed off on the luckless Sheepeaters also. (On the basis of a careful ethnological investigation, Dr. Liljeblad rejects this latter aspersion as false in fact, just as the notion that the Sheepeaters were a band of outlaws turned out to be a gross misrepresentation.) In any event, the army decided to round up the Sheepeaters in the summer of 1879. After a difficult military campaign, some fifty of them — found at the very end of a long search that had to be called off for the winter — agreed to move to a reservation. Other sheepeaters eluded the army, and a few families continued to live their mountain life unmolested in its ancient pattern for another decade or two.

The information for this statement was provided to the staff of the Idaho Historical Society by: Dr. Sven Liljeblad, Idaho State College, Pocatello, Idaho. April 19, 1962.

Idaho State Historical Series

Warm Lake Area History

1878 17 June, Indians raided ranches in Indian Valley and ran off with about 60 head of horses. Four ranchers were in pursuit when they were ambushed at the Payette Falls (Cascade). Killed were Wm. Monday, Jake (John) Grosclose, and Tom Healy with “Three-Fingers” Smith badly wounded (Sheepeater Indian Campaign, P12). History sign says ambush was on Aug. 20, 1878. Another article in book Sheepeater Indian Campaign says this occurred on Aug. 17, 1878 P27. Their grave is located north of Cascade, west of SH55, on Vista Point Blvd. 0.7 mile and on the right side of the gravel road. A three foot high rock has “Grave” painted on it and the bronze marker is some 200 feet north of the road. This site is just north of the Cascade Dam.

1878 Aug. 20, Dan Crooks and Boone Helm (Bob Wilhelm on Historic Marker) were killed at Round Valley, presumably by Indians (Sheepeater Indian Campaign book p. 12). They were working a mine for a miner named Pearsol on a creek that now bears his name (USFS). Their grave is 1.5 miles east on the Little Pearsol Road from the Warm Lake Highway and about 150 feet south of the gravel road on a small knoll. A group called “Sons of Idaho” placed a marker stone at the site on Aug. 18, 1929. The gray granite stone is 1.5’ high by 2’ long.

1879 Feb., Indians killed 5 Chinese placer miners on Loon Creek. Source: Trails of the Frank Church-River of No Return p 250 and Sheepeater Indian Campaign p6 (back section) 1968 Idaho County Free Press, Grangeville, Idaho.

1879 March or April, Indians killed Hugh Johnson and Peter Dorsey on the South Fork near the Salmon River, some 35 air miles north of Warm Lake. Sheepeater Indian Campaign p 12 & USFS

1879 July 24, Captain R. F. Bernard and 60 cavalry camped at the northeast end of Warm Lake. They were part of the Sheepeater Campaign. Source: map from the book Sheepeater Indian Campaign.

1879 Aug. 15, James P. Raines was shot and killed by Indians on his South Fork ranch, while putting up hay (48 air miles north of Warm Lake). P14 front section and p14 back section of the book Sheepeater Indian Campaign.

1879 Aug. 20, Private Harry Eagan was shot and killed by Indians at Soldier Bar on Big Creek, 3 miles upstream from the Middle Fork of the Salmon. P17 back section of Sheepeater Indian Campaign.

1879 Oct., Sheepeater Campaign was concluded with surrender of 51 Indians. Source: Sheepeater Indian Campaign.

“Cougar” Dave Lewis was a government packer and scout during the Sheepeater Indian campaign. He had been a Union Soldier in the Civil War. Sheepeater Indian Campaign, p. 70. He lived on Big Creek and died at the Veteran’s Hospital in Boise at the age of 92. From the Boise Statesman June 25, 1936.
(link to Cougar Dave story)

excerpted from Warm Lake Area History

1879 Sketch Map of Middle Idaho Showing Trails Made by Troops in Sheepeater Campaign 1879. (1926)

click map for low quality larger map size
Click source link for high quality zoomable very large map

Title Sketch Map of Middle Idaho Showing Trails Made by Troops in Sheepeater Campaign 1879. (1926)
Creator Brown, W. C. (William Carey), 1854-1939.
Date Original 1926
Publisher [Boise, Id. : Syms-York Company]
Description 1 map: 29 x 22 cm. Scale: 1 inch = 15 miles. Trails and marches of campaign drawn on map. W.C. Brown was a second Lieutenant in the U.S. Cavalry during the Indian Wars of the late 1870s. These maps come from a book by him, published in 1926 after his retirement, about the Sheepeater Campaign. …
source: Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
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Sheepeater Campaign 1879

by Col W.C. Brown (Retired)


For several years this office has been compiling information in relation to the Indian Wars of the late seventies. In the latter part of 1924, I secured from Col. W. C. Brown, who was with Farrow’s Scouts as second in command during the entire Sheepeater Campaign of 1879, a promise that he would prepare a historical article for the present Biennial Report. Colonel Brown has performed that very important service and his article will appear as a part of the report of this Department, and is probably the first and only authentic statement that has been compiled of the Sheepeater Campaign. Colonel Brown has fortified himself with excerpts from military reports and from the diaries of himself ana several officers and one private participating in this campaign, and the thanks of this department and the State of Idaho should be extended to him for his efforts in clarifying and recording the facts involving the campaign of 1879.

Considerable attention has been given in the public prints during the last few months to facts growing out of this campaign, on account of the recent death of Lieutenant Farrow, who commanded Farrow’s Scouts, and one or two other officers connected with the campaign. Much information that has been given out has either been inaccurate or incomplete, and Colonel Brown’s contribution, including the maps and pictures which he has used, will be of decided service to every one interested in the accurate record of historical facts.

I should perhaps here note that the original manuscript from which this article is printed will be filed with the Historical Society, and, as shown by this article, it is the intention of Colonel Brown to file in the permanent archives of the Department copies of the diaries made by himself. Captain Bernard, who was in command; Lieutenant Pitcher, an officer under Bernard, and Edgar Heffner, a private, also in Bernard’s command. If Colonel Brown has in any way hesitated about giving every historical fact of value in connection with the Sheepeater Campaign, it may be noted that such hesitation was probably prompted by a desire to eliminate himself from the facts recorded. In accordance with this suggestion, I find upon examination of the official report that Colonel Brown has quoted the same with exactness, except in the matter of Bernard’s report to Howard, dated August 19th, 1879. From this report Colonel Brown has deleted the following: “Lieutenant W. C. Brown was on foot during the entire skirmish, and was first man to enter the Indian camp.” I assume that Colonel Brown’s modesty was the motive for this deletion, and have called attention to this fact without consulting him upon the subject. The Indian camp, referred to in Howard’s report, was the Sheepeater camp, first entered by Lieutenant Brown, according to Bernard’s report, when Farrow’s Scouts, then a part of Bernard’s command, were pursuing the Indians down Big Creek toward the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

– Ella Carter Reed.
Read the book at: The Sheepeater Campaign By Col. W. C. Brown, U. S. A., Retired.
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Col. W. C. Brown

Captain Bernard

source The Sheepeater Campaign By Col. W. C. Brown, U. S. A., Retired.
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The Sheepeater Indian War of 1879

The Sheepeater Indian War of 1879 was the last Indian war fought in the Pacific Northwest portion of the United States. A band of approximately 300 Western Shoshone, (Turakina, or Tukuaduku), were known as the Sheepeaters because their diet consisted of the Rocky Mountain Sheep. They were not a sedentary tribe, instead moving throughout the Payette, Salmon, Boise, Challis, Sawtooth, and Beaverhead Forests to follow the game. They camped only in the winter, but the location varied widely. The campaign against the Sheepeaters primarily took place in central Idaho.

As with many other disputes with Indians, the troubles with white man started when gold was discovered in the Boise Basin in 1862 and in the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River. That location, and another gold camp on Panther Creek, were right in the middle of Sheepeater winter camps. By 1870, Leesburg on Panther Creek had 7,000 prospectors hunting for gold.

Leading up to the war the Sheepeaters were accused of stealing horses from settlers in Indian Valley and during the pursuit killing three of the settlers near present day Cascade. In August 1878, they were accused of killing two prospectors in an ambush at Pearsall Creek, five miles from Cascade. By February of 1879 the Sheepeaters were accused of the murders of five Chinese miners at Orogrande, the murders at Loon Creek, and finally the murders of two ranchers in the South Fork of the Salmon River in May. However, later it was proven that Indians had nothing to do with the attack.

General O. O. Howard dispatched 76 men including scouts and freighters from Boise to Challis to investigate the matter. Also deployed was a detachment of men from the Second Infantry under First Lieutenant Catley and men listed under Lieutenant Edward Farrow. The troops were all heading toward Payette Lake, near present day McCall. Bernard headed North from Boise barracks, Catley headed Southeast from Camp Howard at Grangeville, and Farrow headed East from the Umatilla Agency.

Heading the campaign against the Sheepeaters was Company G of the 1st Cavalry led by Colonel Bernard. They had a difficult time of it traveling through six foot snow drifts and fast running streams. They became separated from their pack train for several days. Some provisions were lost, but in ten days they arrived at Orogrande.

Much of the town had been burned. The troops waited an additional five days for their supply train, which arrived on June 13. A week later, the troops went to search for sign of Indians. They marched on to Challis, Salmon City, and Warren’s Diggings without success. Throughout the campaign, the troops faced difficulty with travelling through the rough terrain. The first segment of the campaign, from May 31 to September 8, was through the Salmon River dubbed the “River of No Return” because it was barely navigable. They traveled up the Middle Fork of the Salmon for several weeks enduring all sorts of severe weather. They lost some animals, ammunition, and much of their supplies. Five men contracted mountain fever and were sent home to recuperate. Fortunately, it was summer and game was plenty.

Meanwhile, the force from Camp Howard had reached the Big Creek Canyon near the South Fork of the Salmon River. Scouts observed sign of Indians on July 28. Unfortunately, Lieutenant Catley did not pay heed to the warning. He was leading his command up the canyon when Indians opened fire from all sides. Two men were seriously wounded, but were able to reach shelter. Shortly afterward, Catley commanded his men to retreat since the Indians had the high ground.

The soldiers regrouped about two miles away from the spot and camped for the night. The next morning the soldiers tried to locate a more defensible position but were somewhat encumbered by the two wounded men who had been put on litters. Unfortunately for them, the Indians were able to gain ground on two sides of Catley’s detachment. The Indians set fire to the base of a mountain where the soldiers were camped. First Sergeant John A. Sullivan’s quick thinking probably saved the day by burning an area closest to them to keep the fire from spreading. The Indians left during the night. This battle took place at a spot later named Vinegar Hill. The soldiers had gotten themselves trapped on the steep cliffs and had to leave much of their gear and supplies behind. Because of this, Catley decided to return to Camp Howard to re-outfit themselves. They headed back in August.

In the meantime, Bernard’s command received word to join Lt. Farrow, who was pursuing some Indians, which turned out to be a gang of horse thieves. Subsequently they received word of Catley’s defeat. Bernard sent word for additional troops and supplies to join him at South Fork of the Salmon. Lt. Farrow and his Umatilla scouts plus two platoons joined him at the North Payette River near the hot springs. The larger company marched for several days and passed through country that the Indians had previously burned. They also lost several more pack animals and many provisions. Meals were scant for a few days until the resupply train caught up with Catley and about 40 men on August 11.

The combined force passed campsites that appeared to be still in use. Indian fish traps were found in a creek. Indian sign was plentiful. The force reached the area where Catley had been attacked. Umatilla scouts who had gone on ahead had not returned and a soldier was dispatched to discover their whereabouts. The Umatilla scouts had discovered the Sheepeaters a few miles in advance. The soldiers spurred their horses on but upon reaching the Indian village they discovered all the occupants had left. The Umatilla scouts took what goods they wanted and the soldiers burned the rest.

The soldiers rested there until the next morning but soon word came the Indians were still in the area and mounted. Catley and his men headed back toward Camp Howard as they were desperately short of supplies. The rest of the command split up in search of the Indians. By August 20, a Sheepeater raiding party of ten to fifteen Indians attacked the troops as they rode on a train at Soldier Bar on Big Creek. As soon as the men were spread out on a precipitous mountain the Indians opened fire. At the same time they fired on the men guarding the animals and provisions. Those who defended the train included Corporal Charles B. Hardin along with six troopers and the chief packer, James Barnes. They managed to successfully drive the Sheepeaters off with only one casualty, Private Harry Eagan. The Indians retreated after nightfall.

But the soldiers continued to follow their tracks. The trail was very rocky and hard on the animals’ feet. Many more animals gave out from sheer exhaustion. They lost two dozen more horses that strayed off during the night. Many men had to go on foot until the horses were found toward the end of the next day. Finally the soldiers had to return to Camp Howard for supplies. Food was running low and the soldiers missed several meals. The Umatillas stayed behind to engage the hostiles.

On September 17, the soldiers set out again. They came upon an Indian camp right away, but there was no one there since the Indians had been warned. They were able to take an Indian woman and two of her children captive. A third ran away. Then an Indian named Tanmanmo, half Nez Perce and half Bannock, surrendered to the soldiers. He appeared to be a war chief. He promised to bring in the rest of the warriors that were harassing the whites. Lt. Farrow told him that no harm would come to those who had not killed anyone.

It took some days, but by October 1 the campaign ended once Lieutenants W.C. Brown and Edward S. Farrow, along with a group of twenty Umatilla scouts, negotiated the surrender of 51 men, women, and children. The prisoners were taken to the Vancouver Barracks in Washington State. The troops went back to Boise after marching 1,258 miles through mostly unmapped territory. The Indians were questioned and though they admitted to the attack on the Rain’s ranch, they denied killing Johnson and Dorsey and the five Chinese. They were resettled on the Fort Hall Reservation. A few small bands remained in the area having eluded the army and continued to live their mountain life unmolested in its ancient pattern for another decade or two.

source The Third Millennium Online:


With the end of the Bannock War, attention was turned to the Sheepeaters – a Shoshoni group of expert hunters who had the skill necessary to pursue mountain sheep in the Salmon River Mountains. A massacre of five Chinese miners on Loon Creek on February 12, 1879, was blamed on some refugees from the Bannock War who were thought to have spent the winter with the local Sheepeaters. Army units went out in the spring of 1879 to ask the Sheepeaters if they knew who was responsible for the Loon Creek Chinese disaster. Deep snow held back the search for the Sheepeaters, who lived in rough country largely unknown to the whites. Suspicious of army intentions after the Nez Perce and Bannock wars of the previous two years, the Sheepeaters decided to resist. Ten or a dozen of them ambushed and defeated forty eight mounted infantry who were accompanied by twenty or more scouts and packers. After this engagement on Big Creek, July 29, one energetic Sheepeater halted the army retreat on a mountain ridge. The resulting battle of Vinegar Hill turned into an incredible fourteen-hour siege in which a handful of Indians pinned down the entire white force. Another, better-managed army expedition managed to catch up with the Sheepeaters at Soldier Bar, a little farther down on Big Creek, on August 20. Again confronted with overwhelming numbers, the Sheepeaters scattered into the Salmon River wilderness. Soon the army, exhausted by the difficult twelve-hundred-mile campaign, had to retire. Still another military expedition set out on September 16 and, after a two weeks’ search, managed to catch up with the elusive warriors. They explained that they had nothing to do with the Loon Creek Chinese massacre but agreed to go out with the army and to settle on a reservation. Thus the campaign ended without a battle, and more than fifty Sheepeaters retired from their wilderness homeland. Most of them were women and children. Only ten to fifteen warriors had participated in the entire campaign, which lasted longer than the Nez Perce War. The perpetrators of the outrage against the Chinese never were found, but the somewhat clumsy military investigation of the incident brought the army campaigns against the Idaho Indians to an end. Some of the Sheepeaters avoided the army, and Eagle Eye’s band did not move to the Fort Hall reservation for many years.

source Idaho State University:

1879 The First Map Ever Made of Country Between Big Creek and Salmon River, I.T. (1926)

click map for low quality larger map size
click source link for high quality zoomable very large map

Title The First Map Ever Made of Country Between Big Creek and Salmon River, I.T. (1926)
Creator Brown, W. C. (William Carey), 1854-1939.
Date Original 1926
Publisher [Boise, Id. : Syms-York Company]
Description 1 map: 15 x 22 cm. Scale: 1 inch = 7 miles. A handwritten note by the author is in red pencil on the left. W.C. Brown was a second Lieutenant in the U.S. Cavalry during the Indian Wars of the late 1870s. These maps come from a book by him, published in 1926 after his retirement, about the Sheepeater Campaign. …
source: Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
— — — — — — — —

“That night, after the moon had got down…”

Lt. Catley’s 1879 Affair on Vinegar Hill

Payette National Forest Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness
January 2011 By Michael H. Koeppen

Deep in the backcountry of central Idaho, in today’s Frank Church Wilderness, lays a non-descript, grass covered ridge. Along this ridgeline, which runs in a short to north direction, is a point marked on the map as Vinegar Hill. To the east of the ridge, and parallel to it, runs Cabin Creek, and at the south end of the ridge, the storied Big Creek.

Although the ridge has been quiet with only the wind and elk along it for well over a century, in July of 1879, it was the scene of an encounter between two cultures. This incident, the Battle of Vinegar Hill, was between Lieutenant Henry Catley’s 2nd Mounted Infantry of the United States Army and a handful of Sheepeater Indians defending their homeland and last stronghold.

Lieutenant Catley, along with Lieutenants E.K. Webster and W.C. Muhlenberg, led forty eight soldiers from Fort Howard, in Grangeville, Idaho, south and east across the Salmon River and Chamberlain Basin to Big Creek, as part of a multi-pronged plan to capture the Sheepeaters and forcibly place them onto a reservation. Descending Big Creek on July 29th, Catley and his men reached the large, open flat at the mouth of Cabin Creek, from which they descended into the canyon below.

After about two miles at a narrow, rocky place later known as the “First Crossing,” they encountered a fusillade of bullets from Indians concealed in the rocks. Two troopers were wounded and the soldiers retreated back to the open flat. Regrouping from this rout, Catley chose to camp for the evening at Cabin Creek, a half mile away. After a tense, but quiet night, the following morning the fateful decision was made to abandon the field and return to camp Howard. Catley picked the ridgeline, “which was alongside our camp to the north,” according to Lieutenant Muhlenberg, hoping it was a good escape route to Cold Meadow.

As they moved up the ridge, soldiers observed an Indian riding a horse into their abandoned campsite, and a few shots were fired downwards. Proceeding upward, small groups of troopers under Lieutenant Muhlenberg would move forward. In this manner, they continued until some Sheepeaters, having ridden up Cabin Creek and the side of the ridge, cut them off.

While riding across a saddle to the next promontory, a shot was fired at scout Dave Monroe, riding just ahead of Catley. Panicked, Catley ordered the men to fall back to the previous point, where they took positions as best they could, in the rocks and behind their baggage. Muhlenberg, though, believed only one Indian was ahead of them at this point.

Trapped here, the men exchanged at least four shots with the Sheepeaters, who, according to Muhlenberg, fired only five shots in return. Subsequently, the Indians lit fires to try to burn the command off the hilltop. Backfires, lit by Sgt. John Sullivan and some of his men, and a change in the wind saved the soldiers from the ascending flames. Sitting out the rest of the hot afternoon, the soldiers stayed on the hill, and, according to legend, had only vinegar to drink.

During the night, it was decided to abandon the bulk of the equipment and provisions and flee off the ridge to the west. Around 2 AM, and, “…after the moon had got down,” according to Catley, the soldiers muffled the mule bells and began the steep descent into Cave Creek, reaching the bottom at daybreak, losing sixteen pack mules in the dark. From here, they ascended the ridge to the west and successfully followed the ridgelines north to Cold Meadows.

On their way out of the wilderness, Catley’s command was intercepted, combined with Lieutenant Albert Forse’s twenty-five men, and turned back to Big Creek to rejoin the campaign.

Although the Sheepeaters took what they wanted of the soldier’s gear, much was left on what became known as Vinegar Hill. Over the years, casual visitors to the ridge top carried away items such as boots, saddlebags, and even a few rifles. Some of these items were later lost in a house fire, and some are held in private hands to this day, unavailable for public viewing. As the years went by, remnants of the equipment faded from the hilltop, and even the location was lost in time, By the 1980’s it was generally believed that physical evidence of the soldiers no longer existed, and that locating the Vinegar Hill site was no longer possible.

Personally for many years, I had an interest in the Sheepeater War from boating the nearby Middle Fork of the Salmon River, but knew only what was written in the river guidebook. However, in the spring of 2009 I volunteered for the Payette National Forest Heritage Program, headed by archaeologist Larry Kingsbury. Kingsbury was enthusiastic, and our goal was to search the Vinegar Hill Ridge in an attempt to find the precise location of the 1879 skirmish.

That May, I flew into Cabin Creek to begin the search. Fortunately, a wildfire had burned over parts of the ridge the previous summer, causing fresh erosion down several gullies. It was while ascending one of these gullies, that I came upon part of a broken three-legged iron pot. Searching further up the slope, I was able to recover several more pieces.

With confirmation of the iron pot’s age from Kingsbury, I returned the following March camping for two days at the Cabin Creek Airstrip. With my two dogs for company, I began a more detailed examination of the ridge. Initially, nothing was found on Vinegar Hill. Frustrated, I reread the soldier accounts and moved the search to another area.

Soon, on semi-frozen slope, molten glass fragments, an iron button, and square nails were discovered. They were exciting, but not conclusive evidence of the soldiers. Moving to a nearby, sun exposed area, I discovered the end of a cartridge case protruding out of the gravelly soil. I picked it up, recognizing immediately what it was – an unfired 45-70 military cartridge. Further searching resulted in the recovery of ten cartridges, four having been fires.

Although most artifacts from the soldiers had been removed years ago, enough remained to conclusively mark the location of the Vinegar Hill engagement. Concerned about future visitation, I returned later to carefully and systematically cover the skirmish site a second time, making sure all remaining artifacts were recovered. Today the Vinegar Hill artifacts are in the care of the Payette National Forest Heritage Program, located at the Supervisor’s Office in McCall, Idaho.

source Secesh Area History:
[h/t B Johnstone]

Mountain Howitzer – Civil War Era

link to larger size:

link to larger size:

link to larger size:

source Civil War Wiki

The Big Creek Cannon: Fact or Legend?

1879 Sheepeater War
Payette National Forest Heritage Program May 2011 By Michael H. Koeppen

After the close of the Sheepeater War in the fall of 1879, Indian hostilities ceased, and the U.S. soldiers trailed out of the vast Idaho wilderness. With time, signs of the trails, camps and skirmish sites returned to nature, so that today evidence is difficult to find, and then only to the hardy wilderness explorer. Much of the scene of this conflict lies within the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness, with the only two skirmish sites located in the Big Creek drainage, a tributary of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

For many years rumors and stories have persisted concerning a cannon, more specifically a mountain howitzer, abandoned in the field by the soldiers. The fact that the mountain howitzer could be disassembled and carried by mules, and was available to soldiers at the time, leads to interesting speculation as to the validity of these tales.

Over the years stories have been told of people finding the lost cannon, refusing to divulge its location, and taking it to the grave with them. One story concerns two brothers who saw the gun, took a photograph of it (which has since disappeared), and told the tale later in life calling it the “Big Creek Cannon.” Another rumor has hunters along Big Creek near Taylor Ranch getting lost and stumbling upon the gun, but after getting back to camp being unable to relocate it. Still more rumors of a cannon lying in a meadow in the headwaters of Disappointment Creek to the north. Another story that there were actually two cannons rather than one. Still another rumor of a cave discovered by a packer in the 1930’s which contained crates of rifles and the cannon carriage. Usually these stories are secondhand and sometimes third hand. Some stories, obviously false, place the cannon far from where the soldiers traveled.

Is there any evidence that these stories have any foundation in reality? First of all, what do the soldiers’ diaries from the campaign have to say concerning a cannon? Do any of these accounts mention anything about a mountain howitzer in the possession of the troops? An examination of the writings of the overall field commander Captain Reuben F. Bernard; Lieutenants W.C. Brown, A.G. Forse, W.C. Muhlenberg, and Henry Catley; Private Edgar Hoffner and Corporal C.B. Hardin, all participants, should prove clues to this possibility.

Unfortunately for the cannon stories, none of these men ever mention a cannon in the possession of any body of troops in the campaign. In fact there are numerous times when such mention would be appropriate, especially of an item as prestigious as a howitzer, yet nothing is said. Of the troops, they generally were in three main groups, Bernard’s 1st Cavalry, Farrow’s Umatilla Scouts, and Catley’s 2nd Mounted Infantry.

Lt. William Carey Brown, who accompanied Lt. Farrow, wrote one of the most thorough accounts of the campaign (Brown 1879). Brown makes no mention of a cannon, and it is unlikely that Farrow’s scouts would be so equipped considering the mobility required of this group, and the fact that most of their members were Native Americans. Farrow had twenty Umatilla Indian scouts along with seven enlisted men, four packers and twenty pack animals (Brown 1926:29).

Private Edgar Hoffner in Bernard’s command wrote an extensive diary, full of details about equipment and life during the campaign (Hoffner 1879). Hoffner stated that when the troops left the Boise Barracks they and thirty pack mules, which carried “blankets, clothing, rations, and ammunition.” (Hoffner 1879:1) Again no mention of a cannon is made. Later in Hoffner’s diary he mentions other items carried by the soldiers such as blankets, boxes of hardtack, tents, horseshoes ammunition, picks and shovels, a medicine chest , and horseshoe nails (Hoffner 1879: 2,3,5,8,9,14). Why did something as notable as a cannon not catch Hoffner’s attention?

While along the Middle Fork numerous written accounts describe pack animals having to jump high logs over the trail (Hoffner 1879:9), mules swimming the river (Hoffner 1978:9), and bridging streams swollen by spring runoff (Hoffner 1879: 5,8,14). One of these streams, Loon Creek, was bridged by cutting and falling trees across the water (Hoffner 1879:8, Bernard 1879:18). The horses could swim the creek but the heavily laden mules could not, so the soldiers carried the gear and provisions across the logs. It should have been noteworthy if a heavy cannon was carried across logs bridging raging waters.

Lieutenant Catley’s command, after being ambushed on July 29th in Big Creek, retreated to what later became known as Vinegar Hill. When he fled in the middle of the night, much equipment (Catley 1879:158, Brown 1879:3, Lewis 1925:3) was abandoned and later found by casual visitors to the hill in the early 20th century (Gillihan 2010, Martin 1924).

When the Vinegar Hill site was rediscovered in March of 2010, further items abandoned by Catley’s forces were recovered (Koeppen 2010). None of these items are connected to, or provide evidence of a mountain howitzer. In contrast, during investigations into the 1874 Red River War in Texas, archaeologists found primers, priming wire, and lead shot associated with a cannon present in the battle (Cruse 2008:204-205).

During the Vinegar Hill, Soldier Bar, and Big Creek surveys (Koeppen 2010), extensive searches were made of likely areas for the cannon to be hidden, all with negative results. In addition, although numerous artifacts were discovered at Soldier Bar related to the Sheepeater Campaign, none of them as at Vinegar Hill provided clues of a cannon being present. Since some of the cannon stories feature a gun placed in a cave or rock shelter, rocky areas on Vinegar Hill, Soldier Bar, and between Taylor Ranch and Soldier Bar were examined during the surveys.

After considering the lack of evidence provided by the soldiers’ accounts written by Bernard, Hoffner, Brown, Catley, Muhlenburg, Forse, Lewis and Hardin, and from field investigations, it is the author’s opinion that It is unlikely that the soldiers possessed a cannon during the campaign of 1879. So until such a time that more evidence comes to light, the stories of the “Big Creek Cannon” while tantalizing, must be considered only legends.

source Secesh Area History:
[h/t B Johnstone]

Eagle Eye’s Band

By Sheila Reddy August 1996
Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Regions 1 and 4 Heritage Program

Eagle Eye, the last chief of the Tukudika (Sheepeater band) of Northern Shoshone, was not among the Indians captured during Idaho’s last Indian war, the 1879 Sheepeater Campaign. He and his family had retreated to a small secluded valley in Dry Buck basin west of Banks, Idaho, where they lived quiet lives trying to attract as little attention as possible. Only on a few occasions were they seen.

In 1881, Norman B. Willey sent the following article about an Indian sighting to The Nez Perce News, Lewiston, Idaho Territory:

“May 24, 1881: Thos. Clay, mail carrier on the Indian Valley route from here (Warren), brought us news yesterday of a ripple of Indian excitement in Little Salmon and Long Valley last week. A man named Wilson, who traps in that region, while making his daily rounds in the lower end of Long Valley, saw a couple of Indian boys nearby. He himself was not observed, and he watched their motions; they were endeavoring to catch birds along the river, and when out of sight, he made a bee-line for the settlement in Little Salmon (New Meadows), some 25 miles distant. The famil(ies) were gathered in the most central place, and the next day the able bodied men of the neighborhood who had sufficient arms, returned to the scene. They found the camp, but the Indians had left, taking the Indian trail across the divide that separates Long Valley and Indian Valley… The party apparently consists of three bucks, two squaws, the two boys, and a child. A visit to their camp indicated that they are entirely destitute of ammunition. They had peeled bark from a great many trees and had been scraping and apparently living on the soft portions of it, but there was not a bone or feather to be found, although game was plenty thereabouts. They are supposed to be (with) a well known Indian named Andy Johnson” (June 9, 1881 issue).

The editor of The Nez Perce News, Aaron Parker, added this postscript to Willey’s article, “Andy Johnson is, or was, a sub-chief of the Weiser Indians, and a brother-in-law of Eagle Eye, chief of the same band…”

In the June 23, 1881 issue, The Nez Perce News, Willey added: “Nothing has been heard of the Indians seen lately in Long Valley. There is a large section of unoccupied hills and mountains between Long Valley and Indian Creek, Crane’s Creek, and Willow Creek where they could range all summer. No one can say what farm or house they will burn or what farmer or stock herder they will first pounce upon and massacre.”

But, Eagle Eye and his band continued living quietly at Dry Buck, building log homes, planting gardens and orchards. Anthropologist Sven Liljeblad (1972) wrote of Eagle Eye’s band:

“As far back in time as their memories reached, the valley from the bend of the (Payette) river to Payette Lake had been their summer range where they had gathered food, fished and hunted deer… As long as their old headman (Eagle Eye) had lived, highly esteemed by both settlers and officials, the Indians had stubbornly refused to leave their village. After his death (in 1896), the intimidated Indians, rather to be safe than sorry, decided to move to Fort Lemhi where they had relatives. One day in early summer sometime about the turn of the century, they left their little farmsteads where the apple trees had just shed their blossoms, never to see them again. As they wanted to avoid traveling over public roads and much frequented trails, it took them the whole summer to cross the mountains. Although the loss these emigrants had suffered in having to give up their native ground… must have been appalling to them all, some of them and their children in time became citizens with great prestige in their new community.”

Idaho historian Merle Wells told of visiting Eagle Eye’s farm in Dry Buck basin in 1963 with Dr. Liljeblad and members of Eagle Eye’s family. The trip was taken in response to a request to visit the area by Josephine Thorpe, Eagle Eye’s granddaughter:

“…this group (on the expedition) included a number of Eagle Eye’s descendants: his great grandson (and Mrs. Thorpe’s son) Frank, as well as some great-great-grandchildren. Mrs. Thorpe who had attended Eagle Eye’s funeral on top of Timber Butte, wished to return to her grandfather’s grave, and I promised to find them a practical route to the site. On the way, we toured Dry Buck basin, where Eagle Eye and his people had worked in a sawmill when Mrs. Thorpe was a child. There we found some of Eagle Eye’s apple trees (or their descendants) that Mrs. Thorpe remembered.

“An interesting basin west of Banks, Dry Buck had provided a secluded home for the last of Idaho’s non-reservation Indian bands. Eagle Eye had led a prominent group of mountain Northern Shoshoni-known to the whites as Sheepeaters – from at least the time of the Snake war of 1866-1868 through the rest of the nineteenth century… After his funeral, his band retired to Fort Hall, where his granddaughter (Josephine Thorpe) became a successful rancher on Lincoln Creek.”

source Secesh Area History:
[h/t B Johnstone]

Eagle Eye


Circa 1868

Bow and arrow of Eagle Eye, chief of the Weiser Indians who died in Drybuck Valley, Boise County, Idaho in 1896.

Shoshoni Chief Eagle Eye’s Bow and Arrows captured from him in Idaho Territory, 1868
Length 34 in. the bow; Length 26 3/4 in. the longest arrow
“This important bow and arrow set of historical significance is a masterpiece of American Indian archery. It is a composite bow of wood, sinew backed and sealed with pitch and/or animal tallow, with rawhide wrappings at its grip area concealing bird quills and exhibiting good age and manufacture. This perfectly tillered bow, the relationship and balance of each bow limb to pull uniformly, is a perfect example of the type used in the northwestern Plains and eastern Plateau. Its pull weight would be estimated to be about 40 pounds. Only a few similar examples exist, some made from elk antler are even more rare… The bow retains its original multi-strand, twisted sinew string, again demonstrating a high degree of skill in its making.
“Of the thousands of arrows this author has seen, these arrows represent the finest example of a ‘Plains’ type self-arrow, that is, of one-piece construction. They average 25 inches in length and the 1/4 inches diameter midsection tapers gracefully to both the distal and proximal end, which finishes in a perfectly expanding nock. Two straight shallow grooves representing ‘spirit lines’ are evident on each arrow. These arrows are carefully hand-hewn to be of the correct spine, meaning, matched to the bow’s weight for perfect cast. Few aboriginal arrows exhibit such care in manufacture. The well-fitted points are of native manufacture, and the short cropped fletching would give uniform and speedy flight. There is no doubt this matched set represents one of the best examples of the American Indian bowyer’s craft and would be a very formidable weapon in the hands of a warrior on horseback.”
The words “Eagle Eye Chief of Weiser Snake Indians, August, 1868” and “Presented to Col. Sinclair…”
source Heritage Auctions,

Eagle Eye

Eagle Eye and his Weiser Shoshoni associates had an extraordinary experience accommodating their traditional way of life to changes imposed by the nineteenth-century ranchers and farmers who settled in their ancestral domain. More than an ordinarily adaptable group, they had Mountain Shoshoni origins that helped them resist pressure to move to a distant Indian reservation in an unfamiliar area. All of Idaho’s Mountain Shoshoni people went to a great deal of effort to retain their long-established range. Their ancestors had a tradition of hunting mountain sheep in a wilderness that few other people could penetrate.

Many of them preserved their customs and continued to occupy their mountain strongholds in Wyoming, as well as in Idaho, for two decades after mining and ranching commenced in more accessible areas. Others had shifted to adjacent ranges—notably in Idaho’s Lemhi and Weiser valleys—after they obtained horses a century prior to gold rush intrusions into their borderlands. More than other Shoshoni peoples, they succeeded in avoiding removal to reservations. That way, Eagle Eye’s Weiser group made a surprisingly successful transition to a new way of life without leaving their old homeland. Other Northern Shoshoni people who inhabited reservations after 1867 had a much less satisfactory time. An important lesson in Indian acculturation can be learned from Eagle Eye’s successful program of adaptation to life in a hostile mining and ranching environment.

Unlike Wyoming’s Mountain Shoshoni, Idaho’s sheep hunters had a long era of close contact with the plateau culture of their Nez Perce neighbors. Occupying a zone of cultural interchange between Great Basin and plateau elements over a long prehistoric period, Idaho’s Northern Shoshoni gained additional cultural exposure when many of them began to travel on horseback and to have more contact with Great Plains Shoshoni who expanded from Texas to Saskatchewan and Alberta before 1780. Some Mountain Shoshoni adopted more of a Plains way of life and added long buffalo hunts to their migratory pattern. These included a Lemhi Valley group that ranged into Montana. In addition, a Weiser group farther west occupied a smaller Idaho area.

Shortly after 1800, Idaho’s Lemhi and Weiser Shoshoni had an opportunity to add features of a fourth—and very different—cultural variety to their ever-changing way of life. Fur hunters based in Montreal and Saint Louis came to the area with guns. traps. iron utensils. and new economic pursuits. These affected Plains Shoshoni more than their mountain neighbors. Eagle Eye’s Weiser people avoided much of that impact for a while, and traditional mountain sheep hunters were hardly disturbed at all. But after 1860, when miners and ranchers suddenly rushed into some of their lands, Eagle Eye and his Weiser Shoshoni had to meet serious new challenges.

Mining pressures affected Eagle Eye’s Nez Perce neighbors a year of two before his own people were displaced. Eagle-from-the-Light and his important lower Salmon Nez Perce band (a village led by White Bird after Eagle-from-the-light retired to Montana in 1875) resisted mining expansion into their territory. But after his call for war against miners in Florence failed to drive all gold hunters from their Salmon River mines, Eagle-from-the-Light moved to join Eagle Eye’s Weiser Shoshoni. By 1862, a Boise Basin gold rush brought a worse threat to all Shoshoni of that area. Farm settlements around the lower Boise forced them to move their traditional summer salmon fishing festival north to Eagle Eye’s upper Weiser country, where it continued to attract a variety of tribes for another decade and more. Military raids against Idaho’s Indians also proved troublesome after 1862. Most army efforts during the Snake War, for instance, focused on finding Shoshoni to fight; but, generally, Northern Paiute and Northern Shoshoni vanished when miners or military showed up. In fact, from early fur trade days. the Shoshoni were noted for their skill In evading intruders who annoyed or threatened them.

Eagle Eye could not avoid central Oregon’s Snake War that affected Idaho from 1866 to 1868, and a decade later, his Weiser Shoshoni experienced more conflict during General O. O. Howard’s campaign against Buffalo Horn’s Bannock forces. Eagle Eye’s sons took great pride in their father’s diplomatic skill in avoiding excessive embroilment in that unavoidable disturbance. More importantly, in 1878, Eagle Eye was reportedly killed during the Bannock conflict. That false report helped him considerably during his later career, because hostile army authorities ceased to look for him, and he was able to disappear with his Weiser survivors into Idaho’s mountain wilderness. Gradually, he and his extended family underwent a remarkable cultural change that few other Northern Shoshoni could match.

Eagle Eye’s consistent and determined refusal to accept reservation life enabled him and his people to acculturate more successfully than most other Northern Shoshoni who could not avoid that alternative. Even though reservations were supposed to promote acculturation, those who lived on them generally failed to do as well as Eagle Eye’s group, who stayed on their own land. Eagle Eye and his followers were resourceful enough to go into a mining and lumber business with settlers in Eagle Eye’s Dry Buck Basin refuge near the ancient Timber Butte obsidian tool center. A few Nez Perce refugees joined them in an isolated, nonreservation community that lasted until a little after 1900. Eagle Eye, who survived there until 1896, emerged as a highly respected Shoshoni leader who succeeded, largely because he got so little publicity. His descendants—well educated and capable of operating in a new culture as well as in their traditional ways—finally moved to Fort Hall and became reservation leaders.

Many Northern Shoshoni gained prominence through their success in developing large mounted bands that impressed early trappers and settlers by their size and power. Other Northern Shoshoni, particularly Mountain Shoshoni, chose a less spectacular way of life. Eagle Eye’s people represent those who followed this more conservative approach, and who finally adapted more successfully because they avoided reservation life and retained their ancient homeland with a tenacity characteristic of their Mountain Shoshoni heritage. Their variety of cultural experiences gave them an importance that most of their neighbors could not duplicate.

Several important aspects of nineteenth-century Indian adjustment to disruption of their traditional culture became evident in a comparison of Eagle Eye’s experience with misadventures of other bands exposed to reservation life. More than a few settlers preferred to engage in military campaigns in order to wipe out Idaho’s Shoshoni peoples altogether. Such attempts succeeded at Bear River and Salmon Falls, as well as in part of Oregon’s Malheur country where an expedition of Idaho miners inflicted substantial damage to Northern Paiute inhabitants. Most Northern Shoshoni managed to elude that kind of military pursuit. With notable exceptions. the majority of Northern Shoshoni survivors were confined to the reservation at Fort Hall where they were expected to become farmers and adopt a new culture. For a decade. they were forced by the absence of resources and by the failure of Fort Hall reservation officials to provide supplies to go in numbers to Eagle Eye’s Weiser country each summer. Reservation authorities compiled a poor record in their attempts to force an alien culture upon their Shoshoni and Bannock residents. In retrospect, the Indians’ failure can be explained by a natural resistance to agents trying to destroy their traditions and to suppress their culture. Other aspects of unacceptable reservation administration have been identified as well. In contrast to reservation life, Eagle Eye’s people preserved their language and organization while they worked in gold Mines or sawmills operated by local settlers. Living on their own land, they decided what they wanted to do without having to give up their old ways. Andy Johnson, for example, retained his marvelous ability to tell Shoshoni folk tales while he served as a ditch rider for some lower Boise farmers, men who did not undermine his cultural values. In their transition from hunting, fishing, and camas or bitterroot harvesting to a close association with local settlers in their homeland, the Wciscrs made lasting friendships and gained protection often denied to reservation bands. Eagle Eye’s identity at Dry Buck, for example, was concealed for most of two decades during his later career in that area. His success in overcoming a long period of hostility from miners and ranchers came partly from his good fortune in finding people who would accept him after more than a decade of conflict. Eagle Eye’s adaptation to life in a changing world brought together a select group of people who managed to develop an unusual alternative to reservation life for unfortunate Indians. Their arrangement would have been difficult to manage for large Shoshoni bands during that era, but they demonstrated the advantages of a less rigid solution to Indian problems of survival in a region dominated by hostile settlers.

Documentation of Eagle Eye’s remarkable career comes from a variety of sources. Sven Liljeblad’s ethnographic investigation has provided information essential for interpreting archival and newspaper materials. A careful geographical examination of Eagle Eye’s country also has been crucial. In 1962, Eagle Eye’s granddaughter—Josephine Thorpe—returned with her family to revisit her childhood home in Eagle Eye’s camp. Sixty-six years had passed since Eagle Eye’s time, and I acted as guide with Dr. Liljeblad for that expedition. Sites were located, including a major Pacific Northwest obsidian source for prehistoric tools that had remained unknown to archaeologists. This find contributed greatly to a clarification of Eagle Eye’s story, and has allowed a superior interpretation of Eagle Eye’s adventures and cultural importance.

– Merle W. Wells

excerpted from the Forward to “The Weiser Indians: Shoshoni Peacemakers“, by Hank Corless. Caxton Press

Idaho History Oct 29

Big Creek Mines and Miners in the 1920’s

(source “Southern Idaho Ghost Towns” by Wayne C. Sparling)

1927 Elk Summit

1927 Freight wagon pulled by horse team near Elk Summit.
William Allen Stonebraker Photographs
Click on photo for larger size

Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
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Big Creek District (1920)


This district is situated on the upper part of the drainage of Big Creek, one of the principal tributaries of the Middle Fork of Salmon River. Most of the mining properties lie near the headwaters of Smith, Government, and Logan Creeks along the east side of a high ridge forming the divide between the South and Middle Forks of Salmon River.

The easiest route into the district is either from New Meadows which is the terminus of the Pacific and Idaho Northern Railroad, or from Lakeport (or McCall as it was originally called), the terminus of the Long Valley Branch of the Oregon Short Line. Automobile stages run from both of these points to Warren, during the summer months. From Warren there is a fairly good wagon road to Dustin’s ranch on the South Fork of Salmon River, but from that point to Big Creek a saddle horse is the safest and most feasible mode of travel, as the road is in bad shape. After crossing the South Fork of Salmon River at an elevation of 3000 feet the road follows the steep and narrow valley of Elk Creek, a roaring mountain stream with a heavy gradient. At a distance of about 12 miles from the river the road crosses Elk Summit at an elevation of nearly 9000 feet and approximately at the timber line. On account of its elevation and exposed position this pass is only free from drifted snow a few weeks in the year and this high summit is a great hindrance to transportation into the district. The road then follows down Smith Creek and about a mile from the summit crosses over a divide to Government Creek which it follows down to the post office of Edwardsburg a few hundred yards from Big Creek.


The topography is rugged, the steep ridges bare of vegetation extending above the timber line with some of the higher points such as Mt. Logan exceeding 10,000 feet in elevation.

The country has been extensively glaciated and it is highly probable that the glaciers have retreated but very recently. All the creeks head in wide cirques and valley glaciers extend to Big Creek in some cases, the limits of the glaciers being marked by extensive terminal and lateral moraines. Big Creek above Edwardsburg occupies a broad valley which maintains its glacial characteristics to almost as low an elevation as 5000 feet. Below the glacial valleys the streams flow in steep-walled rocky canyons, the lower slopes of which are covered with rock slides composed of enormous angular boulders and their sides scarred with the snow slides of early spring. It is a gloomy and forbidding region with few redeeming features in the canyons but from the higher points a panorama of the ridges, peaks and canyons that go to make up the topography of Central Idaho can be obtained, which is a relief to the eye after the somberness of the valleys. It is also a relief to the ear to rise above the ceaseless diapason of the swift mountain streams.


The district is near the center of the main granite core of Central Idaho. Extending eastward from the North Fork of Payette River and from Little Salmon River is a belt of granite 50 miles in width which reaches with minor interruptions almost to Stanley Basin. In general this belt contains practically no other rocks and except for the gold veins of Warren and Marshall Lake contains little mineral. On Big Creek to the east for a width of 25 to 50 miles lies the belt of ancient metamorphics previously described, and between the two is a belt (about five miles wide) of what are probably Tertiary eruptives consisting chiefly of rhyolite and striking almost due north and south. These have been intruded into the granite not far from the contact of that rock with the metamorphics.

The geology of the district is not quite so simple as outlined above as the contact between the different rocks is indented and irregular and the later intrusives are not confined to rhyolite, but are made up of a varied assortment such as quartz porphyry, granite porphyry, syenite porphyry, alsaskite porphyry, diorite, and possibly lamporphyre.

The principal mineralization of the district consists of a wide zone or lode that strikes a little east of north and follows the eastern flank of the South Fork – Middle Fork divide cutting across the heads of Government and Logan Creeks. This lode or zone may be found to extend continuously from Smith Creek to near the head of Moore’s Creek, a fork of Logan Creek, a total distance of about 4 miles. It consists mainly of crushed and sericitized granite full of quartz seams. The granite has been locally intruded by later porphryries and in some places the lode apparently crosses the metamorphic series consisting here of shist and quartzite. The average strike of this lode is about N. 10 deg. E., with a dip of S. 60 deg. to 70 deg. E., and its width varies from 100 to 250 feet. The values lie chiefly in gold but a little copper possibly one percent, occurs in places, as well as a little silver. The gold contents obtained by careful sampling of some of the properties on the lode seem to indicate a value of between $1 and $3 a ton. The gangue is chiefly sericitized granite and quartz with considerable pyrite in places, the latter carrying most of the gold.

Mines and Prospects

The properties along the lode taken in the order from the north, are the Independence, Goldman-MacRae [McRae], Lauffer and Davis, and Moore.

The Independence Mine *
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The Independence Group consists of eleven patented claims that lie between the head of Smith and Government Creeks. The property was located in 1898 and sold in 1902 to a Topeka company which did some 2000 feet of development work, chiefly in the form of tunnels. The lode here is said to be about 200 feet wide and to lie between a porphyry hanging wall and a rhyolite footwall, and is also reported to cut across the metamorphics which consist of slate, marble, and shist. The lode contains a considerable amount of sulphides of which pyrite is probably the most important, and is said to average about $3 a ton for a width of 200 feet, altho 30 feet near the hanging wall is said to have carried $5.25 a ton in gold. Careful sampling of 60 feet gave returns of $3.50 in gold and a little copper. An extraction by cyanide of over 80 percent of the gold value is claimed. This property has been idle for several years.

The Goldman and MacRae [McRae] Property consists of two claims and two fractions lying between Government Creek and the North Fork of Logan Creek and has an outcrop 200 feet wide consisting of quartz and altered country rock which is chiefly granite. The property was located in 1911 by D.C. MacRae [McRae] and E.F. Goldman and has been opened by two tunnels 307 feet apart vertically and by numerous open cuts. The lower tunnel starts from near the creek and has been run on a course of N. 20 deg. E., which is about the strike of the lode, and in 1916 was in about 100 feet. This tunnel passes thru a chloritic igneous rock too altered for identification and containing a number of seams of quartz, and the zone as a whole is supposed to run about $2 to the ton in gold, although this appears open to question.

The upper tunnel, which has a course of N. 62 deg. W. and consequently cross-cuts the lode is in 130 feet and from it a drift extends north a distance of 100 feet. The tunnels do not cut either the foot of the hanging wall but for their entire distance are in lode formation which consists of quartz and altered country rock heavily pyritized. The whole of the workings are said to average $2.18 in gold. In the crosscut there is 15 feet, which is reported to run $8, and 40 feet which will run $4. The average value of the lode however is undoubtedly much lower. The lode appears to line up with both the Moore and Independence properties and has an probably strike of N. 10 to 20 deg. E. with a dip of 60 deg. to 70 deg. to the northeast.

The Golden Way Up group is owned by Geo. Lauffer and Joe Davis, consists of nine unpatented claims, and lies between the Goldman and MacRae [McRae] and the Moore properties. It crosses the ridge between the North Fork of Logan Creek and Fall creek. It is evidently the same lode as described in the other properties but altho it has the same course it is out of alignment with the others and has evidently been offset about 800 feet in a block bounded by two faults in which the valleys of the North Fork of Logan Creek and Fall Creek have been cut. There is a mineralized zone over 30 feet wide consisting of altered sericitized granite interbanded with quartz seams, one of which is 25 feet wide, but most of which are about 3 feet wide. The granite is frequently replaced by pyrite occurring in scattered cubes.

The vein was first located by Chas. Crown in 1899 and bonded in 1902 by John Campion who did about 2000 feet of development and then discontinued work; following this it was bonded by C.S. McKenzie who did several hundred feet in three tunnels and also abandoned the project. It was then located by Lauffer and Davis in 1908 who have worked it up to the present time.

There is little information as to the value of the lode from wall to wall tho specimens assaying as high [as] $12.40 in gold and 60 cents in silver are reported. The probabilities are, however, that it will average about the same as the other properties, i. e. from $1 to $3 a ton.

Moscow Mine *
click map for larger size

The Moore Property, also known as the Moscow Group, consists of eight unpatented claims and was located in 1903 by Godlove and Boyle. It is the most southerly group on the lode, traversing the hillside east of Moore Creek which it practically parallels for about a mile. It was purchased by Mr. E. Moore in 1905 who started work upon the claims and put in a 300-lb. stamp mill in 1907 which he ran for 17 days, taking out $173 in that time. He replaced this mill with a 5-stamp mill in 1911 with which he has taken out a total of between $6000 and $7000.

The mineralization is entirely similar to that on the other properties of the lode and consists of sericitized granite traversed by quartz veins and is reported to be from 200 to 300 feet wide with an approximate course of N. 30 deg. E.

It is developed by a tunnel running N. 89 deg. E. which crosscuts the lode and was 350 feet long in 1913 with drifts to the north and south near the face which were in 20 and 30 feet respectively. At a point 115 feet from the portal two other drifts have been driven, the northerly one being in 75 and the southerly 200 feet.

There is a well developed footwall exposed in the crosscut with from 6 to 18 inches of gouge separating barren from mineralized granite, but the hanging wall has not been exposed tho the lode at that point is supposed to be 250 feet wide. At a distance of 190 feet from the portal there is a quartz zone 14 feet wide and another quartz zone 15 feet wide occurs near the footwall. Both of these are said to show good gold values. The gold is evidently associated with the pyrite, which contains about $100 to the ton when segregated. The entire workings of the property as determined by careful sampling are reported to average $2.20 to the ton altho it is said that 120 feet of the lode will average more than this.

Summary and Conclusions. In summing up this particular part of the Big Creek district it is evident from the development work on the properties just described, that there is a well defined lode which at several places along a course of nearly 4 miles is from 100 to 300 feet wide. Careful sampling of one or two of the properties by several companies has revealed enough gold to make further explorations justifiable under normal labor conditions. If the lode or lodes prove to average sufficiently high the quantity of material available is sufficient to support a large industry and to warrant the building of a good road into the district. Transportation is prohibitive except for operations on a large scale. If this lode were as favorably situated in regard to transportation as the Alaska-Treadwell for instance, there would probably be many hundred thousands of tons of rock that could be mined at a profit. Under the present conditions, however, there is little chance for the development of a big gold-mining industry as the transportation facilities are probably worse than in any other part of the United States, and further development in the district awaits the solution of this problem.

Most of the tunnels do not reach a depth that is much in excess of 200 feet vertically below the surface and the question of whether the values are due to secondary enrichment of a very low-grade material as at Thunder Mountain, or whether they are primary, has not been studied and decided. The general topography of the country and situation of most of the properties together with the climatic conditions would indicate rapid erosion with a consequently shallow zone of enrichment and the evidence introduced along this line would favor the hypothesis that primary conditions prevail to within a few feet of the surface. Further work in regard to mineral association etc. would have to be done before this point could be definitely proved but its importance is obvious, altho under any circumstances there is a very large tonnage of low-grade material which may some day considerably augment the gold output of the state.

Chicago Group. This property consists of five unpatented claims lying on both sides of Big Creek, about a mile below Edwardsburg, at an elevation of from 5000 to 5500 feet.

The country rock is the metamorphic series, consisting chiefly of a rather fine-grained limestone with some siliceous slate, schist, and fine-grained quartzite. The ledge occurs along the contact of a rhyolite porphryry dike in limestone and consists of the latter rock crushed and brecciated, occurring in a zone about 10 feet wide. The strike is about north and south, the porphyry being on the hangng-wall side, and the dip is 60 deg. to the west. The ore occurs in lenses and stringers in the crushed zone and consists of galena and pyrite with some other sulphides. A sample taken across 3 1/2 feet is said to have contained 14 percent lead, 38 oz. of silver, and $28 in gold, but this is undoubtedly very much higher than the average for the whole ledge. The vein is exposed in two tunnels and in the creek bed and warrants further development.

The Eagle Mining Company, of which Wm. A. Edwards is manager, owns several claims on the ridge between Logan and Government Creeks and a mill which is situated on Logan Creek about a mile and a half above Edwardsburg at an elevation of about 6000 feet. This mill contains 4 power stamps, 2 concentrating tables, and a cyanide plant. The claims were located in 1904 and the mill was begun in 1906 but made the first run in 1911, at which time about $1200 is reported to have been taken out. The capacity of the mill seems to have been low, as only 7 tons were put through in a day of 12 hours.

The vein is evidently a shear or fault zone in granite, and consists of from 5 to 10 feet of crushed country rock and quartz showing considerable gouge and slickensides, between the walls of solid unaltered granite, and has a strike of N. 70 to 82 deg. E. Ore occurs as lenses and stringers in this crushed zone, the average value of the material sent to the mill being reported as $17 to the ton in gold with little silver.

The vein has been opened by three adit tunnels with an aggregate of over a thousand feet of drifting. The oxidation zone is very shallow as all of the ore in the middle and lower tunnels is sulphide, and much of that in the upper also, so that it is probable that most of the ore exposed in the workings is primary.

Copper Camp. This group of thirteen claims is situated on the north side of Big Creek 12 miles below Edwardsburg, between Ramey and Crooked Creeks. The claims are either bonded or owned by Wm. A. Edwards of Edwardsburg and are on the hillside about 1000 feet above the level of Big Creek. They lie east and west, following a series of veins which strike in that direction.

The country rock is the metamorphic series of supposed pre-Cambrian age and consists chiefly of quartzite. There are several veins, the principal one of which strikes N. 75 to 80 deg. E. and has an almost vertical dip. On the Black Bear claim this vein has been developed by a tunnel which follows it with a course of approximately S. 75 deg. W. and was in a distance of 120 feet in August 1916. In this tunnel two crosscuts have been driven in the hanging wall, one at a distance of 90 feet from the portal and the other at 105 feet. The first of these shows 16 feet of vein material, the second, 14 feet. The vein is a shear zone cutting the slates and the quartzites almost at right angles, this shear zone of crushed country rock being impregnated with quartz which contains pyrite, chalcopyrite and sooty chalcocite with oxidation products consisting of azurite and malachite, and is reported to run about 3 percent in copper, altho this seems unlikely.

A crosscut tunnel about 200 feet lower than the tunnel just described has been driven from Camp Creek on a course N. 47 deg. W. a distance of 545 feet to intersect the Black Bear ledge which should be cut about 400 feet further in. This cross cut passes through blocky quartzitic slate for the whole distance.

This ledge is persistent for at least 2500 feet along its strike as exposed by open cuts, the most westerly of which shows the vein to be 8 feet wide and of the same general appearance as in the tunnel. Another open cut situated about 1000 feet west of the tunnel and several hundred feet high shows the vein to be 21 feet wide with precisely similar ore.

In addition to this main vein there are five others lying within a strip about 1000 feet wide and appearing to converge to the east. These are narrower than the Black Bear vein, varying in width from 30 inches to 6 feet. They are all of the same general character, showing quartz, rather honeycombed in some instances, and copper stain. One of these veins is reported to run well in gold altho very little development work has been done upon any of them so that their value has not been definitely determined.

excerpted from “A Reconnaissance in South Central Idaho – Embracing the Thunder Mountain, Big Creek, Stanley Basin, Sheep Mountain and Seafoam District” By J.B. Umpleby and D.C. Livingston
Published in cooperation with the United States Geological Survey, University of Idaho Moscow 1920, University of Idaho Bulletin, Vol XV No 16, pg 7 to pg 13
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* Notes: * maps have been added from Topo Zone
[McRae] is correct spelling of name, verified by family.
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Copper Camp
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Copper Camp
“By 1890, the district had a fledgling town. Pringle Smith found the district’s only copper ore in 1889 at the base of Ramey Ridge. Sheltered by the ridge, Smith’s copper mine was a good base for packers in and out of the district. Around Smith’s mine, therefore, a small cluster of buildings rose and took the name Copper Camp.”

excerpted from Chapter 4, Mining by Jim Witherell, page 49, “Valley County Idaho Prehistory to 1920” Valley County History Project.
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1929 Dogsled Elk Summit

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Date 1929-01-22
Two men push the Stonebraker dogsled team of 11 dogs through the snow near Elk Creek Summit.
William Allen Stonebraker Photographs
Stonebraker Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Initiatives
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Smith Creek Hydraulic Mining Company

by Gerry Wisdom

Mining in Idaho

Placer gold was discovered in Idaho in 1860. By 1862 mining in Warren was well established. By 1870 the important placer fields were worked out. The area around Big Creek, including Smith Creek had many disadvantages. Smith Creek itself, and better gold values elsewhere saved Smith Creek from being mined out by the 1870’s. It had certainly been prospected earlier by the “old-timers”, but the lack of roads, the difficulty of the terrain, and the deep snow pack for six months of the year, didn’t make it a very attractive mining location. The Grangeville Standard (July 21, 1899) declared that the upper Salmon and the Chamberlain Basin and Big Creek Basin were going to be the American Klondike. Thunder Mountain became the focus of attention around 1902. At its peak it had about 10,000 people but the boom had largely ended by 1908.

Smith Creek Hydraulic Mining Company

…The Big Creek Mining District was formed in Idaho in 1883. By 1885 it was called the Alton Mining District and included the Smith Creek Hydraulic Mining Company, later located in the Edwardsburg Mining District, comprised 505.9 acres (from a survey of 1926-27). Its claims were as follows: Woofus, Pika, Sunshine, Gump, Snowstorm, Ruby, Badger, Porphyry, Google, Blue Ox, and Power. The company was incorporated August 28, 1928 (recorded September 11, 1928), with 750,000 shares of stock at no par value and amended by H. A. Griffiths, R. G. Spaulding, James Baxter, C. W. Arbogast, C. E. Beymer, and T. N. Braxtan, February 2, 1931 to change the value of the stock to $1.00 par value.

“For many years the Smith Creek placer claims were under separate ownership until a group of Boise business men in the early 1920s formed a stock company to obtain necessary capital to develop the claims. Separate claims were bought and consolidated under one ownership, called the Smith Creek Hydraulic Mining Company. There are still no roads, so the first share was to build a road into the area.” The report by the General Ma for 1926, recommended that Mr. W. Pefley, and experienced mining engineer, be employed. He was placed in charge of operations at the mine as Superintendent. In the same report, three men (one quit) arrived on May 17 to start work on the wagon road connecting the camp with the old Werdenhoff road. They completed the work on June 1st. Next they had to build a bridge across the North Fork of Smith Creek. The men had to fell and peel the timbers. The bridge was completed June 16th. The rest of the report is a horror story of potholes, pulling vehicles out of the mud with horse teams, rocks slides, and so on.

Ledgers, show material and supplies brought over the ensuing years to build buildings, including a mess hall, mining equipment, and food. One of the receipts shows food bought at Nelson’s Grocery in Boise. It is easy to imagine from these voices from the past how difficult life was for the miners during the last part of the 19th century and in the early part of the 20th. During these early years many bemoaned the lack of good luck, from the one known death to early winter snows. Then in 1929, really back luck hit them as it did the rest of the country. An officer of the company, Mr. J. K. Burns, was in New York trying to raise money and sell stock. He was there on October 29, “Black Monday” and returned to Idaho stunned and empty handed. World War II might have been better for the company if they had given up the quest for gold and mined for tungsten and antimony, as did Stibnite. …

Gerry Wisdom is a founding member of the editorial board of the Valley County History Project.
excerpted from “Picks, Pans & Shovels – Mining in Valley County, Idaho”, Valley County History Project, pages 18-20
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Smith Creek c. 1990s
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photos by Catherine Gillihan
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Smith Creek Old Cookhouse 2011
photos by Local Color Photography
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Frank Goldman

“…in 1911, D. C. Macrae and E. F. Goldman located claims along a ridge between Government and Logan creeks…”
excerpted from Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series, Big Creek Number 563 1980

Goldman Cut

click map for larger size

(A story is that Mr. Goldman cut the road through the ridge with shovel and wheelbarrow thus named for him. – unverified)

1910 – U.S. Census, Roosevelt Precinct

Big Creek Wagon Road:
Benjamin F. Goldman, age 36, miner
(Clement Hanson, census taker)
Valley County ID Archives Census Copyright. All rights reserved.
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A Photo of Dan Mcrae in front of the Cabin at the Gold King (1921)

from Sandy McRae
back of photo: Gold King 1921. Dan McRae and George Short stop in to visit.

click on photo to open larger high rez photo
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James Edwards 1925

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“I was recently given a photo by my cousin and thought I would share the tidbit of history. It depicts his grandfather, Mark Campbell, and two other men transporting 84 year old James Edwards (Edwardsville/Big Creek), who is ill, from Yellow Pine to Cascade to see a doctor. Winter 1925 – 26.
“Mark is at right (plaid shirt) – he would later (1930’s) build Campbell’s Camp at Warm Lake. Later called North Shore Lodge – still in business today (and they serve excellent meals!) Makes me appreciate just how tough our ancestors really were!”
source: Bob Hood IDAHO HISTORY 1860s TO 1960s
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“James Edwards had mining claims at Big Creek and on Monumental. Had a cabin on Monumental.”
– Cathy Gillihan
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Yellow Pine Pioneers


Yellow Pine Pioneers

Left back: Charles Ellison, Red Metals Mine owner; Fred Holcomb, ranch owner; Henry Abstien, Mining man/horticulturist; Earl Willson, son of Profile Sam.
Left front: Albert Behne, founder of Yellow Pine; Albert Hennessy, miner; Sam (“Profile Sam”) Willson, miner; Bert McCoy, packer; Jimmie Edwards. **
** James might be Jimmy Edwards in this photo?
photo courtesy Long Valley Preservation Society
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1920 Valley County Census Big Creek Area

Edwards James W. age 79 Male Head Single Precinct Yellow Pine from Kentucky Occupation Miner Business Gold Mine
Davis, Joseph age 50 Male Head Single Precinct Yellow Pine from Washington Occupation Miner business Gold Mine

Edwards William A. age 50 Male Head M Precinct Yellow Pine from Georgia Occupation Lawyer Business Genl.Practice
Edwards Annie N. age 49 Female Wife Married Precinct Yellow Pine from Alabama
Edwards Napier A. age 21 Male Son Single Precinct Yellow Pine from Maryland

McRae Dan C. age 43 Male Head Married Precinct Lake/McCall from Minnesota occupation Operator business Mine
McRae Grace C. age 34 Female Wife Married Precinct Lake/McCall from Idaho
McRae Marjorie G. age 7 Female Daughter Single Precinct Lake/McCall from Idaho
McRae Robert J. age 11 Male Son Single Precinct Lake/McCall from Idaho

source: USGenWeb Project

Note: Patented mining property is Private Property. Please have respect, take only photos and leave no trace.