Category Archives: Weekly History

Idaho History April 14, 2019


(Warm Lake area)

Thunderbolt Mountain Elevation 8,652 ft

This granite dome is viewed as you approach the summit. [1990]

Copyright Tom Lopez; Idaho: A Climbing Guide
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Thunderbolt Mountain is located in central Idaho’s Salmon River Mountains, just north of Warm Lake. Tom Lopez says this peak may have the best views in the entire rage. There is an active fire lookout on its summit, and a maintained trail that can be used to reach the summit during summer months.

source: Dave Pahlas 2013 IdahoAlpineZone (maps and photos)
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Topographic Map of Thunderbolt Mountain


source: MyTopo
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Thunderbolt Post Office

Thunderbolt mine located 4 miles up Cabin Creek from Paradise Valley

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.

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer

See also: Valley County Post Office History
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Warm Lake District

At the property of the Trappers’ Flat Mining Company, near Warm Lake, a large force of men was employed during the entire year of 1905 in mining development and mill construction, and a large reserve of good milling ore has been blocked out with the quiet, extensive underground development accomplished.

A saw mill was installed and extensive camp equipment in the way of buildings was put up, together with a modern, up-to-date 10-stamp mill and aereal [sic] tramway. This new plant was expected to be put in commission on January 1, 1906, and the mine with which it is connected is said to afford a resource of $10.00 gold ore that can not be exhausted [sic] in several years’ steady operation.

source: the Idaho Mining Report 1905, p. 67: Warm Lake District
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1906 Thunderbolt

Feb 1, 1906
Trappers Flat – The mill owned by this company, situated on Thunderbolt mountain, was started last week. Manager George M. Snow anticipates making a long and successful run.
pg. 119

Feb 22, 1906
G. M. Snow, manager of the Trappers Flat Mining Company, operating on Thunderbolt mountain, Idaho, is in New York.
pg. 196

Feb 22, 1906
Trappers Flat – The mill at this property was started under full head on January 15th, but was obliged to close down one battery owing to a shortage of water. An abundance of ore is on hand, and as soon as the water supply is again available the full quota of ten stamps will be operated.
pg. 201

March 16, 1906
Trappers Flat – Manager George M. Snow states that the mill on this property has been started successfully and is handling about twenty-three tons of ore daily. The mill is equipped with five stamps and Wilfiey tables, and the latter are producing a good grade of concentrates running considerably over $100 per ton. The ore is concentrating about twenty tons into one.
pg. 277

April 19, 1906
Geo. M. Snow, manager of the Trappers Flat Mining Co., operating on Thunderbolt mountain, Idaho, has returned from a business trip to New York City.
pg. 396

April 19, 1906
Trappers Flat – Manager George M. Snow states that the company is so well pleased with the results obtained in the mill that an additional ten stamps will be installed this summer. A cyanide equipment will also be added to treat the concentrates instead of shipping them.
pg. 399

May 10, 1906
Milling operations in different parts of the state were well under way last month. At the Trappers’ Flat … the performance of the plant was so satisfactory that an additional ten stamps will probably be installed this summer.
pg. 473

excerpts from: Mining Reporter – Volume 53 – Feb 1, 1906 – Google Books
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Thunderbolt Mill and Mine

By Ron Smith

Located Northeast of Knox was the Thunderbolt Mill and Mine. Bob Barr, an early settler in the Knox, Warm Lake area, states that this was a typical gold investment scheme. The investors lost their money to the promoters. A bucket tramway was constructed to deliver ore from the mine to the mill. According to Mr. Barr the mill had two stamps to process the ore. A sawmill was also installed.

After a period of time with no dividends paid to the stockholders, the money for the mine operation was halted. This also stopped all work at the mine. As so often happens, the mine workers and local merchants didn’t receive the money owed to them.

excerpted from: South Fork of the Salmon River Mines, “Pans, Picks and Shovels, Mining in Valley County, Idaho”, Valley County History Project
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Bob Barr Interview

This is transcribed from an audio-recorded interview that Dick Wilkie and Skip Dolphin made while visiting with Bob Barr in the early 1950’s. Bob Barr was an early settler in Paradise Valley, north of Warm Lake one mile. They started off talking about the mine platted as the Golden Bar Placer Mine on Cabin Creek northerly 4 miles from Paradise Valley.

Barr: Just a big pile of timbers I guess. Yeah, there’s nothing left there now. You know (Bill) Kesler I think claimed that and he took dynamite and shot it down. You’ve seen the picture down there … haven’t you? Well he claimed they owed him for stuff there at the hotel and he claimed he shot that down and hauled out a lot of lumber. That cabin where I lived was the assay office that was like new stuff. They had a sawmill up there you know to make all that and he gave that to his nephew when he took that, I guess he got him to take the lease down there (Warm Lake Hotel). He was a Pritter, Pritters back in to the Cinnabar Mine.

Wilkie: Well the mine was right under the building then, huh?

B: Yeah, they had two big stamp mills down in the bottom there they was all in, everything was in running order the first time I was there. Pig Starr took us right there and we stopped down the road, there was a little barn down there to get the four horses in and we packed our grub box and everything up there. They had slab wood about three feet long. Oh you could have a roaring hot fire there and we dried out and we camped right in there. We made us a grub box out of some of that new lumber while we was there. I don’t think we had any saw, just whittled across it. We stayed there till the weather was over.

W: What kind of ore did they get out of there, silver wasn’t it?

B: Gold was it, what was supposed to be, they never got any. If there was ever any that showed up in there the fellow that was running that stole it. He skipped out just before the stop orders began to come in from back east. A fellow by the name of Snow was superintendent there. I don’t know, maybe it was like the mine Reach, old Airpreson, Halloway and them down there, old Richards, maybe he put the gold in it that was taken out. They sold it, them days you could sell anything that (the name) gold mine would use. Old (John) Reeves, old (Elmer) Bell and John Knox, now the one that had the cabin here by Warm Lake. They was all in that (mine). They had a cabin that was made out of great big logs right over north of us a little ways. It was a standing when I was new up in there. I don’t know if they, how they worked it, they sold it and got plenty of money out of it, if there wasn’t anything in it. They put in that mill and they had a double cable there that brought that ore down and when the buckets full, the great big buckets, and sent the empty back when the one come down.

Young boy: Where is the Thunderbolt mine at?

W: Right where we went to, the big pile of timbers.

B: You see it was on the hill above where the old mill was.

W: Oh!

B: That’s where the cable come down from, that’s where the old cabin was.

W: Well there was a building up there over the mine or something wasn’t there?

B: Oh yes. They had a new building built over the mine, over everything. The sheriff took that. I don’t know as they had much on the rift. They just took it, hoisted that up and put it in the buckets and ran it down on the cable about a quarter of a mile and they had a road that went right around the hill. I was up there a lot of times.

W: Was the tunnel way up on the hill, is it?

B: Yeah, just a straight down shaft down to that and they was shoveling out the ore. They had a… old Reeves and old Bell and John Knox was all in that and they had a cabin there right over north of the shaft where the gold mine was. When they sold it this company built that mill. Two big stamp mills to work that ore and a big crusher you know, it came in at the top, the cable did.

W: That’s the stamp mill in the picture over there in your cabin is it?

B: That’s the mill just above the road. They had a lot of houses around there, new cabins, the first time I was there.

W: And the shaft is right up the hill behind it.

B: Right up west. I guess about a quarter. They had a road that ran around it was a mile or more to it by the road to get around by wagons you know. I went that way quite a lot of times hunting for birds and huckleberries and up that road there was plenty of birds and huckleberries both. They had an old time cabin and then down this side of there about one and a half miles or so old John Knox had a cabin of his own. They all had several rich claims but old John Knox and old Reeves and Bell was in that. Old Reeves I recon he was the big shot, he got $17,000 for his part. I think old Bell and old Knox just got $10,000 apiece. That is enough money if you took care of it and if you left the fools alone. That fall old Reeves went back to St. Louis and stayed all winter and came back dead broke and ready for someone to grub stake him. I never did feel very sorry for him.

Deadwood Area Mining: Of course he got in on the Deadwood (mining) and got somebody to grub stake him down there. I guess when that Bunker Hill and Sullivan took over that tall mine down there he could have sold out and got money out of that. Old Baker, old Bill Baker who lived here in Scott Valley, he had a shaft right there in their way, right under where they dumped that stuff and they offered him $3,000 for it. He had 20 acres and you get 20 acres with every claim you know and they wanted that timber too. No, old Bill wanted $30,000 for it so he died on a little pension he got. He never got anything out of the mine. They wanted to get him out of the way and dump their millings right there you know, where his shaft was and they would use a lot of that timber he had, he had on that 20 acres, not all of it had timber. That $3,000 would have done him quite a bit of good and he was awful hard up. But he was afraid they was going to make a million-dollar mine out of it, but they ran at a loss all 8 years there. They mailed out a lot of stuff and hauled it in but ran at a loss all the time. It never did pay its way. During the war (WWII) they got the government to back them down. Old Reverend Davis out here, he got a company St. John National Zinc Co. to take it over and run it and the government had to pay a lot there. I knew lots of fellows that was working there. I was there at Landmark. They said if the government or something was paying it that they wasn’t selling enough stuff out of there. They ate meals and stamp hauled it out and got everything they could find. The government wouldn’t let them quit on account of that lead and zinc in there. That mostly was silver in that; they didn’t care so much about that in time of war. As quick as the war was over the government withdrew there half, it went down right then.

W: It never made any money, huh?

B: Well they had some ore in there, they thought they would strike a big knot of it you know and they were doing that. The Bunker Hill and Sullivan would get, as long as they were developing it they would get their money back on income tax and finally after they got to milling it they couldn’t get anything back. Then they developed where they thought maybe they were going to make some money out of it but silver, that was what they had to most of, got down so low it wouldn’t near pay its way. Then they wanted to shut down for a while and wait till silver came up so it would pay expenses, the stockholders there in Boise, some were Hawe and Jack Troy and a few of them like that wouldn’t let them. They said they would keep all the tunnels open and everything ready to go as quick as silver came back up to where it had been, but in less than two years silver came back up to more than twice what it was when they shut down. They had it opened up and running again but they kept on until all them died paupers.

Young male: How did Cupp Brown get its name?

B: Some old fellow by the name of Cupp Brown …

B: I guess he was a younger fellow that had sheep up in there. I don’t know if he was Sam Cupps father or what, I knew him in here.

W: Well he built an old cabin up there then, huh? Well Cupps did. Well there’s an old cabin up there.

B: Well I don’t know if he built that or not. There was a trapper cabin somewhere up there.

W: Maybe that’s it.

B: Yeah, but I guess Cupp ran sheep through there and made them corrals about working the sheep you know. He came in there in the spring and had that, but I’ve known Cupp corrals ever since I had been in the country. I don’t know how it was named. I knew a packer Sam Cupps back in here about as no good a fellow that ever breathed. He paid all of his bills with checks back in here. Never did know of anybody who got a dollar on one. If he got a hold of any money why he took it in his pocket. They say he was a good driver and a good packer and all but dump master of …on earth and never paid anything. I didn’t have a chance to teach him, and finally somewhere back up here I seen in a paper where one of then poison rocky mountain wood ticks bit him and killed him. I never thought them things ever done any good before. It was good they killed as no good a tramp as he was. Done a little good.

Grizzly bear:

Now him and Cy Johnson packed that old millionaire oilman in that come up for the summer. He come to Nampa and come from Bunker City, old Mack Passage it was getting way up in years, then turned 70’s he liked hounds I guess. He had 40 hounds. He had metal crates made for all of them. Money was no object to him. He had a young wife. I expect he had set a lot of money on her when she married him. Fairly good looking gal but she come through in the fall and went back to the camp in Chamberlain Basin where they was going to try and get a grizzly but they never did get any. I heard old Cy say several times, there’s never a grizzly in the Basin. There wasn’t any in the country but then old Sam Phillips getting on a big drunk in the fall started on, a big snowstorm caught them on the other side of Landmark and they lost their horses. There was one along the trail they found, old Sam put the poison in that and killed a grizzly bear. Somebody was with him, I don’t know who, later on, he had one that belonged to me (horse), it and two more got way back of the Chillkoot Pass, I seen the bones where they died over there and old Stone was trapping in there when they was two of them there. He said he seen them after they got snowed in way high and didn’t have his pistol with him. The next time he came back he brought his pistol but one of them was dead and he shot the other one (horse). But that old Lilly he was along, old Lilly the fellow that hunted in Colorado with Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt got him to hunt bear with him in there. He said there was sign of grizzly in there on the trees. Their claws are different than other bears. For the last 20 years there was one over their where I worked on the head of Meadow Creek. I would see its tracks about every fall but it would den up somewhere right in there. See they have great long claws that stick out of their long fingers, out from their pads. But I don’t know what went with that. I never did hear anything about any tracks of it or anything after I quit staying back there. Which I would see them tracks every fall in there. He had a place he denned up in some cave or something with a bed in there you know. They stay around, all them bear have their place fixed to winter.

Horse thief:

I went one summer, I and another fellow we had a wagon and three horses and got up in there and stayed till, he stayed till he claimed he had to go home that week. We camped at the mouth of Sulphur Creek, oh Lord; fine fishing there. As we came in we met a big bunch of horses and some old mining man, that was old Con Murphy. He went to the pen for old Con Dewey when Conner’s killed a man down there once. He shot him in a fight and some way old Murphy took it upon himself and took the rifle. (Laughter.) The view is they was kind of taking care of him after he got out of the penitentiary. He was getting pretty old then.

We left them at the ford and we come on up and we met the horses back on this side and Wes Wyatt was riding a big buckskin horse and just as we, I was coming out of there for some more grub and George was a going to take his team and wagon, they was his, and go back to Ole (Ola). He claimed he had some big business there. I didn’t have any and I don’t think he did either. Just as we was getting up there old Clint turned this horse around, the other side to us, and after we got there he said did you notice Clint turned that horse around so we couldn’t see the brand on it? I said yeah, it was a big buckskin horse and stole out of a pasture there by Montour. They took it down.

Jeff Dokin he had a horse ranch down in Oregon. They would take them off down there, get them in the night you know, on that hill with the Masters boy Claude De Masters and another feller and they took another horse and in a week or so here they would come back with their saddle on the fringe. They would get a little money out of their catch. I don’t know, Duncan brought a big bunch of horses up and taken back and old Clint in with him you know. He turned that horse around he thought we might well he’d have done that with anybody so they couldn’t see the brand on it. I come out and got my grub and went back.

George, sheep man, took a job as bodyguard down on Sulphur Creek. He was down and around there quite a bit. We had to get our camp back up on Sulphur Creek and back up on the hill when Traylor Kinder was working on the trail a little. When I got back he said they come in there and old Sam Phillips had that horse there. He said he was up after his horses.

God, I don’t know why I can’t think of his name. They were Scotchman’s I knew that oldest boy that ran sheep, when I was there at Knox. The old man finally had to have a leg took off and died, the old father of him. He said, old Sam take my new horse and ride up there after his. Well he said he rode that horse for me, knew the brand and everything. He said that buckskin horse was stole out of a pasture there at Montour. I forget who it was that had it. Then, big buckskin, he said and I rode in. Says I took and rode him up and got my hara and your gates and everything. Says what would you do about it? I said I think I’d get word to that fellow that was the horse still out. So I guess he did.

Anyway they got word and when Duncan and them, when they brought the horses out they had 50 head or so. They brought them out, there was somebody watching them at Cascade but that horse wasn’t in the bunch. A couple of days after that Duncan came through there leading that horse behind a buckboard he was driving. But they went down there and got him. Found out about him going through there you know then they went down to his ranch with an officer and got the horse. But that old Clint, I’ve been acquainted with him a long time there at Ole (Ola), he was pretty hard up for money.

(Break in talk.) I don’t know about that. (Barking sound.) I had 8 ewes and 8 lambs in there and I had ….

This next segment was apparently recorded years later because Bob Barr’s voice sounds much older.

[B]: The silver blutton they called it. But I never did fish in there but I think there’s fish in it. I don’t know why there wouldn’t have been. They was little bull trout all the way up in Reardon Creek.

Young male: Have you ever, did you ever hear about the lost Cleveland mine or something like that?

B: The lost which? Cleveland, oh I guess I have, I don’t remember now. There’s so many of them lost mines that were just so rich you could just scoop up the gold nuggets in them. Never did find many of them much after I was in here. I know I never got anything out of them.

Young male: That old boy looks like he’s traveled mine up there to the gentleman’s bear.

B: Yeah, that’s a very poor picture. Bear don’t bother you that a way and grizzlies will go to Wanashawan you know. When down at Given Springs Barry told me once he was a hiding out he was, they had him in the pen a good deal of the time them days for horse stealin’ and one thin and another. He and some feller was makin’ a run on some one and they went up on the third fork and then they come across a trail that came in somewhere over there. He said up through there was a great big bear a comin’, it cut across just before it got to ‘em, come along about 20 yards out there and the other fellow said don’t shoot at that bear, said that’s a grizzly and you cripple him and he’ll kill us. I don’t know if he had a notion to shoot that or not. I suppose they had some kind of a rifle. He said he was a great big brown bear long slung. There was kind of a crook in the trail where he seemed, where he wanted to head, he just went out to one side and went along.

Possibly at Knox:

B: One time I was cutting hay, I had pretty good hay crops there, timothy and stuff and then get it chopped and haul in there and pack it back in them little old log buildings they built in the Thunder Mountain boom you know. We would pack it about as far as the back of this house. I guess he thought I looked a little mad, I didn’t have anybody helping me and he told me, when I had only worked an hour or so he could work like a fool for that long but that would do. He told me, I had it all cut then and when I got that in why and the (irrigation) water on it, I could take a little striped leg mule and have a week off. Well I got it off the upper part. There was a road that went down to where he had an old cabin right across the edge of the woods over there.

Paul Limeings family was living in that and I turned it on (irrigation water) that when I got the hay off and it run off and it run off down there and ran all around the house. The kids had a lot of fun paddling around in that water. I was afraid maybe she would get a little mad but she didn’t. Then I got old Clint Warnickton to come up there and shock some I had below. One evening he had come in from Pistol Creek. He had a lot of horses, most of them was stolen horses I guess, they were way down toward the mouth of Pistol Creek. Greg had told me I could have a week off you know. Old Clint thought that would be a good place. You could get all the fish you want anywhere.

A fellow was freighting into the sheep camp at Reardon Lake. They had a camp right there where the Reardon Creek goes in right where I camped. I camped a little above that when we went in there to work. He said, oh my God you can get all the fish you want over there.

But I kind of wanted to go to the Middle fork I’d heard a great deal about that and I got somebody to write me a map where to turn from Landmark here and there on up by Whiskey Creek and went down there. Dragging that little old mule with house keeping outfit on it. I didn’t know anything about packing then and thought I had a terrible load on it but guess I didn’t have much. I finally went over the summit that goes down close to that little town of Sulphur Creek that leads up to the summit there. But the sheep had been on that. I just kept a goin’ and goin’. The mule he was pullin’ back and me was pullin’ hard. Greg told me to turn the mule loose ahead of me and I was afraid it would get away from me with my camp outfit and grub and everything.

I went on until the sun went behind the hill and I camped in that little meadow where they have a corduroy bridge now and a big spring right across the creek from me and I didn’t know it. Right there I camped in the trail, a snow slide and things on one side. The mule couldn’t get by me there so I turned it loose and made camp right there. That’s where I caught my first red side. I cast out in there, riding along you could see some of them trout in there, just, or salmon everywhere. Well I cast out in there and caught a red side and cast back and caught another one. Next morning I got where I could see down in there it was right over a salmon bed they was around there eating the eggs.

Boy: How big were they?

B: The red side? Oh from 1 to 3 pounds. I put a handle in my spear that night. I took it along with me salmon fishing, a salmon spear. Got one right off the nest. I thought I might get the eggs maybe for bait but they were all gone, it had layed up. There was a big tent up right across the meadow there. I’d never seen that when I camped. Next morning when I got ready to go I went over to there to see, I’d never seen nor heard nothing of my mule. I had a little bell on it and had it hobbled. I went over there to hunt it up and there was a big tent. A lot of whiskey kegs layed around.

Old Sam Phillips had brought up a bunch of cattle for somebody to summer in there and he didn’t want to waste any time and so he would stay there at the big spring and watch ‘em from going back and make whiskey while he was there and not lose any money. I just went over the ridge and heard the bell and went down and there was my little mule and 4 or 5 horses with it. I went back and packed up and when I got back there I came down to the flat there was old Dick Sanford. We always called him old Bean Billy Dick, in camp right across in front of where Prescott’s cabin is (at Warm Lake, Lot 2) is right down to the creek and cooking a big pot of beans and set there till he would eat them up. Ever day he would eat on ‘em.

That’s the way it was, somebody in Boise gave him the outfit he had, wanted to get rid of him and he came up the Boise River and going back to Warm Lake. I think I would have turned the horses loose, there was feed all up and down the river and fished around in there, going and get me a couple of good fish ever time I wanted to eat.

Are you still camping on Tripod?

Dolphin: No we are on Lodgepole.

B: Did you see in the paper where they found a meteor (meteorite) that hit a tree on Lodgepole?

D: Yeah, I found that, I’m the guy that found it. Yeah, that’s why I wanted to see your paper.

B: Yeah, well I’ve got the Cascade paper in there. I don’t know but I thought I seen that in the Boise paper, said the tree was hollow and rotten in there, I suppose it was a yellow pine maybe.

D: No it was a big white fir. Yeah, but that burnt down in there.

B: You know I seen one of them things go by one spring while having guard training there at Crawford. We went, we just went to bed, they had a little hay in the barn, open in the west, all at once there was a big light busted in there. My God, lighter than the city, I rolled out and went back to look and it looked like it was going slow and looked low. Great big light and it went on a little while, the damnedest boom I ever heard. Old Drake said it hit right there somewhere but nobody ever did find where it hit.

He thought Jim Carpenter had got his powder and blowed up himself. He was working on the road up on the summit. It looked like it was going right square toward Knox and it probably was higher than I thought. I don’t know if it hit somewhere but nobody saw it, they thought all summer somebody would run onto it, where it hit. Dwight thought his man Friday he had working on the road, thought his man had blowed up his powder cache up there, but he hadn’t.

D: I got about half of that over by the fence.

B: What’s it like?

W: It’s like a burnt lava rock, yeah.

B: I worked one summer where there was a big one fell over by, east of Walla Walla Washington kinda black rock there. Old fellow had homesteaded there, he hauled a big hunk to the park and left it. I don’t know how much was in the ground, it stuck up 5 or 6 feet. It was a big one that had landed there.

D: I chopped into this tree to put the fire out, see. In the center of the tree. I hit it with the edge of the pulaski, it bent the edge of the pulaski out of sight. It was like hitting a rock. It was quite hot. Oh man it was hot. You could get anything you wanted out of it too. Water came out of it, rolled down the burn. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it. You wouldn’t know they would be that much water in it.

Music on the tape

Transcribe from the audiotape by LeRoy Meyer Sept. 20, 2000.

source: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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1923 Thunderbolt Lookout

Thunderbolt lookout was built of logs and rebuilt in 1961-1962 using helicopters to transport material.

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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1994 Thunderbolt Fire

Thunderbolt Mountain fire burnt north of the lake 3 miles & north.

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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Thunderbolt Fire Recovery

Boise and Payette National Forests

Thunderbolt by Stephen E. Lyman C. 1995, The Greenwich Workshop, Inc. Reproduced with the permission of the Greenwich Workshop, Inc. Shelton, CT 06484

Prolonged drought, dense timber stands, and large areas of insect infested or killed trees, contributed to another summer of large catastrophic wildfires on the Boise and Payette National Forests in 1994. The Chicken, Thunderbolt, and portions of the Corral and Blackwell wildfires burned in excess of 150,000 acres in the South Fork Salmon River drainage of the Boise and Payette National Forests in central Idaho.

… The wildfires of 1994 resulted in a changed condition to the South Fork Salmon River basin that was unforeseen in the Boise and Payette Forests Plans. Much of the more than 150,000 acres that burned were contiguous areas. adjacent to the river. Resulting sedimentation is expected to be high for the next 3 to 5 years. Adverse effects to fish habitat and a reduced probability of reaching the stated Desired Future Condition of restored fish habitat will result.

… The Thunderbolt Wildfire burned a total of 18,827 acres of Boise and Payette National Forest System lands in the fall of 1994. Burn intensities in the Thunderbolt Wildfire area varied considerably. Within the fire perimeter, about 5,935 acres burned at high intensity, 8,886 acres at moderate intensity, and 4,006 acres at low intensity.

An estimated 16,271 acres burned within Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA’s). The IRA’s affected are Caton Lake and Meadow Creek. The fire burned adjacent to or within the river corridors of Johnson Creek (eligible for Recreation classification) and South Fork Salmon River, which are both pending Wild and Scenic River study.

excerpted from: Thunderbolt Wildfire Recovery Project, Valley County, Idaho (24 megs)
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2005 Thunderbolt Lookout


Location: 24.8 miles Cascade, Idaho
Elevation 8654 ft.
GPS Coordinate: 44.7326 -115.64

link: The Pictures of Cascade Photo Gallery by area resident Mike Huston
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Thunderbolt is on the left

Photo by Dave Putman April 1, 2016

Link to Warm Lake History part 1

Link to Warm Lake History part 2


Idaho History Jan 6, 2018-3

Stibnite 1949 Radio Script

Part 3
Valley County, Idaho

Stibnite c. 1959-1960

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Radio Script and Photo Collections shared by Sandy McRae courtesy Jim Collord

Stibnite Idaho Radio Series Part 3

Peffer CBS Radio Station KGDM Stockton, California 1140 on Dial

From Mr and Mrs. Edward F. Peffer

This is the third and the concluding story in the Stibnite series compiled and written by Elsie Flower, KGDM script-writer, now on vacation at the lake-shore Summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward F. Peffer on Payette Lakes in Idaho. The Stibnite stories are broadcast especially for Idaho listeners from the Peffer CBS Station KGDM in Stockton, California, Bill Hill, special announcer for Idaho is at the microphone, Sept. 24, 1949.

Stibnite, Idaho, as a community, has no counterpart. Its people are young. More than 95 per cent of the 900 population is under the age of forty years. A high percentage of the adult population, both men and women, hold university degrees. There is no rent to pay. The amount of money invested by each employee in the house in which he and his family live, depends upon the degree of respect he has for property and also on his standard of living. Medical care is no problem in Stibnite. Children in the Stibnite Grade school, read with proficiency at the end of the first year in school. These are the reasons we set Stibnite apart as a community in a class by itself.

There are 130 modern houses in Stibnite, equipped with every convenience. Forty additional houses are classified as `not modern’. All of them are rent free and are available to employees on a seniority basis. Occupants of modern houses pay $12.50 per month into a maintenance fund until a total of $150 is built up. Payments then stop until such time as the maintenance fund is depleted to one-half. It is then again built up to the $150 total. The plan prevails in the occupancy of the unmodern house with $5 monthly payments and a $60 total. The the occupancy of the unmodern house with $5 monthly payments and a $60 total.

The maintenance fund is used only for interior finish and woodwork, so it may be seen that the more careful a family is of its dwelling the less it pays in upkeep. There is a dollar a month asked for outside painting, but the company maintains roofs and foundations. The cost per month to the average employee is approximately $5, providing his family is careful and uses the house lightly. On termination of residence, the balance in the fund is returned.

Water is free. From November until the end of April, 400 kilowatts of electricity may be consumed free of charge, thus providing for the normal lighting of a house. Power used in excess is one cent per kilowatt hour. During the balance of the year 250 kilowatts may be consumed free to take care of the difference between daylight and darkness.

Dr. J. D. Mortensen is in charge of the Stibnite Clinic and Hospital. This is a modern one-story building with six private rooms and two wards of five beds each. It has a completely equipped modern surgery, X-ray department, laboratory, consultation rooms, maternity department and pharmacy. Dr. Mortensen, who is a native of Arizona, is a young man with three years active Army service and one year of practice in Boise Idaho. He has been in charge of the Stibnite Clinic and hospital for the past seventeen months. Hospital record show that in that time, 2143 persons have been treated or have availed themselves of the services of the hospital, such as free physical checkups.

In 1948, the birth total at the hospital was 46. The Bradley Mining Company sees to it that medical and hospital care is no problem to the employee and his family. Dr. Mortensen told us that bills sent out from the hospital are made out in two columns. One column gives the cost of such treatment if given in the outside world. The second column is headed ‘COST TO YOU’. This amount is one-half the charge prevalent in other places. If that one-half charge is over $25 it is again cut in half by funds from the Employees’ Voluntary Contribution and Benefit Plan. By this method, the employee or his dependents is given a bill which is one-fourth of the usual doctor and hospital bill.

Dr. Mortensen said that, in the past year, the company had made possible routine physical examinations, X-rays, and uri-analysis, free of charge in the interest of tuberculosis and cancer prevention. One hundred one fifty persons, who considered themselves well were improved in health, efficiency and comfort through the check-up. The company, we were told, has invested approximately $150,000 in the hospital and equipment, and spends $50,000 a year in operation. A staff of three registered and three practical nursed is headed by Registered Nurse Juanita Justus.

During our brief excursion into Stibnite we made it a point to talk to two of the teachers in the Stibnite Grade School. They were Mrs. Opal Sargent, principal, and Mrs. Grace McRae, teacher of the 4th and 5th grades. Mrs. Sargent is the wife of Harry Sargent, junior metallurgist under McRae, and now smelter foreman, who is credited with having done a lot of research on the million and a half dollar smelter. Opal Sargent, young, pretty and blonde, has been editor of the village newspaper The Stibnite Miner; she has been a nurse; and she taught in the Stibnite School when it was a one-roomed building. Mrs. Grace McRae is the wife of Idaho’s pioneer of the Thunder Mountain District, Daniel McRae, and the mother of Robert McRae, our personal guide on the Stibnite Tour.

The Stibnite school enrolls 137 pupils from the first through the 8th grades. Each of the four rooms of the school has from two to three grades under one teacher, averaging around 30 to 39 pupils per teacher. Mrs. Sargent and Mrs. McRae told us that the Stibnite School accents reading from the very beginning of a child’s education. All activities in art and mental periods are related to reading. At the end of the first grade, a child of six years can read. He also has some experience in number work, such as counting, learning to recognize amounts, and the meaning of numbers, By the time he is promoted from the first grade, he knows how to handle easy combinations of numbers in addition and subtraction. By the time he has progressed through the second and third grades, he is proficient in reading,

In California we had encountered eight-year-old children, who had reached the third grade, and were unable to read an ice-cream parlor billboard posted with the names of such flavors as orange, lemon and vanilla. It, therefore, seemed quite remarkable to us that the children of Stibnite are taught to read as the first and the essential step in their education.

We were told that the Three R’s are stressed in Stibnite and ‘Work’ is the motto of teachers and the keynote for children. School keeps five-days a week from 9A.M. until 4P.M. Primary children are dismissed earlier in the afternoon.

The nearest approach to California’s activity program in education, is what Stibnite calls ‘socialized recitations’. In these recitations the child dramatizes the lessen to be learned. For instance, Mrs. McRae’s fifth grade dramatized a history lesson with each child representing a Colony of the first thirteen; they formed a Continental Congress, made motions and seconded them and delivered speeches.

The school, however, sticks to the formal type of training and stresses the foundation of ‘reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, although it does give the child the advantages of music, art gymnasium and square dancing. There are always the annual Christmas entertainment, the school picnic, and the Junior Ski meet.

The recreation Hall provides motion pictures, and auditorium and stage and a bowling alley. Stibnite’s winter climate is rugged and severe. The ground is under snow almost five months a year. The floating type of employee does not go to Stibnite, as a rule, by reason of the isolation and the climate. Mr. McRae told us, that while the Company has done everything possible to make living conditions pleasant and reasonable in cost, the fact remains that only those employees who are interested in the operation and like the locations, are permanent. Their love of their work and of the environment, makes for a high class of steady employee and rather an intense community spirit and interest among the residents.

We said ‘Good Bye’ to Stibnite and the charming people we met there, and were flown to McCall in a two-place, 85 Horse Power motored, aluminum Luscom plane. It was piloted by Harry Sargent who is one of the Stibnite Villagers who owns and flies his own plane. Airplane travel and transportation form an important part of Bradley Mining Company activity in Idaho.

In December of 1946, Bradley Field at Boise was dedicated to the memory of Frederick W. Bradley, one of the pioneers in air transportation. The three Bradley brothers, their mother and the Bradley Mining company invested a half million dollars in the Bradley Field installation which includes a complete repair shop, training facilities for pilots; a restaurant and a Sky-Tel for aircraft travelers. Beautiful grounds surround the buildings and in Summer, meals are served in the patio of the Sky-Tel.

The Aircraft Service which operates out of Bradley Field, has twenty planes with Glenn Higby as chief pilot; J. I. Mayes, manager, and Les Randolph, assistant manager. Much of the service is between Boise and Stibnite. Bradley Field and Air Craft Service won the Haire award this year – a bronze plaque given in recognition of the country’s finest private airfield serving air travelers.

John D. Bradley, recalling the memory of his Father’s first travel by air into Alaska and the Yukon in the late twenties, says that he’ll always remember how thrilled his father was at the saving of time – the journey by land that consumed weeks was only a few hours by air.

In the year 1946 and ’47 the people of Stibnite published a booklet of information about their village. We quote a paragraph from the foreword: `To Mr. F. W. Bradley, his sons, John, Worthen, and James, the Yellow Pine Mine Staff and the Yellow Pine Mine employees, all of whom played a part in making Stibnite the outstanding operation and community it is today, this book is dedicated. Some time, someone will write a book telling far more completely the story of Stibnite.’ (end quote)

This broadcast concludes the Stibnite Story, compiled and written by Elsie Flower, who was flown into Stibnite as the guest of the Bradley Mining Company, and conducted on a tour of the Yellow Pine Mine’s Mill and smelter by Superintendent Robert J. McRae, to whom she is indebted for much of the material used in this story. This special broadcast for Idaho listeners comes to you through the courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Edward F. Peffer of Payette Lakes, Idaho and the Peffer C. B. S. Radio Station KGDM in Stockton, California, Bill Hill, special announcer for the Idaho broadcasts, at the microphone.

source: J Collord and S McRae (personal correspondence.)
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Stibnite Photos c. 1959-1960






photo collection shared by Sandy McRae courtesy Jim Collord

1949 Stibnite Idaho Radio Series Part 1

1949 Stibnite Idaho Radio Series Part 2

Idaho History Jan 6, 2018-2

Stibnite 1949 Radio Script

Part 2
Valley County, Idaho

Rec Hall (left) and School (center)

probably mid 1940s

(click here for larger source size)

source w/more photos: The Mike Fritz Collection courtesy Heather Heber Callahan
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Radio Script and Photo Collections shared by Sandy McRae courtesy Jim Collord

Stibnite Idaho Radio Series Part 2

Peffer CBS Radio Station KGDM Stockton, California 1140 on Dial

From Mr and Mrs. Edward F. Peffer

This is the second of the Stibnite stories compiled and Written by Elsie Flower, KGDM script-writer, now on vacation at the lake-shore Summer-home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward F. Peffer on Payette Lakes in Idaho. The Stibnite stories are broadcast especially for Idaho listeners from the Peffer CBS Station KGDM in Stockton, California, Bill Hill, special announcer for Idaho, at the microphone, September 23, 1949.

We concluded the first Stibnite story last night with the co-incidence of two generations of the Bradley family furnishing the bulk of the world’s tungsten supply in two world Wars. During the first war, the senior Bradley, Frederick W., in association with Bernard Baruch, dug the tungsten from California’s Mojave Desert deposits. In the second war, Bradley’s three sons mined half a million tons of tungsten ore from one huge deposit in the Yellow Pine Mine at Stibnite, Idaho.

The discovery of the Idaho tungsten deposit was made in 1941, eight years after the death of Frederick Bradley, the most heroic and adventurous figure in all Western mining. At his death in 1933, Bradley was associated financially in the development of the Yellow Pine Mine, with Ogden Mills of New York and Washington, D. C. and William H. Crocker of San Francisco. Bradley held a half interest, the other two each a fourth. In 1938, the Yellow Pine interests of the three men were held in their estates. It was in that year, that the youngest of the three Bradley brothers, John D. Bradley, Manager of Idaho operations of the Bradley Mining Company, went to heirs of the Mills and Crocker estates and purchased their interests in the Yellow Pine Mine at Stibnite. We shall now continue with the story of the mine as narrated to us by Robert McRae, mill and smelter superintendent.

The Yellow Pine Mine, under the operation of the Bradley Mining Company, dates from 1927. The original workings were on Meadow Creek. In 1937, under active direction of John D. Bradley, large deposits of antimony and gold ore were discovered two miles down-stream from the Meadow Creek development. Operations in that year were transferred to the new deposits of ore. Open-cut mining methods with power shovels reduced costs to a low figure. The ore bodies had had three years of mining, and the mill had been built up to 400 tons a day, when in 1940, the SPECTER OF ANOTHER WORLD WAR LOOMED IN THE NATION’S HORIZON.

The United States Bureau of Mines began exploring for additional antimony ores in the area worked by the Bradley Mining Company. In 1941 the Bureau of Mines’ drilling program had located large bodies of antimony ore. On close examination of the drill core under ultra-violet light, scheelite ore, rich in tungsten, was discovered. THIS WAS THE TURNING POINT IN THE HISTORY OF THE YELLOW PINE MINE.

Up until this time the margin between profit and loss, had been exceedingly narrow. The three Bradley brothers, and their mother, Mary, who is now Mrs. Frank R. Girard of San Francisco, started a very active program involving great expenditure of money to place the mine in large-scale production. Their purpose was not only to recover antimony, but to mine the newly-discovered and highly strategic mineral, tungsten.

By the latter part of 1941, milling was well underway on antimony and tungsten ores. By 1942 the Yellow Pine Mine was one of the world’s greatest producers of both antimony and tungsten. Production, at the request of the Ore Production Board, continued to be increased, until by the end of 1943, the Yellow Pine Mine, in some months, produced more tungsten than all the rest of the mines in the world combined. High officials have many times credited the Bradley Mining Company and its employees with having shortened the War by many months by their high rate of tungsten production.

Tungsten enters into the manufacture of all high-class steel, which, during the war, was made into armor-piercing projectiles for naval and anti-tank defense. The Armed Forces used tremendous quantities of antimony. Its principal strategic use was as a flame-proofing agent to render fabrics fire-proof.

China was the world’s main source of antimony and tungsten until 1940, when the Japanese forces disrupted and isolated Chinese mining regions, and cut off the supply to the outside world. A small amount of antimony and tungsten was being flown over the Hump for the United States and the Allies, but the amount was negligible in comparison with the need. For lack of these two metals, the Nation found itself in a highly vulnerable position. The Allies were no better off. IT WAS AT THIS MOMENT IN 1941 and 1942 THAT THE YELLOW PINE MINE BEGAN TO POUR FORTH THE METALS TO FILL THE NEED, AND IT CONTINUED TO POUR FORTH, THROUGH THE YEARS OF ’43 and ’44 UNTIL THE EMERGENCY WAS PAST.

In these years the mill was handling 800 tons daily. In 1945, additional development went forward toward a 2500 ton daily milling production. This was accomplished by 1946, and since that time, production of antimony ore has been maintained at an annual output of 600,000 tone, This is 95 per cent of all domestic production of antimony. During these years, we have just reviewed, concentrate from the Yellow [Pine] Mine were shipped to distant points for refining. The tungsten concentrate, produced during war years, was shipped to Boise, Idaho and Salt Lake City, Utah for refining.

Antimony concentrate, until last August, was shipped to Southern California for further treatment. Gold concentrate went to Utah. This was an expensive process. Charges for transportation, freight rates and refining costs left the Bradley Mining Company with only 60 per cent of the actual value of the ore.

In 1948 the company decided to build its own smelter for production of antimony, both as metal and an oxide, and also for gold and silver bullion. Metallurgical research had been under way for several years in preparation for this step. The Stibnite staff of Metallurgists collaborated with the Bunker Hill staff In solving the smelting problems presented by the ore,

The men who pooled brains, knowledge and experience in this effort were Harold Lee, research metallurgist for the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mine and Robert McRae, mill superintendent and metallurgist for the Yellow Pine. These two men worked on all test work in close association with Harold D, Bailey, general manager of the Yellow Pine, and Silas Doo Foo, a young Chinese graduate of the Colorado School of mines, who has been assistant metallurgist at Yellow Pine for seven years.

Some of the major problems connected with treatment of the Yellow Pine concentrates were their high ‘arsenic content’ and their extreme fineness as they came from the mill. All antimony smelters, before the installation of the electric smelter at Stibnite, treated ores in lump form. The lump ore smelter could not adapt its method to the fine concentrate of the Yellow Pine Mill. The smelter at Stibnite was designed to overcome difficulties presented by the fine concentrate. Another problem to be solved was the transportation cost of fuel, used in the conventional antimony smelter for melting down the concentrate.

This problem was overcome by the use of an electric smelting furnace, which draws up to 2000 kilowatt hours or 3000 horsepower, This is converted into the heat which does the smelting. Power is derived from the 110 mile transmission line built during the war by the Idaho Power Company for the Yellow Pine Mine, The project involved the expenditure of one and a half million dollars for the smelter, and in addition, a half-million dollars to erect new houses for the accommodation of smelter employees and their families.

The smelter, which went into operation in August of this year was dedicated by Governor C. A. Robins of Idaho at Stibnite’s sixth annual barbecue held on the Saturday of August 20th. At that time, Governor Robins said, and we quote ‘The accomplishment of bringing the machinery and the building equipment to this isolated mountain community over forest roads is a tribute to initiative that would have been impossible under any system but the free enterprise system’. (end quote)

The smelter, designed to process the precious metals of gold and silver, as well as antimony and antimony oxide, is the only smelter of its kind in the United States, It is designed with a flexible capacity. In times of extreme need for antimony, it can process up to 600 tons of metallic antimony per month. In slack times, antimony production can be adjusted to suit the needs of the country, and gold ores substituted.

The Bradley brothers are following in the footsteps of their father, in extracting every iota of value from ore, whether of high grade or low-grade. The smelter is making the antimony yield outstanding and is putting gold production on a paying basis. It is prolonging the life of the Yellow Pine Mine and the Village of Stibnite, the world’s most unique community.

[End Part 2]
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1942 Stibnite School

(click image for source size)

source: Idaho State Historical Society Stibnite Photo Collection
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1951 Stibnite School

photo from Sandy McRae
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1943 Stibnite Hospital

(click image for source size)

source: Idaho State Historical Society Stibnite Photo Collection
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Yellow Pine Pit (circa 1946)

Photograph courtesy Robin McRae
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Antimony Smelter under Construction (circa 1948)

Completed Antimony Smelter (circa 1949-50)

photos from “History of the Stibnite Mining Area, Valley County, Idaho”, from a report prepared by Victoria E. Mitchell of Idaho Geological Survey, dated April 2000 (27 meg)

1949 Stibnite Idaho Radio Series Part 1

1949 Stibnite Idaho Radio Series Part 3

Idaho History April 7, 2019

Thunder Mountain and Roosevelt

(part 4)

The famous “Reef” of the Dewey Mine in the Thunder Mountain Mining Area.

by Faith Turner

The epic story of Thunder Mountain was a decade drama in three acts.

First, the discovery of gold deep within Idaho’s primitive wilderness where the earth’s crust is up-tilted to dizzying heights, and meadow valleys are lovely beyond description in their brief summer. Then, a gulch town dubbed Roosevelt that mushroomed into a lusty existence despite the tortuous trails that were its life-line. And finally, the landslide and flood that brought oblivion to the town.

This Thunder Mountain story has never been completely told, nor will it ever be. Few of the twenty thousand people who traveled there at the turn of the century are around to tell what they saw, and of those who are, each witnessed only a part. Zane Grey wrote a novel about that gold rush, but the old-timers did not care for his Actionized version; the facts were plenty colorful.

About fifty miles straight east of McCall as the crow doesn’t fly is the Thunder Mountain area, in almost the exact center of the state of Idaho. Thunder Mountain itself is rather an isolated peak in the Salmon River Range; because of certain atmospheric conditions in that spot during storms, thunder echoes and re-echoes with terrific effect, making the earth tremble. Indians called it “Tome-up” – meaning “The Place Where the Clouds Are Crying.” It is a densely timbered divide separating Monumental Creek and Marble Creek; Mule Creek was a tributary of the former.

The men primarily responsible for the Thunder Mountain gold rush were the three Caswell brothers: Dan, Ben and Lou, and their cousin, A. O. Huntley. The Caswells were trappers and hunters from Wyoming who decided to move into Idaho for new trapping grounds. They came by way of Yellowstone National Park, with a number of half-broken pack horses and a couple of hundred traps, finally arriving at Big Creek and locating on what was known for years as the “Old Caswell Ranch.” … Trapping in winter and prospecting in summer, they discovered gold at the mouth of Monumental Creek, which they traced to its source on Thunder Mountain. It was free gold, near the surface of a light, flaky formation at the head of Mule Creek.

On a day in the old Overland Hotel in Boise it is said that Erb Johnson showed a rich sample of the Caswell gold to the late Ed Dewey – who promptly communicated with his father, the “fabulous Colonel Dewey,” then in Pittsburgh. Colonel Dewey, Silver City mining millionaire, instructed Ed to secure an option on the Caswell property. That was August 1, 1900.

“Father’s option was for eighteen months,” says Con Dewey, the old Colonel’s only living son. “He paid $100,000 on January 1, 1902.”

A photostatic copy of that check was printed and copied by various newspapers, probably sparking the gold fever that sent hundreds of prospectors over the trails to the new bonanza. It has been estimated that twenty-thousand people flocked to Thunder Mountain by 1902, and eleven thousand claims were located. More than fifty mining companies were organized but only two operated on their own money: the Dewey and the Sunnyside. It was a wonderful opportunity for stockselling schemes; many gullible buyer was left holding a nicely engraved certificate . . . and a claim in the middle of a creek bed! Those who expected to reach the wilderness by rail, and pick gold off the street, left in disgust. The ones with grit and determination stayed.

The real stampede begin in July 1901. The Warren and Florence diggings were deserted for the new bonanza. Notes from the Grangeville paper give a glimpse of its realism:

“Dec. 1901 – 500 men on the way to Thunder Mountain. Need wagon road. No grub.

“Jan. 1902 – Dog team tried by way of Elk Creek Summit.

“Feb. 1902 – Petition to Wash. to establish P.O. at new town of Roosevelt.

“March 1902 – 10 feet of snow on main trails. 100 men marooned. Camp population – 800. First newspaper established.

“April 1902 – Scores arrive daily. 1500 men in camp, 60 to 70 a day coming. Town of Roosevelt founded. Telephone line to Elk City.

“May [1902] – Rush so great stock exhausted in 3 Lewiston stores. 20,000 population predicted. “Aug. – 2000 men working in mines, twice as many as many more seeking gold in district. Law enforcement a problem, necktie parties. Stores waxing rich. Claims staked out over a 30-mile area. Dewey mine total production: $35,000.”

Among substantial business firms that advertised in the THUNDER MOUNTAIN NEWS (established May 16, 1902, George L. Lewis, founder and editor) appear the following ads in a frayed copy in the State Historical Museum, Aug. 18, 1906:

Bank of Commerce, Boise
John E. Yates, President
L. A. Coate, V.P.
G. W. Green, Cashier
Directors: Thom. Davis; S. T. N. Smith; F. R. Coffin; H. N. Coffin; J. B. Morrow; John M. Haines; B. F. Olden; M. Alexander; Geo. M. Parsons.
* * * * *
L. A. Wayland & Son – General Merchandise
White Rose Flour made from Camas Prairie Wheat
* * * * *
J. B. Randell, (Notary Public)
“Head Push”
Pioneer Store
* * * * *
Patrick McMahon – Miners and Prospectors Supplies
* * * * *


From the four main points of the compass (and several in between), prospectors, promoters, gamblers, packers, capitalists, merchants, engineers, and thrill-seekers swarmed over the trails to Thunder Mountain.

The northern route from Grangeville or Florence came through Burgdorf, Warren, Elk Creek, Big Creek, to Monumental Creek. 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. Those who took the Garden Valley route followed the south fork of the Payette, with supplies freighted from Placerville. From Boise the road led from Lowman up Clear Creek and into Bear Valley, through Stanley Basin. (Mose Kempner tried to find a shorter route across Cape Horn, but he got lost and had to live on hardtack for a considerable time.) One pass, before reaching Marble Creek and Thunder Mountain, was called “Chilkoot Pass,” and it was a “bear-cat,” evidently a Klondiker had named it.

Salmon City tried to promote an eastern route, claiming it was shorter – although it lay on the other side of both the Salmon River and Yellow Jacket ranges, as well as the Salmon Middle Fork. Herndon says that “a wild and enthusiastic meeting” was held in this little mountain town, with Al Mahoney of Leesburg contracting to build a bridge across the Middle Fork. However, the people hadn’t figured on “the influence and power of the state capital.”

Whatever the route, the hardships were great. Today, the mountains and the seasons have not changed, but there are many forest roads and limited landing fields –  and motored vehicles. Where once it took days or even weeks to reach the primitive areas, now it might be a matter of hours. But it still is not easy.

John Scanlon, 83, is one of the last of the old packers who freighted supplies to Thunder Mountain half a century ago. He lives in Boise with his daughter.

W.D. (Bill) Timm, as assayer, was one of the first to reach the cold camp from north of Chamberlain Basin. Timm served in the 8th Session of the Legislature from Idaho County, which then included Valley County.

Jacob Ullman, of Boise, went into Roosevelt, the gold camp at Thunder Mountain in 1902. He operated a store for Moses Alexander that summer.

Thunder Mountain Pioneers

In Washington, D.C., Robert G. Bailey read of the gold strike, left the government printing office, took a train to Lewiston, a stage to Grangeville, and a pack outfit and guide over the old Nez Perce Trail to Elk City, to Dixie, to Chamberlain Basin – to Big Creek, and on into Thunder Mountain. W. D. (Bill) Timm, with two years at Stanford and two at Washington State behind him, was up in the Hoodoo Mountains in the heart of the Palouse country when news of the strike filtered north. Teaming up with Charles Goodsell, once a football coach at Pullman, the two started in April with a pack string of five burros, ten gallons of gas for their assay outfit, grub, and twenty cents, heading for adventure. They got it.

“It was snowing at Dixie before we crossed the catamaran ferry,” says Timm, whose memory has by no means dimmed. “One burro rolled – the one with all our kitchen equipment, syrup, and tobacco. After that we smoked kinnikinic, and tried to make dough-gobs out of our $300 flour.” They arrived – on foot – June 10, and found 500 people waiting to get in.

Nevada W. Stonebraker, a seasoned miner among the first to pack in, found his flour had traveled too close to a can of coal oil. “The result would have shuddered a bear,” he admitted.

Jake and Eric Jansen were in the vanguard of the stampeders; they were colorful figures. Sam Ilasbrouke stayed throughout the boom. A party from Telluride, Colorado, went in by way of old Lardo (now McCall), Burgdorf and Warren, finding 22 feet of snow on Elk summit. Along Monumental Creek they counted 82 head of moose. In this party were John (Jack) Diamond and David Diamond, father and grandfather of Mrs. Vic Goertzen of Boise. As the elder Diamond started back out he lost seven head of stock, including his lead mule, in a blizzard between Thunder Mountain and the Caswell trail.

Julius Lachs, who had a wagon shop in Boise in the 90’s, went early to Thunder Mountain, had a saw mill run by water power, and did most of the cabinet work and store fronts for Roosevelt, as well as making coffins for those who died. “Jake” Ullman of Boise spent about eight months in Roosevelt running a clothing store for Moses Alexander. He packed in by way of Long Valley, Knox, Johnson Creek, and Chilkoot Pass with 30 feet of snow in April; found one hotel and many saloons but no money in Roosevelt – “they had gambled all winter by passing their checks back and forth.” Ben Francis, former Boise police chief, operated a store and saloon.

William Sharp of Pocatello went in by way of the Buckhom trail – “so steep it would make a goat dizzy.” A Dr. Ilanmer came from Butte, Montana, and was said to have taken many photographs.

In 1902 three young Boise boys spent an adventurous summer at Thunder Mountain: Ed Coffin (now living in Boise), Cole Wilson, and Clayt Symons (a nephew of John Haines). When they left old Central school Prof. Daniels kissed them on each cheek and rubbed it in. Thunder Mountain was 180 miles from the nearest railroad – “might as well have been Alaska.” The conductor at Meadows objected to their six-shooters. They took a livery rig as far as snow permitted, then they shouldered 40-pound packs and mushed through slush. On the trail they met a number of get-rich-quick sports from Boston coming back out, and pack strings going in. A big man named Hugh Fulton who served as guide for the boys prodded them along as they climbed mile-high divides –  and then sat down and mopped his bald head with a blue bandanna that faded off, leaving him resembling a goblin. These boys found Roosevelt wild and wooly – and also hungry, as it awaited a pack string bearing grub, from Salmon City. W. E. Pierce, Boise realtor, was there, and he filled them full of jokes and hotcakes.


The town depended upon the freighters for supplies of all kinds – mining equipment, stores of goods, wood for fuel, as well as food. The Spanish packer, Jesus Urquides who had come to Boise in 1863, was best known of all, and famous throughout the Northwest. His name, Jesus, pronounced “He-soos,” was corrupted into “Ko-suth,” by which he was familiarly known.

When a 10-stamp mill was ordered by Col. W. II. Dewey in 1901 for the mine that came to bear his name, it was Urquides who packed it in by way of Bear Valley on the backs of his tough little mules. Again, when the Sunnyside mine had a 40-stamp mill brought to Thunder Mountain, it was Urquides who packed the mile-long cable over the twisting miles, the heavy steel coiled in loops between his pack animals, three abreast. It was an almost unbelievable feat. Urquides was efficient and dependable.

There was Billy McClure, who was a well-known packer, James Jewell, and many others. “Johnny” Scanlon of Garden Valley freighted into Roosevelt in 1902. He remembers when more than a ton of blasting powder once lay abandoned at Landmark, with glycerin trickling out of the broken boxes. Packers were offered 18 cents per pound to haul it to camp, if they signed a release. Scanlon would have none of it, but a tenderfoot tried it and actually succeeded without being blown to kingdom-come.

William “Bill” Hendrix, present Ada County commissioner, freighted into the Thunder Mountain area when he was a young feller, with his step-father, D. R. Miller. They went by way of Knox and Trappers’ Flat; he remembers the roads “were awful.” Most unique, even to the old-timers, was the cow pack train brought in by Asa Clark of Boise. It was a smart idea. The cows carried packs in, were milked all summer to the tune of 25 cents per quart, and then, when fall came with no hay, they were butchered to provide meat at handsome prices.

A road to Roosevelt was needed. When engineers and mine operators held a meeting at the Overland Hotel in Boise to discuss ways of financing such a road it is said that “Ras” Beamer, a deputy U. S. Marshal, exclaimed, “Never mind the road to Thunder—let’s keep the trail open to Pittsburgh!” (That’s where the capital flowed from.) Actually, there was a $30,000 appropriation made to build the wagon road and Frank Johnesse of Boise was made superintendent for the state’s part of the construction. Con Dewey was the first to drive a four-wheel vehicle into Roosevelt over it.

Bert Haug was superintendent of the Dewey mine. Peter Donnely, Colonel Dewey’s old friend, had charge of the forwarding camp. In June, 1902, Haug had 1,600 pounds of very rich ore on hand which he wanted to get out. Con Dewey, just a young chap then, happened to be in camp with a small train of pack horses; Ilaug asked him to take the ore. Con loaded his train, with the help (?) of a tenderfoot from Louisiana, took along J. M. Clark (engineer on his father’s railroad) who was ill, and set out June 30. He camped at the head of Indian Creek, sixteen miles from the mine, and woke up next morning in a foot of snow. The storm lasted two days. On the -1th of July they reached Chilkoot Pass in a blizzard. Con tailed the horses, going up the grade. Near the top the tenderfoot played out completely, and the horses couldn’t get their breath in the face of the wind. Con cut across the side of the mountain and finally found a cabin and help.

About half of the crew of the old Dewey Mine in the Thunder Mountain Mining District.

“Glory Hole” in the old Dewey Mine at Roosevelt, Idaho. The men are directly over the big stope which later collapsed and started the landslide that flooded Roosevelt.

Those Who Died

Among such cosmopolitan citizenry there were bound to be many who died and lay in nameless graves. In recent years Bill Timm took steps to have markers put up for these. He felt that perhaps he alone was left who could supply that information. (Timm lives in Dixon, California; he comes back to Thunder Mountain each summer to look after his old claims.)

He succeeded in this project, and on September 9, 1950, a ceremony was held at the old cemetery at Roosevelt. A bronze placque bearing the names of ten men was dedicated. Dan McRae, Thunder Mountain pioneer, who now lives at Stibnite, was present; many assisted in cleaning up the site in preparation.

Behind the names on the marker were human-interest stories. There was Perry Watson, for instance, otherwise known as “Slim,” who packed the mail and was caught in a snowslide. When rescuers arrived his little bob-tailed dog had been digging for hours in a pathetic attempt to reach down to his master. . . . The snows caught W. D. Smith, too—an elderly man who lived in a tent and kept to himself. He disappeared. They found him next spring beside a trail where he had fallen. . . . Dave Sutton bought a little plot of ground and raised vegetables; he offered $1000 for a wife—then sat on a log and committed suicide. . . . “Slim” Gardner died with his boots on and a young college man from Chicago who was in camp “preached” the funeral sermon in the biggest saloon with the dance-hall girls singing Rock of Ages and Timm closing with Nearer My God to Thee. .. . Gustave Dahms, the “Little Swede,” went home to bed one night and a snow slide buried his cabin. They ran a tunnel through to get him out, lifted his body off the crushed bed and were petrified to hear a ghastly wail. It was his dog, miraculously alive under the bed; it lived, and had puppies!

Roosevelt was a man’s camp—yet there were women, too. There was the postmaster’s wife, there was a laundress whom everybody called “Auntie,” and a number of others at various times. Mrs. Frank Johnesse drove a buckboard into the town over the road her husband had completed for the state. Olive Euler of Boise was there one summer with her father, R. L. Euler, an assayer. Young Olive went as far as Emmett by rail, then in a spring wagon to Knox, and in a pack train, beyond there.

Col. W. H. Dewey, owner of the Dewey mine, never went to Thunder Mountain himself. He was too old, too tired, too ill. When the ores showed such rich promise that the 10-stamp mill seemed inadequate, a 100-stamp mill was ordered in 1902. It got as far as Emmett, but the big boilers had to wait for the wagon road—which was not completed until 1904. Col Dewey died in May of 1903, and the mine activity slumped. The ore had been over-estimated; it proved to be of lower grade than at first believed. Parts of the big mill lay by the tracks at Emmett, parts were left along the trail. Eventually the boilers were retrieved and used in the Dewey Palace Hotel. The mine closed down in 1906.

Submerged mining town of Roosevelt

Final Curtain

As early as 1906 John Oberbillig looked at the Dewey mine, as he was cruising the primitive area before he laid out what is now Stibnite. He declared that a landslide was inevitable. . . . Paul Swayne of Star, who was working there in 1906, says that the timbers jack-knifed. In the spring of 1909, he claims, the Dewey stope was full of slush and started to move downhill. The earth formation was “tufa”—a volcanic ash.

It took exactly 26 hours for the slide to travel down Mule Creek – a distance of two and a half miles – and pile up in the narrow canyon, damming up Monumental Creek to the town of Roosevelt. Nothing could stop that slide, not even 20-ton boulders. Presently Roosevelt was a lake, with its buildings under forty feet of water. Nobody was injured – there were few inhabitants left – and there was plenty of time to escape.

For a few years visitors to the area noted several roofs sticking up out of the lake. Some thirsty souls yearned, it is said, to dive down and explore a certain saloon cellar for some well-aged whiskey thought to have been cached there. Now, nothing shows of the town that drowned. The Forest Service has destroyed the decaying cabins that lingered on the slopes above. The old trails are still littered with boxes of mine machinery and endless ricks of wood. The Dewey mine, which produced a lot of gold in its day, is still there—waiting for further development. It is owned, now, jointly by Marie Dewey Davis and Dan McRae. A few miles west is Stibnite—the modern mining camp for strategic metals that have been flown out . . . by air, not over the still torturous trails.

Prospectors say there is still gold in Thunder Mountain. And the ghosts of Roosevelt walk under water.


Author’s note: As SCENIC IDAHO goes to press we are informed that W. D. Timm, who furnished some of the data for the Thunder Mountain story, died October 6 in Oakland, California. He was almost 82 years of age. Many people who knew the “back country” of Idaho had met and admired “Big Bill” Timm. (William D. Timm (1872-1953) is buried in Dixon Cemetery, Solano County, California) at

Mr. Timm achieved two ambitions before his death. He secured a monument and name plaque for the unknown dead at Roosevelt, and last winter saw to it that a picture of the Eighth Legislature members (of which he was one) was hung in the Statehouse at Boise. . . . It is interesting to note that he was a classmate of Herbert Hoover at Stanford University where they each were studying to be mining engineers. (F.T.)

Wells calculates that Thunder Mountain produced $500,000 worth of minerals. Compare to $400,000 for the South Fork Salmon River sandbars and $53,000,000 for Stibnite. – Wells, Merle W. — Gold Camps & Silver Cities/Nineteenth Century Mining in Central and Southern Idaho. Idaho Department of Lands, Bureau of Mines & Geology, Moscow, Idaho, 1983.

ThunderMtn1Cover-afrom “Scenic Idaho”, Winter 1954. (note: “Scenic Idaho,” published by Belcher Publishing Company, Boise, Idaho, has long been out publication and Faith Turner appears to have died in 1979)

source: Valley County, IDGenWeb Project
[h/t SMc 12-16-2012]
— — — — — — — — — —

Stock certificate for Thunder Mountain Consolidated Gold Mining Co., Ltd.

Certificate #331, 50 shares, S. J. Dunlap purchaser 1902
Date: 1902-09-01

Copyright Idaho State Historical Society

Link to Thunder Mountain (part 1)

Link to Thunder Mountain (part 2)

Link to Thunder Mountain (part 3)

Link to Roosevelt Part 1 – The Town that Drowned

Idaho History March 31, 2019

History of Telephones in Yellow Pine

Modern visitors to Yellow Pine have to find the local hot spot for their mobile devices to connect to the outside. Prior to 1997 when the land lines were installed, Yellow Pine was known as the “Town Without a Telephone”. However, Yellow Pine did have telephones before the village was even platted.

Yellow Pine August 3, 2010 by Local Color Photography
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Early Telephones Boise National Forest

Because the years from 1908 to 1919 were light fire years, forest personnel had additional time for construction and maintenance. The first telephone-line construction began on the former Payette National Forest in 1908 with the purchase of a private line from Crawford to Knox. The line was then connected with Van Wyck, Thunder [Mountain] City [in Long Valley], Smith’s Ferry, High Valley, Ola, Sweet, and Emmett. The Forest Service operated a “central” switchboard at Crawford (near present Cascade) for many years, until private use of the line became too much of a burden for the Forest Service.

In 1910, the former Payette National Forest bought the telephone lines from Thunder City to Roosevelt (built in 1903) and Garden Valley to Peace Valley for $100. The lines were then moved to connect Knox, Stolle Meadows, Blue Point, Deadwood, and Bear Valley. A line was also built from Third Fork to Mill Creek.

Costs of phone-line construction were from $40 to $60 per mile, and the cost of cutting and peeling poles was 30 cents apiece.

Leo Fest, a retired ranger, tells of repairing phone lines in the early 1920’s between Third Fork Ranger Station and Cascade:

“I finally got the line pulled together and I was working on it. I had fastened the come-alongs on one line at one end of it, and had the other in my hand ready to fasten, when somebody decided to ring. They put four long rings through, and didn’t want to let loose of that line because I knew I’d have to go back down the hill a hundred yards or so to get it back.”

Glen Smith considers the old “tree-to-tree” phone lines the best telephone system the forest ever had.

“As long as the wire was together, you could talk on it, even though it was down on the ground… We had a switchboard in Cascade, just in the office, or a box with a series of bells and a spring in between so you could see which one was vibrating if you didn’t get there in time to hear it. And we could talk pretty well around the Forest… The first work in the spring when the ranger would move out onto his district and his seasonal men would come on was to start working the trails and the telephone lines. Cut the logs out of the trail and work the telephone lines as they went. Their first job was to get the telephone lines talking.”

source: “History of the Boise National Forest 1905-1976”, by Elizabeth M. Smith
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Telephone Line Knox to Yellow Pine

… In 1924, a phone line was built from Knox to Yellow Pine and in 1924, “The auto road from Cascade to Yellow Pine, with a spur from Landmark to Deadwood was completed…”
(Chapman, n.d.:5).

source: pg 126 “Cultural Integrity and Marginality Along the South Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho”, Thesis by SJ Rebillet 1983 (7 megs)
— — — — — — — — — —

Big Creek Ranger Station Switchboard

[h/t CG]
— — — — — — — — — —

Early Telephones Payette National Forest

Phone lines were an important improvement in communications. Early attempts at speeding fire messages by using carrier pigeons between Big Creek and McCall were only partially successful. Ranger Walter Estep said in a 1922 report “the experiment would have been more successful if the forest dispatcher had been present to receive the birds in McCall.” In appreciation for services rendered, the carrier pigeons were eaten by Forest personnel.

By 1925 a phone line was completed to Big Creek, and in 1927, a phone line had been run to the Reed Ranch. Rangers of the early 30’s like J. W. (Bill) West no doubt found this to be a great improvement over horseback and messenger. Through the 40’s and 50’s these phone lines were maintained by Forest Service personnel. The biggest effort became a smokejumper project to put the line over Lick Creek back in every spring after avalanches had knocked it down. Although subject to storm damage and grounding by wet limbs, the lines provided fairly reliable communications.

Warren Brown is said to have talked to someone in New York City from Chamberlain Basin over the old crank phone. The lines have now been largely replaced by radios and the wire rolled up over most stretches, but many trees along the routes exhibit a strange growth, which upon closer examination will prove to be an insulator.

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

Telephones in Yellow Pine

by Ted Abstein

“There used to be Forest Service telephones in Yellow Pine, the old wall-mounted phones with hand cranks where there was a signal ring, like 2 short and a long, or whatever. That was probably one of the longest party lines in existence, and lead to a long-standing feud between at least one set of individuals (Profile Sam Willson and Mrs. Edwards) who each felt his (her) access rights were being infringed upon by the other! Listening to their acrimonious exchanges was a liberal education in the fine art of cussing!

“Dad was one of the last to tie to the Forest Service line and so his ring was a long one: 2 shorts, one long and 3 shorts! Supposedly, as latecomes to the line, our usage was restricted during fire season but I don’t believe the rule was really enforced.”

source: pages 75-76 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner
— —

Albert C. Behne – Postmaster, Justice of the Peace – Yellow Pine Idaho. Courtesy Sandy McRae
— —

Telephone Tricks

by Ted Abstein

“The old Forest Service phone line came down the hill and Behne had the switching center at that time, before the store was established. Our favorite trick was to get a long pole and rattle it along the phone line. This would cause nearby phones to ring, so by timing our rattles we could fake Behne’s call. Behne would try to answer the phone and it was take some time for him to catch on that he was being had. When he got it he’d come tearing out of the cabin and shake his fist up the hill at us, he couldn’t see a thing but he knew we were up there doing it.”

source: page 75 ibid.
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Telephone Line Stibnite to Yellow Pine

Bradley installed a mountain telephone line to Yellow Pine. [1928]

During the summer of 1928, packers brought in 385 tons of machinery and equipment with mules, and they were using 75 head in the packing operation by fall. They could make one round trip between Yellow Pine and Stibnite in a day, and they packed in everything: mining equipment, construction equipment, food.

source: “History of the Boise National Forest 1905-1976”, by Elizabeth M. Smith
— — — — — — — — — —

Portable Telephone Payette National Forest

A special thanks to a local for bringing this 1932 Forest Service Model A-1 Field Telephone into the Forest Supervisor’s Office. This specific telephone was made by the Kellogg Switchboard & Supply Company, and was used in the Granite Lake area on the then Idaho National Forest.


Per the Forest Service 1937 Telephone Handbook, this is a portable telephone used on trails and in camps. It weighs 30 pounds and is in an aluminum case to help protect it from the weather. Imagine packing one of these around just to make a phone call!


“The Model A-1 is a camp or trail telephone, similar to the iron mine set except that the case is made of aluminum, is reasonably waterproof, and will withstand exposure to the weather. Standard telephone parts are used, including a 6 bar magneto, a 2500 ohm ringer, and induction coil, a 1/2 M.F. condenser in the receiver circuit, 3 dry cells, a hook switch, and a one piece hand set with standard transmitter and receiver. The talking and ringing range of this telephone is equal to that of the average heavy duty telephone. It weighs about 30 pounds, including the batteries.”

[Hat tip to SMc 2014]
— — — — — — — — — —

VO Ranch Telephone 1940’s

by Roxie (Cox) Himes

Our telephone was a hand crank phone that you could call the USFS office in Landmark which was 16 miles away or talk to Yellow Pine 10 miles away. If you wanted to talk outside that area you had to call Landmark and the operator would have to repeat everything to the party you called.

– excerpted from “Greyson’s school assignment on my life”
— — — — — — — — — —

The Last Telephones?

Q: How long did Yellow Pine have crank phones?

Vernon and Roxie Himes: I know I got pranked on the crank phone in 1959 or 1960 by Iva Kissinger. We got married and moved to Spokane in 1961 and we called home by the radio. However, I don’t know if the ranch could still talk to Yellow Pine on the crank phone.
— — —


Gillihan’s old phone – photo courtesy Kristy Gillihan Scaraglino

Q: Do you remember crank phones when you lived in Yellow Pine 1963-1967?

Pat Gillihan: Yes, Mom would stand me on a chair in the kitchen of our Yellow Pine house to talk to Dad in the hunting camp.

Milton Gillihan: [I don’t] remember the crank phones in Yellow Pine, but that we did have them at the Neal Ranch and we could call to all of Dad’s hunting sites, including Base Camp at Crooked Creek, the Snowshoe Mine, Jensen Cabin and several other places. … when the lines started interfering with and injuring the deer and elk, they hired Dad as a contractor to remove them all.
— — —

Q: How would someone make a reservation at the Yellow Pine Lodge or for a hunting trip? Did you have a back country radio?

Kristy Gillihan Scaraglino: We never had a back country radio when we lived up there. … I believe people called the number on our brochure and then our neighbor would place a call to Cascade Aviation (or whatever it was back then) and they would patch calls through to whomever had a radio.
— — —

Can add a little something to the history. When I worked for Earl Dodds at Big Creek during the early 1960s the Forest Service gave the tele line to Yellow Pine and in 1963 the fire crew took the line down from Big Creek to Yellow Pine. I was part of that group.
– Sandy McRae
— — — — — — — — — —

photo by Steve Smith [1985]



by Michael S. Lasky

America is a labyrinth of wires. With more than 160 million telephones in the country today, virtually every home in the nation is connected by wires and space satellites that permit one to talk to anywhere in the world.

Can you imagine, then, a world without them? If the telephone in your home suddenly goes out of order, you can always use a neighbor’s or find a pay phone nearby.

But what would it be like without even those? Could you live without phones completely? Could you live in Yellow Pine, Idaho, for example?

Yellow Pine is truly an American anachronism. It is one of the last towns in the U.S. without a single phone. Situated deep in the mountainous 2.9 million-acre Boise National Forest, Yellow Pine is 52 miles from the nearest town (and telephone). From January to late April, the only way into this snowbound wilderness is by ski plane.

Most people journey to this tiny hamlet (pop. 100; 60 in winter) to hunt, fish and pan for gold. But I came to Yellow Pine to find out firsthand how, in this day and age, people live without telephones.

The main street of the town is just a block long. There are two bars, two inns, a single-room schoolhouse, a nondenominational church and Parks’ Merc, an old-fashioned combination general store-gas station-Laundromat-post office that is usually the first place a visitor stops upon arrival.

I’m no different, and when I go inside, I’m greeted by Debbie Rekow, an employee. “Now I know why you folks don’t have telephones,” I comment as I enter. “The phone installers probably got lost trying to find this place.”

“Yellow Pine isn’t the easiest place to travel to, that’s for sure,” says Debbie. “A burly truck driver came in here recently and said, ‘This sure is God’s country!’ ‘Oh, you find it pretty?’ I asked. He said. ‘What I mean is that God’s the only one who could find it!'” She laughs.

“So how do you get along without a telephone nearby’? Aren’t there times when you wish you had one’?”

“The only time when a telephone seems to be really important around here is when there’s an emergency of some sort,” says Debbie. “We do have a two-way radio to receive and send messages. But there are only certain hours that the radio is monitored.

“Now that I’m a mother, a phone seems like more of a necessity. One night my baby, Amber, was running a very high fever. But it was 3 a.m., and the radio monitor was off. If I’d had a phone, I could have called a doctor to help her and quiet my nerves.

Across the dusty dirt street that is the town’s main drag is the nine-room, 19-bed Yellow Pine Lodge, run by Bob and Darlene Rosenbaum. As soon as I enter, Darlene pours me a cup of coffee.

“How can you live way out here in the middle of nowhere without a telephone?”

Bob … says, “You know, we really can communicate with the outside world. We just have to do it over the radio. We call down to Cascade, and they have some gizmo that patches us into a phone, which they dial.”

“The bad part about these calls is that they aren’t private,” says Darlene. “Anyone who’s tuned in can hear. In winter, some people monitor the radio all day as entertainment.

“Some visitors come purposely to get away from telephones. We had a man staying here who was playing hooky from his wife,” Darlene tells me… “After a while, he decided he’d better call his wife to say he was staying a few days more. They started arguing, and she told him in no uncertain terms to get home.

“Unfortunately, he didn’t know how to handle the radio microphone, which has this button you press in to talk and release to listen. So I stood by him and pushed it in and out at the right moments. When he finally couldn’t stop her screaming, he yelled. ‘Well, listen, honey. right now I have a lady here, and she’s pushing my button!’

“She hung up. It must have been a conversation with very high ratings, because all the radios were on monitor.

“People here are pretty self-sufficient,” notes Darlene. “One man knows automotive mechanics, and there’s another who’s a carpenter and plumber. Someone else can handle electronics, and so on. Neighbors help neighbors. We can’t just pick up a phone and call a service man to come way out here!”


Although the townsfolk enjoy the isolation that life in Yellow Pine provides, the snowbound winters test the fortitude and resolution of everyone.

Some people have gone stir-crazy here, and I’ve had to escort them to Boise for a little R and R,” Sheriff Dave McClintock tells me. “Booze and boredom are the biggest problems I get from the locals. Frankly, my job would be easier if I had a telephone. Radio airwaves are not always dependable. Sometimes atmospheric conditions make it impossible to transmit or receive messages. But, personally. I don’t need a phone. I’ve lived so long without one that I’ve learned to live without.”

Part of the Yellow Piners’ reluctance to install phones is that they are, symbolically at least, the last link with civilization. The absence of phones has kept the townsfolk independent, pioneers and, well, different from the rest of us.

“Like everything else, there is good and bad about having no phones in town,” says Bob Rosenbaum. “The constant ringing doesn’t interrupt your life, especially during meals.

“Of course, potential customers of the inn can’t call us for reservations. But,” he adds, “we don’t get bill collectors bothering us either.”

source: Parade Magazine January 12, 1986 (pages 14-15)
[h/t SM]
— — — — — — — — — —

Yellow Pine Post Card


purchased at Park’s Merc in mid 1980s.

Refrence Books:

“Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner
(this book can be purchased in Yellow Pine from Marj Fields)

page updated April 1, 2019

Idaho History March 24, 2019

Yellow Pine School 1931-1959

Part 2

Early 1930s Yellow Pine


from the Mike Fritz Collection:
— — — — — — — — — —

History of the Yellow Pine School

by Emma Cox

1936-37 The third and present school was built of wood frame with one room for the classes and a woodshed included in the building. A large wood heater kept the classroom warm, as the teacher who was also a janitor started her fire at 5:00 a.m. An oil heater has been used in recent years.

1942-43 A victory tax was paid on the teacher’s salary according to records of the late Mr. Albert C. Behne, the founder of Yellow Pine. The Yellow Pine District paid $25 a month toward the teacher’s salary at Deadwood. Mrs. Bernice Chiarello had an enrollment of five pupils. Some of the records in the possession of a local resident show teachers’ salary ranged from $75 a month on up, with $5 a month for janitor work. According to records on hand, the largest enrollment in the little one-room school was 27 and that was in 1941-42.

1942 Nine pair of blinds were purchased from Montgomery Ward for the school at 39c. each for a total of $3.51.

excerpted from page 92 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner
— — — — — — — — — —

Present day Yellow Pine School


(from pg 131 “Idaho Mountains Our Home”)
— — — — — — — — — —

List of Teachers 1932 – 1957

1932-34 – Alice Johnson (Hawley)
1934-35 – Virginia Dougherty
1935-36 – Lucile Parsons
1936-38 – Elsie McKenzie
1938-40 – Allen K. Fritschle
1940-41 – Arthur Purnell
1941-42 – Geneva Quary
1942-44 – Ellen M. Ikola
1944-45 – Eileen Blackwell
1945-46 – Anna M. Hughes
1946-50 – Bertha White
1950-51 – Mrs. Brainard (1/2 Year) Mrs. Inman (1/2 year)
1951-52 – Bessie Williams (Sept-Dec) school closed
1952-55 – Fannie Roark
1955-56 – Mrs. Emma Bryant
1956-57 – Joseph A. Giroux

source: Emma Cox “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner
— — — — — — — — — —

c. 1935-1945


Freighting into Yellow Pine, Idaho in wintertime. I’m guessing from the type of sleigh and the man’s dress that this is around 1935-1945.

courtesy Neal Wickham
— — — — — — — — — —

Third School

“The building used today is the third school in Yellow Pine. It was built in 1936. The most students in one year, was 27 in 1941-42.”

excerpted from pages 33 “Three ‘R’s’ The Hard Way – One Room Schools of Valley County” by Duane L. Petersen, 2000
— — — — — — — — — —

1942 Yellow Pine

Yellow Pine as it looked during the mining boom.

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

Summer 1942 Yellow Pine


photo from the Mike Fritz collection
— — — — — — — — — —

Yellow Pine School 1940s

by Emma Cox

In 1948 Janet was ready for school. I got a permit from the school superintendent, Doris Squires at Cascade, to teach her the first grade at home.


Roxie (5) and Janet (6) Cox at the Dude Ranch
(from the VO Ranch collection, used with permission)

Roxie sat next to her sister while Janet was learning to read. No one noticed that Roxie was paying close attention. The next year we enrolled both of the girls, Janet in the second grade and Roxie starting first grade. Their teacher, Bertha White from Donnelly, thought at first Roxie was a very good reader for the first year. It didn’t take long for Mrs. White to discover that Roxie had memorized what was said while she looked at the picture on the page.

It made a long drive in the winter months, as we drove them to school in the mornings. We would come back to finish our chores, then go again about three. Sometimes Lafe and I both went, but usually one or the other. It was a distance of 40 miles with the two trips down and back. The heater in the little 1945 Jeep was not that great, but the girls never once complained about being cold. Nor did they complain of the roughness or anxiety of the trips. At different times the roads would be dusty, rough, icy or snow covered.

We both served on the Yellow Pine school board, I as clerk.

According to some of my records, a victory tax was paid on the teacher’s salary. The Yellow Pine district paid $25 to a teacher at the Deadwood Mine who had five pupils. The Yellow Pine teacher was paid $75 a month and $5 a month for janitorial work. School was heated by a wood heater.

The largest enrollment in the one-room school was 27 in the 1941-42 term.

Among the purchases were nine pairs of blinds for the tall windows, at 39 cents a blind.

excerpted from pages 133-134 “Idaho Mountains Our Home”
— — — — — — — — — —

Memories of a Yellow Pine Student

by Roxie (Cox) Himes

Roxie Cox age 6 on Cracker Jack
(from the VO Ranch collection, used with permission)

I was raised on my parent’s dude ranch in the primitive area of Idaho.

V. O. Dude Ranch 1950s Post Card
from the Mike Fritz Collection

My dad went to school 10 miles away by dog team but we never did. We did ride the dog team but only around the house.

1st dog team for Cox’s in 1928. Lafe drove this team to school.
(from page 32 “Idaho Mountains Our Home”)

My parents had a little army jeep that they would drive us the 10 miles to school in and that was our school bus. Sometimes if it snowed hard and they would be late in picking us up they called the café owner and she would come to school and take us to the café and give us hot chocolate and always fresh baked cookies until the folks could come pick us up. Our school ran from 8am to 4pm. I never remember homework other than taking books home to read. The reason they drove the jeep to school is it would go through deep snow and was small enough to go around big rocks in the road.

Taking our girls 10 miles to school in the winter using our Jeep.
(from page 160 “Idaho Mountains Our Home”)

Our one room schoolhouse in Yellow Pine had students in grades 1 thru 8 with one teacher. There were times when we had high school students and they would come to school to do their correspondence work. Sometimes the older students would help us younger ones with our assignments when the teacher was busy with another student. Sometimes during recess we had one boy that could take the bell apart quickly when the teacher wasn’t looking so when the teacher picked up the bell to ring it to come back inside it would all fall apart and it would take her awhile to put it together so you got a longer recess.

The schoolhouse did not have electricity and heat was a wood stove. We all took turns packing wood for the stove and pumping water into a bucket for our drinking water. The bucket had a dipper that we all drank from. One day the older boys dared a young boy to put his tongue on the frozen water pipe handle and his tongue stuck to the handle. After carefully working by the teacher he was set free and the screaming stopped. Since we did not have indoor plumbing we had to use outhouses. There was one for the boys and one for the girls. We all would have to shovel snow to clear the path to the outhouses.

Our school celebrated every holiday that included all the community. From winding the maypole to large Christmas programs. We had box socials where you would decorate a box really pretty and put pies you baked in it. Whoever bought your box you would eat the pies with them. We would have play days of sledding with the parents and the community and would have hot dogs and hot chocolate after.

… I think my childhood and schooling was a lot different that other children my age… One difference was we did get trips like they do today but it was different. Our school was small but the mining town of Stibnite was 25 miles away on narrow gravel steep roads. They had a school, a hospitals, a bowling alley, restaurant and movie theater. Whenever the school showed a movie we would get to go watch it. One-time roads were bad and snowing hard and my dad drove our little jeep to the Stibnite school for the movie with 10 of us kids in it. We were crammed in there like sardines in a can.

Road Yellow Pine to Stibnite, Idaho (Early Days)
source: Idaho State Archives

They closed the school in Yellow Pine after my 4th grade as the mine in Stibnite closed and no one was left in the town with children to go to school. My parents hired the teacher that was teaching in Yellow Pine to teach us. They turned one of the cabins at the ranch into a schoolhouse for my sister and I. The teacher was qualified to teach elementary as well as high school. So we did this every year until my junior year in high school. She would teach us from the time school started in McCall until about the 15th of December. This was the end of hunting season and then we would move to Emmett for the school season and return to the ranch in early spring. Our teacher would get the lesson plans from Emmett and would always get us ahead of where the students in Emmett were. So we could relax for a week or so until they caught up and then we were back to studying again and we had homework there.

This was written for a Grandson’s school project. Roxie went to the Yellow Pine school in 49 50 51 52.

– excerpted from “Greyson’s school assignment on my life” from Roxie (Cox) Himes via personal correspondence March 13, 2019
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Pie Social at the School

by Emma Cox

(photo from the VO Ranch Collection, used with permission)

While writing of our life at the dude ranch, we asked each of our girls to tell of a happening that comes to their mind today. There were many, but following are what came to each of them at he time of the question:

Janet said she will never forget a box social we all attended at the school at Yellow Pine. I made boxes in the shape of bugs, a big bug for me and smaller bugs, colored to resemble lady bugs, for the girls.

I filled the boxes with food, such as fried chicken, sandwiches, veggies, cake or cookies, and fruit. On arrival at the school we put our ‘bugs’ on a table with many other imaginatively decorated boxes and the girls waited expectantly for the bidding to start. The men bid on the boxes, with the highest bidder to eat with the lady or little girl who had brought the box.

An older man bought Janet’s ‘bug’ and she was so scared to be seated by him to eat that she could hardly swallow arty food. She said she will never forget that.

The money from the box or pie socials went to the school for supplies that were “extra” but needed. I remember one time one of my pies brought $75 and Murphy Earl purchased it. Everyone looked forward to these events.

excerpted from pages 130-131 “Idaho Mountains Our Home”
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Yellow Pine c. 1950


Post Card
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The Year I Taught School

by Emma Bryant

In the summer of 1956 I went down to Boise to see if I could get a teacher up here, and the State Superintendent of Schools said, “Why don’t you take it?” My family pushed me into it. They thought that it would be wonderful for me. I was having a hard time adjusting to the loss of my husband in January.

I never regretted taking the job. It was a wonderful year. The children hadn’t had science, they hadn’t had music, and they hadn’t had any art. So it was really a fun year.

We had the old, old piano [the one Harry Withers tells the story about].** About once a month in the winter we had a covered-dish gathering on Friday and always square danced afterwards. There was always so much food left over that we all got together Saturday night too.

I lived in the teacherage, and we had Benjy the buck there (we raised two fawns that year). All the dogs accepted him as a friend and none chased him, you know. And I had a dog named Sheba. Every morning Benjy would come in and wake me up for his bottle. Finally, the nipple gave out and we found that he loved chocolate milk, so I made chocolate milk for him and pushed his head into the bowl. He was very obnoxious if he didn’t get his ration of milk for the day – and he was a grown buck by then – but every day I reduced the amount of chocolate until he was getting straight powdered milk. After the holidays he became too rambunctious for the children because the men up town teased him, so Dick Bailey took him down to South Fork where he got along fine, because they saw him the next year. The Fish and Game men had tagged him. He never came back because usually, you know, they get wild. He was a beautiful, beautiful buck.

That winter the water didn’t freeze at my teacherage, but it froze up town, so my supply was cut off after the first of the year. Vance Husky brought me 10 gallons of water per week. (Vance and Susan ran the store.) They couldn’t understand why one little lady had to use so much water. Why did she have to wash her hair every week and whatever? Once a week! My! That was too much. But the people from around Antimony Camp took pity on me, and every once in a while they would bring me an extra 10 gallons, which I certainly appreciated. I did melt quantities of snow water that winter, and I found out that snow doesn’t have very much water in it.

The water situation didn’t improve until the first of April when it finally thawed out, so I moved back up here to the ranch and commuted with the Baileys, Ethel and Dick, and their two children Connie and Bob. They had come up to live with me. They had lived where the Colenbaugh cabin is.

Anyway it was a wonderful year. I enjoyed the children and there were no disciplinary problems, thank God. I started the year with ten children and when school finished I think I still had seven. That was the year they hauled the machinery out of Stibnite and some of the families who had been living in Yellow Pine moved out.

from (pages 95-96) “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy G. Sumner

see also: Bryant Ranch History
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1950’s Yellow Pine


photo courtesy of Earl Waite (taken by his father) Note: The photo of Yellow Pine giving the credit to Earl Waite was taken by my dad, Lawrence Smith, in the 1950’s. – Ron Smith
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Yellow Pine School in 2010


by Local Color Photography
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Reference books:

“Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner
(this book can be purchased in Yellow Pine from Marj Fields)
“Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1997 by V.O. Ranch Books
(this book can be purchased by writing to: VO Ranch Books, P O box 173, Emmett, Idaho 83617. Also available at Watkin’s Pharmacy in Cascade.)
“Three ‘R’s’ The Hard Way – One Room Schools of Valley County” by Duane L. Petersen, 2000
(this book is available at Watkin’s Pharmacy in Cascade.)
The Mike Fritz collection of Yellow Pine photos

Yellow Pine Schools 1920-1930 part 1

page updated March 28, 2019

Idaho History March 17, 2019

Yellow Pine Schools 1920-1930

(part 1)

The First School in Yellow Pine


Pictured, back row from left: Eva McCoy, Miss Letha Smith (teacher), Students: Helen Trinler; front row left: George McCoy, Verna McCoy, Doris Edwards, Myron McCoy, Ted Abstien, Leslie McCoy, Gil McCoy

Unpublished photo by Aloha McCoy courtesy Jim McCoy
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Yellow Pine Schools

by Earl Willson

The first school to be held in Yellow Pine was conducted in a tent in the year 1920 by a teacher identified as Miss [Letha] Smith, and who taught a total of eight children. They were identified as George McCoy, Doris Edwards, Leslie McCoy, Verna McCoy, Ted Abstein, Helen Trinler, Myron McCoy and Gil McCoy.

A photograph of this group submitted by this writer, also shows the first log school house and the teacher’s cottage … These structures were built in 1922, and the village showed little growth up to that time.

source: Valley County GenWeb, “Gold Stampede at Thunder Mountain Brought New Life to Yellow Pine Area”
[h/t SMc]
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“Old” and “New” Schools


This photo from the late 1930s shows Mr. Behne’s cabin lower center, the log teacherage and second school center right, and upper left the new teacherage and third school (behind the trees.)
photo from ITD:
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Yellow Pine Schools

1920-21 – First school was held in a tent, and the teacher was identified as a Miss [Letha] Smith. There were eight children in attendance. They were Doris Edwards, now living in Tacoma, Washington; Ted Abstein from Roseburg, Oregon; a Helen Trinler; and the McCoy children, George, Leslie, Myron, Gil and Verna.

1922 – A log school house and a teacherage were built in the town proper. It has since been torn down, but the teacherage remains as a private residence.

1928-32 The school enrollment was five, and all were boys. Their little teacher, Mrs. Fannie Forscher, now living at Walla Walla, Washington, gained control and respect from each of these boys, after showing each of them her authority.

1936-37 – The third and present school was built of wood frame with one room for the classes and a woodshed included in the building. A large wood heater kept the classroom warm, as the teacher who was also a janitor started her fire at 5:00 a.m.

(Emma Cox – pg 92 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” and pg 31 “Idaho Mountains Our Home”)
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1920 Yellow Pine School Piano

Harry Withers’ recollections include the story of the Yellow Pine school piano. It had been freighted into Roosevelt during the Thunder Mountain boom.

After the slide there, it was freighted back to Cascade by a man named Wayland, whose wife was Valley County’s first school superintendent.

He used a team of four small mules and a small wagon and earned the nickname “The Thunder Mountain Pack Rat.”

In the spring of 1920, he held an auction of items salvaged from Thunder Mountain. Albert Behne must have been on the school board then and bid the piano in.

Yellow Pine did not have a schoolhouse then and held school in a tent.

Behne hired Johnny Williams to freight the piano into Yellow Pine, and it stayed at the old hotel there until the log schoolhouse was built in 1922. The piano was used at dances and other social gatherings around Yellow Pine.

excerpted from “History of the Boise National Forest 1905-1976”, By Elizabeth M. Smith
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Yellow Pine School Piano

photo by Ann Forster June 21, 2014
See also Yellow Pine School Piano History
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Don Campbell – Yellow Pine School 1922-1925

by Donald Campbell

My story is a very small part of some of the happenings that took place in the early days of this area. I am sure that a large number of folks endured hardships more severe than those encountered by my family. But looking back on those times I feel that my folks, Mark and Emma Campbell were a part of those times.

As I look back I am sure that my dad was lured to the area by a prospectors dream of the “Gold Mine in the Sky” as there were any number of mining camps and lots of activities in the Yellow Pine area. A lot of this was the aftermath of the gold rush days to the Thunder Mountain area at Roosevelt, which is just beyond the Yellow Pine Mining District.

I recall in the early summer of 1921 my dad took me to a carnival that was set up in Emmett, Idaho and after I had ridden the horse on the Merry Go Round we returned to the house to find that a group of ladies were calling on my mother and wishing all good bye for the following day we were to board the train for Cascade.

On our arrival in Cascade our belonging were loaded into a freight wagon pulled by two teams and we were headed for Yellow Pine. Our first stop was at Dan Drake’s Lodge at Knox.

Knox had become a major stop for miners taking the Thunder Mountain Road into Roosevelt. It was established in 1898 by a Charles C. Randall. In 1917 Daniel G. Drake took up residence and built other structures which included a lodge… as well as stables, barns and other outbuildings.

After an over night stay we went on to the Half-Way Station which only had a bunk house of sorts, a stable for the horses and another out building, for the next night out. The following day we went on to Yellow Pine and that summer we lived in a road side shack along Johnson Creek which consisted of one room a cook stove in the corner and a bunk on which we rolled out the bed.
[Note: This shack was an abandoned prospectors’ cabin.]

The rest of the summer my dad walked into Yellow Pine to work on a cabin that would become our home. He also spent time working on the new school house and teacher’s cottage.

Campbell family at their home in YP. Mark (behind chair), Emma (seated), Charles (Scotty) on lap, Donald, standing. May, 1924.

That fall my mother and I rode with the mail carrier, a Mr. Henry Abstein who carried mail via a buggy and one horse. Our stop at the Half-Way Station was of course our first night out and in the morning we encountered a snow storm which made the traveling very slow.

The only contents of the buggy was our bed roll a trunk and of course the mail. After a very long day we arrived at the Knox Lodge to stay the night. The following day we traveled via truck to Cascade.

On our arrival at Cascade we boared [sic] the train for New Plymouth where we stayed with my grand parents for the winter and the summer of 1922. My dad come from Yellow Pine about two weeks later in the season after completing the building projects in Yellow Pine.

My brother was born at Fruitland, Idaho on September 25, 1922 and on or about the 20th of October we went back to Yellow Pine via the same means and route that we had come in the fall of 1921. On the way from the Half-Way Station to Yellow Pine the tire came off the wagon and the driver made an exchange for another wagon with a road crew that were working nearby. All the while my mother riding on the seat with the driver she [was] holding my brother a three-week old baby.

That winter I attended the Yellow Pine school as a 2nd grader with Mr. Mark Lawton as teacher, I was six years old and it was necessary that I go in order for the school to have five pupils.

Yellow Pine School 1922 or 1923

That winter 1922-1923 – my dad worked for the U.S.F.S. building what was known as the “Hansen Crib”. A structure about 3/8’s of a mile long along the banks of Johnson Creek.

It is here noted that the school house is made of logs nicely furnished with beaver board*, good windows and a fine floor. A two room cottage also of logs and finished inside which is furnished with two stoves, one heating one cooking, gas lanterns, a set of dishes and all cooking utensils. The school house is used as a community center and is now in beginning the school term on October 15th with Miss Ida Woosley as teacher with nine pupils.
(Hand written note in margin: Beaver Board finish inside of house – one quarter inch thick – stripped every four feet.?) * see wikipedia 

The school Christmas program was held at the school on Christmas Eve which was presented by:
Song – America – Audience
Recitation – Xmas Greetings – Leona Wellman
Recitation – The Sugar Plum – Donald Campbell
Recitation – The Only Kid – George Hollan [McCoy]
Play – A Visit to Santa – School
Solo – Silent Night – Louise Valberg
Recitation – That’s Xmas – Myron Hollan [McCoy]
Recitation – The Mortgage on the Farm – Verna Hollan [McCoy]
Recitation – A southern Xmas – Donald Kennedy
Play – Celebrating Xmas in Mother Goose Land – School
Recitation – The Pride of Battery “B” – Leslie Hollan [McCoy]
Recitation – A Woman’s Question – Louise Valberg
Recitation – Always Xmas – George Kennedy
Song – Don’t Bite the Hand That’s Feeding You – School Quartet
Play – His Xmas Tree – School
Recitation – Preparation of Xmas Sights – Donald Kennedy
Reading – The Other Boy – Ida Woosley
Reading – If I should Die Tonight – Ida Woosley
Play – Santa Living Toys – School

On February 8th 1924 the teacher Miss Ida Woosley became ill and was taken out via the mail carrier and Ray Call and Lorin Wellman. One the return trip a Miss Murphy was brought in to complete the school term.

Winter 1924 Yellow Pine – Miss Woosley (teacher) became ill. John Rouston in lead, Miss Woosley on sled, Ray Call on skis, handling sled. Others not identified

Spring 1924

Yellow Pine school & students May 1, 1924. L – R. Back row: Donald Kennedy, George Kennedy, Mrs. Murphy (teacher), Verna Hollan [McCoy], Blanche Willey. Front row: Donald E. Campbell, Myron Hollan [McCoy], George Hollan [McCoy].

Yellow Pine School May 1, 1924

Yellow Pine School June 1924

School started on September 2, 1924 with seven pupils and I in the 4th grade at age eight.

The Christmas program was celebrated by a community dinner at the school and a program given by the teacher and school. School was out on May 1, 1925 and a program was presented to the community as follows:
Song – Star Spangled Banner – Audience
Violin Solo – Playtime Waltz – Donald Kennedy
Piano Solo – The Meadow Brook – Blanch Willey
Class History – George Kennedy
Piano Duet – Honey Belle Polka – Verna Hollan [McCoy] Blanch Willey
Class Poem – Blanche Willey
Piano Solo – In The Garden – Donald Campbell
Vocal Solo – In The Woods – George Kennedy
Piano Duet – Chop Sticks – Miss Murphy and Donald Campbell
Recitation – The Worthy City – George Hollan [McCoy]
Class Bill – Donald Kennedy
Piano Solo – The Oriole – Verna Hollan [McCoy]
Recitation – Did You Pass – Myron Hollan [McCoy]
Violin Solo – Dove’s Dreamland Waltz – Donald Kennedy
Class Prophecy – Verna Hollan [McCoy]
Wand Drill – School
America – Audience

Yellow Pine teacher’s cottage with school behind, 1924 or ’25.

Yellow Pine school students, April, 1925. L – R. Donald Campbell, Myron Hollan [McCoy], George Hollan [McCoy], Donald Kennedy, Elizabeth Smythe, Verna Hollan [McCoy], Blanche Willey, George Kennedy.

Yellow Pine school. April 1925. L – R. Mrs. Murphy (teacher), Verna Hollan [McCoy], Elizabeth Smythe, Blanche Willey

April 6, 1925 Yellow Pine student body

We moved from Yellow Pine in September of 1925 to Cascade where I started to school in the fifth grade with more kids around me than I had ever seen.

Photos and story excerpts from the Donald Campbell family collection, courtesy Bob Hood.
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The Year of the Bear

by Mark W. Lawton

When I taught school in Yellow Pine, Albert C. Behne, the postmaster, was one of the local school board members, as was Mr. Hanson, who lived up Johnson Creek about 4 miles from the Al Hennessey homestead. The other member, I believe, was Henry T. Abstein, who had a place across the East Fork and who had the contract to carry the mail between Cascade and Yellow Pine on a weekly basis.

The young woman who was there the previous year was there only a few days. The Holland [McCoy] boys, Gil and Leslie, wrapped a bear hide around their young brother and opening the door to the school sort of pushed what appeared to be a bear into the school and that was IT for the teacher. So no school till the following year, when I was asked by Mr. Behne if I would give it a try, which I was glad to do.

There were five children my first year; and the next, the Reed family, “Dead Shot Reed”, moved to the Basin and that increased the group to a total of thirteen.

We studied things relating to the THREE Rs-none of the frills that are taught today, and for the most part, I think it was a successful endeavor for the students. Doris Edwards, who lived in Tacoma, went along after she went back to Tacoma and I think found her days in the Yellow Pine school worthwhile. My stepdaughter, Betty, was a very small child and too young for Grade 1, so I sent her home to stay with Doris, her sister, on that first day.

I did a lot of hunting, in and out of season, to keep the larder supplied with meat. Deer were plentiful, of course, and came up from the lower country in April, and Van Meter, with whom I lived, had a salt log across Johnson Creek near the bridge and it was no problem to get meat as needed in early spring.

Van Meter was a friend from outside of Mr. Behne’s, and he came two years after Behne to prospect. He was in his 50s in 1921 and was a retired Union Pacific Railroad engineer. He ran freight cars around Pocatello. He was an excellent cribbage player, ski maker, and he called Yellow Pine native trout the “O My” brand, because you couldn’t eat one without saying “O my, that was good”. His log cabin on Johnson Creek on the flat before the rivers meet was long a land mark of note. He is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.

pages 94-95 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner
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One Memory of Yellow Pine

by Doris Edwards Malin Tacoma, Washington

When the yellow school bus rolls past my home in the suburbs of Tacoma, Washington, I often recall the way we made our way to school in Yellow Pine in the winter of 1923; “we” being my cousin, Ted Abstein and I., Doris Edwards. My mother and Ted’s mother, Edna Abstein, were sisters, and for most of the years of my childhood we came to spend the summer months with “Uncle Henry” and “Aunt Edna” Abstein in Yellow Pine at their home across the East Fork, at the top of the alfalfa field. I can still identify the spot on which the house stood by the grove that was in the front yard and the big rock that stood outside the bedroom window. Typical of the way we remember what it was like when we were young, the grove has grown, but the rock has shrunk.

In those early years we came to Abstein’s by horseback and wagon, fording the East Fork above the location of the present bridge after the long, tiring, three-day, dusty trip from Cascade. The summers of one’s youth seem an endless stretch of unhurried enjoyment, while those of age flash past into winter. When we left Yellow Pine in September, after gloriously long months of summer freedom, to return outside, it seemed to me I was giving up Paradise to return to city streets and school. But one year I didn’t return.

My mother became ill late in the summer and was taken out to the doctor, leaving my younger sister, Betty, and me with the Absteins. Before my mother recovered, we had started school in Yellow Pine, and before she could return for us, snow flew and we were snowbound. Our only touch with the outside was the mail which came once a week by dog team. Uncle Henry had the mail contract, making the round trip to the railroad in Cascade and back, with only a day at home in between.

I was starting the sixth grade, along with Verna Holland [McCoy]. (The school was largely Holland [McCoy] and Reed offspring.) Mark Lawton had been persuaded to teach the school for the year. He was newly out of Harvard and had come West from Boston, first for his health and then to look into milling interests for his father. He was an inspired teacher my favorite of all the teachers I ever had. I learned more in the sixth grade in Yellow Pine than any other year of schooling I ever had. He introduced me to Hawthorne and Dickens, and encouraged me to read everything I could find in the tiny community. A good education is “only reading, reading, reading” he told me many times. And, of course, there was plenty of time for reading. I am forever grateful for my year in the Yellow Pine School.

School was wonderful, but getting to it was something else. Accustomed to the mild weather of the Coast, just getting out of a warm bed, each morning was agony. Every night I would beg to be allowed to wear my underwear to bed, but that upright Edwardian era would not allow of such decadent conduct. We dressed in front of the stove, and fortified by hot cereal, muffled to the eyes, in boots heavily greased, mittened and stocking-capped, sometimes on snowshoes, we set out for the Basin.

The footbridge across the East Fork was a giant pine, felled near the water so that it fell across the river. It was only approximately level and narrower on the south end. It had been levelled [sic] (again approximately) on top to a width of eighteen to twenty-four inches or so. A railing of sapling-size logs gave a hand-hold on one side. No thought, apparently, was given to its being dangerous, and I remember no admonitions from the adults. We were expected to recognize danger for ourselves. We would race down the hill, cross carefully, then rush as fast as the snow permitted to the schoolhouse. Once arrived and our bundled outer layers removed, including boots, we were allowed to spend the first half hour warming our feet on the fender of the heat stove. I can still feel that wonderful, welcome warmth – and recall the smell.

Special days came along. On Halloween, led by a few of the older and bolder, we decided to soap the schoolhouse windows. We were deterred by a lack of soap, but candles being plentiful we used candle wax instead. I can attest to the difficulty of removing candle wax, especially with a stem-faced Mr. Lawton standing by while you work. There were Saturday night dances. Everyone came, near and far, and the men danced with the small girls, not treating them as children, but according them the same courtesy and courtliness shown the women. I can still hear “Dardanella” on the scratchy old wind-up phonograph as I circled the floor with Mr. Behne. Finally Christmas, with a special program by the children at the schoolhouse. I am sure we all took part, but I cannot now remember any of the performance. Memorable though were the cakes lined up on top of the piano. What wonderful goodies were turned out on those old cook stoves!

Then finally, my birthday. Mrs. Foster baked a very special cake for me – in my piece was a twenty-five cent piece. Mark Lawton wrote a short story about a cougar hunt to commemorate the occasion. What wonderful gifts!

Toward Spring, when the first small patch of bare ground appeared on the south slope below our house, I sat there every day watching it grow larger and larger around me, wishing with all my heart for the world to recover and be dirt, rock and plants again. I have never again spent a winter in snow country, but each Spring I recall that patch of brown in the snow. If there is one spot on earth more precious than any other to me, it lies on the south slope of the Abstein place, just next to the alfalfa field.

pages 79-80 “Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner
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McCoy – Not Hollan or Holland

Note: The name “Hollan” and “Holland” was given in some stories and photo captions about the McCoy children. Here is the story from Jim McCoy:

… the mystery is about to be solved. This is the story from the “horse’s mouth” so to speak:
Starting with the name Holland (they never used the name Hollan). Holland is an alias. See, as I understand it, when my grandfather left Montana in a hurry with some units of transportation (that would be horses) that he did not have title to, or bill of sale for those valuable means of transportation he decided that the family would for a short time travel under the name of “Holland” until the other gentlemen with the rope and legal title to those horses gave up the search. After that the boys seemed to like to alternate names whenever they were about to do something questionable, at least that is the family lore. My dad used to get a sheepish grin on his face anytime anyone happened to mention the Holland brothers.

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Lafe Cox – Yellow Pine School

by Emma Cox


1st dog team for Cox’s in 1928. Lafe drove this team to school.

That fall [1929] Lafe stayed with Mr. Behne (pronounced Bee-nee), the founder of Yellow Pine, so he could attend school. Lafe developed great respect for this gentleman. Mr. Behne was a well educated man who had been a telegraph operator. He said he came from the East, but otherwise rarely talked of his past. He did a great deal of reading, especially the New York Times, to which he subscribed. He looked forward to the papers coming each week on the dog team mail deliveries. I remember Lafe saying the Time was the most important part of his mail. Mr. Behne was a lot of help to Lafe.

At night, Mr. Behne would go down to Homer and Sadie Levander’s place to listen to the “Amos and Andy” show on the only radio in Yellow Pine. He always asked Lafe to go with him to guide him back to his shack, as his eyesight was poor. He wore really thick glasses.

Another bachelor, Charlie Shaddock, stayed at Mr. Behne’s. They shared the same interests and were both such gentlemen.

Lafe’s first teacher was Mrs. Dixie Hopkins. The student body was made up of Lafe and the Reed children from the South Fork of the Salmon. The Reed children and their mother stayed at the Abstein place east of town that winter. Each day the children walked over a mile and a half to school. Lafe says he can still see those girls walking through the snow, their long dresses dragging with the buildup of ice and snow on the hems of their skirts.

The teacher’s cottage was next to the store and the school house south of that. All the buildings were of logs until later years.

The Yellow Pine School has a colorful history. When Lafe began attending in 1928, there had been a school in the community for eight years. The first Yellow Pine school was in a tent in 1920. Eight students were in attendance. In 1922 a log school house and a teacherage were built in the town proper. This was the school Lafe attended. It has since been torn down, but the teacherage remains as a private residence.

In 1936 a new one-room school was built with a woodshed adjoining. In a later year when the wood stove heater was abolished and oil heat installed, the woodshed was improved and became a recreation room. Our daughters both attended this school.

For many years a little brass bell was used to call students to class. It could be heard at quite a distance. One day one of the pupils decided to take the clapper out of the bell to annoy their teacher and to give the children a longer noon hour. As Lafe relates, it was not a smart thing to do. In those days punishment was very effective since the teachers started from the bottom side up! Misdeeds were punished twice, for pupils who vexed the teacher received a second punishment when they returned home.

From that day on, a horse bell took the place of the loud little brass bell.

The piano at the school came from Jake and Eric Jensen’s saloon at Roosevelt town. Many are the stories about this piano, which went through a fire and then the flood that drowned the town of Roosevelt. When it arrived in Yellow Pine it was used at the school but was available for dances and other social gatherings. As the only piano in town it seems to have been part of the Public Domain. For a while it was moved up to the old hotel on the hill. In 1929, when the Coxes celebrated the grand opening of the lodge at their new dude ranch, they hauled the piano there for the musicians to play.

This same piano is used in the school at Yellow Pine today. Some of the ivory is missing from the keys, showing evidence of the piano having been in a fire and a flood. It has been tuned a few times, but badly needs it again.

Lafe had missed a couple of years of school due to his health problems and during the move from Sweet. In 1929 his teacher was Mrs. Fannie Forcher. She had a son in the upper grades and another boy who was company for her son. She also had a little daughter about four years of age. That year the school had five boys – the two McCoy boys, the teacher’s boys and Lafe. The little girl was taught kindergarten.

Lafe says Mrs. Forcher was the best teacher he ever had, even though she was very strict. An excellent candy maker, she enjoyed putting on taffy pulls for the children and the community. She kept a goat in order that she and the children would always have fresh milk. In the fall she had hay delivered to last all winter. Mrs. Forcher taught at Yellow Pine for quite a few years.

Her students built ice sculptures from snow and water, just as artists do today at the McCall, Idaho, Winter Snow Carnival. The pupils built igloos and animals. One year they built a large horse. In the picture, Mrs. Forcher’s little daughter is sitting on top of the horse.

Ice sculpture made in schoolyard in 1928 by teacher Fannie Forcher and the pupils. Mrs. Forcher’s daughter Dorothy on top of the horse.

The next year quite a few children attended school. One afternoon, all were deeply involved in their studies when they heard a big explosion. Mrs. Forcher looked out the door and saw either smoke or steam coming out of the roof of Bill Bayse’s house. The boys in school and others from the community went rushing to see what had happened.

Bill’s still had blown up on his cook stove!

He’d had a batch of peach nectar in the making. He had a good seal on it but the coils got plugged with dried fruit. At the moment of the explosion, Bill was outside gathering more wood to stoke up the fire. That saved him from being badly burned by the steam. The incident created a lot of excitement for the school children.

Note: On the old timer’s tape, Lafe can be heard telling the story of the still blowing up, adding that school was let out so the kids could go help find the pieces and parts, earning a nickel.

Pgs 31-34 “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1997 by V.O. Ranch Books
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List of Teachers 1920-1932

1920-1921 Miss Letha Smith
1921-1923 Mark Lawton
1923 – Feb 1924 Miss Ida Woosley
Feb 1924-? Miss Murphy
1927-1928 Dixie Hopkins
1928-1932 Fannie Forscher

sources: Emma Cox (“Yellow Pine, Idaho”) and Don Campbell (Memories)
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#44 Yellow Pine School

by Duane L. Petersen

Yellow Pine’s first school was held in a tent in 1920. Pictured, back row from left: Eva McCoy, Miss Smith (teacher), Students: Helen Trinler; front row left: George McCoy, Verna McCoy, Doris Edwards, Myron McCoy, Ted Abstien, Leslie McCoy, Gil McCoy
– Aloha McCoy Photo

Yellow Pine school is located in the village of Yellow Pine, 65 miles east of Cascade. This mountain community has had a school since 1920 and today still has a few students. The first school was held in a tent with eight students and a teacher only remembered as Miss Smith. Then a log building was built and used as school. In 1928 there were five students, all boys, and a teacher by the name of Mrs. Fannie Forscher.


Attending Yellow Pine School on April 6, 1925 were from left: George (Bow) Kennedy, Myron McCoy, Verna McCoy, George McCoy, Elizabeth Smythe, Donald Kennedy, Blanche Willey, Don Campbell
– Don Campbell Photo

The building used today is the third school in Yellow Pine. It was built in 1936. The most students in one year, was 27 in 1941-42. Teachers who have taught in Yellow Pine are Miss Smith, Mark Lawton, Dixie Hopkins, Fannie Forscher, Alice Johnson, Virginia Dougherty, Lucile Parson, Elsie McKensie, Flora Perron, Allen Fritchle, Arthur Purnell, Geneva Quary, Ellen Ikola, Eilene Blackwell (Evans), Anna M. Hughes, Bertha White, Mrs. Brainard, Mrs. Inman, Bessie Williams, Fannie Roark, Mrs. Emma Bryant, Joseph A. Giroux, Oda Wren, Hazel Scheline, Mary Scholes, Pat Inama, Vernon Olson, Dave Imel, Jack Quast, Jaci Cochran, Jeff Fee, Richard Millar, William Erickson, Patty Schindeldecker, John Hansen and Lynn Imel.

In 1974 the teacher was Richard Miller, and he decided the Yellow Pine school needed a bell. Being a former navy man he decided to get a ships bell for the school, if possible. Some how he got the bell from the U S S Carson City. They had a big get together with Senator Frank Church, Representative Steve Symms, two navy officers and school board members from McCall to dedicate this bell to the Yellow Pine school. This was May 25, 1974.

In the early 1990s it seems that Carson City, Nevada wanted the bell because it was named after their city. They said it should have been theirs in the first place. After much letter writing back and forth with every-body involved it was decided to give the bell to Carson City. Another navy ship’s bell was offered in the trade. On August 20, 1992, a representative from Yellow Pine presented the bell to the Mayor of Carson City, in Carson City. The trip was paid for by Carson City, NV. The school in Yellow Pine has a school bell and the U S S Carson City Bell, is now owned by its namesake.

excerpted from pgs 33-35 “Three ‘R’s’ The Hard Way – One Room Schools of Valley County” by Duane L. Petersen, 2000
photo by Alhoa McCoy courtesy Jim McCoy and photo by Mark Campbell courtesy Bob Hood
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Note: The year after Mr. Petersen published this book, the Yellow Pine School closed for lack of students. The last teacher was Ms. Linda (Murphy Vipperman) Kildow 1992-2001. It currently houses the Yellow Pine Museum.
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Yellow Pine School December 10, 2012


Refraction in a rain drop
photo by Local Color Photography

Reference books:

“Yellow Pine, Idaho” compiled by Nancy Sumner
(this book can be purchased in Yellow Pine from Marj Fields)
“Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books
(this book can be purchased by writing to: VO Ranch Books, P O box 173, Emmett, Idaho 83617. Also available at Watkin’s Pharmacy in Cascade.)
“Three ‘R’s’ The Hard Way – One Room Schools of Valley County” by Duane L. Petersen, 2000
(this book is available at Watkin’s Pharmacy in Cascade.)
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Related history posts:

The McCoy’s of Yellow Pine
The Yellow Pine School Piano
Yellow Pine 1900-1930
Albert Behne (founder of Yellow Pine)
Yellow Pine School 1931-1959

page updated March 24, 2019