Category Archives: Weekly History

Idaho History June 23, 2019

Big Creek Lodge History

(part 1)

Big Creek Area Mines Map

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Road to Big Creek 1933

“The Profile Summit road from Yellow Pine to Big Creek was completed in 1933. The fist one to drive a car over it was Harry Withers, an old timer from Yellow Pine.”

from page 112 “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books, P O box 173, Emmett, Idaho 83617
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Big Creek Headquarters Winter


possibly before 1937 courtesy Sandy McRae
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Big Creek

When the road from Yellow Pine to Edwardsburg was completed in 1933, it was a great boon to the miners and ranchers along Big Creek. …

Big Creek Store and Big Creek Ranger Station are now [1974] the centers of activity for the valley. …

excerpted from: Chapter 5 “Southern Idaho Ghost Towns” by Wayne C. Sparling 1974
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Big Creek 1937

Photo from “The Middle Fork and the Sheepeater War” by Johnny Carrey and Cort Conley – copyright 1977
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Big Creek Post Office

Established May 13, 1936, Richard H. Cowman
Walter A. Weymouth, November 5, 1946
Marie A. Weymouth, December 31, 1949
Discontinued December 31, 1951, mail to Yellow Pine
Location: On Big Creek, 27 m. SE of Warren, 23 m. NE of Yellow Pine, center Sec. 35, T21N, R9E.
Post Office History source: Valley County GenWeb [h/t SMc]
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Big Creek Headquarters 1939

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

“The Cowmans had a milk cow and chickens, so they always had fresh milk and eggs to serve their customers. It was such good food. We all enjoyed our overnight stay there after our 32 mile [dogsled] ride. Mrs. Cowman was a registered nurse and was very supportive to me. She told me not to be afraid of the bachelors. She also said, “I don’t know anything about wildlife – I’ve never been out there.”

from pgs 71-72 “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books, P O box 173, Emmett, Idaho 83617
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Early Big Creek Lodge


(possibly 1940’s?)

source: Mike Fritz Collection, courtesy Heather Herber Callahan
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Big Creek 1954

by Ron Smith

The deputy job for the county was even more exciting. I helped to haul several “wanted” people to the jail in Cascade. The most serious was a man wanted for Killing a state policeman in Oregon. Dad [Lawrence Smith] got a tip that he was living at Big Creek headquarters. We went to Big Creek early and caught him in bed. He was taken to Cascade without any trouble. This happened in 1954.


from pgs 190-191 “Pans, Picks & Shovels – Mining in Valley County, Idaho” by the Valley County History Project, available at Watkins in Cascade
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Historical Photos of Big Creek

Big Creek “Station”


source: Mike Fritz Collection, courtesy Heather Herber Callahan
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Big Creek Winter

courtesy Sandy McRae
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Big Creek c. 1950’s

courtesy Sandy McRae
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1955 photos of Big Creek

from Sandy McRae

(back of photo) Big Creek Lodge Sno Cat Circa 1955

(back of photo) People: Napier Edwards, Carl Tyger, Mr. Brown, Ike Eichelberger – plane pilot, circa 1955

(back of photo) Napier, Tyler, Pilot Ike Eichelberger, circa 1955

(Big Creek Sno Cat on the airstrip)

(back of photo) Bob McRae, Mrs. Brown, Ranger’s Wife, Ike Eichelberger – the pilot – aircraft, circa 1955

courtesy Scott Amos
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Big Creek Lodge 1982

[from Yellow Pine c. 1982] On to Big Creek and a ribbon of road that winds around hairpin curves and a profile grade that will keep you wide awake. However, the feeling of wilderness compensates for the mountain miles. You look down to cascading white water and up to craggy peaks; reel in the forest of pines and tamaracks, the quaking aspens and small, flowered meadows that come as brief surprises.

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

Almost every map of Idaho marks this little settlement, yet it qualifies as neither a city or town.

It is a rustic lodge, long an outpost on the fringe of the Primitive Area in the Salmon River drainage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before the first Lodge came into being, the Big Creek drainage drew in hundreds of miners and a handful of ranchers to the area, hoping to extract the gold, silver, lead, and copper hidden in the hills. In 1904, William and Annie Edwards established Edwardsburg … The US Forest Service later established a ranger station at Big Creek in 1920.

Prior to the completion of the road to Yellow Pine over Profile Summit in 1933, the only access to the area was from Warren, a difficult 40-mile slog on dogsleds or horses. Around the same time the new road came in, brave pilots began using an adjacent pasture as a landing field. Dick Cowman and his wife Sophia saw these new entryways as an opportunity. They built the original Big Creek Lodge just south of the pasture/landing field in the mid-30s. The Lodge, general store, and gas station provided a sanctuary for travelers from near and far.

The Forest Service worked with local miners to improve the landing field to a smooth length of about 1,300 feet before making major drainage improvements in the early 1940s. The local mailman, Lafe Cox, often stayed at the Lodge where he could enjoy a meal or call his wife from the crank phone that connected Big Creek to the rest of the world. His mail route was treacherous, spanning 45 miles from Yellow Pine to Cabin Creek, and requiring airplanes, sled dogs, horses, snowshoes, and the occasional truck to get the job done.


In 1957, the airstrip was completely rebuilt and extended to its current length of nearly 3,600 feet. The Forest Service continued to operate the airstrip until 1961, when it issued a special use permit to the Idaho Department (now Division) of Aeronautics, that continues to manage and maintain it to this day.

In October 2008, Big Creek Lodge went up in flames, engulfing an adjacent bunkhouse and cabin in its wake. The only buildings to survive the fire were the old store/post office, a duplex Cabin, and a historic tack shed. Many mourned its loss as one of the few remaining fly-in backcountry oases of the West.

Soon after, the Idaho Aviation Foundation decided to raise funds and rebuild this priceless destination as a not-for-profit Lodge to give future generations of pilots and recreationists a place to welcome them to the beauty of Big Creek. In 2018, Big Creek Lodge reopened to the public.

source: Big Creek Lodge Idaho

Link to more Big Creek and Edwardsburg History

page updated June 25, 2019


Idaho History June 16, 2019

Owyhee Pioneers

(part 2)

Geology of Silver City and vicinity, Idaho 1898


Relief shown by contour lines. Shows geologic minerals for the area surrounding De Lamar, Dewey, and Silver City. Includes Florida Mountain, Black Jack and War Eagle Mountain. Includes minerals granite, basalt, gold, silver, etc. Includes legend. “Twentieth annual report , part III , pl xvii.” Scale: 1 in. = 1 mi.

link to map you can zoom in: Publisher Idaho State Historical Society
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Owyhee (Silver-Gold)

Although Owyhee placers were noted by the Boise Basin discovery party June 28, 1862, the rush to Owyhee did not come until after Michael Jordan’s party made a big strike, May 18, 1863. The Owyhee rush was an especially exciting one, and although the placers did not amount to much, important lodes including the Orofino, August 15, and the Morning Star, October 14, came to light. Even more fabulous was the Poorman, discovered September 14, 1865; a bitter fight developed for control, which was natural considering that one spectacular 500-pound sample of native ruby silver crystal received a special gold medal at the Paris International Exposition of 1867. Stamp milling in Owyhee, though, as in other Idaho districts at the time, started off poorly, and the failure of the leading mill, August 30, 1866, was a major setback. But the mines were rich, and another armed battle for control of a good property developed into the celebrated Owyhee War, which led to military intervention by soldiers from Fort Boise, April 2, 1868. With ore treatment problems worked out, production continued high until failure of the Bank of California, August 26, 1875, and Silver City was second only to the Comstock Lode as a western silver district during that time. Revival was helped by completion of the Oregon Short Line across southern Idaho in 1883 and 1884, and in 1888, J. R. DeLamar got major production underway again. Bringing British capital into the district, he had a mine that produced dividends of 112% on a bullion production of $1,076,432. (This was the only really good British investment in early Idaho mines.) After W. E. Dewey’s Black Jack mine was consolidated with the Trade Dollar, and a railroad built to Murphy in 1899, major production continued on that property. Work continued at Silver City through the depression, although the major yield–of a total of about $40,000,000–had been realized by 1912. Over one million ounces of gold and twenty million ounces of silver are-credited to early Silver City and Delamar. In 1976, arrangements were completed for a large open-pit operation at DeLamar, with $22,000,000 invested in development and in recovery facilities. With an annual production of about 2,000,000 ounces of silver and 24,000 ounces of gold (totaling ten to twelve million dollars) annually, DeLamar’s revival matched Owyhee County’s historic yield by 1984.

excerpted from: “Mining in Idaho 1860-1969” by Ernest Oberbillig, Idaho State Historical Society Number 9 1985
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Pioneers of Owyhee County

Please credit Evan Filby’s South Fork Companion for the following stories and many of the photos of Owyhee County Pioneers.
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Owyhee Mining Investor and Developer John Scales

by Evan Filby

JohnScales-aOwyhee silver mine developer John Scales was born on the 6th of May, 1840 in County Clare, Ireland. The family moved to the U.S. and settled in Maine when John was a teenager. He first found factory work there before attending business school in New York. In 1868, he traveled to California via the Isthmus.

Scales decided Idaho offered better prospects and immediately moved to Silver City. Like most newcomers, he started out as a laborer and worked his way up to better-paying jobs. John soon had enough of a stake to invest in several mining properties.

In 1875, the Bank of California, which had funded much Silver City development, suffered a financial collapse. Large-scale corporate mining activity in the area nose-dived. Historian Hiram T. French observed that, “During the next fifteen years only the smaller properties, that were individually owned, were active.”

Two years after the collapse, Scales and a partner purchased a company that owned valuable claims and a mill west of Silver City. As French suggested, the partners remained active and extracted steady, respectable returns.

Within a decade, Scales was counted among the top operators in the Owyhee mining districts. As his affluence grew, he took an interest in local government: He served terms on the county commission in 1883 and 1885, and also as school superintendent. (He later sat on the county commission again.)

Large scale mining began to recover in the late 1880s. Millionaire mining investor Captain Joseph De Lamar played a major role in the recovery. In 1887 and 1888, he bought up numerous mining claims and consolidated them into the De Lamar Mining Company. In 1890, he sold the company to a group of London investors.

Around 1891, Scales discovered that the tailing stream from the big De Lamar mill contained significant quantities of gold and silver. Apparently the owners saw no profit in recycling the stream, or investing in a post-processor. Scales purchased land around Wagontown, a stage station not quite two miles downstream from Delamar. At first, he dammed Jordan Creek and caught the tailings there.

Scales’ tailing reservoirs and mill. Commercial Directory.

Soon, however, John made arrangements with De Lamar – the exact details of which are unknown – to process the tailings directly. He then built a flume to carry the outflow directly to “tailing ponds” excavated on property he purchased further down the hillside. In 1893, he built a mill to process what he had collected.

By the end of the decade, his ponds had impounded tailings worth in excess of a half million dollars in recoverable metals. In 1902, the company processed so much material, they ran out of chemicals. The Idaho Statesman reported (November 8, 1902) that “anticipating there would not be time to send for a fresh supply, they closed down for the winter.”

Around 1905, Scales bought property in Hollywood, California, and acquired a “beautiful home” there. He and his wife moved into the new home, although John continued to look after his business interests in Idaho. John passed away in 1909 and his wife returned to Idaho to keep house for their two sons, who were living in Nampa. She died at a Boise hospital in early 1911. Her death notice said she was to be buried beside her husband in Hollywood. (Idaho Statesman; January 13, 1911).

source: South Fork Companion
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Plan of the underground works of the De Lamar Mines, Owyhee Co., Idaho


Geological Survey (U.S.)

source: Idaho State Historical Society
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Hotel Owner/Operator and “Hospitality” Industry Pioneer Frank Blackinger

by Evan Filby

Hotel owner and operator Frank J. Blackinger was born August 26, 1855 in Buffalo, New York. His father Valentine had come to America from Bavaria in 1839. Around ten years later, he traveled to “the old country” and married, then immediately returned to New York. The family emigrated to Oregon in 1862. Two years later, his father opened a butcher shop in the settlement that became Silver City. He also opened a grocery store and, in 1864, brought his family to Idaho.

Five years after that, Valentine purchased the War Eagle Hotel. Frank worked in the hotel and the butcher shop for a number of years, and then found a job as a cowboy. The Owyhee Avalanche newspaper reported (October 18, 1873): “V. Blackinger, of the War Eagle Hotel, has returned from Oregon, having succeeded in purchasing some 400 head of cattle in Powder River and Grande Ronde valleys. He left his son Frank behind to bring up the drove which they will winter at Rabbit Creek.”

War Eagle Hotel. Directory of Owyhee County.

Frank focused on raising cattle and horses for more than a decade after that. Although he did not take part in the Battle of South Mountain against the Bannock Indians in 1878, he supplied horses for many of the volunteers who did. Frank’s father sold the hotel that year, worked in Boise City for three years, and then moved to Bellevue and opened a meat market. Frank continued to handle the stock ranch there for several years. The only son who survived to adulthood, he began to advance in the world as his attractive sisters married “coming” pioneers.

Thus, in 1872, sister Mary Ann married Hosea Eastman, a wealthy mine owner. Three years later, Eastman and another well-off mining investor, Timothy Regan, became co-owners of the Idaho Hotel in Silver City. Regan bought full ownership in 1877 and, the following year, married Frank’s sister Rose. When the Regans moved to Boise City in 1889, Frank became hotel manager.

In 1899, Blackinger married a popular Silver City schoolteacher and shortly thereafter the couple moved to Boise City. There, he and his brother-in-law opened the firm of Regan and Blackinger, which ran the Capitol Hotel. Regan engaged in a wide range of investments, while Frank specialized in the hotel, bar, and restaurant business.

Blackinger wedding picture. Blackinger family archives.

In 1907, the firm sold the Capitol to the Idaho Brewing Company and Frank chose not to remain on to manage the operation for the new owners. He did, however, consult with his successor every so often and put in appearances “for old times sake.” (Apparently, the aging Capitol was a favorite of “old-timers” who had known Frank and his father in Silver City.)

A year after he left the Capitol Hotel, Blackinger purchased the buffet restaurant at the Overland Building and ran that for about eight years. When that closed down, Frank leased the restaurant at the Idanha Hotel and renovated it. Then, in 1917, Frank bought “the lease, furnishings and business of the Grand Hotel.” He did not own the property itself.

Blackinger was still identified as the proprietor of the Hotel Grand in 1925. A couple years after that, apparently, his eyesight began to fail and his wife assumed more management duties. Frank went totally blind after seven or eight years and the couple sold the hotel business around 1933. She died in September 1942, Frank less than six month later.

source: South Fork Companion
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Pioneers, Silver City, Idaho 1900


Upper row: 1. Helen Murphy Blackinger (left), 2. Fred Irwin, Mgr. Idaho-Pittsburg later Trade Dollar Mine, 3. Permeal French, later Dean of Women, University of Idaho. Lower row: 1. R. H. Britt, Mgr. Poorman Mine.

source: Copyright Idaho State Historical Society
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Silver City Merchant and Postmaster M. M. Getchell

by Evan Filby

Getchell-aOn January 5, 1868, Postmaster Meserve M. Getchell was born in Baring, Maine, on the Canadian border and perhaps 25 miles inland from the Bay of Fundy. Mr. Getchell had a distinguished ancestry: his great-grandfather fought in the American Revolution and his mother was a Mayflower descendant.

He grew up on a farm, then found work in a sawmill as a teenager. Wanting something better, he clerked for a short while, then moved south into New Hampshire. After less than a year of working in a shoe factory, he decided to head west.

Getchell arrived in Silver City during the summer of 1889. By then, both mining and stock raising drove the economy of Owyhee County; Silver City was a thriving community. Meserve landed a job as a clerk in the drug store and also assisted an uncle at the post office. Late that year, the uncle bought the Idaho Hotel and Getchell took a position as clerk there.

Around 1892-1893, Meserve herded sheep on range north of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation. (Records don’t say, but it’s possible Getchell’s uncle received a flock in the transaction for the hotel.) He then returned to Silver City and worked in a mill while also helping out at his uncle’s hotel.

In late 1893, Meserve received a temporary appointment to fill the postmaster’s position in Silver City. The following year, President Grover Cleveland made the appointment official for a full term. Meserve had clearly done a fine job: Cleveland, a Democrat, would not ordinarily appoint a staunch Republican to such a position. (Meserve later served as chairman of the Republican Central Committee for Owyhee County.)

Silver City Post Office, Courthouse next door. Directory of Owyhee County.

Not content with just the postal business, Getchell stocked his shop with candy, tobacco products, stationery, and other notions. He also hired his younger brother Asher to help with the operation. In 1897, President William McKinley, a Republican, appointed Meserve for another term as postmaster

The following year, Meserve also became part owner of the Idaho Hotel. He had to find new help at the post office shop, since Asher went to work in the drug store. In fact, Asher remained in the drugstore business for over thirty years, including stays in Boise City and then Twin Falls.

Meserve married in 1891, but their one child died in 1893 and his wife passed away four years later. He remarried in 1898. Mining around Silver City peaked about 1900 and then began a steady decline. (Most of the mines would be closed by 1912.)

In late 1905, Meserve received a surprise. Another Silver City businessman had politicked behind the scenes to block Getchell’s reappointment as postmaster and get the job for himself. The Idaho Statesman observed that all this had happened “before Mr. Getchell knew any one was after his job.”

After the other man was appointed, Meserve sold his store and residence and shortly thereafter moved to Seattle. There, along with his brother-in-law, he invested in a sand and gravel business. Census records show that by 1910 Merserve was the company President, and that he and his wife had made a home for Getchell’s parents.

Getchell remained as President of the sand and gravel business until his death in April 1923, at the fairly early age of 55.

source: South Fork Companion
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Silver City Post Office

photo caption: Silver City folks wait for the mail coach to arrive, and hope it hasn’t been robbed yet again. Provided by Arthur Hart

source: Arthur Hart, Idaho Statesman “Delivering mail could sometimes prove deadly in Idaho frontier”
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Timothy Regan: Freighter, Mining Expert, and Business Developer

by Evan Filby

TimRegan-aTimothy Regan. J. H. Hawley photo.

Wealthy businessman and developer Timothy Regan was born November 14, 1843 near Rochester, New York. The family later moved to Wisconsin, where Timothy grew up and received a public school education. In 1864, he struck out on his own, taking the isthmus route to California.

He found little to his liking there and, being nearly broke, walked all the way to a prosperous gold camp about 20 miles southwest of Winnemucca, Nevada. He worked and saved for about six weeks and then joined with a handful of partners to haul supplies to Silver City, Idaho. But they lost all their goods to an Indian raid near the Oregon-Idaho border.

Again almost broke, Regan hoofed it into Silver City, arriving in early November. Timothy immediately found work chopping firewood. He then landed a job in the Poorman Mine, until it closed down in 1866. He went back to chopping wood, worked in Salt Lake City for a time, and then returned to the Silver City area when a new mine opened up in 1868.

Regan soon branched into several enterprises: operating a sawmill, transporting lumber and ore for the mines, and hauling freight in the region. In 1875, he and partner Hosea Eastman purchased the Idaho Hotel, in Silver City. (Regan bought Eastman out two years later.) Also in 1875, a bank failure ruined several mining companies and Regan, as one of their major creditors, acquired many of their properties.

Considered, according to the Illustrated History, “an expert in his judgment of ore,” Regan eventually held some of the most valuable properties in the area. He later sold many of these holdings at a substantial profit. Although he and his wife moved to Boise City in 1889, Timothy retained some of the mining properties as well as at least a share of the hotel. (He apparently sold the hotel interest about ten years later.)

Regan quickly became a force in Boise City development. Three years before the move, Regan had joined with Hosea Eastman and some others to organize the Boise City National Bank. (The building they later commissioned is today on the National Register of Historic Places.) Although he was a major stockholder, Timothy apparently never held an officer’s position with the bank.

Regan did serve for a few years as the President of the Artesian Hot and Cold Water Company, which had opened the Boise Natatorium in 1892. Supplied with hot water from nearby geothermal wells, “the Nat” is still a noted Boise landmark. He was also a major stockholder and officer for the Weiser Land & Improvement Company.

Regan was General Manager and Treasurer of the Overland Company, Ltd., another firm he and Eastman shared. Seeing a need for more office space in downtown Boise, the Company demolished the old Overland Hotel to make room for a new structure.

Largely completed in late 1906, with full occupancy early the following year, the Overland Building would, according to a headline in the Idaho Statesman (November 13, 1905) “be a credit to a city with a population of 100,000.” For many years after, the Overland, later renamed the Eastman Building, was the prestige business address in downtown Boise.

Overland Building, ca 1915. J. H. Hawley photo

Regan and his brother-in-law, Frank Blackinger formed a separate partnership, which owned the Capitol Hotel. Regan and Hosea Eastman were, in fact, married to two of Blackinger’s four sisters.

The Regans’ younger son, John, was killed in France during World War I. Timothy passed away in October 1919.

source: South Fork Companion
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Freight & Freightage, De Lamar, Idaho


Mule-drawn wagon train in the lower part of the town of De Lamar, on Jordan Creek, Owyhee County, Idaho. On ground, Eddie Morgan, Nampa. on horseback, Bob Grant, father of donor. Copied from photo loaned by Earl Grant, Boise.

source: Idaho State Historical Society
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Cattleman Con Shea Drives Texas Longhorns to Owyhee Ranches

by Evan Filby

ConShea-aCon Shea, ca 1898. Savings Bank of Santa Rosa.

On September 24, 1870, the Owyhee Avalanche (Silver City, Idaho) published the following item: “From Texas – Con Shea, one of Owyhee’s most adventurous and enterprising citizens, just got back from Texas. He and Tom Bugbee left here in March last, since that time they have purchased in Texas, and driven to within one hundred miles of Denver City, some 1300 head of cattle. Bugbee remains with the stock, which will winter on the waters of the Arkansas river. Grass is very short along the route, which accounts for their not coming on this season.”

Originally from Canada, Cornelius “Con” Shea arrived in Idaho in the spring of 1864. He worked as a miner and then teamster for awhile, but by 1867 had established himself as a cattleman. The following year, a well-off rancher bankrolled him to go to Texas and bring back a herd of longhorns. (Texas had a “glut” of cattle, and prices were low.)

Longhorns on the move. International Texas Longhorn Association.

Con started east, but at Raft River ran into a drive already on its way from Texas. The owners agreed to sell him the herd. Con drove the cattle to range along Sinker and Catherine creeks (southeast of today’s Murphy). These are believed to be the first Texas cattle brought into the “Owyhee Country” of southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon.

The following year, Con and some other cattlemen bought longhorns along the Brazos River in Texas and drove them to Idaho. As noted by the lead newspaper item above, Con repeated the process in 1870. Many of these cattle went, as needed, from the range to meat markets in the Owyhee mining camps. But ranchers like Shea also began to build up their breeding stock.

In 1874, Con moved his herds to grazing land that straddled the Oregon border, about 15 miles northwest of Silver City. He and a brother also ran a meat market in a mining camp that flourished near Silver City from 1871 to about 1876. Con and two of his brothers took part in the Battle of South Mountain during the Bannock War of 1878. For the next twenty years, Shea played a major role in the Owyhee Country cattle business. He left his name on Idaho’s Con Shea Basin and on Sheaville, Oregon.

Around 1883, Shea purchased a winter home in Santa Rosa, California. After that, he “commuted” to Idaho and Oregon to oversee his ranch and business properties. Local newspapers usually referred to his town visits with the lead: “Con Shea of Cow Creek …” (Cow Creek rises about ten miles northwest of Silver City.)

After the Oregon Short Line laid tracks across Idaho, Shea began selling cattle to the Eastern markets. Thus, the Owyhee Avalanche in Silver City, Idaho, reported (July 4, 1885) that Shea had sold a consignment to a company in Chicago. The item said he was about to “turn over 1500 or 2000 head to the agent of the firm at Caldwell.”

Around 1897, Shea disposed of his Idaho and Oregon ranch holdings and moved permanently to Santa Rosa. There, he had invested in land and other real estate, and served as Director of the Savings Bank of Santa Rosa. After the 1906 Bay Area earthquake, a Santa Rosa newspaper lauded the fact that Shea intended to rebuild his commercial properties using reinforced concrete.

Con passed away in May 1926.

source: South Fork Companion
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Idaho Cattlemen meeting


Idaho Cattlemen meeting at Silver City. The Men are sitting on the steps of the Silver City School House Museum. August 17, 1950

source: Idaho State Historical Society
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Capt John White


Birth: 1815 Ireland
Death: 13 Feb 1894 (aged 78–79) Grand View, Owyhee County, Idaho
Burial: Shoo Fly Cemetery Grand View, Owyhee County, Idaho

“Captain John White, an old man who has lived for many years at the mouth of Bruneau river, earning a livelihood principally by fishing, and who for the past year has been practically a county charge, died on the 12th inst. at Turmes ranch, on Shoo Fly, where he has been stopping during the winter. Captain White was an honest man and respected by all who knew him. He was about 70 years old”.
[DeLamar Nugget, Delamar, Idaho, 24 Feb 1894]

On a hillside near Shoo Fly creek, midst the weird and mysterious wind-carved formations of colitic sandstone, is another Owyhee County pioneer cemetery. Here other hard and persevering pioneers who helped make our history are found at their final resting places.

A white marble stone wtih the inscription, “Captain John White” indicates he lived in the area. John White was born in County Louth, Province of Leicester, Ireland, in 1815. He began seafaring at an early age and worked his way from cabin boy to captain of a vessel. After many adventures on sea and distant lands, Captain White came to the United States, going first to California in the early 1850’s. White tried his fortune in the gold mines until he had the misfortune to lose his eyesight. After partially regaining the sight in one of his eyes he came to Idaho Territory. Captain White lived alone on the Bruneau river for a quarter of a century where he was known by the old timers as the “lone fisherman”. White fished for salmon in the Bruneau and Snake rivers and once or twice annually delivered fish by the wagon load to the mining camps. During the 70’s and 80’s the people of Silver City looked expectantly for Captain White. The warm-hearted Irish sea captain was long and tenderly remembered in Silver City not only because of the treat of fresh salmon but for his sea-faring tales and genial manner.

An unknown friend summarized his passing with the following, “He never married and had no relatives of which he knew. He was happy in his old days and had the best care taken of him. ‘Poor Captain, may your rest be eternal, your sleep peaceful and your hopes realized’. ”
[Idaho Free Press”, Nampa, Idaho, Tuesday, February 29, 1972, section D-4 Owyhee County]

source: Find a Grave

Shoo Fly Cemetery Memorials

Grand View, Owyhee County, Idaho

link to: Find a Grave
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More photos at the Idaho State Historical Society

De Lamar

Silver City
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Link to Owyhee Pioneers (part 1)

Link to Silver City

Idaho History June 9, 2019

Owyhee Pioneers

(part 1)

Idaho Territory 1864

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Owyhee County Its History, Towns, Industries

In 1862 the present county of Owyhee was a part of Boise County, which comprised all of the western portion of Washington Territory lying south of what was then called Idaho county, its area being nearly equal to that of Pennsylvania. When Idaho was created a territory by act of congress, March 3, 1863, Boise county became part and parcel of the territory of Idaho, and at the first session of the territorial legislature, held at Lewiston, Idaho, Owyhee County was created, December 31, 1863, out of all territory south of Snake River and west of the Rocky mountains.

In 1864 Oneida County, and in 1879 Cassia County, were cut off of Owyhee County, reducing it to its present limits. Its northern boundary line is the Snake River. Cassia County on the east, state of Oregon on the west, and the state of Nevada forms its southern boundary. Its area is 8,130 square miles, being somewhat larger than the state of Massachusetts. Its name, “Owyhee,” is believed to have been borrowed from the Hawaiian language, and to have been given to the Owyhee River by two Kanakas in the employ of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Prior to the spring of 1863, Owyhee County was an unexplored country, inhabited only by bands of hostile Indians, while at that time the diggings of Boise basin and Oro Fino boasted of a population of over ten thousand miners. A legend of the early immigrants to Oregon of the “Blue Bucket diggings,” in the vicinity of the Owyhee mountains, wherein they used sinkers of gold for fishing purposes, led several adventurous spirits to organize a party of discovery at Placerville, in May, 1863. The party consisted of the following: Michael Jordan, A. J. Miner, J. C. Boone, P. H. Gordan, L. C. Gehr, G. W. Chadwick, Cy Iba, William Phipps, Joseph Dorsey, Jerome Francisco, John Moore, J. R. Cain, W. Churchill, H. R. Wade, A. J. Reynolds, James Carroll, William Duncan. Dr. A. F. Rudd, F. Height, W. L. Wade, John Cannon, M. Conner, C. Ward, R. W. Prindall, D. P. Barnes, W. T. Carson, J. Johnson, A. Eddington and O. H. Purdy, in all numbering twenty-nine.

We take the following from the narration of O. H. Purdy, a member of the party, a well-known citizen of Silver City, who was killed in the skirmish with the Bannack Indians at South Mountain, in June 1878:

We crossed Snake River at the mouth of Boise River, traveling in a southwesterly direction, until we came to, at that time, quite a large stream, which we named, in honor of the laziest man in the company, “Reynolds creek,” We camped here one day. During the day, two of the party. Wade and Miner, ascended the divide westerly from camp, on a tour of observation, and discovered still farther south and west what appeared to be a large stream, judging from the topographical formation of the mountains, which were well timbered. This was reported to the balance in camp.

The next morning (May 18, 1863) our party of twenty-nine men and about sixty horses and mules was headed in the direction of the supposed water-course, which we reached about four o’clock p. m., at a point we named “Discovery Bar,” about six miles below where Booneville now is. The locality presenting a favorable place for camping., it was so agreed. Dr. Rudd, a verdant emigrant, not waiting to unpack his mule, took his shovel, and, scooping up some of the loose gravel on the bank of the creek, “panned it out” and obtained about a hundred “colors.” The excitement and amazement which followed this “discovery” can better be imagined than described. In ten minutes, every man, with pan and shovel (except the lazy man), was busy digging and panning, and upon their return about an hour after, each man had favorable prospects to exhibit.

The prospecting continued up the creek for ten or twelve days, when, at “Happy Camp,” the laws of the district were made and adopted, the creek and district named, and claims located the creek and district taking the names of two of our company, Michael Jordan and W. T. Carson.

It may be interesting to know the future of this party of twenty-nine, but a great many of them have unfortunately passed into obscurity. Michael Jordan and James Carroll fell victims to Indians in 1864. H. R. Wade was the first County treasurer-elect, and he and W. T. Carson died at Silver City in 1865. William Duncan died in 1873, in Nevada. J. R. Cain moved to Boise valley. Height and Iba emigrated to southeastern Idaho and Height recently sold the Hailey hot springs, of which he was the proprietor. Purdy as stated before, met his fate by Indians in 1878. The return of the party to Boise basin with the news of the discovery at once created a “stampede” for Owyhee, and the mining towns of Booneville and Ruby City were speedily in course of erection, and gold hunters busily engaged in changing the formation of Florida and War Eagle mountains. In July 1863, the first quartz ledge was discovered and located, in Whiskey gulch, by R. H. Wade & Company. A few days after, the Oro Fino quartz ledge was discovered and located by A. J. Sands and Svale Neilson, who a month later also located the “Morning Star.” The first quartz mill, called the “Morning Star,” with an equipment, of eight stamps, was erected by Moore, Fogus & Company. In May, 1864, the Oro Fino Gold & Silver Tunnel Company was incorporated in Carson district, to run a tunnel through Oro Fino mountain, on which were at that time thirty locations, one of which was the “War Eagle,” which gave its name subsequently to the mountain. The tunnel company, however, never materialized, though the project has again been agitated in the later days.

The great discovery of 1865 was the celebrated Poorman mine. According to Professor Gilbert Butler, it was discovered by O’Brien, Holt, Zerr, Ebner, Stevens and Ray, and was first called the “Hays & Ray.” Some say it was discovered by D. C. O’Byrne, and others mention Charles S. Peck. It is said that it was first discovered by Peck, about one thousand feet from the present discovery shaft, in which he (Peck) uncovered a rich chimney, but concealed his discovery, and, finding that it lay within the boundaries of the Hays & Ray claim, endeavored to purchase the mine from the owners, but was unsuccessful. The chimney, however, was uncovered by another company of prospectors, and the mine was then named the “Poorman,” on account of the discoverers being without capital to work it. Peck was subsequently given an interest in the mine by the owners, but in the meantime a fight for possession was imminent, the owners barricading the entrance of the mine and mounting a couple of pieces of ordnance, naming the fortifications “Fort Baker.” The ore taken from the Poorman was a silver chloride, richly impregnated with gold, easily worked, and soft as lead, which it resembled, tinted crimson, which gave it its name of ruby silver. As it came from the mine it readily sold for four dollars an ounce, which was said to be much below its real value. At a depth of one hundred feet a body of native ore was uncovered weighing about five hundred pounds, which was one solid mass of ruby silver crystals, specimens of which were exhibited at the Paris exposition of 1866 and were awarded a gold medal. Two thousand tons of second and third class rock yielded $546,691.59, and tailings went over $70.00 to the ton, first-class rock ranging from four thousand dollars to five thousand dollars per ton. Other mines of note were discovered in Carson, Mammoth and Flint districts, and between 1863 and 1865 two hundred and fifty mining locations were recorded, the principal ones, aside from those previously mentioned, being the Golden Chariot, War Eagle. Ida Elmore, Whiskey Gulch, Minnesota, Silver Bullion. Hidden Treasure, Noonday, Centurion, Golden Eagl6, Allison, Blazing Star, Montana, Home Ticket, Floreta, Silver Legion, Eureka, Calaveras, Caledonian, Empire, Dashaway, Red Jacket, Mahogany, Stormy Hill, South Chariot, Illinois Central, Belle Peck, North Extension Poorman, South Poorman, Lucky Poorman, Big Fish, Boycott, Glenbrook, Clearbrook. Idlewild. North Empire, South Empire, San Juan. Dubuque, Silver Cloud, Louisiana, Ruby Jackson, Silver City, Ruth, Sinker, By Chance, Potosi, Rattling Jack, St. James, Northern Light, Crook & Jennings, Brannan, Home Resort, Savage, Piute. Miami, Lone Tree. Home Stake, Little Fish. Silver Cord, Golden Cord, Standard, Philox, Webfoot, Wilson, Idaho, Gentle Emma, Stoddard, Ohio, Henrietta, Tremont, Crown Point, Redemption, Booneville, Empire State, Florida Hill. Seventy-Nine, Paymaster. Cumber-land, Black Jack, Leviathan, Sierra Nevada, Yreka. Owyhee Treasury. Avenue, Rose, Hudson, Phoenix, and Carson Chief, all in Carson district, besides the Webfoot and Garfield in

Wagontown district, and Rising Star, Astor and Twiliglit in Flint district.

The Owyhee mines, up to 1881, were worked to a depth which varied from one hundred and fifty to one thousand five hundred feet. The Owyhee Treasury, at a depth of one hundred feet down, yielded ore worth seventy-five cents per pound. A “stringer” in the mine, worked in a common mortar, yielded forty-six dollars to a pound of ore.

The mining camps for several years flourished and enjoyed a continuous run of unparalleled prosperity until the year of 1875, when the suspension of the Bank of California and other causes for a while paralyzed the mining industries of the County, and resulted in the withdrawal from the field of a number of large companies who had been in active operation here.

While it was considered somewhat hazardous in the early history of this County to follow the pursuit of what might be termed “experimental farming” in a country which was generally regarded as the home of the miner, and a locality where the sage brush blossomed as the rose, nevertheless a few hardy pioneers of agricultural proclivities, like their worthy congeners, the honest miners, prospected the soil with good results: others followed in their footsteps, and to-day, where formerly the hardy sage brush flourished and the wary coyote trod, we find thousands of acres covered with thrifty farms and orchards, yielding annually almost fabulous quantities of cereals and esculents. The valleys of the Bruneau, Reynolds creek, Castle creek, Catherine creek and Sinker creek are unsurpassed for fertility and productiveness of soil, and the mountain slopes in season are luxuriant with the most nutritious grasses, affording the best of ranges for stock raising. With irrigation scientifically applied, Owyhee farmers have succeeded in transforming what was termed in immigration days the “God-forsaken country” to an earthly paradise. Wheat is always a sure crop, and great success has been met with barley and oats. Hay of all descriptions, mostly alfalfa, is produced in large quantities; and potatoes, cabbages and all the smaller garden vegetables grown in great profusion. Fruits, vines and shrubs, wherever planted, have turned out thrifty and produced largely.

To the weary traveler crossing the dreary, monotonous and arid plains of Owyhee, the emerald and picturesque ranches, sequestered in the deep canyons of the creeks, are a source of joy and beauty.

It was early discovered that cattle that were fed on the nutritious bunch grass and white sage that abounded on the plains and mountain slopes of Owyhee County attained a perfection of bone, muscle and flesh not equaled by any other locality, and this led to a rapid settling of the ranges of Bruneau, Reynolds, Castle, Catherine, Sinker, Cow and Sucker creeks, which were speedily covered with immense herds of hardy cattle. In 1882 the number of cattle assessed in the County was 24,559, which was believed to be 6,000 short of the actual figure. In 1885 it was estimated that there were over 60,000 head of cattle within the confines of Owyhee County. In 1888-9 the cattle interests in the County reached their maximum, and, as we are reliably informed, there was at that date over 100,000 head of cattle in the County. At that date the principal cattle owners were: Murphy & Horn, 12,000 head; Scott & Company, 18,000 head; Grayson & Company, 16,000 head; Hardiman Bros., 5,000 head; Sommercamp, 5,000 head; Jack Sands, 3,500 head: Con Shea, 5,000 head; Sparks & Harrell, 5,000 head; Bruce Brothers, 2,500 head; total, 72,000 head. Add to this several stock raisers with herds numbering 500 to 1,000, a very low estimate would be 18,000 head, making a grand total of 100,000 head. These were the flush cattle times of Owyhee, when the cattle kings viewed with swelling pride their increasing herds and pocketbooks; but a couple of severe winters, the inability to find sufficient suitable food for such large herds, and several other causes, created a great loss of cattle, and the cattle trade gradually shrank to its- present condition, there not being, it is believed, at present date, over 15,000 head of cattle within the County.

But the loss of one industry has been the gain of another, viz., the sheep industry, which from small beginnings has gradually risen to its present proportions, and it is generally estimated that at this date there are over one hundred and fifty thousand head of sheep in Owyhee County.

The first settlement in the county was made at Booneville, now Dewey, which took its name after Boone, one of the discovery party of twenty-nine. A little later the town of Ruby City sprang into existence, and by the summer of 1864 boasted of a population of eight to nine hundred, and was made the County seat upon the organization of the County on December 31, 1863. Its location being an unfavorable one, a rival town sprang up, which was named Silver City, which not only gradually absorbed Ruby City, but became the County seat in 1866. Fairview, located on the apex of War Eagle mountain, was also a thriving little burg, and would have been made the County seat were it not for its inaccessibility-It was destroyed by fire October 16, 1875, loss being about one hundred thousand dollars, and never recuperated from the disaster.

De Lamar, another flourishing town, with a population nearly equal to that of Silver City, was first settled in 1888, and has since shown considerable improvement. Guffey, the baby town of the County, and the terminal point of the B. X. & O. Railroad, is rapidly increasing in population, making extensive improvements, and giving great promise for the future.

The United States census of 1890 gave the population of Owyhee County as 2,021. At the last presidential election, in the fall of 1896, there were 1,240 votes cast, and the estimated population of the County at present date is about 5,000.

The total value of taxable property in Owyhee County, as per assessment roll of July, 1896, amounted to $795,549.00, which embraced 10,769 head of cattle, 122,777 sheep, 8,299 horses, 170 jacks and mules, and 188 hogs. The total value of taxable property in Owyhee County, as per assessment roll of July 1897, amounted to $894,786.00, which embraced 11,636 head of cattle, 118,705 sheep, 8,687 horses, 238 jacks and mules, and 231 hogs.

The Only Legal Hanging in the County

The morning of Friday, October 15, 1881, the day appointed for the execution of Henry McDonald, dawned dark and disagreeable, a heavy snow storm prevailing, as if nature was angry that man, created in the image of God, should fall so low as to make capital punishment a necessity. All preparations for the execution had been completed by Sheriff Springer, and at one o’clock, p. m., the prisoner was taken from his cell, and in company with the sheriff and deputy, walked down to Jordan street, where a wagon was in waiting to carry him to the gallows and the grave. He showed no signs of emotion; walked very erect, and got in the wagon, in company with the sheriff, deputy and Father Nattini, and was driven to the place of execution, at the old Ruby City cemetery, which has been unused for many years. About three hundred people gathered about the scaffold, many having come in from the adjacent valleys. At seventeen minutes past one o’clock the prisoner firmly ascended the scaffold, and until i 45 remained in consultation with Father Nattini, at which time Sheriff Springer read the death warrant. McDonald shook hands with those who had guarded him while in jail here and the priest, bidding them good-bye, but had nothing else to say. James T. Griffin pinioned his hands and feet, and Father Nattini adjusted the black cap. At six minutes before two o’clock the sheriff sprung the trap, and thus without a sign of emotion or word of complaint the bloodstained soul of Henry McDonald was ushered into eternity. In fourteen minutes life was pronounced extinct by Dr. Belknap, and the remains were buried within a few yards of the scaffold.

The evidence in this case is well known and the law has been vindicated. not only should the youths of this place remember, but those men who are ready to draw the deadly knife and revolver, that “He who sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” This is the first execution by law in this County: may we hope that another will never be required.

The Marion More Tragedy

As there are several versions afloat of this lamentable affair, we present to our readers such facts as we have been able to glean from the sources at our command, which will probably be new to the rising generation and will refresh the memories of the old timers.

During the winter of 1867-8 a dispute arose between the celebrated “Ida Elmore” and “Golden Chariot” Mining Companies as to the respective boundaries of their mining lines, which at first it was thought would be settled by compromise or litigation. To the surprise of all, however, force was resorted to, and each parts-secured the services of well known fighters, heavily armed, to protect their interests. March 1868, found both parties strongly fortified and closely watching each other, and on the morning of March 25 hostilities were commenced by the Golden Chariot party storming the works of their opponents. Desperate fighting ensued and during the charge John C. Holgate, an owner in the Golden Chariot, was shot in the head and died instantaneously. Shooting was kept up at intervals during the night, and the next morning Meyer Frank, one of the Ida Elmore contingent, was fatally wounded and died a few hours subsequently. At noon another Ida Elmore man named James Howard was seriously wounded and several others on both sides received slight wounds.

On the 28th Governor Ballard issued a proclamation commanding both parties to disperse peaceably and submit to the proper authorities, and a squad of United States cavalry was sent from Fort Boise to the seat of war. On the morning of the 29th, however, the principal parties on both sides effected a compromise and hostilities ceased and the armed men were with-drawn.

On the evening of April 1,1868, Sam Lockhart was seated in front of the stage office at the Idaho hotel, when Marion More, accompanied by one Jack Fisher and two or three others, came up, and an altercation ensued between Lockhart and the More party, and shooting commenced on both sides. Several shots were exchanged and Lockhart was wounded in the left arm. Fisher received an ugly wound in the left thigh. More was shot in the center of the left breast and ran about fifty yards, falling in front of the then called Oriental restaurant, into which he was taken and promptly attended to, but he was pronounced in a dying condition, and death ended his sufferings the following afternoon.

More was well known in Idaho as a member of the firm of More & Fogus, and his death was universally regretted. His remains were conveyed by the Masonic fraternity, of which he was a member, to Idaho City, where they were interred. Subsequent to the affray several arrests were made, but proceedings were afterwards quashed and peace and quietness again reigned in the town of Silver City. Lockhart’s arm was amputated, but blood poisoning ensued, and he died on the 13th of July following.

The Baldwin Affair

The failure of the Bank of California in August, 1875, led to the closing of several of the prominent mines on War Eagle mountain for lack of funds, causing considerable distress and destitution among the miners and their families, a good many of the miners being forced to quit work upon seeing no prospect of securing their pay.

For a while the “Golden Chariot,” which since November 15, 1875, had been under the superintendency of M. A. Baldwin, met its engagements in due season, but eventually allowed two months to elapse without a pay day, though making many promises which did not materialize. Certain actions on the part of the officers, such as removing the valuable property of the company and the peremptory closing of the mine, were looked upon as rather suspicious by the miners, who were smarting under their grievances and roused to action by the destitution of their families, which they justly attributed to the conduct of the company, and after a cool and deliberate consultation they concluded to take action them-selves, and not wait for the uncertain and tortuous windings of the law. About midnight Friday, June 30, 1876, about one hundred men comprised of the “Golden Chariot” employees, and miners from other mines, assembled and proceeded to the office of the company, located near the mill, and conducted the superintendent, M. A. Baldwin, to a house at Fairview and placed him under guard, at the same time informing him that he would not be released unless assurance was given that the employees of the company would receive their just dues. Everything was conducted in a very peaceable manner, and Mr. Baldwin’s wants fully provided for. On the assurance of the San Francisco officials of the company that the pay of the miners would be forthcoming, Mr. Baldwin was released from durance vile on July 21, 1876 and allowed to proceed to San Francisco. He returned from there a month later, and the miners were paid off as promised, and operations for a short period resumed, but eventually the mine was closed down and has, with the exception of an occasional spurt, remained in sta’u quo ever since.

Silver City

Silver City is a flourishing mining camp in southwestern Idaho, containing a population of nearly two thousand people. It was laid out in 1864 and through its mining interests is known in nearly every quarter of the globe. The town lies in a canyon, on the headwaters of Jordan creek, and at an altitude of about 6,300 feet. War Eagle mountain on the east, and Florida mountain on the west, rise to heights of about eight thousand feet, the former being the higher and the most prominent peak in southern Idaho. From the summit of War Eagle Mountain, on a clear summer’s morning, with the aid of a telescope one can see the Teton range in Wyoming, the southwestern corner of Montana, the Wasatch range in Utah, a butte in Washington, four hundred and twenty-five miles northwesterly, and glimpses within the state lines of Nevada, California and Oregon.

The climate during the summer months is nearly perfect, the days never getting very warm, and the nights so cool that quite a weight of clothing is necessary for comfort. Mosquitoes, gnats or fleas are unknown. In the winter the snow sometimes falls to considerable depth, but the cold is not severe, and teaming of any character can be done at all seasons.

The social life of Silver City is free from the petty jealousies and heart-burnings that are so common in small places, where the “upper ten” and “codfish aristocracy” swell over their inferiors. Here there is a pleasant, natural commingling between all classes, and a cordial hospitality rules society. Church services are conducted at odd intervals, there being no resident ministers. The Masonic order has two lodges in Silver City, chapter and blue lodge, and Odd Fellows three, encampment, subordinate and Rebekah. The Knights of Pythias are also represented with a strong lodge. Silver City Union, No. 66, of the W. F. of M., was organized August 8, 1896, the first officers installed being: O. D. Brumbaugh, president; Simon Harris, vice president; W. H. Hutchins, financial secretary; D. C. Wilson, recording secretary: Thomas James, treasurer; T. W. Drew, conductor pro tem.; and J. McLeavey, warden pro tem.

Since its organization the union has paid out in benefits to members and their families about six thousand dollars, and also expended fourteen hundred and fifty dollars on the Miners’ hospital, of Silver City, which was opened during the latter part of October, 1897.

Besides the social position which this association holds in the community, it has ever been ready to preserve the harmony which exists between the large mining companies and their employees. Its membership in 1898 was five hundred and twenty-five, all in good standing, and financially the union has ever kept itself in a flourishing condition.

Silver City has six general merchandise stores, two hardware stores, a tin shop, two meat markets, two hotels, four restaurants, eight saloons, bakery, one shoe shop, a photograph gallery, brewery, soda-bottling works, two livery stables, a feed store, three drug stores, a jeweler, three blacksmith shops, a furniture store, two lumber yards, a tailor shop, three barber shops, a newspaper, four lawyers, two doctors, etc., etc.

This is essentially a mining town and is wholly dependent upon this industry for its support and prosperity. The whistle of hoisting and mill engines, and the sullen roar of giant-powder blasts, are music to her people. She has four stamp mills carrying an aggregate of fifty stamps, and two arastras. The mines are about equally divided between War Eagle and Florida mountains, each being covered with a network of veins carrying precious metals.

War Eagle Mountain is of granite formation. The veins lie generally north and south and the mountain is traversed east and west by numerous porphyry dykes. Generally speaking, the bonanza ore bodies found in that locality have been where the veins came in contact with these dykes. The ores of this mountain are free milling and carry a nice percentage of gold, the bullion running from $3.50 to $13.00 per ounce. War Eagle has a credited production record of about thirty millions of dollars, taken out during the first ten years of the camp’s history.

Florida Mountain, until very lately, was considered to be of porphyry formation with some granite upheavals, but the deep mining now done by the companies operating thereon has exploded this idea, and demonstrated that the rock masses are of granite, capped with porphyry. The veins of this mountain also maintain a north and south course, but dykes are not as common as on War Eagle. The ores, too, generally carry more iron, requiring concentration before amalgamation. Some of the largest and most exclusive gold veins in the camp are found on Florida Mountain, which furnished the rich auriferous deposits that attracted the attention of the early prospectors to this camp. Florida Mountain is covered to considerable depth by gravel and loam, making it extremely difficult to prospect, but when access to her treasure vaults is once obtained, powder, steel and muscle are sure to win.

The country surrounding Silver City abounds in game of all kinds, and the mountain streams are plentifully supplied with speckled trout, making it a grand locality for camping parties in the heated term. Grouse, sage hens and prairie chickens are numerous. In the higher mountains deer are found in large numbers, and antelope are frequently seen in isolated valleys near South Mountain, and on the lava beds which skirt the southern boundary of the county.

The Idaho Hotel, of Silver City, was first erected at Ruby City, Owyhee County, as early as 1863, by J. K. Eastman; and the following year, when Silver City was started, the building was taken down and moved to the latter place. Mr. Eastman conducted the hotel for a time and then sold it to Tim Regan and M. McGregor, who were the proprietors and managers until December 1889, when S. T. N. Smith purchased the establishment. He conducted the hostelry until April, 1898, when it was bought by Shea, McLain & Getchel, who are now running it as a first-class hotel.

It has sixty well furnished rooms, a large and commodious sample room, a stage office and an express office. The present proprietors, energetic, ambitious and polite, take great delight in preserving the fine prestige of the institution and even of making all the improvements that may be demanded by varying circumstances. They have a large patronage of the first class.

Trade Dollar Mining and Milling Company

The Trade Dollar Mining and Milling Company was incorporated under the laws of the state of Kentucky, in July 1891. The headquarters of the company are at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and the present officers are: President, Hon. J. M. Guffey: vice president, A. W. Mellon: secretary and treasurer, T. B. McKaig; superintendent, James Hutchinson; foreman, Joe H. Hutchinson; accountant, L. J. Weldon. The company owns the following mines located on the southern slope of the Florida mountain, all of which are patented: Colorado, Sierra Nevada, Jumbo, South Pluto, Black Bart, J. G. Blaine, Pluto, Pluto mill site. Trade Dollar, Fraction, Blaine Extension, Caroline: and the following claims unpatented: Alpine, Harrison, Alleghany, Standard and Little Chief.

The company did not have a patented claim when Mr. Hutchinson assumed charge, and three-fourths of the producing territory at the present time is from claims acquired since he assumed charge. The property today ranks with the best paying properties on the Pacific coast. At the present time there is over three miles of track laid, railed and tied; and over five miles of tunnels, drifts, adits, etc. The main tunnel is 3,854 feet in length, and connects with the Black Jack tunnel at its northern boundary. The company plant is very complete, consisting of a ten-stamp combination mill, office buildings, department shops, bunk and boarding houses, Ingersoll-Sergeant air compressor, compound Corliss engine, drill press, lathe in fact, a full and complete mining and milling outfit.

The officers at the eastern end have been liberal and progressive, and the management at this end conservative and intelligent. While it may seem preposterous, the facts are that the Trade Dollar in 1897 paid larger dividends than any one mine in Cripple Creek, according to published records of dividends.

Cumberland Gold Mine

This mine, which is located on the eastern side of War Eagle Mountain, is owned by James Shaw, and has been operated under bond by Sonneman & Branscomhe, of Spokane, since September 1897, since which time the property has been equipped with hoist, shaft house, ore house, and other improvements made necessary for extensive work.

The situation is on the mineral zone which contains all the famous properties of War Eagle mountain, and on the system of veins on which are located the Oro Fino, Elmore, Golden Chariot, Minnesota, Mahogany, the aggregate production of which, amounting to thirty-six mil-lion dollars, did much towards producing the enormous amount of gold bullion produced by Owyhee County in the past. The Cumberland is the southerly extension of the Oro Fino, a celebrated producer, and a parallel location to the Golden Chariot, which carried pay ore to a depth of one thousand five hundred feet, and has a record of shipments through Wells-Fargo express of fourteen million dollars. The Cumberland is virgin ground, and is proving on development to be as rich as any of the adjacent properties. It is the second quartz property to have been opened in Owyhee County, the Oro Fino, on the same vein, being an earlier location. In the early sixties, a no-foot shaft was sunk on the Cumberland vein, and some stoping done on the richest ore; but, on account of the large amount of trouble from the placer miners, and the depth demanding a poyver hoisting plant, work was stopped, and the shaft quickly filled to the collar with the debris washed down the canyon. The property eventually passed into the hands of Shaw, who has run upwards of 200 feet of tunnel on the vein above the collar of the old shaft. Most of the ground above this tunnel he has stoped, and, in spite of large expense attached to hauling, arastra milling, and large loss in tailings, the greater percentage of the silver value escaping, has averaged a clean-up of over one hundred dollars per ton.

The ore is quartz, occasionally stained by small percentage of copper, and carrying nothing else but silver and gold, in proportion of one ounce of gold to ten of silver, or, at present quotations, eighty per cent, gold and twenty per cent, silver. Very, often the gold percentage will exceed ninety, but never less than eighty. The gold values are entirely free-milling, the silver occurring as silver glance (argentite), and occasionally as native silver.

On securing the property, Sonneman & Branscomhe immediately commenced to secure depth, by sinking a winse in the Shaw tunnel, and by cleaning out and sinking to greater depth the old shaft, unentered for thirty years. Besides the increased value and size of ledge in the winse, the showings uncovered in the old shaft are most pleasing. Considerable stoping had been done to within forty feet of the bottom, but, in the faces of these old stopes, a vein is left which pays well to extract, and below these stopes, to the bottom of the shaft, and in the bottom, is a good vein ready for stoping and of high-grade ore. During the winter the work will be continued by sinking shaft, which has a present depth of one hundred and seventy-five feet, by three shifts, and pushing both the one hundred foot level and the Shaw tunnel ahead. These developments are made justifiable by the presence of ore in the faces of both tunnels, the vein in the shaft being nearly two feet in width, and running over two and one-half ounces in gold and thirty ounces in silver.

While all development indicates that the ore bodies in the Cumberland will equal in richness and tonnage those of the adjacent properties, the fact is already proven that in this mine is a strong, perfectly continuous ledge, the ore chute being three hundred feet long and of an average width of twelve inches, which will, yield to ordinary mill methods a return sufficient to reward the investors heavily and encourage others to investigate, develop and reopen the long neglected veins of War Eagle mountain.

De Lamar

The town of De Lamar is prettily nestled in a cluster of hills, prominent among which is the De Lamar Mountain, distant sixty miles from the capital, Boise City, and nine miles from the county seat, Silver City. It is lighted electrically, and supplied with telegraphic and telephonic communications with the outer world. The town is located on the banks of Jordan creek, famous in the early history of Owyhee County, the approaches of the town being lined with well built residences. In the center of the town is located the plant of the De Lamar Mining Company, Limited, consisting of mill buildings, department shops, offices, hotel and bunk houses, and surrounded by the principal mercantile houses. A little farther on, still within the hearing of the hum of industry, is another branch of the town, called by the residents “Tough Town,” which in mercantile activity fully equals that of the town proper. From there the road to Oregon is skirted by the residences of ranchers, teamsters, milk dealers and woodmen, with here and there an occasional evidence of mining industry, such as the Henrietta mill, Jones’ mill, and John Scales’ mill, at Wagontown.

The earliest settlement was at old Wagontown, located about two miles below the center of the town of De Lamar, which was a road station on the stage line running from Silver City to Winnemucca, Nevada. The first mine was located by J. W. Stoddard, which was afterwards patented, and is now a portion of the De Lamar group. John A. Wilson was the discoverer of the Wilson mine, which forms the nucleus of the De Lamar group. He disposed of his properties in September 1888, to Captain De Lamar, who subsequently purchased the Sommercamp and Lepley claims. Captain De Lamar vigorously developed his properties, erecting mill, hotel, and other necessary buildings. Peter Adams opened a boarding house, and Tom Jones, John Arvidson, Lewis Walker and others erected buildings, and 1890 found the town in a booming condition, and with a good-sized future. Montie B. Gwinn, of Caldwell, and others, opened a general merchandise store, under the name of the De Lamar Mercantile Company, which is now being carried on by Isay & Gombrig.

In the early part of 1891, Captain De Lamar disposed of his entire interests to the De Lamar Mining Company, Limited, an incorporated company of London, England, who have since their inception made many substantial improvements, besides erecting a substantial hotel, with first-class appointments, taking the place of the one erected by Captain De Lamar, which was destroyed by fire; and it is largely due to the unceasing application of the resident managers that the company possesses a plant whose standard of excellence is unexcelled by that of any mining company in this portion of the west. The claims of the De Lamar Company numbering about forty, are located on De Lamar mountain, and in the vicinity are located the Big T, Silver Vault, Garfield, Lepley, and many other promising mining properties, which are being exploited with excellent results. The De Lamar hotel, owned by the mining company, is ably managed.

The public schools are in a flourishing condition, under excellent supervision, with a membership of about one hundred and fifty pupils.

A flourishing miners’ union, a lodge of Odd Fellows, with a Rebekah lodge, comprise the secret organizations, and the welfare of the town is generally looked after by the De Lamar Nugget, a spicy and entertaining newspaper mentioned in the chapter concerning the press of the state.

The De Lamar Mining Company, Limited, was incorporated in March 1891, under the laws of Great Britain, with a nominal capital of 400,000 shares of one pound sterling each. The principal officers of the company in 1898 were: Francis Muir, Esq., of London, chairman board of directors; Charles Pakeman, Esq., of London, secretary board of directors; D. B. Huntley, resident manager; E. V. Orford, accountant and resident assistant manager; and Thomas Davey, mine foreman. The company are the owners of about forty mining claims and mill-sites, mostly patented, and situated at the town of De Lamar. These several groups of mines were located in the eighties, and in 1887 were purchased of the original owners by Captain J. R. De Lamar, who in the early part of 1891 disposed of them to the De Lamar Mining Company, Limited, the purchase price, it is said, being about two millions of dollars.

The working openings of the mines embrace about six miles, and the main workings of the property extend seven hundred feet in vertical depth; and beyond this an incline shaft is now being sunk for prospecting purposes. A three-rail gravity tramway, about two thousand and three hundred feet in length, connects the mines with the mill, which is a pan-amalgamation plant, equipped with forty stamps, twenty-eight pans, etc., and has a capacity of treating one hundred and fifty tons of ore daily. Connected with this mill is a fifty-ton plant of the Pelaton-Clerici cyanide process. These mills are run by a Corliss engine of two hundred and fifty horse power, and for about three months in the spring of the year the water power is utilized by means of a six-foot Pelton water wheel. The plant owned by the company is the most complete one in this section of the country, consisting of hotel and office buildings, store houses, department shops, mill, assay buildings, bunk and boarding houses, tramways, etc., and is covered by an insurance of fully one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. The company also carries a large stock of wood and other material, and duplicates of machinery, in which there is a large amount invested. The mills and mines give employment to about two hundred men, there being no interruption to the work, except on prominent holidays.

The energy and perseverance of the local managers, together with the liberal support of the home management, has placed this company in the foremost rank of the best mining properties of the west, and the gross output since the organization of the company to date amounts to over five million dollars.

The Miners’ Union of De Lamar is the oldest existing branch of the W. F. of M. in Owyhee County, and was organized on April 18. 1896, the first officers installed being: President, J. J. Bennett; vice-president, Thomas Duncalf: recording secretary, Samuel Honey; financial secretary, Ed. Wood; treasurer, William Cayzer; conductor, Charles Morris; warden, William Brasher; trustees, James H. Rodda, Fred Tyacke, John Pascoe. Richard Temby and Henry Warren.

Since its organization the Miners’ Union of De Lamar has paid out in benefits to members and their families some four thousand dollars, and, aside from its social features, has been ever the means of maintaining the harmonious feeling which exists between the De Lamar company and its employees. Its present membership amounts to one hundred and fifty, all in good standing. Its financial affairs are in a flourishing condition, and the great good it has accomplished in De Lamar is acknowledged by all.


The town of Booneville was first settled in the summer of 1863, the first inhabitant being Captain Boone, from whom the town was named. For a time the town enjoyed a large population, and was in a very prosperous condition; but subsequently fell into decay, and for a good many years was simply a stopping place for wayfarers, stages and teamsters, the only building of prominence being the old Booneville hotel. In the spring of 1896, the hotel and surrounding property was purchased by Colonel W. H. Dewey, and operations were at once set on foot for the improvement of the town. During the summer of 1896, the Florida M. & M. Company erected a twenty-stamp mill, which is by far one of the largest and best equipped in the west. The Hotel Dewey was also erected, a large and commodious building, whose appointments and architectural structure are unequaled by any hotel in the state. The building is of the southern hotel order, three stories in height, surmounted by a large cupola, and fronted with a double portico. The building is thirty by sixty feet, with an L of thirty by seventy-eight feet. To the left of the hall are the barrooms, card-rooms and the store-rooms, the bar fittings being very elaborate, and unexcelled in this section of the country. To the right of the hall are the offices, reading-room, billiard-room and wash-room. The hall terminates with the dining room and kitchen, and the upper stories are devoted to parlors and rooms, single and en suite, elegantly furnished with modern-style furniture, equal to that of any caravansary on the coast. In the third story is a large hall, completely fitted up for theatricals, dances and other amusements. The hotel is heated by steam-heating apparatus of the latest pattern, and lighted by an electrical plant supplied by the mill, and the sanitary and sewerage conditions are as perfect as can be made by labor and science.

Adjoining the hotel are the offices of the Florida M. & M. Company, and the residence of the superintendent, both of which are of modern design, artistic structure and substantial erection. Facing the hotel, several substantial buildings have been erected, viz., general store, butcher shop, steam laundry, barber shop, variety store, post office, livery stable and barn, etc., and in the upper part of the store building is a large hall, fitted up for lodge rooms, assemblages, etc.

The water facilities and fire system of the town are the best to be found in any mining camp this side of the Rocky mountains, the water being piped from natural springs located nearly two miles from the town, and conveyed to tanks having a capacity of 1,500 barrels, situated at an elevation of about three hundred and fifty feet on the hill east of the hotel, giving a pressure of about two hundred and forty pounds to the square inch through a four-inch main, to twelve fire-plugs located in different parts of the town; and thereby securing for the town an almost complete immunity from fire. There has also been constructed an ice house and slaughter house, and, in fact, nothing has been neglected in the way of making the town complete as to conveniences for its inhabitants, as well as an illustration of what can be done by applied energy and industry.

In the spring of 1897, through the efforts of Colonel Dewey, a post office was established, and the name of the town changed to Dewey, in compliment to its founder: and James Gartland, the genial accountant of the F. M. & M. Company, and affable manager of the Hotel Dewey, received the appointment of postmaster.

The town of Dewey is located at the base of Florida Mountain, and in easy distance of all the principal mining properties located on that mountain, and is also the terminal point of the B. N. & O. R. R. Company, now in course of construction.

Reynolds Creek

Reynolds Creek valley is sixteen miles from Silver City and fifteen from Snake River. The earliest settlers here were Thomas Carson, Joseph Babbington and James C. Bernard, who came in the spring of 1864. Since then the valley has been settled rapidly, the population now numbering over two hundred. The chief productions of the valley are hay, grain and fruit, which find a ready market at the mining camps, and considerable attention is given also to the rearing of live stock.

The village itself is characterized principally by J. M. Brunzells hotel and Share’s stage-house. The latter well known resort, familiar to the patrons of the California, Oregon & Idaho Stage Company, as well as to the wayfaring public in general, was opened in April, 1877, by Charles E. Share, as a stage station and teamsters” headquarters, and has been continued by him ever since without interruption.


This village is the present terminal point of the Boise, Nampa & Owyhee Railroad, located at the Snake River, thirty miles from Silver City and one mile below the railroad bridge of the B., N. & O. Railroad. The first building was erected May 27, 1897, by Fred Brunzell, and the town now comprises a general store, express and post offices, hotel, blacksmith shop, livery stables, stage barns, boarding-houses, etc., and enjoys a population of over a hundred, with indications of a steady increase.

The railroad bridge at Guffey was completed by the Boise, Nampa & Owyhee Railroad Company during the summer of 1897. The height from low water to the track is fifty feet. The bridge consists of two spans, each two hundred and fifty feet in length.

Grand View

This post office is located on the south side of the Snake River, forty-five miles from Silver City and twenty-two miles from Mountain Home. It is an outlet for a large scope of agricultural country, there being several fine ranches in the back country and vicinity. It is also the headquarters of the Owyhee Land & Irrigation Company, who are the owners of a fine, substantial hotel and store, besides the ferry.

The chief productions of the valleys and ranches bordering on the canal are hay, grain and fruits, which are raised in large quantities, and considerable attention is given to placer-mining along the banks of the Snake River.

The earliest settlers here were Captain White, John McVann, Wenzel Turmes and Henry Dorsey.

Bruneau Dam

This dam, located on Bruneau River, a mile and a half above its mouth, was constructed by the Owyhee Land & Irrigation Company, is twenty -five feet high and one hundred and ninety feet wide at the bottom, and a hundred and eighty feet long at the top. Upon this foundation is a crib dam, made of iron and timber, one hundred and seventy-six feet long on the crest, terminating at each end in vertical masonry abutments.

At the south side are the head gates of the canal, having an opening of forty feet in width, and from this point the canal follows the contours about ten miles in a westerly direction and at a distance of one to two miles south of Snake River.

Bruneau valley is situated in the northeastern part of Owyhee County, is fourteen miles in length and one to two miles wide. The Bruneau River flows through the center of the valley and empties into the Snake River.

The earliest settlers in this valley were John Turner, “Uncle Abe” Roberson, James H. Whit-son and B. F. Hawes, who located here in the sixties.

Fruit, grain and hay, especially the latter, are the chief products of the soil. Some livestock, including sheep, is raised. The horses bred and reared here are as good as the average in the best’ of localities. The temperature rarely falls to zero.

The town of Bruneau has a general store, hotel, post office, blacksmith shop, etc.

Hot Springs

Hot Springs district comprises the upper half of the beautiful valley of the Bruneau, and takes its name from the innumerable hot springs which are located mainly on the ranches of the Robersons, Arthur Pence and Lewis & Olsen. The soil is extremely fertile and abundantly watered by the Bruneau River, and the ranches are noted not alone for their picturesque beauty but also for their large productions of hay, cereals, fruit, etc.

The Oreana Valley

The Oreana Valley embraces Picket, Hart’s and Catherine creeks, and is about fifteen miles long, one to three miles wide and has many creeks. Grain, hay and fruit are the principal productions.

The town of Oreana has a general store, blacksmith shop and school, besides the post office, which was established here in 1884.

The earliest settlers here were James and John Driscoll and Tim Shea, who located here early in the sixties.

Castle Creek Valley

Castle Creek Valley is about fifteen miles long and one to two miles wide, through which flows the beautiful creek. Farming and stock raising are the chief industries, the valley being good for hay.

The earliest settlers in this valley were Captain G. W. Paul, M. H. Presby, P. S. Cooper and W. H. Barnes.

source: Illustrated History of the State of Idaho – Owyhee County Its History, Towns, Industries
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Historical Photos of Owyhee County

Silver City and Delamar, Idaho November 30, 1937


source: Copyright Idaho State Historical Society
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Silver City 1880


Silver City Freight & Freightage. Freighting on Main Street. Silver City, Owyhee County, Idaho, 1880. Idaho State Historical Society.

source: Copyright Idaho state Historical Society 2012
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Eight Horse Team and Freight Wagons, Silver City, Idaho


From the Mike Fritz Collection
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Masonic Hall Silver City Idaho


From the Mike Fritz Collection
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Residence of Manager Empire mines Silver City Idaho


From the Mike Fritz Collection
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Silver City Idaho ca. 1909


From the Mike Fritz Collection
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Silver City Idaho July 1950


From the Mike Fritz Collection
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Dewey Mill (on left), Store House, Dewey Office, Dewey Hotel (far right). Col. Dewey’s house is to the left of the hotel on the hillside.

source: Idaho State Historical Society
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Dewey Hotel


source: Bob Hartman
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Dewey Hotel Fire


Dewey, Idaho July 1907. Fire destroys Dewey Hotel. Built in 1897 by Col. William H. Dewey

source: Bob Hartman
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Reynolds Cemetery


source: Dave A
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Cutting Ice near De Lamar


source: Owyhee Museum
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Mule Pulling Ore Cars on De Lamar Mill


source: Owyhee Museum
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Owyhee Museum Photo Gallery

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Owyhee County Historic Postal Records

BALLARD 1886-1887
Located in section 13-T6S-R4W, 8 miles south of Silver City
established November 15, 1886, Albert H. Smythe
discontinued September 12, 1887, mail to Silver City

BLACK JACK dates unknown
Located in township T4S-R4W near Dewey on Florida Mountain

BRUNEAU 1899-present formerly BRUNEAU VALLEY
on Bruneau River, 22 miles SW of Mountain Home
Section 23, T6S, R5E
established July 28, 1875, as Bruneau Valley
renamed Bruneau Oct 26, 1899, Ladema A. Hyde
Marion F. Parish, July 9, 1903
William T. Bonham, May 21, 1906
John Clems, June 9, 1909
James C. Bartlett, September 12, 1911
George R. Jones, Feburuary 9, 1915, declined
Walter H. Becker, May 31, 1918
James H. Hines, February 5, 1924
Norman W. Grant, June 7, 1928
Elizabeth H. Grant, October 28, 1928

established July 28, 1875, Benjamin F. Hawes
William C. Schenck, May 10, 1879
William L. Ramsdell, January 11, 1884
Frank J. Hughes, August 28, 1885
Jesse E. Neiss, October 14, 1887
David B. Hyde, July 13, 1888
Jackson Ownbey, April 18, 1895
Leadima A. Hyde, June 19, 1899
renamed Bruneau October 26, 1899

BRUNZELL 1913-1920 first and later REYNOLDS (and temporarily REYNOLDS CREEK)
Located in Section 30-T2S-R3W
established May 28, 1884, as REYNOLDS, Jan M. Brunzell
Oscar F. Brunzell, May 13, 1904
renamed Brunzell, September 12, 1913, Jan M. Brunzell
renamed Reynolds Creek, June 12, 1916, (rescinded)
Charles P. Stoddard, March 11, 1918
Samuel E. Ross, June 12, 1919
renamed Reynolds, February 21, 1920.

established January 14, A. Rice
C. Parke, October 13, 1878
William Rice, December 12, 1878
Discontinued, March 10, 1879

CASTLE CREEK (Castlecreek) 1876-1902, 1907-1922
established May 17, 1876, Milton H. Presby
Mrs Martha Henderson, September 19, 1889
Etolia Spencer, September 8, 1898
Urcilla McDonough, March 8, 1901
discontinued May 31, 1902, mail to Oreana
reopened May 29, 1907, John F. Hale
Robert W. Henderson, April 29, 1908
John F. A. Hale, August 26, 1908
Martha Henderson, October 27, 1908
Grace Malmberg, May 17, 1920
discontinued April 15, 1922, mail to Oreana

The exact location within T4S-R1E is not known.
Catherine creek flows into Castle creek near a crossing
of the south alternative of the Oregon Trail.
established May 17, 1876, James N. Hart
discontinued August 17, 1877

CENTRAL (Bernard Ferry) 1888-1896
Located in Section 17-T1N-R3W
established April 4, 1888, James C. Bernard
discontinued October 30, 1896, mail to Walters

CLAYTONIA (Butte, Erb) 1914-1918
Located in section 29-3N-R4W; named in honor of Benjamin Clay
established March 17, 1914, Samuel H. Clay
Richard B. Faulds, July 15, 1915
George W. Flemmons, August 25, 1917
discontinued December 14, 1918, mail to Homedale

CLIFFS 1907-1908, 1915-1950
Located in section 11-T9S-R6W at an altitude of 5,200 feet, about 40 miles southwest of Silver City and close to the Oregon border.
established February 26, 1907, Frank M. Lockett
closed November 30, 1908, mail to Lowry
re-opened June 7, 1915, Ora M. Woods
Thomas Whitby, October 26, 1926
discontinued December 31, 1950, mail to Jordan Valley, Oregon
30 m. SE of Jordon Valley, Oregon

COMET 1910-1913 formerly GARNET (see Elmore County)
Located in the SE 1/4 of T5S-R4E.
established October 6, 1896 as Garnet, Elmore County, George P. Hall
Inez H. Davis, July 24, _____
moved to Owyhee County and renamed Comet
February 7, 1910, John McVann
discontinued January 31, 1913, mail to Bruneau

COW CREEK (Cowcreek) 1887-1889
Located 11 miles northeast of Jordan Valley, Oregon on Cow Creek, which flows northwest into Soda Creek.
established March 9, 1887, M. Obendorfer
discontinued May 18, 1889

DAIRY (Camp Three Forks) 1887-1906
15 miles south of Ballard and 25 miles south of Jordan Valley, Oregon
established January 15, 1887, Chauncey D. Bachelor
Jacob Deary, August 11, 1891
Charles M. Deakins, June 16, 1898
Arthur M. Drummond, October 21, 1903
William H. Flora, December 10, 1904
discontinued April 30, 1906, mail to Lowry

DE LAMAR 1889-1942
established August 6, 1889, James S. Napier
Richard Eziler, November 19, 1889
Charles E. Knapp, January 26, 1892
Sarah F. Crosson, September 8, 1893
William J. Stoddard, October 5, 1897
William A. Jones, April 18, 1899
Laura E. Warren, March 13, 1901
Frank Crosson, November 30, 1901
William R. Helm, July 30, 1902
Benjamin A. Heazle, April 4, 1913
Evelyn M. Grigg, March 27, 1916
Franklin P. Bonnell, January 10, 1918
Herbert H. Bonnell, January 4, 1923
John Grigg, November 3, 1924
Benjamin A. Heazle, September 7, 1926
John Grigg, November 2, 1927
discontinued December 15, 1942, mail to Silver City

DELAINE 1899-1900 formerly SUCKER in Oregon
Located in the northwest area of the county, near Homedale.
established October 13, 1899, Sarah McFarland
discontinued September 29, 1900, mail to Homedale

DEWEY (Booneville) 1896-1911
Some claim this is the oldest settlement in the county.
It is located in section 36-T4S-R4W at an elevation of 5,850 feet.
established November 25, 1896, James Gartland
Samuel D. McLain, April 26, 1900
William A. Holland, September 24, 1903
Joseph W. Ballinger, April 27, 1914
Mark Collvin, February 28, 1905
Luther Mitchell, March 13, 1906 (did not serve)
George R. Heazle, September 11, 1907
Benjamin A. Heazle, October 9, 1908
discontinued June 15, 1911, mail to Sucker, Oregon and Silver City, Idaho
22 m. SE of Murphy Section 25, T4S, R4W

DRY CREEK 1873-1874
The location, dates, and postmasters are unknown at this time.
The stream named Dry Creek flows to the Northwest into Oregon and then into the Owyhee river.

on S. bank of Snake R., 13 m. SE of Marsing, 22 m. NW of Murphy, section 28-T1N-R3W.
established March 12, 1894, David L. Williams
Mattie S. Yanke, March 18, 1902
Isabel Simmons, January 18, 1912
Joseph A. Walker, June 8, 1915
renamed Givens Springs, March 12, 1917

FAIRVIEW 1872-1878
Located in section 15-T5S-R3W, two miles east of Silver City.
Settled in 1863 and destroyed by fire in 1875, it is now a ghost town.
established August 27, 1872, Charles Umber
discontinued September 13, 1878

FAIRYLAWN 1912-1933 formerly LOWRY
76 m. SW of Bruneau, it is in section 12-T10S-R6W.
established as Lowry October 17, 1902
(see Lowry)
renamed Fairylawn, May 24, 1912, William D. Winter
discontinued May 15, 1933 when the mail went to Cliffs

FLINT 1892, 1913-1914
Located in section 22-T6S-R4W at an elevation of 5,400 feet and 10 miles southwest of Silver City.
established March 2, 1892, Marcus White
closed April 18, 1892, “no papers”
re-opened May 31, 1913, Croclia M. Rogers
Joe Bonomi, November 4, 1913
discontinued August 15, 1914, mail to De Lamar

32-5 m. to Melba, on S. bank Snake R., 13 m. SE of Marsing, 22 m. NW of Murphy, section 28-T1N-R3W.
established March 12, 1894, as Enterprise
renamed Givens Springs March 12, 1917
Joseph A. Walker
Katherine M. Curtis, March 15, 1930

GRAND VIEW 1888-present
In sections 15 and 16-T5S-R3E at an elevation of 2,365 feet, 24 miles south of Mountain Home on the Snake River.
established February 27, 1888, Lafayette Aspinwall
Charles L. Wing, December 18, 1890
Andrew J. Wiley, February 8, 1894
Dinnis A. Mathewson, July 10, 1899
Samuel H. Lawrence, July 9, 1903
Russell Masswy, January 31, 1905
Angus McDonald, August 10, 1907
Charles A. Brooks, March 9, 1908
Delia M. Hiddleson, December 19, 1908
Clinton Fritz, May 7, 1910
David Quackenbush, March 8, 1915
Collas K. Evans, March 19, 1918
Alice C. Bailey, August 14, 1919
Harold S. Bailey, October 14, 1923
on S. Bank of Snake R., 27 m. SW of Mountain Home 60 m. SE of Nampa, Sec. 8, T5S, R3E.

GRASMERE 1910-1919, 1945-1973
In section 16-T12S-R5E, on Louse Creek 30 miles south of Bruneau.
established December 15, 1910, Frank Holmquest
Willis C. Dodge, September 15, 1913
Joseph A. Taylor, December 13, 1915
Nora M. Candle, July 3, 1917
closed August 15, 1919, mail to Bruneau
re-opened March 27, 1945
discontinued April 20, 1973, mail to Bruneau

GRASSY HILL 1915-1918
established April 14, 1915, Katie E. Mullikin
Flossie Musgrave, June 30, 1917
discontinued December 31, 1918, mail to Three Creek

GUFFEY (Guffeys Station) 1897-1899 moved and renamed MURPHY, 1910-1919
on S. Bank Snake R., opposite Walters, about section 33-T1S-R2W
established April 5, 1897, James C. Lindsey (Canyon Co.)
listed as in Owyhee County, Oct 27, 1897
Mary J. Richardson, February 19, 1898
Albert N. McCall, December 18, 1898
Alvin O. Brunzell, April 1, 1899
discontinued September 7, 1899 (moved and renamed Murphy)
re-opened December 8, 1899, T. J. Little
(rescinded May 21, 1900)
Lillie M. Perry, March 21, 1910
discontinued October 21, 1919, mail to Wilson

HENDERSON 1887-1888
established March 4, 1887, Robert Henderson
discontinued March 13, 1888, mail to Caldwell
on S. bank Snake R., or near site of Marsing Section 9, T2S, R4W

HOMEDALE 1900-present
established May 22, 1900, Ada Mussell
Cora McDowell, October 15, 1903
Ada Mussell, January 3, 1905
David M. Fox, April 29, 1908
Jacob Mussell, October 19, 1908
Sherman E. Mussell, April 19, 1911
Jeptha F. Bitner, August 13, 1912
Myra E. Upton, November 14, 1913
Frank E. Trotter, November 30, 1914
Theodore L. Nye, March 9, 1917
Russell C. Plummer, March 24, 1922
Frank B. Dawes, December 10, 1922
John D. Wright, October 18, 1926
Ida M. Helton, June 30, 1929
on S. bank Snake R., 3 m. SW of Wilder 26 (m.) SE of Nyssa, Oregon Section 8, T3N, R5W

HOT SPRING 1892-1934
established December 21, 1892, John S. Lewis
Carrie Olsen, June 16, 1898
George L. Strickland, December 29, 1898
John L. Strickland, January 20, 1899
George Thomas, March 22, 1901
Jefferson M. Waterhouse, December 16, 1905
George J. Clark, November 4, 191?
William W. Clays, April 25, 1917
Noah Wilson, July 24, 1918 (declined)
Alma F. Trammell, December 31, 1918
Oscar Ford, May 14, 1923
Alma F. Trammell, June 24, 1924
32-35 m. to Bruneau on Bruneau R. 8 m. SE of Bruneau Section 27, T7S R6E
used one word HOTSPRING, dates unrecorded

INDIAN COVE 1913-1915
established May 13, 1913, Maud Neiswander
discontinued August 31, 1915 mail to Hammett
on S. Bank of Snake River 5 m. SW of Hammett

JUNIPER 1895-1896
established February 27, 1895, Phebe Spencer
closed January 24, 1896, mail to Castlecreek
re-opened November 5, 1914, Benjamin Daniel
closed March 15, 1918, mail to Black Pine (rescinded)
Richie Harkness, September 8, 1919
Maud W. Wilson, July 1, 1920
Guy E. Wilson, June 26, 1922
Hazel Ranson, September 19, 1922
Virginia B. Daniel, December 8, 1923
Mary A. Daniel, December 29, 1923
George Nelson, June 20, 1925
discontinued February 27, 1943, mail to Snowville, Utah.

LOWRY 1902-1912 renamed FAIRYLAWN
established October 17, 1902, William D. Winter
Ollie O. McCullough, December 22, 1903
Earl W. McCullough, March 29, 1904
William D. Winter, May 21, 1906
renamed Fairylawn, May 24, 1912.

MAHOGANY 1907-1910
established September 24, 1907, Mrs. Clara M. Jenkins
discontinued September 15, 1910, mail to Bruneau

established January 12, 1922, Walter W. Volkmer
on W. Bank of Snake River, 10 m. SE of Homedale 12 m. SW of Caldwell about Section 10, T2N, R24E (??)

MCKENZIE 1881-1881
established July 18, 1881, George S. McKinzie
discontinued October 26, 1881

MORGAN 1910-1914
established June 25, 1910, Mary Morgan
discontinued April 15, 1914, mail to Jordan

MURPHY 1899-present formerly GUFFEY
county seat
established September 7, 1889 (by transfer of Guffy), Alvin O. Brunzell
Annie L. Cope, October 1, 1990
Minnie E. Tierney, January 26, 1901
Carl M. Brunzell, June 3, 1904
Carrie M. Brunzell, January 28, 1922
Hjalmar Froman, April 4, 1922
Rudolph R. Kuss, October 15, 1923
Charles F. Burger, November 15, 1930
Mrs. Thelma F. Grant, April 8, 1931
Mrs. Carrie M. Kuss, September 10, 1931
29 m. S. of Nampa Section 26, T2S, R2W

OREANA 1885-1982
established November 12, 1885, Michael Hyde
Henry W. Brown, February 21, 1890
George Pickett, September 5, 1890
Michael Hyde, December 15, 1892
George H. Hyde, October 2, 1895
Benjamin H. Hyde, March 23, 1896
Edward K. Thornton, February 12, _____
Lynn Bachman, September 5, 1923
16 m. NW of Grandview, 17 m. SE of Murphy Section 29, T4S, R1E

ORO 1866-1869
established October 8, 1866, O. R. Johnson
John K. Maxwell, February 14, 1867
George Drew, November 30, 1868
discontinued October 22, 1869

REYNOLDS 1884-1913 renamed BRUNZELL 1920-1940 was BRUNZELL
established May 28, 1884, Jan M. Brunzell
Oscar F. Brunzell, May 13, 1904
renamed Brunzell, September 12, 1913, Jan M. Brunzell
renamed Reynolds Creek, June 12, 1916 (rescinded)
Charles P. Stoddard, March 11, 1918
Samuel E. Ross, June 12, 1919
renamed Reynolds, February 21, 1920, John D. Ross
William H. Adams, July 13, _______
Mrs. Fannie Ford, April 17, 1926
Elmer B. Gifford, August 10, 1927
discontinued, mail to Murphy
14 m. W. of Murphy, 34 __ of Nampa 33 E. of Marsing.

established September 26, 1877, George D. Gardner
discontinued July 31, 1879
name Reynolds Creek ordered to replace Brunzell
June 12, 1916 rescinded

RIDDLE 1898-1963
established January 24, 1898, Urette D. Riddle
Grant Riddle, December 13, 1900
J. E. Hastings, January 12, 1918
Charles E. Hastings, September 6, 1921
57 m. SW of Bruneau, 18 m. N. of Owyhee, Nevada Section 17, T14S, R3E
Chas. Hasting had gen. mdse.

ROCKVILLE 1885-1912 in Idaho 1912-1948 in Oregon
established November 12, 1885, Robert B. Young
John Upham, July 19, 1887
William Upham, August 22, 1895
Jore Hzareda, September 15, 1898
Adison P. Calvert, January 14, 1901
Lebbie Proud, June 17, 1903
Jesse L. Proud, May 9, 1908
transferred to Mahleur County, Oregon, January 26, 1912
14 m. N. of Sheaville, Oregon Section 6, T2S, R6E

RUBY CITY 1864-1867 renamed SILVER CITY
established June 22, 1864, John Cummings
William C. Clemmons, January 4, 1865
renamed Silver City, February 5, 1867

established as Ruby City (see above)
David T. Hillman, February 25, 1868
Abraham V. Bradley, April 13, 1868
Joseph Bury, April 22, 1869
John A. Post, December 24, 1869
Rufus King, June 6, 1870
Charles S. Lamaid (?), May 15, 1873
Edward H. Moore, June 8, 1874
Samuel F. N. Smith, April 17, 1889
Morris Oberderfer, September 19, 1889
Richard L. Guler, September 11, 1891
Meserve M. Mitchell, November 2, 1894
Charles H. Grate, March 1, 1905
Asher A. Getchell, December 11, 1908
Myrtle H. Shea, June 17, 1915
discontinued November 16, 1943
23 m. SW of Murphy, 24 m. NE of Jordan Valley, Oregon Section 6, T5S, R3W

SINKER 1888-1902, 1904-1909
established December 26, 1888, John H. Crochoron
Mary C. Matthews, May 15, 1901
closed July 8, 1902, mail to Murphy
re-opened September 29, 1904, Anna F. Joyce
discontinued February 27, 1909
“Singer” on Sinker Cr. about midway between Murphy and Oreana

SOUTH MOUNTAIN (Bullion City) 1872-1874, 1875-1877
established December 9, 1872, Telison John Vinton
discontinued February 18, 1874
re-established June 2, 1875
Orlando P. McCray, November 29, 1875
discontinued October 15, 1877, mail to Jordan Valley, Oregon

re-opened July 21, 1900, Robert C. Williams
discontinued September 30, 1902, mail to Jordon Valley
20 m. SE of Jordon Valley

THREE CREEK (Seventy-one) 1887-1951
established December 17, 1887, John S. Lewis
John U. Bratton, December 19, 1891
Mary E. Faraday, February 19, 1894
Lizzie E. Duncan, June 27, 1901
Charles H. Helsley, May 27, 1905
Jerome N. Helsley, January 14, 1908
Thomas Higgins, December 21, 1909
Mary McCoy, January 31, 1913
Charles H. Helsley, July 10, 1917
Bess B. Cordell, March 13, 1919
Ida R. Silver, February 13, 1920
Lizzie E. Duncan, April 17, 1922
Bess B. Cordell, October 14, 1922
Charles H. Helsey, April 4, 1928
Mrs. Vada G. Royle, January 21, 1927
Mrs. Eva L. Dunn, October 25, 1928
discontinued February 28, 1951, mail to Rogerson
on E. Frk Bruneau R., 68 m. SE of Bruneau Section 28, T14S, R8E

TINDALL 1907-1936
established March 18, 1907, William J. Tindall
discontinued, mail to Bruneau
48 m. S of Bruneau, 40 m. N. of Owyhee, Nevada

TRIANGLE 1915-1953
established June 30, 1915, Jacob Bachman
Earl Bachman, February 7, 1940
discontinued November 30, 1953, mail to Oreana
44 m. S. (road) of Murphy, 43 m. SW of Grandview

WALTERS FERRY (Lower Ferry) 1893-1899
In section 17-T1S-R2W, nine miles northwest of Murphy, it was the location of in important Oregon Trail crossing.
see Canyon County Post Offices, for the north bank.

WAYLAND 1896-1898
established March 28, 1896, Grace Stone
George Pennington, June 4, 1896
discontinued November 3, 1898, mail to Bruneau Valley

WICKAHONEY 1894-1911
established July 22, 1894, Dow Dunning
discontinued October 31, 1911
about 45 m. S. of Bruneau, Section 27, T11S, R4E

WILSON 1897-1923
established September 28, 1897, Rudd? Nelson
Pheobe Cox, November 1, 1898
John E. Keich, May 16, 1906
Catherine Hurley, July 16, 1913
John E. Keich, December 15, 1916
discontinued October 31, 1923, mail to Melba
on S. bank of Snake R., 20 m. SE of Marsing, 14 m. NW of Murphy Section 11, T1S, R3W

source: Idaho AHGP

Link to Idaho State Historical Society photos around Silver City

Link to Silver City Mike Fritz Photo Collection

Link to Silver City, Owyhee County, Idaho

Idaho History June 2, 2019

Molly Kesler

Back County Pioneer

Warm Lake, Valley County Idaho

Molly Flanery Willey Kesler


by Gerri Pottenger

Mary Lou Flanery was born on Feb. 24, 1870 in Willamette valley, Oregon. Legend has called her “Molly of the Mountains”, doctor, midwife, hunter, fishing expert, bronco buster, owner of the Payette Lake House in McCall, builder of the Warm Lake Hotel, and savior of a lost Boeing Airliner , winter 1935. She was Aunt Molly to most everyone, but to Alvin, Fern, Ed and Bob Pottenger she was Grandma”.

Molly was five when she moved with her mother to Grand Rounde, Oregon and when her mother died six years later she did chores for her room and board when she was placed with strangers. She did a man’s work but her employer kindly sent her to school and tried to give her some home comforts. By fifteen Molly was cooking for ten, going to school part time and breaking horses in the evening. A year later her golden hair and blue eyes attracted Charles Willey and they were married. In May 1889, three years later, Molly, Charlie and their baby, Jessie, headed for Idaho. It took a month for horses and wagon to make the journey and they settled not far from where they forded the Payette River called Sagebrush Flats. It was later called Spink.

Molly told of their cattle disappearing and gardens mined when the cattlemen brought in a bunch of longhorns. The next spring, as her story goes, when the cattle were brought up to Long Valley, and fearing their food supply would again be destroyed, the settlers shot a total of 120 head in two separate instances. When this didn’t work the men masked themselves and threatened the cattlemen. This did the trick. Molly said, about identifying the masked men, “no amount o’ money could loosen a tongue, an’ we had no more trouble with ’em”.

The twenty years that Molly lived in Long Valley she was the only doctor. In one of her hair raising stories she tells of traveling ten miles on skis to deliver a baby and on the return encountered a blizzard. She was about to give up and started to dig a hole in a snowbank with a ski to await her fate when she saw a way ahead and found the door to Mrs. Routsella’s cabin.

Famous for her fishing and hunting prowess, it is interesting to note that in addition to trout, she caught salmon from Boulder Creek This was before the construction of the Black Canyon dam. She hunted until she was 77. She insisted her aim was still perfect but “get-a-long was too ketchey”.

Molly and Charlie Willey divorced after 19 years in 1907 and a year later she married Bill Kesler. Bill built Molly a log cabin about 25 miles from Van Wyck in a settlement called Knox. Here she fed 25 sheepherders a day and was renowned for her pies made with bear grease. She would only use the grease from bears that ate huckleberries. She insisted the bears that ate fish made crust that wasn’t fit to eat.

She tells of a young John Knox who was very handsome and owned 12 claims in back of the settlement named for him. He and Bill Kesler mined together. The mining claims started to pay off and Knox had a future. The Keslers decided to buy up all nine buildings (not counting their home) in the settlement. The deal was made and seemed legal. The next year a stranger showed up claiming ownership of all nine buildings. Molly ran him off. It went to court and the stranger satisfied the courts as to his legal ownership. The Keslers were fleeced and the one who did it was gone.

A new life was about to begin. About five miles east was Warm Lake. Molly and Bill bought a large parcel of land close to the Lake. They kept their plans secret and built the first road into Warm Lake with a team of horses and their own hands. They were now middle aged and this would have to be their last business venture. This title could never be challenged. Then they built the Warm Lake Hotel. Molly saw them through the first rough years by raising silver foxes. The beautiful pelts could bring as much as $175. Molly’s great-granddaughter, Linda Robbins, still has one of them. The beauty of the area near the lake, in the pines, soon gained a reputation as a favorite resort for the city people, hunters and fishermen. Molly acted as a guide and taught her fishing and cooking secrets. A fawn she had saved from a dog pack became a pet that sometimes slept by the fireplace.

The following story is in Molly’s own words spoken to Ruth T. Knight:

“It was while we still had the hotel at Warm Lake, an’ we had been havin’ quite a spell o’ winter. Towards evenin’ the air sniffed o’snow an’ the wind began howln’ an’ I says to Bill, ‘If we don’t have more snow by mornin’ I’m a dead coyote.’ So, long about 11 ‘clock that night we went to bed. Before we had got to sleep Bill says, ‘What the hell’s that roarin’?’ I raised up on my elbow an’ listened an’ then I said, ‘O, my God it’s a lost airoplane, a good 140 miles off course.’ So I jumped out ‘a bed an’ listened again and heard it go out towards the Sawtooth range an’ come back, then go again. I ran outside in my bare feet, but couldn’t see a thing for a blizzard was ragin’. I could hear the plane roarin’ right over my head, an’ as I looked up I prayed, ‘O, my god, what can I do to save it?’

Molly decided to call the Boise airport, so she ran indoors to the telephone hoping and praying that the lines would not be down. Unable to raise the operator she continued to ring and call, “Hello, hello,” with the hope that someone along the mountain line would hear her, “I want the airport, get me the airport.” Finally a voice in the distance said, “This is the airport, have you seen or heard of an airplane up that way?” Yes, yes, that’s what I want to tell you. Its overhead now,” Molly replied.

Giving him her location, Molly pulled on her shoes and threw a coat about her. With a lantern in hand she went out into the night, the wind and snow impeding her steps as she groped her way down to the lake where she built a fire on the ice. Back at the telephone again she succeeded in raising some of the other subscribers along the line and fires were built to guide the plane to a good landing field at Cascade. There the townspeople were aroused and with their cars surrounded the landing field, flooding it with light. The plane was landed safely, the passengers never having been aware of the danger.

Molly was the recipient of letters and telegrams from grateful passengers and their relatives. The Boeing Aircraft Co. presented her with a model of the plane she saved, and gave her a life pass on their planes. Molly’s great grandson, James, Pottenger, has the model today.

The locals and their grandchildren know “Aunt Molly” as a legend. They fish her fishing haunts, picnic at “Aunt Molly Warm Springs” (named in her honor). And they talk of this woman who could mush as well as ride a dog team, saved many lives, encountered wild animals, could out-ski any man in the area at age 72 and still retained her femininity.

Molly’s poem shows her sensitivity:

I have mushed through the snow of Long Valley
To care for the sick and the dead
When all the light that I could see
Was the little North Star overhead

I have listened to the coyotes and wolves,
I have mushed through the blizzards of hell,
I’ve known what it is to be lonely and sad,
With longings I never could tell.

Some day you will find by the side of the trail
My tall ghostly figure of white,
Lying still in the snow where my journey will end,
In the silence and peace of the night.

Please bury me there `neath the carpet of God,
Where the little North Star never pales,
By the side of my mate in the land that I love,
At the end of the valley’s long trails.

(Signed) Molly Lou Kesler Dec. 29, 1943

from “Molly Flanery Willey Kesler” by Gerri Pottenger, pgs 223-227, “Free Land! Hopes and Hardships of Pioneers of Valley County, Idaho”, Valley County History Project
— — — — — — — — — —

1908 Idaho Map

Showing Long Valley (Spink) and the Wagon Road to Warm Lake
1903 Post route map of the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming showing post offices with the intermediate distances and mail routes in operation on the 1st of December, 1903
Link to full sized map:
[h/t SMc]
— — — — — — — — — —

Spink Post Office

established January 16, 1906, Lydia A. Spink
discontinued May 15, 1914, mail to McCall.
SE Sec. 27 T17N, R3E
about 4 1/2 m. S of Lakefork.

source: Valley County GenWeb Post Office History
— — — — — — — — — —

Knox 1905

1905 photo, Univ. of Idaho Library digital collection, Idaho Cities and Towns.
source: AHGP
— — — — — — — — — —

Warm Lake Time Line 1907 – 1939


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


Bill and Molly Kesler started building at the Warm Lake hotel site (now Warm Lake Lodge). The hotel was located some 500’ toward the lake from the existing lodge.

1915 May 20

Bill & Molly Kesler bought 8 buildings and their home from a fellow they thought was the owner. A year later Robnette appeared and claimed title to all 9 buildings. Molly ran him off the place and down the road 3 miles where he took refuge with an old miner. They thought there was to be a future for Knox. They were fleeced and the “fleecer” was gone.
Source: Boise Statewide newspaper Jan. 24, 1947 titled “Molly of the Mountain”.

1931, Oct.3

Mary L. “Molly” Kesler vs. C. S. Jones case went to the Idaho Supreme court and was remanded to the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, in and for Valley County for retrial. Molly was awarded $40.00 and cost of the suit for the value of the fox pelt. They had raised foxes at Warm Lake for a period of time.

March 1935

Molly Kesler heard an airplane circling around 11 PM in a snowstorm over Warm Lake. She phoned Cascade and they called Boise to confirm the United Airlines plane was lost. She built a fire on the frozen lake so the pilot could get a bearing on Cascade. Cars lined up to light the runway 1.5 miles east of town. The pilot and one passenger were treated for frostbite since the heater was not working. Nine were on board. The next day the plane was flown to Boise.
Cascade News March 29, 1935.
Molly thought the plane was a Johnson Flying Service plane and called Johnson but it wasn’t theirs. The next morning one engine wouldn’t start so they drained the oil and heated it on a stove. (Don Campbell oral history.) The plane was a twin engine Boeing 247.


Warm Lake Hotel was purchased from Bill & Molly Kesler by Dr. Leo E. Jewell MD of Meridian. His brother-in-law Bill Dodds was manager. They sold to Bert and Ester Brewster in 1945.

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
— — — — — — — — — —

1928 Warm Lake – from near Warm Lake Summit

(click to see original photo)
from the Harry Shellworth Album Idaho State Historical Society, photographer Ansgar Johnson Sr.
— — — — — — — — — —

Warm Lake Homesteads

[Knox] … In the Warm Lake area, the largest settlement was an area called Randall Town. Charles Randall settled there in 1898 and filed for a homestead in 1909.

…While Randall still owned the property, the Kesler family, Bill and Molly, moved there from Spink. When Robnett took over the Knox Ranch, the Keslers moved to Warm Lake and started a hotel business and a fox farm on the side.

Excerpted from “Homesteads and Ranches” by C. Eugene Brock, pages 22-24, “Free Land! Hopes and Hardships of Pioneers of Valley County, Idaho”, Valley County History Project
— — — — — — — — — —

Warm Lake Hotel, 1936


Warm Lake Hotel, 1936. Bill & Mollie Kesler by tree
photo courtesy Bob Hood from the Don Campbell collection
— — — — — — — — — —

Warm Lake Hotel

“The Warm Lake Hotel was built in 1910. It opened in 1911 and burnt to the ground in the 1949s.

“This hotel and store and a few cabins were built by Bill and Mollie Kessler [sic]. The hotel was operated by Clark and Buelah [sic] Cox in 1924-26. The next year they bought the ranch on Johnson Creek and started a dude ranch. When Clark and Beulah operated the business their prices were 60 cents for meals and rooms from 50 cents to $1.00 per night according to the room you got and how many shared the room.

“The Warm Lake Hotel became more popular after the road was built from Landmark down Johnson Creek and became the main road to Yellow Pine. The road over Warm Lake Summit to Landmark for a long time was used only by people going into the Deadwood area.”

Duane Petersen, “Valley County – The Way it Was” (p.88)

source: ID AHGP [h/t SMc]
— — — — — — — — — —

Charles Gill Interview About Warm Lake

Audio taped by Richard Wilkie July 1978 and transcribed by LeRoy Meyer

G: Old Burt Bostwick was another one of those fellows they all knew and he knew all of those people. They would all get together up at Molly and Bill Kesler’s lodge (now Warm Lake Lodge) there for a session.

W: When did they build that lodge at Warm Lake?

G: Oh, I don’t know, that was built sometime before we came up here. It could hardly be called a lodge. It was a frame building called Warm Lake Hotel, a two story building. I don’t know how many rooms it had; I imagine it had four or five rooms in it and they, Molly and Bill, lived on the ground floor. Then off to the side they had a little building they called a store, not more than 20′ x 20′ as far as size was concerned. Just a frame building.

W: Was it where the new lodge is? No, it was further down towards where the workshop and shed is. That’s further down.

W: Did that burn down?

G: I don’t think it burned down, I think they tore it down after Molly and Bill sold out and left here. They left Warm Lake because it was getting too crowded and went up some place near Yellow Pine but not in Yellow Pine. They wanted to get away but away from Yellow Pine. I don’t know where their home was up there; anyway they sold out to some body that bought out the place (Dr. Leo E. Jewell). They tore the buildings down and built the cabins and lodge that are now there. Molly and Bill lived up there a few years. They were getting along in years and came down to civilization. I don’t know where they went to first. But Bill seemed to me Bill Kesler died in Emmett, I’m not certain of that. After that Molly went to Portland where she had a sister and spent some time with her sister. Then she died and she was buried at Weiser, which was a surprise. When we lived there and noted she was buried there I didn’t know why, but found out later she had relatives that had been living in Weiser. It might have been her mother or father (daughter).

W: When did she die?

G: I can’t recall but it seemed like the 50’s when she died (Nov. 19, 1951). I don’t know how much longer before Bill died (Aug. 3, 1955). Never the less that’s where she was buried.

excerpted from: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
— — — — — — — — — —

A Baby on Her Hip and a Gun in Her Hand

The Story of Molly Kesler, Idaho Pioneer


By Sheila D. Reddy, Heritage Program, Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Intermountain Region, Payette National Forest, April, 1994 [photo unknown woman and baby.]

Rain fell through the old trees in the Willamette Valley in Oregon in 1875, sliding down the windows of a small cabin. Inside five year old Mary Lou (Molly) Flanery sat on her little trunk, tears filling her eyes. Her high button shoes tapped the hollow side, the sound reflecting the pain in her heart. Molly was about to make the most difficult decision a child is ever forced make.

Her Mother and Father were separating and Molly had to decide who she would live with. The old trees around the cabin swayed in the wind as Molly slid off the trunk, slipping her fingers into her Mother’s hand, tearfully leaving her Father alone in the empty room.

Molly and her Mother boarded the stage coach for Grand Ronde, Oregon, where they lived there until her Mother’s death in 1881. Unable to locate her Father, eleven year old Molly moved to a ranch with a family named Fairbanks, working for room and board. By the time she was fifteen Molly cooked for a family of ten in addition to helping with ranch chores. Mrs. Fairbanks was kind to Molly, insisting she continue her schooling.

Life on the western frontier in the late 1800’s was challenging, not easy for the weak of body or spirit. Molly was neither of these. Chances for excitement and fun occurred in some unusual ways.

Bill Newbry was a cowhand on the Fairbank’s ranch who had contracted to break 500 head of horses for saddle stock. Bill was a handsome young man and infatuated with Molly. In the evenings he hung around the kitchen after supper was over, helping Molly dry dishes while they talked. Trying to find a way to spend more time together Bill ask Molly if she would like to help him break horses in the evenings after finishing chores.

It was a perfect setting for a summer romance. Molly rode the broncs, her golden hair flying against the setting sun, her eyes sparkling with excitement. Never once was Molly thrown. That may have been the reason the love affair ended when the horses were broken, however, Molly always looked back on that summer as one of her happiest.

In 1886, she met and married Charles Willey. Three years later, in May of 1889, the young couple and a new baby joined a wagon train headed for Idaho. One of the children with the train had whooping cough, and before the trip was over, every child came down with the disease. Adding to the misery of the journey, rain fell nearly every day of the month-long trip. Finally in June the weary travelers arrived at the Payette River in Long Valley.

Snow was melting in the high country, and the Payette River was running high. Dark waters swirled dangerous and deep as the wagons prepared to ford. A young cowboy, who had acted as guide on the trip, volunteered to lead out with his cow pony. Wrapping the rope around his saddle horn he tossed the other end to Charlie, who tied it to the wagon tongue. The cowboy’s horse waded into the turbulence, and began swimming. Eight horses pulling their wagon followed behind. The water hit the wagon, pounding against the bed and lashing the animals, pulling them downstream.

Molly clung to the baby with one hand and tried to hang on to a rope with the other. She would remember it as one of the most harrowing moments of her life. The horses swam for the opposite shore, their hooves searching for solid ground. The wagon wheels hit river rock, crunching and wobbling while the wagon bed swayed uncertainly, finally the horses and the wagon settled onto the sandy shore. Molly’s hand was burned from hanging on to the rope. She had nearly abandoned hope as the wagon lurched and surged in the swirling waters.

The settlers camped, then homesteaded farms near the river crossing in “Sagebrush Flats.” The settlement would become known as Spink.

“Then came the tug,” Molly remembered. “We had cleared the brush from the land and was aiming to raise our gardens. The vegetables was showin’ nice an’ green when cattlemen brought in a bunch of longhorns. They not only ruined our gardens but after the roundup, we found most of our milk cows was gone.

“Our places weren’t fenced yet, so we couldn’t keep our stock to home nor theirs away. But come next spring we laid fer ’em. When they started eatin’ our garden greens, the men folk rounded up these wild fat steers and killed 60 of ’em.

“Still the cattlemen refused to take their cattle away. We knew we was goin’ to starve if things kept up, so we killed 60 more..

“It made quite a pile, an’ the smell should a driven ’em away if nothin’ else did. But all the killin’ did no good. Then it was a case of the settlers or the cattlemen, so our men folks masked their faces an’ threatened the owners instead o’ the cattle. That did the trick. ’bout six months later the cattlemen returned to arrest those who threatened ’em, but no amount of money could loosen a tongue, an’ we had no more trouble with ’em ” (Knight 1947:2-3).

Molly hadn’t really felt carrying a gun was necessary when she and Charlie first settled in Long Valley. But after the men had headed out to work in the mines, Molly changed her mind.

One morning while Molly finished her baking she laid the baby on a quilt in the front yard. Every few seconds she would glance out the kitchen window to see if the baby was staying on the blanket. Turning back from the cupboard, Molly looked out to see a wolverine sniffing its way towards the baby. Dropping the pan in her hand she raced out the door, snatching up the infant, then heading for the cabin. She laid the baby in its bed, grabbed up the rifle and headed out after the animal. The wolverine ran towards the creek as Molly fired, and missed. Never again would Molly leave the house without a gun. She became an excellent marksman, refusing to stay home when a hunt was planned.

Molly’s outdoor skills also included fishing to supplement their diet. She didn’t just settle for putting a grasshopper on a hook, but studied the eating habits of various fish, tying flies to mimic the insects the fish were biting. She loved to tell the story of a salmon she caught.

“I’m minded o’ the time the little one an’ I went fishin’ in Boulder Creek. We had caught twelve nice trout and’ had just crossed a ridge where the river turned, an’ as I looked down the creek I saw a big salmon comin’ my way. I run him into shallow water an’ he swam towards the bank. I come up on him easy like, an’ with one hand on each side o’ his body, I moved my fingers along his sides, closer and closer, then quick as a flash run my thumbs in his gills. His mouth opened an’ I quick clamped my fingers in his mouth. He thrashed’ bout so much I could hardly stay on my feet.

“‘O Mommy, see him kick’, my little girl hollered.

“There weren’t a dry spot on me when I finally landed him on the bank. Comin’ home through the deep grassy meadow we came across a wild duck on the nest. When she flew away, I broke one of the eggs an’ found it good, so we took a dozen eggs besides the trout and salmon. We was right proud o’ ourselves that day” (Knight 1947:4-5).

Molly and Charlie Willey were married for nineteen years, then in 1907 they divorced. A year later Molly married Bill Kesler. The newlyweds moved to Knox, about twenty-five miles east of Cascade. Bill built Molly a small cabin and she hired on to feed twenty-or-so sheepherders working in the valley.

Molly hunted and fished to supply food for the table along with doing the cooking. Spring was the time she baited bear traps, for bear grease ran out by spring. “Pies just ain’t fit to eat,” according to Molly, “‘les they’re made o’ bear grease. But you must make sure they’s been fattened on huckleberries, ’cause if a bear’s eatin’ fish, his flesh tastes fishy. Don’t never try makin’ pie crust out anything ‘cept bear grease, taint fit to eat” (Knight 1947:5).

Her skill with a rifle was excellent. One evening after the men had finished eating and were resting outside on the porch, three buck deer wandered up the trail. Everyone scurried for their rifles. Molly was the last to shoot, picking off two of the three animals. As the smoke cleared, and the men realized what had happened, they threw down their guns and stalked off in grim silence. Undaunted, Molly cleaned and skinned her kill. There would be deer steak for breakfast.

Molly had a second, gentler occupation in the mountains. For twenty years she was the only doctor in the valley. Traveling over the trails both winter and summer, she delivered babies and nursed the sick and aged, never charging a penny for her services. In all those years she never lost a mother, and only one abnormal baby. Her logic saved many lives.

“You know in those days we didn’t know about such things as blood transfusions, an’ there weren’t no ergot within a hundred miles, but God O’Mighty did give me a head an’ I was aimin’ to use it. I decided there was only one way to stop them hemorrhages, an’ that was to give her a shock. I had the men folks bring in a tub o’ snow an’ melt it, then I wrung out sheets out o’ that ice cold water an’ wrapped ’em ’round.

“You know, women can pick the most god-awful times to have their youngins’. Why I’ve seen ’em deliberately wait fer a blizzard or until the water was high and the bridge out. Then again I’ve seen ’em when they wouldn’t wait to finish sneezin’.

“Now take the time little Dove Eye Taylor made her first landin’,” Molly reflected as she put a piece of wood on the fire. “How Mrs. Taylor did want a boy, but all her boys were girls. Well, it was a 10 mile trek across to Taylors, an’ the snow was least three feet deep and so soft my skis sunk in a foot, but I made it there.

“After we got little Dove Eye all tied and dried, an’ her Mother restin’ easy like, I started fer home. When I’d gone about two miles there come one awful blizzard. I couldn’t see ten feet ahead. The wind lashed the snow against my face, an’ near blinded me. My legs was just as heavy as fence posts, but stumblin’ round, I found I had reached an old washed out bridge that crossed Lake Fork, and beings as how I couldn’t go back the way I came, I started across on the stringers of the of bridge.

“I laid one ski from one stringer to ‘nother, stood on it, then reached back and picked up the first one an’ stepped on it, then laid it in front again. When I finally got across, the snow had drifted ten feet deep over the end of the stringers, so I couldn’t climb out. I let myself down through the stringers to the edge of the ice below an’ followed the river until I could find a place to climb out.

“Feelin’ my way along, with the blizzard whippin’ and lashin’ at me from all directions, I knowed I must give up. I took off one o’ my skis and started to dig a hole in the snowbank to await my fate. Lookin’ up sudden-like I saw I could climb out. “You know,” Molly reflected with a shining light in her eyes, “heaven ain’t ever far away. The next five minutes proved it. I stumbled right to it’s door. It happened to be Mrs. Routsella’s door too, an’ she thawed me out with hot coffee and cake” (Knight 1947:3-4).

Molly did some rescuing of her own after she and Bill moved over to Warm Lake. Buying a large piece of land next to the lake, they built and ran the Warm Lake Hotel in the pines. The place became a favorite stopping spot for hunters, fishermen, and folks just wanting to spend some time in the mountains. For almost thirty years travelers relaxed next to the fire, and ate Molly’s cocking. Molly still found time to hunt and fish, supplying wild game and huckleberry pie for her guests.

But it was in the winter of 1935 when Molly saved the airliner. A blizzard raged over the mountains of Central Idaho on the evening of March 25, 1935. Molly and Bill Kesler were settling down for the night when Molly heard the sound of a plane’s engine over the roar of the wind. The Cascade News reported:

After battling for over three hours against the furious storm which whipped it off its course, the Salt Lake-to-Portland giant airliner of the United Airlines landed safely at Cascade at midnight Monday during a lull in the storm with its gasoline supply nearly exhausted and its nine occupants nearly frozen, the heating apparatus having failed.
The lost ship was first located by Mrs. Mollie Kessler [sic], high over Warm Lake. Knowing something was wrong she phoned to Cascade and Earl Welch and Dr. Theil gave the Boise office its location. It was then put on its proper course by radio (3/26/1935:p.1).

United Airline officials were so grateful for Molly’s help they sent her a lifetime pass. In 1947 Molly remarked, “I ain’t never used it yet, but don’t get the idea I’m scared, fer I’m not, but I just ain’t had no ‘cassion to use it” (Knight 1947:9).

After thirty years at Warm Lake Hotel, Molly and Bill decided to “move to town.” In the late 1940’s they moved to McCall, next to the lake, but Molly couldn’t leave her mountain way of life totally behind. when interviewed by Ruth Knight in 1947, Molly opened the closet door; two worn-out 30-30 rifles leaned against the wall. A .38 lay under her pillow.

“I know you think I’m crazy, but beings as how I had to depend on a gun so long, I just can’t get used to bein’ without it, no more’n I can get used to these electric lights. I wanted to stay there in those hills. Yes, I wanted to die there, fer thats home to me” (Knight 1947:1).

Author’s Note: Molly’s life story was recorded in 1947 by Ruth T. Knight, under the title, “Molly Of The Mountains”. After finding the unpublished manuscript in the historic files of the Payette National Forest, McCall, Idaho, I realized Molly’s story was unique and inspirational. So few stories tell of the early life of Idaho pioneer women. I rewrote the information gathered by Knight in story form, using the facts as a base format and quotes of dialogue taken by Knight from Molly at the time of the 1947 interview. I have added generally to the scenes of that data, and corrected punctuation; striving to maintain Molly’s charm and individuality. I researched and checked data in the Cascade News (Cascade, Idaho, Friday March 29, 1935, p.1) and Idaho Daily Statesman (Boise, Idaho, Tuesday Morning, March 26, 1935, p.1 and 2), for details regarding the rescue of the United Airlines plane.

“Molly” Mary Lou Kesler

“Molly” Mary Lou Kesler was born 24 February 1870 at The Dalles, Oregon to Elijah J. Flanery and Lucy J. Kersey
(BYU Idaho Special Collections & Family History).

She died November 19, 1951, in Blackfoot (USGenWeb Archives) and is buried in Weiser as is her husband Bill

source: ID AHGP [h/t SMc]
— — — — — — — — — —

Mary Lou Kesler

Birth: 24 Feb 1870 Salem, Marion County, Oregon
Death: 19 Nov 1951 Blackfoot, Bingham County, Idaho
Burial: Hillcrest Cemetery Weiser, Washington County, Idaho

source: Find a Grave

William Kesler

Birth: 7 Dec 1864 Wirt County, West Virginia
Death: 3 Aug 1955 (aged 90) Emmett, Gem County, Idaho
Burial: Hillcrest Cemetery, Weiser, Washington County, Idaho

source: Find a Grave

Link to Warm Lake History part 1

Link to Warm Lake History part 2

Idaho History May 26, 2019

Daisy Erma Paulsen Tappan

Middle Fork Salmon River, Yellow Pine, Challis Idaho

March 5, 1908 – April 24, 1984

caption: Daisy prepares to resume splitting kindling at her ranch in the Pahsimeroi Valley, Idaho in 1980. Photograph c. Molly O’Leary 1980

Daisy was born in Prineville, Oregon, to Alex and Fannie Watson Paulsen. Her family moved to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River when she was a young girl and she and her brother Fred spent their childhood years living in what is now the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness near Indian Creek.

In 1925, Daisy married Fred Tappan. They reportedly bought this homestead from Willis Jones for $1,200 and lived in this cabin with their two sons, Stanley Charles Tappan and James Howard Tappan, on what has been known ever since as the Tappan Ranch. The Tappans raised cattle and Daisy grew a big garden with strawberries, watermelons, blackberries, raspberries and muskmelons, as well as corn for her chickens. When she wasn’t growing and preserving food for the family’s subsistence, Daisy looked after her sons and fought off the bears that frequently swam the river to feast on the bounty of her orchard.

The Tappans were forced to move from their Middle Fork home, circa 1933 (?), when their federal grazing permit was discontinued.

Joe Anderson, an early pioneer of boating on the Middle Fork, recalled at the time of Daisy’s passing that “Daisy loved the great outdoors. She loved her animals, especially a good horse. She could handle a pack string of horses or mules better than most. And she could break, train and ride a horse with the best of them. When it came to handling a gun, she was a crack shot. I believe Daisy could outwork, outshoot and outride most men, and she didn’t mind telling them.”

Marker Marker donated by Molly O’Leary.
— — — — — — — — — —

Daisy’s Family

Husband: Fred Tappan
Sons: Stanley Charles and James Howard Tappen
Brother: Fred H Paulsen and wife Mary
Parents: Alex Paulsen and Fannie Watson
Maternal Grand Parents: Eleck (Alex?) and Martha Watson from TX

sources: Family Search, Find a Grave, Middle Fork book (see below)
— — — — — — — — — —

Watsons, Paulsens and Tappans on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Daisy Paulsens Tappan lived with her family on the Middle Fork from 1912 through 1940.
(Remington, see below)
— — —

Eleck and Martha Watson from TX [were] maternal grandparents of Fred Paulsen and Daisy Tappan
(pg 52)

Eleck Watson’s cabin at Pistol Creek about 1914. L to R: Bessie Watson (Cameron), Mamie Watson (Nethkin Pierce), Martha Watson.

Mile 25.1 Indian Creek Campground.

Indian Creek Bar was first occupied by Mr. Watson, grandfather of Daisy Tappan and Fred Paulsen. He first tried the area across the river, then decided he preferred the Bar. He built several small cabins there about 1914.

Fred and Daisy were the only children along that whole section of the river. Miners often left them wild pets. They tamed chipmunks and broke them to pull match-box wagons which they made, sometimes even holding “wagon races.”

The children trapped ground squirrels for the penny bounty on their tails. The squirrels or “picket pins” were considered a nuisance in horse country.
(pg 55)

Lured by descriptions from a passing prospector, Watson pulled out in 1919 for Green River, Utah. The kids went to school there, but didn’t stay long. (One of Daisy’s schoolmates was Arthur Ekker of Robbers Roost Ranch fame.) They finally all returned to the Middle Fork country.

Fred Paulsen worked a mining prospect up behind Indian Creek Bar.

Eventually the site was withdrawn by the Forest Service for administrative purposes. The old cabins were burned.
(pg 57)

Fred Paulsen with his pack string.
(pg 55)

Mile 36.1 Little Creek Bridge

The Forest Service asked Fred Paulsen if he would pack in the materials for this bridge. He agreed to handle the job. The Service put on a summer cerw to widen the trail all the way to the river.

When spring arrived there was 15 feet of snow in places, which should have been expected. Instead of waiting for the melt, they hired Bob Johnson to fly the materials in with his tri-motor Ford.

… Fred Paulsen’s folks started the second cabin at Little Creek [Middle Fork] but it was never finished. … These cabins are now part of the Middle Fork Lodge property today.
(pg 86)

Fred Paulsen

Mile 43.7 Fred Paulsen’s cabin is up the hill on the right.

Fred was the brother of Daisy Tappan. He spent most of his life packing, mining, haying and working in the Middle Fork canyon. In his prime he stood 6’2″ and weighed about 275 pounds. His feats of strength were legendary. He could hold a hay wagon while someone changed a wheel, or tuck the leg of an ornery mule under his arm and hold it while he shod it.

Fred, as much as any man, symbolized the best characteristics of the old-time settlers. He worked against every kind of hardship: bad weather, hard times, frequent tragedies, long hours—yet through it all he remained good-natured and always ready to drop what he was doing to help someone else. In his later years, Fred lived in a cabin on the outskirts of Challis. He remained active until his death in 1978 at age 72.

Fred Paulsen at his cabin about six years before he died.
(pg 93)

Mile 56.5 Grouse Creek-Tappan Ranch-Campground.

Grouse Creek is the favorite campground of many boatmen. It was one of the two campsites used by President Jimmy Carter on his three-day Middle Fork trip in August, 1978.

The cabin on the upstream side of the creek was built by Willis Bill Jones, who homesteaded the place October 5, 1927. Jones had followed oil well drilling work, and spent some time in the Hollywood movie-making business. He was suffering from tuberculosis but got along pretty well at the creek. He would send out once a year to Meyers Cove for 50 pounds of good southern tobacco – he liked to smoke natural leaf. That would see him through the year.

Bill had only three horses, but he did ranch the place. He planted peaches, apples, grapes and currants. Some of the trees had just begun to bear when he decided to sell out. He was nearly 70 years old. He went down to Arizona and died a few years later near Salt River.

Fred and Daisy Paulsen Tappan bought the place for $1,200. Fred was from Iowa, and Daisy was born in Pineville, Oregon. Her father had hunted geese and egrets for the markets there. Daisy had first come into the Middle Fork when she was a child of seven. She was every bit as competent in the backcountry as any man who ever lived there.

The Tappans extended the cabin by enclosing the porch. That became the kitchen. They built a barn, chicken house, and corral out on the flat in front of the house, next to the big ponderosa pine tree.

They planted additional fruit trees and put in a large garden. Daisy grew strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, peanuts, musk-melons, and watermelons. She said the rock chucks would make a little hole in the melons next to the ground and then proceed to hollow out the entire fruit. She thought the melons were fine until she tried to pick them. Daisy grew corn for her chickens, and canned all her fruits and vegetables. Deer were a plentiful source of meat.

Between chores she looked after their boys and fought the bears that swam the river to attack the orchard.
(pg 103)

Daisy and her boys haying the field below Grouse Creek.

The Tappans had a few cattle, some horses, and cows. The stock could not be left out for the winter so they packed in a hay rake. They ditched water out of Grouse Creek to irrigate hay in the upper and lower field behind the cabin. While the snow didn’t get too bad, the hillsides were dangerous with ice. It was usually the 10th of March before they could let the cows out again.

Self-sufficient as they were, Daisy said they still had to buy horseshoes, leather, and clothes. Three hundred dollars would easily see them through the year. To get the money Fred could work look-out or trail crew for the Forest Service, or work in the Yellowjacket mines.

In later years the Forest Service cut off their cattle range, so when the boys were old enough to go to school the Tappans moved out. After they left, Daisy said, “You know it was three years before I could sleep without the sound of that river and creek. It was just too darned quiet.”

You might think life was easier once they left Grouse Creek. But consider this: the Tappans lived at a mine near Yellow Pine – halfway between the town and the airport. There were two dog teams to haul mail and freight between the town and the airstrip, and Daisy ran one. She would sled the boys three miles to school in Yellow Pine each morning, pick up mail and supplies, sled six miles up to the airport on Johnson Creek to make delivery, pick up mail, freight and groceries from the pilot, and mush six miles back to Yellow Pine. There she would pick up the children and sled home to make dinner.

At this writing [1980] Daisy lives on her ranch in the Pahsimeroi Valley of Idaho, still looking after cattle and felling her firewood with a chainsaw – at 73 years of age. What a remarkable woman!

Fred Tappan died in California in 1975.

Bob Simplot acquired the Tappan Ranch and sold all but the five acres with the cabin to the Fish and Game Department. When he got around to surveying it, he found the Fish and Game Department had left him only 3 1/2 acres. He still uses the cabin as a vacation spot, often packing in with his son in the fall.

The highest peak looking west across the river is Bear Creek Point, 8,629 feet.
(pg 105)

The Jones-Tappan cabin today [1980], after the Tappans enclosed the front overhang.
(pg 104)

Fred and Daisy at Meyers Cove, ready for a trip to Grouse Creek.
(pg 106)

The Tappens and their boys pose with a vintage plane at the Thomas Creek strip.
(pg 87)

Mile 13.1 Sheepeater Hot Springs and Camp on the left.

There were cabins on the upper and lower flats here. Gene Hussey and Charles Smith, who worked the mill up at Waterwheel, wintered down here. They built the cabins and used them as headquarters for their winter trapping operations. The logs around the hot spring are all that remain of a cabin that enclosed it. It was used for washing clothes and bathing. Water was taken by small ditches to the other cabins. Evidence of the foundations can still be seen on the flats.

Daisy Tappan recalls that a colony of beaver dammed the outflow of the springs creating a large pond on the upper flat. Her boys used it as a swimming pool in the Forties.

The Tappan boys swimming in the pool behind the beaver dam at Sheepeater Hot Springs.
(pg 45)

… In the spring and fall elk are often attracted to the minerals deposited by the spring waters.
(pg 43)

excerpted from: “Middle Fork and the Sheepeater War” by Johnny Carrey & Cort Conley 1980
Amazon link:
— — — — — — — — — —

Daisy Erma Paulsen Tappan

Author: Molly O’Leary

… Another strong, capable woman I had the good fortune of meeting was Daisy Erma Paulsen Tappan. I met Daisy in her early seventies, when she lived on and single-handedly worked a ranch property in the Pahsimeroi Valley of east-central Idaho.

Daisy was born in Prineville, Oregon in 1908 but her family moved to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River when she was a young girl. She and her brother Fred spent their childhood years living in what is now the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness near Indian Creek.

Daisy later returned to the Middle Fork area with her husband Fred Tappan to raise their two sons in a small log cabin on what has been known ever since as the Tappan Ranch, at the mouth of Grouse Creek. Together they raised cattle, horses and a few milk cows, and put up hay to feed their stock through the long winters. As if raising hay in such rough country wasn’t daunting enough, Daisy and Fred had to pack the haying equipment into the back country by horses when they set up their home.

In addition to tending to the ranching chores, Daisy grew a big garden with strawberries, watermelons, blackberries, raspberries and muskmelons, as well as corn for her chickens. She canned all of their fruits and vegetables. When she wasn’t growing and preserving food for the family’s subsistence, Daisy looked after her sons and fought off the bears that frequently swam the river to feast on the bounty of her orchard.

After several years of investing their sweat equity to improve the hand-hewn homestead, the Tappans were forced to move from the Middle Fork when their grazing permit was discontinued. From there, they moved on to Yellow Pine, Idaho, where Daisy transported her sons three miles to school each day by dogsled team in the winter, and then mushed six miles out to the nearby landing strip to pick up the day’s mail, before returning to Yellow Pine to deliver the mail and retrieve her sons from school for the sled-ride home.

Joe Anderson, an early pioneer of boating on the Middle Fork, recalled at the time of Daisy’s passing that “Daisy loved the great outdoors. She loved her animals, especially a good horse. She could handle a pack string of horses or mules better than most. And she could break, train and ride a horse with the best of them. When it came to handling a gun, she was a crack shot. I believe Daisy could out-work, out-shoot and out-ride most men, and she didn’t mind telling them.”

Daisy Erma Paulsen Tappan Obituary, published April 38, 1904, The Challis Messenger.
Daisy Tappan – The Legend Lives on, published May 3, 1984, The Challis Messenger.
The Middle Fork – A Guide, by Johnny Carrey & Court [sic] Conley, 3rd Edition, Backeddy Books. C. 1992.
Photograph c. Molly O’Leary 1980

excerpted from: Whats Past Is Prologue by Molly O’Leary March 24, 2014
[h/t CG]
— — — — — — — — — —

1940 (Sun Valley Job) Middle Fork of the Salmon River

by Emma Cox

That Spring we received a letter from Sun Valley asking if Lafe would be interested in contract packing for for the Sun Valley Lodge. It sounded exciting for both of us and the folks urged us to try it. We would learn more of the country. Most of the packing would be on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and would be a summer job.
(pg 87)

Lafe (and Emma) Cox in 1940 above the Middle Fork on the way to Sun Valley job.
(pg 89)

… We arrived at Fred and Daisy Tappan’s place on the Middle Fork. Lafe knew them and their two boys well, so he told Daisy about the tick bite and how I was feeling. We had tried not to show or say anything to the fishermen or the chief of parties.

Daisy insisted we stay in one of the heated cabins. The dudes stayed in stove heated tents. The doctor was sure I had tick fever and kept an eye on me, supplying us with aspirin. I was so relieved when the Good Lord showed he was on my side by bringing a downpour of rain that kept us inside for two days. With that the fishermen decided to stay over a few days and just fish in the river there. I remained in bed until I quit chilling and the fever broke.

Daisy prepared good homecooked meals and the dudes were amazed at her ability. She was the first woman I had ever seen roll her own cigarettes, sometimes in just one hand. She never spilled a drop! I believe she was smoking Bull Durham tobacco that came in little white sacks which she always kept in her shirt pocket. She was really a neat little woman.

One fellow in the party who had a movie camera enjoyed taking movies of Daisy rolling her cigarettes.

She told me she came into that country as a very small girl with her parents.

We were surely grateful for our stay. When the weather settled, we moved on up to Loon Creek at Sam Lovell’s place. Stanley Tappen (sic), who was in his late teens, rode with us on his horse part way, as he wanted to ask Lafe if he thought there was a chance for employment at the dude ranch. We called Clark and Beulah by Forest Service telephone from the Lovell’s. Clark said he surely could use Stan if he wanted to work trail and do a lot of riding. Stanley was one happy boy as he turned around, went back home to get his bedroll, clothes and some food, and headed for the dude ranch.
(pgs 92-93)

from: “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox
Order from: VO Ranch Books, P O box 173, Emmett, Idaho 83617
— — — — — — — — — —

Fred H. Tappan

1942 Fred H. Tappan is listed as a Patrolman Middle Fork Challis National Forest

source: History of the Challis National Forest
— — — — — — — — — —

Grouse Creek C&H

Located around Tappen [sic] Ranch, closed in 1947 for game and recreation use. Tappen had a temporary permit for 25 head C&H 5/1-11/15. The Jones Ranch was the commensurate ranch property used in connection with this allotment. The early records of the use of this allotment seem to be somewhat clouded. Undoubtedly the homesteader, Willis Jones, grazed some free use stock on this allotment prior to 1911 for about this time R. L. Ramey seems to have been issued a permit to use this allotment, probably with his ranch at the mouth of Loon Creek. However, we find that in 1940, Fred Tappen apparently acquired the Jones Ranch at the mouth of Grouse Creek and was issued a permit to graze 5 cattle and 10 horses for a season of 5/1 to 11/15 under a temporary permit. It is probable, however, that this range was also used by William Wilson in connection with his Meyers Cove Ranch long before this. Tappen had held temporary permit for about 25 head of stock from 1940 to 1944, and in 1945 the ranch was leased by L. L. Anderson who held temporary permit for about the same number.

source: History of the Challis National Forest
— — — — — — — — — —

Daisy Paulsen Tappan


Birth: 5 Mar 1908
Death: 24 Apr 1984 (aged 76)
Burial: Challis Cemetery, Challis, Custer County, Idaho

source: Find a Grave

Obit: Dated 3 May 1984

Daisy E. Tappan, 76, dies

Funeral services for Daisy Erma Tappan, 76, were held at the Challis Community Church on Saturday, April 28, at 2 p.m. with Rev. Harry Boughey officiating.

Mrs. Tappan died April 24, 1984, in Challis.

She was born March 5, 1908, in Prineville, Ore., the daughter of Alex and Fannie Watson Paulsen.

Her family moved to the Middle Fork country while she was a young child. She and her brother, Fred, grew up in the back country and this is where she gained her deep respect of wildlife and the great outdoors.

In 1925 she was married to Fred Tappan and to this union two sons were born and they were raised on the ranch in the Middle Fork. Daisy was well-known for her horsemanship and packer experience.

She could out-work, out-ride, and out-shoot most men and didn’t mind telling them so. She had the pioneer spirit deep in her veins and there was no such thing as: “it can’t be done.”

She was an early riser and loved her animals but her greatest joy was working which is what she was doing when she died.

There are few left like Daisy Tappan and she will be greatly missed by those who knew her. If you missed knowing her, you missed one of lifes’ great pleasures.

She also lived at the mouth of [Tower Creek and was presently residing north of Challis at the old stagecoach stop.]

Her two sons Stanley Charles and James Howard Tappan [preceded her in death.] … (unintelligible) …

Burial took place in the Challis Cemetery under direction of the Jones & Casey Funeral home.
— —


Daisy Tappan

Challis – Funeral services for Daisy Erma Tappan, 76, were held at the Challis Community Church Saturday [April 28] with Rev. Harry Boughey officiating.

She died April 24, 1984.

She worked with horses and helped her husband ranch in the Middle Fork area.

She was born March 5, 1908 in Prineville. Ore., to Alex and Fannie Watson Paulsen. Her family moved to the Middle Fork area when she was a young child.

In [1925], she married Fred Tappan. They ranched in the Middle Fork area.

She also lived at the mouth of Tower Creek and was presently residing north of Challis at the old stagecoach stop.

She is survived by grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Burial was in the Challis Cemetery under the direction of the Jones & Casey Funeral Home.

source: Family Search
— — —

Divorced Fred Howard Tappen

Date: 09 Mar 1950
Place: Custer, Idaho

citation: “Idaho Divorce Index, 1947-1963,” database, FamilySearch ( : 27 December 2014), Fred Howard Tappan and Daisy Erma Tappan, 09 Mar 1950; citing Divorce, Custer, Idaho, United States, certificate 00462, Idaho Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, Boise.

Married Orvil Arthur Westergard

Date: 14 Jul 1951
Place: Roberts, Jefferson, Idaho

citation: “United States Western States Marriage Index”, database, FamilySearch ( : 19 October 2018), Orvil Arthur Westergard and Daisy Paulsen Tappan, 1951.
— — — — — — — — — —

Brother Fred H Paulsen

Birth: 27 August 1907 Crook, Oregon
Death: 22 July 1978 Challis, Custer, Idaho

source: Family Search
— — —


Stanley Charles Tappan

US Navy World War II
Birth: 3 Feb 1926 Crook County, Wyoming
Death: 13 Jun 1976 (aged 50) Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah
Burial: Challis Cemetery, Challis, Custer County, Idaho

source: Find a Grave (w/photo of hadstone)
— —

Stanley Tappan

StanleyTappanObit-aChallis – Services for Stanley Charles Tappan, 50, were held at the Challis Community Church 2pm Thursday with Rev. Harry Boughey officiating.

Mr. Tappen died June 13 [1976] in a Salt Lake City hospital. He had been ill the past four months.

He was born Feb. 3, 1926, in Saratoga, Wyo., the on of Fred and Daisey [sic] Paulsen Tappan.

He married Ruby Piva and about 1950 started packing out of Stanley into the Middle Fork area.

He married Helen Wambolt in February, 1962, in Reno, Nev.

He continued to operate his pack outfit until 1970 when he moved to the Ketchum area.

He was a member of the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Assn.

Survivors include his mother, Daisy Tappan, May; children, Scot Tappan, American Falls; Sue Duke, Challis, and Judy Ann Tappan, Salmon; one grandson.

Burial was in the Challis Cemetery under direction of the Jones Casey Funeral Home of Salmon.

source: Family Search
— — — —

James Howard Tappan

AIC US Air Force World War II Korea
Birth: 10 Sep 1927 Midas, Elko County, Nevada
Death: 29 Jan 1976 (aged 48) Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah
Burial: Challis Cemetery, Challis, Custer County, Idaho

source: Find a Grave (w/photo of hadstone)
— — — —


Fannie Watson (Paulsen) Richardson

Birth: 25 Apr 1888 Colorado
Death: 26 Jun 1928 (aged 40) Lovelock, Pershing County, Nevada
Burial: Mountain View Cemetery Reno, Washoe County, Nevada

source: Find a Grave
— — — —

Grand Mother

Martha “Mattie” Reeves Watson

Birth: 1 Aug 1865
Death: 10 Apr 1931 (aged 65) Gem County, Idaho
Burial: Riverside Cemetery Emmett, Gem County, Idaho

Note: Messenger Index newspaper in 1931: “Mrs. Martha Watson died Thursday of pneumonia at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Mayme Pierce of South Washington Street. Another daughter, Mrs. Grey of Nevada, came in response to a message telling her of the death of her mother.” Mrs. Grey is probably Fannie, who died with the surname of Richardson in Nevada.

source: Find a Grave
— — —

Grand Father

Alex (Eleck?) Calvin Watson

Birth: 31 Jan 1862 Coryell County, Texas
Death: 3 May 1930 (aged 68) Custer County, Idaho
Burial: Challis Cemetery, Challis, Custer County, Idaho

Note: Husband of Mattie in Riverside Cemetery, Gem County. Married 1884. No stone apparently.

source: Find a Grave
— — — — — — — — — —

Census Records

United States Census, 1930 Idaho Challis Precinct, Custer County

Fred Tappan Male 31 Married Head 1899 Iowa
Daisy Tappan Female 22 Married Wife 1908 Oregon
Stanley Tappan Male 4 Single Son 1926 Wyoming
James Tappan Male 2 Single Son 1928 Nevada

Willard Pierce Male 38 Married Head 1892 Utah
Mamie E (Watson) (Nethken) Pierce Female 26 Married Wife 1904 Oregon
Lloyd N Nethken Male 11 Single Stepson 1919 Idaho
Lewis W Nethken Male 8 Single Stepson 1922 Idaho
Chester R Nethken Male 6 Single Stepson 1924 Idaho
Martha Watson Female 64 Married Mother-in-law 1866 Texas

United States Census, 1940 Idaho Singiser Precinct, Lemhi County

Fred Tappen Male 43 Married Head 1897 Iowa Same House
Daisy Tappen Female 32 Married Wife 1908 Oregon Same House
Stanley Tappen Male 13 Single Son 1927 Wyoming Same House
James Tappen Male 12 Single Son 1928 Nevada Same House

United States Census, 1940 Idaho Challis Precinct, Custer County

Fred H Paulsen Male 34 Married Head 1906 Oregon
Mary Paulsen Female 36 Married Wife 1904 Utah

source: Family Search US Census Records
— — — — — — — — — —

Middle Fork Wolves?

… Budell believed wolves were rare in the Middle Fork country (pers. cammun.), as did Daisy Tappan who lived with her family on the Middle Fork from 1912 through 1940. Tappan believed wolves were extremely scattered and rare through much of the Middle Fork country, occurring primarily alone but at times in pairs. The only sign she observed were tracks of a lone wolf near the mouth of Pistol Creek during 1915 (D.Tappan, pers. canmun.).

source: Tom Remington
— — — — — — — — — —


source: Topozone
— — — — — — — — — —

Modern Middle Fork

Tappan Ranch


… First up on Day Three was a visit to the Tappan Ranch at Grouse Creek. The ranch house is still maintained by the Forest Service. Next we walked by Tappan Falls Rapids–happy that we were not floating the river.

excerpted from: Middle Fork Backpack April 1995 © Copyright Tom Lopez; Idaho: A Climbing Guide
— — — — — — — — — —

Daisy Tappan was a legendary figure in the Salmon River area.

The Tappan cabin faced Grouse creek. The cabin was situated between the Middle Fork River and Grouse Creek.

There was precious little flat ground, and all of it rocky. It would seem difficult to grow anything or to graze cattle.

Daisy sounded like quite a woman! and it did not escape my notice that she was just 25 years old when she moved away from the Middle Fork cabin.

excerpted from: Notes from the Cabin….and beyond by Sue and Fred September 21, 2015
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Tappan Rapids on the Middle Fork

Mile 57: Grouse Creek Rapid (II+) is a fun S-turn rapid and a good warm up for the Tappan Rapids downstream.

Mile 58.2: Tappan I (III-) is the first of the Tappan Rapids.

Mile 58.5: Tappan Falls is the biggest rapid in the Tappan Rapids.

Mile 59: Cove Creek Rapid (or Tappan 2 1/2) changed Tappan III and part of Tappan II after the Cove Creek landslide in 2008. Since this rapid was formed by a recent landslide it changes each season.

excerpted from: Whitewater Guidebook
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Middle Fork Day 4 – Canyon Description

Matt Leidecker

Typically, the fourth day on a six-day Middle Fork trip will take boaters through a variety of increasingly dramatic landscapes. As the landscape transitions from the sloping hillsides of the middle canyon the river flows through the dramatic Tappan Canyon and into steeper and lower canyons of the Middle Fork.

Tappan Canyon

A significant geologic change occurs at the mouth of Grouse Creek and continues through Tappan Canyon. A small window of ancient and resistant metamorphic rock crops out along the right wall of the canyon. Attentive floaters will notice some interesting folds in the wall just above the Grouse Creek Camps. The less geologically aware can’t help but notice the series of rapids formed downstream where the river pours over ledges and boulders of this resistant rock.

Over time, the Middle Fork appears to have eroded down and along the contact between the Tappan Canyon metamorphics that slope toward the river from the right canyon wall and the more easily eroded pink granite of the Casto pluton. In addition, a large alluvial fan emanating from the mouth of Grouse Creek (river right) also pushes the river into the granites along the left bank. The result is an impressive rampart of pink granite towers on the left bank at the mouth of Grouse Creek that mark the entrance to Tappan Canyon.

Further downstream, the river splits around Tappan Island and weaves along the contact, exposing the grey-green metamorphic rock on the right bank and more crumbly pink granite cliffs on the left. Several significant rapids clog this stretch of stunningly pretty canyon.

The river leaves the metamorphic rock after Tappan IV Rapid and makes a sweeping 180-degree turn at the mouth of Camas Creek (another great side hike possibility). For the next 6 miles to the Flying B Ranch (mile 68) the landscape is very similar to the stretch upstream of Tappan Canyon. The banks are lined with beautiful 200- to 300-year-old ponderosa pine trees that throw large patches of needles in the campsites. The narrow constriction at Aparajo Rapid (mile 63.1) stands out as one of the more scenic spots.

The Flying B Ranch offers a small store with a selection of gifts, ice cream, beer, and other boating essentials. The irrigated lawn and shade trees can offer a respite from the heat in mid August. Fires in 2000 roared down Brush Creek onto the ranch. While most of the buildings were spared, the firestorm eradicated nearly every living thing for miles on both sides of the canyon. While the grass and sage have fully recovered, the wide and open feeling of the canyon combined with the charred forests a thousand feet overhead can make this stretch feel a little desolate and oppressive during a slow, hot August afternoon.

excerpted from: Adventure Guides United States Idaho Rafting Kayaking (Whitewater)

Idaho History May 19, 2019

Thunder Mountain Gold Rush

(part 6)

Salmon City to Thunder Mountain Route

Union Pacific Railroad – Routes to Thunder Mountain


Great Thunder Mountain gold fields, Idaho Co., Idaho
Description Blueprint. Inset: Map showing routes to Thunder Mountain. Scale [1:1,647,360]. “Thunder Mountain gold fields are reached only via Boise, Ketchum, Mackay, Red Rock or Weiser, all good outfitting points on the Oregon Short Line R.R.”
Date 1905

source: Idaho State Historical Society
(Go to source link, zoom in, it also shows townsite of Roosevelt and the mining claims around it.)
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Thunder Mountain Story

by Marilyn Afford

While Thunder Mountain is not a part of Lemhi County, its history is enmeshed with ours. The trails to Thunder Mountain and the old town of Roosevelt were heavily traveled and many Lemhl County people were involved with the short but hectic story of that area. Thunder Mountain is located on the Payette National Forest near the head of Monumental and Marble Creeks, both western tributaries of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

In 1991, as a part of the National celebration of the centennial of the first Forest Reserves in the United States, the Salmon National Forest began maintaining and reconstructing a segment of one of the historic trails to Thunder Mountain for use by recreationists. While the location of parts of the old trail are unknown, or have been obliterated by roads or other activity, the segment from Williams Lake to China Springs is still largely intact and recognizable.

The gold rush was intense, involving thousands of people from all walks of life. To supply their needs, horse and mule strings found their way through the rugged terrain of the Salmon River Mountains from several directions, including Salmon City. One of the routes used involved travel from Salmon, up Lake Creek. past Williams Lake, to China Springs. then southwest to Yellowjacket on the way to the Middle Fork and Thunder Mountain. It was a long and arduous trip of over one hundred miles through some of the most rugged terrain in the state of Idaho. The trail from Salmon City to China Springs was steep and largely dry. At China Springs, teamsters and their animals could stop and refresh.

The gold rush began in the Thunder Mountain District in 1901, spawning the boom towns of Roosevelt, Thunder City, and Belleco. On December 11, 1901 an item appeared in the local newspaper that indicates the excitement that existed over the Thunder Mountain area:

The Red Rock and Salmon River Stage Line is preparing for the rush to Thunder Mountain. and has ten 4-horse Concord coaches and four 6–horse Concords in readiness. This will handle Twenty-five to fifty passengers daily, conveying them within fifty miles of Thunder Mountain at Yellow Jacket, from which point the journey must be made by pack outfits. It will require three days to make the trip in, one day being used to travel from Red Rock to Salmon, and two days from Salmon to Thunder.

Another item from the “Lemhi Herald” of November 20. 1901 reads:

Salmon to Leesburg, 14 miles – Leesburg to Leacock Station on Big Creek, 9 miles – Up Big Creek to Forney, 12 miles – Forney to Three Forks (which form Camas Creek), 14 miles – Down Camas Creek to the Middle Fork, 14 miles – Up the Middlefork to the mouth of Marble Creek, 8 miles Up Marble Creek to Mouth of Mule Creek, 20 miles — You are now in Thunder Mountain Country, but not the heart of it Up Mule Creek. 9 miles and we are in the land of wealth.

Card addressed to: Mrs. Roy J. King, Grass Valley, California.
“Darling, this is where I stopped for the night of July 2nd. The town consists of one house and three individuals. Lovingly, Roy”
“Homestead of Abner C. Leacock, at confluence of Nappias and Big Creek.”
From “Centennial History of Lemhi County, Idaho,” compiled by Lemhi County History Committee, Hon. Fred Snook, Chairman; 1992; p. 168f

The combined population of Roosevelt and Thunder City grew to over five thousand, but some sources indicate that in 1902 there were as many as 22,000 men at work there on 11,000 claims. About fifty mining stock companies had formed, but only two had any money to work with.

Roosevelt 1901 (?)

The boom was short-lived, as the town of Roosevelt was drowned by a landslide–formed lake in 1909. Water seeping through the workings, true to the predictions of many experienced miners, caused the slide. The mountain slid 2.5 miles down Mule Creek to the mouth of Monumental Creek Canyon in twenty six hours, damming Monumental Creek.

Today, the waters of this remote lake ripple over the remains of a ghost town that was perhaps the most isolated mining town in Idaho.

References. “Recorder Herald” August 1991, and Research notes of Marjorie B Sims

source: Idaho AHGP / SMc
— — — — — — — — — —

Routes to Thunder Mountain

1910 Map
— — — — — — — — — —

The Eastern Route

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.”

Excerpted from: The Ghosts Walk Under the Water by Faith Turner from “Scenic Idaho”, Winter 1954
[h/t SMc Back Country History Project]
— — — — — — — — — —

Stage Coach Salmon City, Idaho

Last Stage Coach to Leave Salmon, Idaho. 1900s
source: Building in the Past
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1901 Thunder Mountain Rush

During the rush to Thunder Mountain in 1901, the following appeared in the Recorder-Herald:

F. W. Vogler, general manager of the Redrock, Salmon City and Gibboasville stage line, was in town Monday and states that his line is making all arrangements for the handling of the great crowd of people which, it is expected, will rush to the wonderful quartz discoveries recently made in the Thunder Mountain district in Idaho, about 100 miles front Salmon City. He can easily handle 25 – 50 passensers each day, having ten four-horse Concord coaches and four six-horse Concords to do it with. He will be able to land passengers within 50 miles of Thunder Mountain at Yellow Jacket, from which point the journey must be made by pack outfits.

excerpted from: pgs 51-52 The History of the Salmon National Forest 1973
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Salmon, Idaho stage to Red Rock, Montana

source: Hugh Hartman
— — — — — — — — — —

January of 1902

Unable to go to Thunder Mountain, impatient miners began to pile up in Warrens, ready to dash on in as soon as an opportunity should offer. Stage lines from Union Pacific stations in Ketchum, Mackay, and Red Rock, Montana (operating via Salmon) also prepared in January of 1902 to offer service over non-existant roads (through country in which roads still have not been completed eighty years later) when winter might break. Seventeen Concord coaches were procured for a line from Red Rock alone.

excerpted from: Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series Number 20 1966
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Thunder Mountain Trail

photo of an old map the USFS put out in the 70’s from a historical map from 1918. The trail went from Salmon Idaho to Thunder Mountain mine.

Shared by Diana Rackham Nielson
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Jan 21, 1902 The Silver Messenger, Challis Idaho


Mr. C. C. Tautphaus, who has been a prominent stage man on the Pacific Coast for many years, and who was one of the first to enter the Klondike gold fields, arrived in Challis last Tuesday in company with Mr. Sid. Roberts, to ascertain the best and most direct route to Thunder Mountain.

Mr. Tautphaus is a man of experience in the stage business, and is backed by a company with plenty of captial wbo intend to put on a fast stage line from Mackay, the present terminus of the Salmon River Railroad, via Challis to Thunder Mountain. It is the aim of this company to put on one of the best-equipped stage lines known, and have it in operation by March 1st.

A new route from Challis to the famous gold fields has been discovered and which will easily shorten the distance 35 miles. Instead of going by Morgan creek, the new route proposed is to follow the wagon road up Challis creek for a distance of 8 eight miles in a Northwesterly direction, and then cross the Challis creek pass over onto Middle Fork. This route will be in direct line with the Thunder Mountain country and easy of access. To make a survey of this new route last Thursday in the neighborhood of one hundred dollars was raised by the citizens of Challis within a few hours, and on Friday, the following morning, Mr. Tautphaus and Mr. Roberts, with horses and the necessary camp equipment, departed over the new route for Thunder Mountain. On their return, which will probably be within about two weeks, we hope to give a complete account of their trip over the most direct route known to Thunder Mountain.

Following is a very close and conservative estimate of the distances from Mackay to Thunder Mountain via the Challis creek route. Half of this distance is surveved — not estimated, and a portion of the distance — nearly one-half — over one of the best wagon roads in Idaho:


This not only being the most direct, quickest, cheapest and most feasible route to Thunder Mountain, but it is the earliest road in the Spring to reach the great gold fields on account of tho extremely light snow fall, and it is a road that can be kept open the year around with little expense.

This is the BEST ROUTE for the gold-seeker, because the entire distance it passes through a rich mineral region.

This is the BEST ROUTE for the prospector.

This is the BEST ROUTE for the capitalist.

This is the BEST ROUTE for the tourist and pleasure-seeker, for the lakes, rivers and streams abound in trout, and deer, bear and other animals roam at will through the mountains. On this route the grandest mountain scenery can be seen.

This is the BEST ROUTE for the public who desire to go to Thunder Mountain, for it is the quickest and most direct.

From all indications the Salmon River Railroad will extend its Mackay branch to Salmon river next Spring, and from this point will be the outfitting place for the great gold fields, and then the distance by stage will be cut down 50 miles, making it only 90 miles from Challis, the nearest railroad point, over an easy stage road to Thunder Mountain.

From all maps thus far published, one can see at a glance that the Mackay-Challis route to Thunder Mountain is the shortest and most direct. It is on a direct line and no one can well dispute this fact, regardless of all prejudices in the matter.

source: Idaho AHGP [h/t SMc]
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April 4, 1902

Miners To Start A Race For Thunder Mountain

Will Travel by Different Routes to Determine Which Is the Shortest

Boise, Idaho, April 4 [1902] – A couple of miners from Wood River made the statement in a hotel lobby today that the Ketchum route was the best. They were willing to wager, they said, that if two men left Boise for Thunder Mountain, one going by way of Weiser, Council and Warren and the other by way of Ketchum and Cape Horn, the latter would get into camp first. Within fifteen minutes $2000 was raised by Thunder Mountain miners who had come out by the Weiser route. The Ketchum men have sent home for money to cover the bet. The Boise money is on deposit in the Overland Hotel safe. If the Ketchum pot is raised one of the most unique races in the history of the Northwest will take place.

source (broken link): San Francisco Call, Volume 87, Number 126, 5 April 1902
[h/t JTR]
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April 8, 1902 The Silver Messenger, Challis Idaho

1902MckaytoThunderMountain-aThunder Mountain

From Mackay, present terminus of Salmon River Railroad, to Challis by daily stage 50 miles. From Challis to Singiser or Three Forks, by wagon road 40 miles. From Singiser or Three Forks to Thunder Mountain, by good trail, 50 miles. Total 140 miles.

source: Idaho AHGP [h/t SMc]
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Thunder Mountain Map used by Zane Grey

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The Stampede to Thunder Mountain: The New Idaho Gold Camp

london-4-aJack London / Collier’s May 3, 1902

Not since Klondike has there been such a stampede as that now underway to Thunder Mountain. Despite the warning that it is no poor man’s country, at least one hundred “sooners” are going in daily on snowshoes, packing their outfits on their backs or dragging them on toboggan-sleds. Further, all the towns adjacent to the gold field–such as Boise, Ketchum, Council, Red Rock, Lewiston, Weiser and Salmon–are jammed with an army of cooler-headed gold-seekers, waiting the opening of the trails. And each train swells these towns to overflowing, with more men hastening eagerly from the north, south, east and west.

Boom times are on and stampede prices are up. Railroad transportation for seventy-five thousand people has been already bespoken; and as regards the finish, the rush will outrival Klondike; for every man who starts will get there, and there will be more men on the ground than were on the Yukon five years ago.

Thunder Mountain is one of the blank spaces on the map which will no longer be blank. The Thunder Mountain country is as large as the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut combined, and has long been known as a very rich, though largely unprospected, mining country. Thunder Mountain, in particular, is in the southern portion of Idaho County, Idaho, and is situated not far south of Vinegar Hill of the maps. To the south lie the Sawtooth Mountains, which extend from the Seven Devils region, along the Snake, to the main Salmon River. It is a rough and jagged country, of volcanic formation, with a general elevation of from 7,000 to 9,000 feet, and promises to become one of the world’s greatest treasure houses.

The Caswell brothers are responsible for this rush. In 1804, Ben and Dan Caswell made their way into Thunder Mountain and located several claims. Notwithstanding it was entirely a quartz formation, they panned the decomposed porphyry, which had become air-slacked, and washed out $260 in gold. They were joined by another brother, Luman Caswell, and by W. T. Ritchey and Mr. Huntley, and each year for seven years they returned to the spot. Their efforts were crude; water from the melting snow permitted but two weeks’ worth; yet in the fourteen weeks all told they secured $20,358.00 in gold, as shown by the receipts of the United States Assay Office at Boise.

But Thunder Mountain was a quartz proposition, absurd to work as a placer and too big to work without capital. In 1901 Colonel W. H. Dewey, the well-known Idaho millionaire mining and railroad man, bonded the claims for $100,000 and incorporated the Thunder Mountain Gold Mining and Milling Company with a capital stock of $5,000,000, Pittsburg, Pa., capitalists being chiefly interested. Then began the proper development of the deposit. Last fall a ten-stamp mill was freighted in on mule-back and set up. Tunnels and cross-cuts were run and the astonishing value of the deposit discovered. Not only as the mountain itself determined to be a huge ore body of free milling gold running from seven dollars to the ton upward, but rich chutes were found, as wide as seven feet, carrying $2,000 to the ton and penetrating the mountain an unascertainable distance. Recent reports go to show that the value of these chutes has been underestimated.

Thus Thunder Mountain becomes another Treadwell. It is not a fissure vein, but simply a mountain of ore, a first-class quarry scheme, capable of busying two hundred stamps for an interminable period. But, whereas Treadwell is low-grade ore, Thunder Mountain is not only much higher but very much higher grade ore. In addition (and this is the secret of the rush) prospects go to show that the contiguous ground is likewise rich, and that the possibilities are large for a second Cripple Creek, while the very sanguine are not at all backward in proclaiming a second Transvaal. Incidentally, the real Cripple Creek men have achieved a great faith in Thunder Mountain, and every third man is either on the way or talking of going.

And so, because of the Caswells, miners from all the Americas are gathering up their outfits and stampeding to Idaho. The “sooners” are taking the chances of snow and famine in order that they may miss no chances on the spot. Since the ground is covered with many feet of snow, perforce they stake the snow. Later on, when the snow melts, they will find other sets of stakes beneath. Then there will be trouble. But a gold rush without trouble is like a pneumatic tire without punctures.

It never happens.

There are two main reasons for the magnitude of this stampede. Thunder Mountain is the only excitement of the year, and money is easy. Which is to say that the chronic stampeders and adventurers have no where else to go and work off their unrest, and that the good times of the last several years have put the money in their pockets wherewith they may go. That there are all the possibilities for a new Eldorado goes without saying. Idaho has already added $250,000,000 to the world’s gold supply, while thousand of square miles of mineral territory remain practically unexplored. As Thunder Mountain is to-day likened to Cripple Creek, who knows but in some future day new bonanzas may be likened to Thunder Mountain? Anyway, 75,000men are hitting the high places to find out.

The historic works of Jack London and other major journalists are freely available from The Archive of American Journalism:

source: Historic American Journalism
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June 10, 1902 The Silver Messenger, Challis Idaho

1902ChallisThunderMountain-a“In a letter dated May 26, received by Miss Pearl McGowan of Challis, from her brother, George, in which he states that he is within three miles of Thunder Mountain, and his pack-train was the first to reach the new Eldorado. He also states that he rode the first horse to the Dewey mine this year.

source: ID AHGP [h/t SMc]
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Thunder Mountain Pack String


Sam Hopkin’s pack string loaded for a trip down Camas Creek trail and up to Thunder Mountain.

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

(click image for larger size)
Left to right: Jim Hash, Jenney Laing Lewis, Belle Hash, 1903, crossing the Middle Fork on a bridge built a year earlier.

Mile 36.3

Jim and Belle Hash cabin on the right. Jim Hash was raised on his father’s ranch at Idaho Falls. He had all his front teeth knocked out in a fight — when someone hit him with a chair. After that he always carried two guns.

When he was 25 he married Belle, who was 15. They never had any children, but they were so busy they could scarcely have had time for any. They settled on six acres near the junction of Mayfield and Loon Creeks for several years. Then they moved down below Little Creek.

Jim and Belle raised vegetables and kept a packstring of 20-30 burros. They would loose-herd the burros along the trail, selling their produce from Custer to Thunder Mountain. Packing charges for supplies ran 5-15 cents a pound. Everyone liked and respected the Hashes.

When the Thunder Mountain boom was over, the Hashes left and John Sader filed a homestead on the place. Sader acquired title and sold out to Nethkin. The Hashes’ cabin was nicely restored by Harrah’s.

Fred Paulsen’s folks started the second cabin at Little Creek, but it was never finished. It is the building, since roofed, which stands behind the Hash cabin. These cabins are part of the Middle Fork Lodge property today.

from: pgs 85-86 “The Middle Fork and the Sheepeater War” by Johnny Carrey and Cort Conley – copyright 1977

link to Amazon:
— — — — — — — — — —

Middle Fork Salmon River

The Middle Fork has long been a popular recreation area of the Salmon National Forest but the numbers of people visiting it were limited by its inaccessibility until later years. In the days of mining at Yellowjacket, Loon Creek, and Thunder Mountain, the Middle Fork was crossed by main thoroughfares of travel, and several homesteaders settled there in the early 1900’s to raise food for the nearby miners.

The lower part of the canyon, below the mouth of Big Creek, was labeled “Impassable Canyon” by those who came in to find the Sheepeater Indians during the Sheepeater War.
(pgs 114-115)

Graves Associated with Thunder Mountain

Moyer, for whom Moyer Creek is named, was killed along the Thunder Mountain trail, and is buried on a ridge near Moyer Creek.

Near Middle Fork Peak is the grave of a Mr. Armstrong, who died of mountain fever during the Thunder Mountain boom.

Graves at the mouth of Musgrove Creek include Charles O. Scott, a hunter shot by a hunting companion, and Neal Stewart, a miner who fell to his death.
(pgs 127-128)

excerpted from : The History of the Salmon National Forest 1973

Link to more Thunder Mountain stories


Idaho History May 12, 2019

Story of Marge McRae and James Collord

Thunder Mountain, Big Creek, Valley County, Idaho

Marjorie McRae went into Thunder Mountain in 1914 with her family when she two.

Mom [Marjorie] on grandpa Dan’s back while snowshoeing in

The cabin at the Dewey. Grandma Grace, Bob and Marjorie and Fred Holcomb.

Robert and and sister Marge McRae, on mules at Roosevelt in 1916

photos courtesy of Sandy McRae and Jim Collord
— — — — — — — — — —

A Thunder Mountain Romance

by Marge (McRae) Collord

Spring 1929 – McCall, Idaho

Howard Adams of Nampa leased and operated the Payette Lakes Inn of McCall.

Jim Collard was hired as a bellhop and general repair and assistance man. Jim was 18 years old.

Marge McRae was enjoying summer vacation from high school and spent time riding horses and became acquainted with the bellhop at the Inn. A few escapades in the 1928 Dodge and a Model T Ford, painted bright green, and friendship grew.

Marge graduated from high school and Jim attended the affair – Marge, in a yellow dress, gave the valedictorian speech. There were three other graduates that year. Two girls and one boy!

Marge’s father, Dan McRae, saw the potential of a strong body and hard worker in the likeable boy and hired him to go to the mine with him. They snowshoed from McCall over Lick Creek Summit to Yellow Pine and on over Monumental Summit to Thunder Mountain. Jim admitted he thought he was going to die the first day on snowshoes with 30 miles behind them. Following this 50 year old man was no fun!

Offering to break trail wasn’t the way to go either.

Grace McRae was a teacher and when her school year ended we followed the men into the mine where Grace cooked for the crew and family, and anyone who happened to stop by.

3 years of hard work and getting acquainted and things moved along in a positive way. Grace and Dan grew very fond of this boy and he was always appreciative of their acceptance of him into the family. My brother loved the way he took the work load in his stride. Spare time was spent hunting, fishing and getting acquainted.

1934, at Christmas time, my brother married Ruth Cook, who spent many summers in the hills with us. Jim and I decided that was the way to go and we were married February 16, 1935.

Back at the mine and its routine-life. Jim and I moved up the hill to an old cabin which became quite livable with a lot of fixing up. It was dubbed “The Honeymoon Cabin.”

We muddled along with my first cooking job and Jim didn’t laugh or cry when I turned my first pie upside down on the floor by accident.

From then on all was serene and busy. Jim loved the Earth – The isolation and all the things I had lived with in my life as a miners daughter.

So love and happiness, two children, six grand children 13 great grand children and many friends are our treasure.

We struck High Grade in Life: The Mother Lode!

These Things We Remember

We knew the desolation of great heights
And the contentment of deep valleys:
We saw the moon leap silver from the mountain peaks and watched the red sun die in a welter of mists on the horizon;
We knew the white swift decline of vast snow fields
And the small beauty of forest flowers.
Our dream rose with the smoke of our campfires in the wilderness
And our friendship glowed with the embers of fir fires.
We shared hunger, thirst and the great struggle toward the mountaintop;
As we shared peace, good food and pleasant rest of our night camps;
All these things – the dizziness of sudden precipices, straining muscles, weariness, exaltation, the soothing fragrance of pine trees, the chatter of mountain streams and the roar of furious rapids, entered into the pattern of our friendship and made it fine.
These things we knew together
And these things we will remember.

[h/t Jim Collord]
— — —

The Payette Lakes Inn in its early years

source: City of McCall Historic Preservation Plan
— — — — — — — — — —

Jim Collord and Marge (McRae) Courting


Bob McRae and Ruth (Cook)


photos from Jim Collord
— — — — — — — — — —

Jim Collord Lightning Peak 1930

Jim Collord on top of Lightning Peak in 1930 when he first went in to work at the mine.
photo courtesy of Sandy McRae and Jim Collord
— — — — — — — — — —

United States Census, 1940

Big Creek Election Precinct, Valley, Idaho, United States

Dan C McRae Male Age 63 Married Head Birthplace Minnesota Birth Year (Estimated) 1877

Grace McRae Female Age 54 Married Wife Birthplace Idaho Birth Year (Estimated) 1886

James E Collord Son-in-law Male Age 29 Birthplace Idaho

Mar Collord Daughter Female Age 28 Birthplace Idaho

Grace K Collord Granddaughter Female Age 2 Birthplace Idaho

source: Family Search (pay wall)
[h/t CEP]
— — — — — — — — — —

James E. Collord, McCall, Idaho 1949

James E. Collord, 38, powder foreman, helped to rescue Kelly L. Tartar, 39, tractor operator, and attempted to help rescue William N. Ramsey, 41, powderman, from exposure following an explosion, Meadows, Idaho, June 27, 1949.

While Ramsey, Tartar, and Collord were at work on a road which ascended 1,200 feet above the base of Brundage Mt. Lo along the edge of a deep canyon, a powder charge exploded accidentally.

Ramsey was thrown part way down the canyon slope, and Tartar sustained serious head and spinal injuries, his leg being pinned by a boulder in the road.

Collord came to rest on a rock ledge 15 feet below the level of the road. His face, eyes, arms, and legs were burned severely. Many fragments of rock were imbedded [sic] in his eyes, which were bleeding, and he could distinguish only between light and darkness.

He climbed to the road and groping to Tartar moved the boulder from his leg. Tartar informed Collord that he could not see Ramsey. Thinking Ramsey might still be alive and in need of medical attention, Collord told Tartar they must descend to a camp at the base of the mountain, using a truck which was parked nearby.

The road, which descended 5.5 miles in a series of curves, was 16 feet wide and had a surface of gravel which was hard-packed at the center of the roadway and elsewhere was loose and rough. Collord ascertained that Tartar could not drive, because of his injuries, and asked Tartar to guide him in steering the truck.

Suffering intense pain, Collord groped and entered the truck and turned its left wheels into the rougher gravel at the edge of the road away from the canyon. He drove slowly down the mountain, turning his front wheels at times onto soft earth bordering the edge of the road to assure himself that he was not moving toward the canyon.

Tartar twice lost consciousness and slumped against Collord.

After Collord had driven a half-mile, Tartar climbed from the truck and lay alongside the road, complaining of intense pain. Collord told him that he would send aid and continued downward.

Three and a half miles from the camp, Collord felt the right front wheel leave the road and move onto soft earth near the edge of the canyon. He halted and reversed the truck until all four wheels again were on the road. He continued to within a quarter-mile of the camp and sounded his horn.

A woman was attracted and reached the truck. She assisted Collord, whose eyes were swollen shut and who bled profusely, to a nearby building and summoned aid.

Men in automobiles reached Tartar and took him to a hospital. Rescue workers descended the slope and found Ramsey, who was dead.

Tartar suffered from temporary paralysis but recovered.

Collard was hospitalized for two months and regained normal vision in one eye.

source Carnegie Hero Fund Commission

[h/t J. Collord]
— —

Son Jim Collord writes: “The accident was in 1949 when I was three. He was building the Brundage Mountain road for Brown Tie and Lumber Company — a logging access road, now the road to the ski area. … It took him years to recover, some of the time spent on the California coast in warmer winter climes. The family became familiar with that area when he ran a quicksilver mine for Herbert Hoover during WWII.”

Jim and Marge at Big Creek Cabin


photo from Jim Collord
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Big Jim Collord

Born May 26, 1911 in Tetonia, ID, Died September 13, 1999 at age 88.
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Marjorie Grace McRae Collord

February 27, 1912 – Dec. 17, 2007

Marjorie Grace McRae Collord passed away peacefully Dec. 17, 2007 in Boise Idaho. During her nearly 96 years of life, she was witness to epic changes, from the advent of radio to the commonplace of space travel. Marj lived a life richly blessed with fond memories and great friends.

She was born February 27, 1912 in Old Meadows, Idaho, to pioneering parents Daniel C McRae and Grace Turner McRae. She cherished a unique childhood growing up deep in the Idaho backcountry at Thunder Mountain where her family mined for three decades. Her fondest memories were of the mountains, hard work the mines required, horses, and the friends who helped them face the challenges of living in the wilderness in the early 20th Century. She was schooled by her mother, Grace, until high school in McCall, Idaho.

On February 16th, 1935, she married James Elton Collord after meeting in McCall. The marriage was a grand venture that was to last 64 years until Jim’s death at 88. Their life was filled with mining, prospecting all over the West where they saw wonders and made many new and lasting friends. Their first married years were spent working at the family mine at Thunder Mountain. During the war, they lived some of their favorite years as a young family at the Stibnite Mine in Valley County. Many miners served their country at Stibnite, a mine that produced strategic minerals for the war effort.

Jim and Marj’s travels and prospecting took them many places. Marj and Jim worked mines and prospects all over California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Idaho. One of their mining ventures took them to the Central Coast of California where Jim ran a quicksilver mine for Herbert Hoover. After moving back to their home in Idaho for a time, they returned to the warm sun of California where they lived for the next 47 years. Marj worked as head housekeeper at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon for 17 of those years and co-authored a cookbook filled with Hearst’s favorite foods served at the Castle. The book, The Castle Cookbook, is still in print today.

After retirement from the Castle, she was able to return each summer to her beloved Idaho backcountry, and was thrilled to watch the gold mine at her old Thunder Mountain home put back into production. They spent many gratifying summers at their cabin in Big Creek where Marj served uncountable visiting friends at their welcoming table. Her sourdough huckleberry hotcakes hot off the old woodstove were legendary.

She was preceded in death by her husband Jim in 1999 at their home in Cambria, California and her brother Robert J. McRae in 1969. She subsequently moved to Boise, and is survived by her daughter, Kay Meier of Boise and her son, E. James Collord of Elko, Nevada. She also leaves behind 6 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, and 7 great-great grandchildren with two more on the way.

A memorial will be held in the spring when the earth is in renewal. Ma, we all love you and will miss your “Let’s go!” spirit. We thank you for the rich heritage you gave us.

shared by Jim Collord
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Jim and Marge on the porch swing


photo from Jim Collord
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Many thanks to the McRae and Collord families for sharing their history.

See also:

Link to: Thunder Mountain History

Link to: McRae Family Thunder Mountain, Big Creek, and Stibnite

Link to: Payette Lakes Inn