Category Archives: Weekly History

Idaho History Aug 13

Thunder Mountain Gold Rush


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

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

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

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

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

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

“May – Rush so great stock exhausted in 3 Lewiston stores. 20,000 population predicted.

“Aug. – 2000 men working in mines, twice as many as many more seeking gold in district. Law enforcement a problem, necktie parties. Stores waxing rich. Claims staked out over a 30-mile area. Dewey mine total production: $35,000.”

Excerpted from The Ghosts Walk Under the Water by Faith Turner from “Scenic Idaho”, Winter 1954
[h/t SMc]
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The Best Way to Thunder Mountain

Excerpts from The Deseret News January 24, 1902

Spike and Rail

It is expected that the big Thunder Mountain rush over the Oregon Short Line will be in full swing by next June.

Thunder Mountain Road

The contemplated Boise-Thunder Mountain road will in all probabiliy be built. At a meeting of Boise Business men on Wednesday evening much enthusiasm was displayed and a soliciting committee of five was appointed to secure the necessary funds. During the evening one man, Emil Maxgut, the brewer, offered his check for $1,000 towards the fund and several others expressed a willingness to chip in.

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

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

Salmon City tried to promote an eastern route, claiming it was shorter—although it lay on the other side of both the Salmon River and Yellow Jacket ranges, as well as the Salmon Middle Fork. Herndon says that “a wild and enthusiastic meeting” was held in this little mountain town, with A1 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]
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Terrible Journey Of Miners

Bodies of Snowslide Victims Drawn Over Mountain Passes.

Boise, Idaho, March 5, [1902] – A party of prospectors reached here to-day after a terrible fourteen days’ journey through the snow from the Thunder Mountain district, bringing with them the bodies of Bert Tullis, formerly a resident of Telluride, Col., who was killed in a snow slide at Thunder Mountain about a month ago, and of men named Campbell and Sykes, who were also victims of a snow slide.

The bodies, frozen and wrapped in hides, were drawn over the snow of the mountain passes, the prospectors undergoing almost incredible hardships to bring out the bodies of their dead friends.

March 6, 1902 The New York Times

Link (PDF):
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Dig Out Fortune In A Day

Thunder Mountain Miners Tell of New El Dorado

Offer Golden Proof of the District’s Richness

Great Stampede to Follow Opening of Trails

Special Dispatch to The Call.

Boise, Idaho, March 30, [1902] – Excitement is at fever heat here over reports brought out from the Thunder Mountain gold fields by returning miners. Frozen dirt has been washed out in snow water and panned in ordinary prospecting pans, $50 a day to the man having been obtained in that manner. Decomposed quartz, pounded in a mortar, has yielded as high as $200 a day to two men, one pounding and the other washing.

Rich finds on Monumental and Mule creeks have been made, the ore assaying from $100 to $2700 a ton. In an Indian grave were found the remains of an Indian skeleton. At the side of the bones was a pile of more than $3500 in gold nuggets, arranged into grotesque ornaments. Nuggets of about the same purity and being similarly imbedded in quartz have been found in the gold fields at other points, indicating the source of the Indians’ wealth.

The rush to the Thunder Mountain gold fields continues unabated. The stampede for wealth has taken a great many of the crowd into the district proper, but, owing to the great danger of traveling in the mountains at this time of the year and the hardships incident thereto, the majority has located in a fringe of towns adjacent to the gold fields – Boise, Weiser, Ketchum, Lewiston and other places. Here hundreds of men, attracted to the new gold camp, are waiting till the trails shall have been worn down by the more hardy and fearless ones, whom no argument could keep out. Some of the latter have just come out for provisions. They relate stories of the richness of the district that sound like romance, but which are borne out by samples of ore, nuggets and gold dust. These stories are supplemented by letters from men who would not return, remaining on short rations to work their claims.

Big Volcanic Deposit

The entire section, something like forty miles square, is thickly mineralized. It is an immense volcanic deposit, something of the character of which is revealed by developments in the Dewey mines, told by Jonas Lawrence, who has just returned. He said:

“The shaft is now down 180 feet and the ore grows richer with the depth. Crosscut channels have been run nearly 200 feet both ways from the bottom of the shaft, and the same values continue in both directions. There is a pay streak in the mine, which runs from $2000 to $10,000 a ton. At the 180-foot level the pay streak is four feet wide. On either side of this rich vein are immense bodies of ore that assay around $20 a ton. It is all free milling ore and the output can be limited only by the number of stamps that can be worked to advantage.”

Thomas J. Carter, just back from the gold fields, says:

“Most of the surface rock is decomposed and can be readily handled in sluice boxes. In addition to this decomposed quartz, there are rich placers, the two combing to make the camp very attractive to the poor miner. The placer season is short, however, owing to the scarcity of water, ten days to two weeks being the limit at most points. Last spring the man from whom I bought this ground took out, with the help of three others, $22,000 in eight days. They had the dirt, which ran as high as $166 a pound, piled along the sluice boxes, and when the snow water started to run they dumped it in day and night until the water supply gave out. We prospected some dirt a few days ago which was frozen so we had to thaw it. We melted snow water and made a test in a small rocker. If all the ground is as rich as that we tested, it will run more than $500 to the yard.”

Demand For Claims

“Most of those who dared the elements this winter to get into the camp have reaped harvests by selling claims. In many instances snow locations have been sold for $1000 to $5000 each, the buyers merely taking chances on the general richness of the gold fields.”

The greatest drawback just now is a scarcity of provisions. Packtrains that started several weeks ago have not got through. The weather is moderating, however, and it is believed the shortage will be relieved in the course of ten days. One pack outfit became snowbound for two weeks. Most of the mules died, and the provisions were stored in snow caves, the men in charge of them returning on improvised snowshoes, getting back yesterday. The rush has assumed such proportions that Boise and other places are now crowded to the limit by strangers, who came on believing they could get into the fields at once with ease. Hotel accommodations are scarce, and prices have jumped skyward in all lines on account of the boom. Miners now here send word to their friends not to come for at least a month, but every train swells the number. When the trails are opened the stampede will be one of the most sensational in the history of mining in the Northwest.

News was telephoned from Council this evening that a letter just received there stated that a crowd of claim jumpers had arrived at Thunder Mountain and were jumping claims as fast as they could.

San Francisco Call, Volume 87, Number 121, 31 March 1902

[h/t JTR]
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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.

San Francisco Call, Volume 87, Number 126, 5 April 1902

[h/t JTR]
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Miners Quickly Amass Wealth

Many Rick Strikes Are Reported in Thunder Mountain

Trail Is in Good Condition and Prospectors Are Crowding In

Special Dispatch to The Call

Boise, Idaho, April 4, [1902] – A large party left here today for Thunder Mountain, via. the Weiser route, the only one from the south that it is possible to go through at this time, as the trail breakers sent out from Boise to go in over the Bear Valley route have made it as far as Penn Basin, sixty miles from Thunder Mountain. They are building cabins as they proceed from the south. It is expected that the route will be opened through inside of a week or ten days, when practically all of the travel coming here will go in that way. The subscription for a wagon road from Bear Valley has been completed and the work on it will be commenced soon. Thirty thousand dollars has been received for that purpose, twenty thousand in Pittsburgh and the balance in Boise. The necessity for getting heavy machinery in will hasten the project.

Some of the richest ore yet brought out was received here today. It is thick with gold and runs over $16,000 a ton. This ore is from a chute that has been opened up near the Dewey mine. The general average of the chute is not less than $150 a ton as far as uncovered and it has got richer from the surface.

J. C. Crowley, who arrived from Thunder Mountain today, via Council and Weiser, reports the trail in fine condition. He says reports of strikes keep the camp in a turmoil all the time and miners rush from one section to another as fast as they can locate claims, braving untold dangers and privations.

“No man has gone into Thunder Mountain who has not made money, and many have already become wealthy,” said Crowley.

There are now three townsites in Thunder Mountain. One is named Roosevelt and the other two Thunder Mountain. The promoters of the two latter are about to go in court over a question of property.

The first mining accident in the Thunder Mountain gold fields was reported in a letter received today. The victim was J. Gilman, who narrowly escaped death. He had put in five shorts and started to fire them at midnight. He spit the fuse with a candle. The fifth did not spit readily and Gilman dallied with it too long. The first shot went off, throwing a mass of rock down on him. He was crawling away when the second shot went off, sending down another mass of rock. The bulk of it went one side and Gilman managed to creep to safety, bleeding and half dead, before the other shots went off. He will recover unless it develops he is injured internally.

San Francisco Call, Volume 87, Number 126, 5 April 1902

[h/t JTR]
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Women in Thunder Mountain, 1902: Viola Lamb, Mrs. Smith & M. A. Rice

by Sharon McConnel

… Mrs. Viola Lamb, a stenographer from Cripple Creek, Colorado, left a typewritten account, which mentions Mrs. Smith, “a matronly looking woman about forty years of age,” whom she met on the trail as well as about nine unnamed, married women and Miss Rice.

Viola Lamb

We left Denver Apr 23, 1902. I purchased my outfit for “roughing it” in Denver . . .(including) a pair of elk hide boots guaranteed water proof – they were until we struck the first water and after that my feet were never dry . . I usually managed to dry them enough so I could pull them on in the morning.

We stayed in Salt Lake for twenty-four hours and arrived in Boise on the 27th. . .

At Boise we heard all kinds of discouraging reports, and people who came out of Thunder (Mountain) on snow shoes informed us that it would be folly to try to get in there before July 1st with pack trains. We purchased our blankets & tents here . . .

We purchased our horses, eight of them, at Council, where we bade adieu to the railroad. . . I rode a pretty bay horse while my typewriter and supplies were carried by a white horse. Mr. Harper also rode, but the lawyer and engineer after hearing about the condition of the roads came to the conclusion they would prefer to walk. It took me some little time to learn to cook camp fashion. . . .

Well, it rained every day after leaving Council and the mud was above our horses knees, and very often I had to raise my feet to keep them out of the mud. . . .  The horse that carried my supplies went down Fisher Creek and finally lodged between two boulders, when the men waded in and untied the pack, or rather cut the pack off – we saved most of the pack, but my supplies were a sight – the envelopes were all sealed, but I managed to dry the paper and legal forms so they could be used. The horse was finally pulled out, but it was a sorry sight – all cut and bleeding – I covered it with blankets and the next day lead him without a pack, he recovered but was stolen before we reached Thunder Mountain.

Yes, the trail was simply dreadful – we had to swim the horses across the Payette River. After crossing the Payette, the next terror to be encountered was Secesh Pass, covered ten feet deep in snow. We started out at two o’clock in the morning, hoping that the snow would have a crust heavy enough to hold up the horses – we proceeded one and a half miles when two of our horses went down and had to be shoveled out. We met several trains that had just gone a few feet farther and they too had given up . . .  One of the most pitiful sights was a pack train of twelve horses that had gone into Secesh Pass about six miles and had been there four days waiting for a frosty night, and their animals had not had a bit to eat except what they had given them in the shape of flour and oatmeal from their own supplies, they looked starved, but as they passed us they were going like lightening in the direction of grass, of course they were unpacked and the supplies cased by the way side. Two of our party went with the horses and it was a dreadful trip back over those muddy roads – thirty five miles to feed.

continued IDAHGP:
[h/t SMc]
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Queen of Thunder Mountain


… Along with the helpmates the spectrum of women who prospected with male relatives includes several figures with strength, competence, and independence…

A few women went into the field with male relatives other than husbands. Though we may not always catch a glimpse of the father and brothers who schooled a girl in prospecting, as did those of Ellie Nay, an occasional father – daughter team has come to light, including a pair of Texans who gravitated to the oil boom at Beaumont after the Galveston flood ruined them financially.

M.A. Rice, the daughter, must have been an enterprising young woman. At twenty-one she founded a newspaper, the Beaumont Oil Review and continued to edit it until she and her father decided to go prospecting in Idaho’s Thunder Mountain district in May 1902. With a party of nine others they made a difficult and dangerous journey through the melting snows of the Idaho high country. As usual, we learn more about Rice’s clothes than we do about the prospecting activities that earned her the sobriquet “Queen of Thunder Mountain.” Nevertheless, she was the one the other prospectors thought had the entrepreneurial savvy to market their mining claims, notwithstanding the cliches of the period about woman’s proper sphere of refinement and seclusion from the crass, materialistic world of men. In November the Queen of Thunder Mountain emerged in Chicago with sacks of sparkling gold samples to exhibit, powers of attorney from all concerned, and an impressive command of practical mining.

Exerpted from: “A Mine of Her Own: Women Prospectors in the American West, 1850-1950” By Sally Zanjani

Source Google Books pg 166:
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Other women in Thunder Mountain

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

Excerpted from The Ghosts Walk Under the Water by Faith Turner from “Scenic Idaho”, Winter 1954
[h/t SMc]
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Wonderful Gold Strike Reported

Thunder Mountain Miners Stampede to Scene on Snow Shoes

Weiser, Idaho, Jan. 24, [1903] – Advices received here tell of a wonderful strike of gold made on the Big Creek in the Thunder Mountain district, about two and a half miles east of Profile Gap. The nearest settlement is a place called Golden, on the Big Creek. A letter from reliable parties at Thunder Mountain says that Edward Stamey, Edward H. Martin and several others have located sixteen claims on a massive porphyrized quartz dyke which measures 3000 feet in length and is impregnated with particles of gold. A ledge 250 feet in width accompanies the porphyry dyke and is also highly auriferous.

Rough pan assays made of the ledge show the poorest specimens to assay $5 in free gold. Other specimens show yellow metal to the naked eye. Old prospectors declare the discovery surpasses anything within their knowledge and that $1,000,000 worth of ore is in plain sight.

The snow in the district is of a depth from six to fourteen feet deep, but despite this fact a stampede on snowshoes to the scene of the new find is on.

San Francisco Call, Volume 93, Number 56, 25 January 1903

[h/t JTR]
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Thunder Mountain News, April 22, 1905

When Col. Dewey bought the Caswells’ Thunder Mountain claims (east present-day Valley Co.) in late 1900, the rush was on – much of it through present-day Gem County. Ad from “Thunder Mountain News,” April 22, 1905, courtesy of Steven Harshfield.

Boise & Pearl Stage, T. B. Walker, Prop.


[h/t SMc]
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Thunder Mountain Map by Zane Grey


Idaho History Aug 6

Reed Ranch

1925 Deadshot Reed


“[photo] taken at the junction of what is now the Warm Lake Road and the South Fork Road. The South Fork Road was then a horse trail only. My Grandmother took it August 1925.”

by Neighbor Dave R (RIP)
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William Lee “Dead Shot” Reed

Birth: Jul. 5, 1876
San Antonio Bexar County Texas, USA
Death: May 31, 1958
Sweet Gem County Idaho, USA

Spouse: Bessie Lou Warren Reed (1895 – 1976)

Burial: Sweet-Montour Cemetery Sweet Gem County Idaho, USA
Find A Grave Memorial# 32251729

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Deadshot Reed

Bill Reed was born in San Antonio, Texas. His parents died young, and he was raised on a remote Texas ranch. He said that he shot to death a man – who happened to be his school teacher – when he was only thirteen, and then fled to South America. On his return, he said, charges were dropped and he became first a Texas Ranger because of his great skill with a firearm, and then an entertainer in cowboy shows. No one has disputed his stint as a Texas Ranger, because somewhere in his early life, he picked up and extraordinary skill with guns. – Pg 97

Reed finally found his homestead back in Idaho, more than a hundred miles south of the Pierce area, well east of McCall on the Salon River’s south fork, some miles outside of a remote settlement called Knox. After the couple’s arrival there in 1914, they stayed for the rest of their lives. They raised fourteen children, all but two surviving infancy, and a small herd of cattle; did a little farming; worked a mining claim for a time; and generally lived mainly a subsistence life.

Deadshot Reed may have been deep in the backcountry, but he had neighbors. The nearest, perhaps a half-mile away, was a German immigrant named George Krassel. He was fiercely proud of his old country, and throughout the World War 1 period he would loudly proclaim its virtues, irritating Reed to no end. The two became increasingly annoyed with each other.

One day in June 1919, as the arguments had gotten ever hotter, Krassel showed up on Reed’s property. Reed, recovering from a flu that had kept him indoors, was walking around behind the house at the time. As Bessie Reed, inside the house, looked out into the front yard, she thought she saw Krassel carrying a rifle. She grabbed a pistol and handed it to one of the children, who gave it to her father with a message about who was in front. Armed with gun and information, Reed slipped around the side of the house to confront Krassel, who was still on his horse.

As Reed told it, Krassel pulled up his rifle and fired at Reed, but missed. Within a second Reed pulled the pistol from his waistband, fired, and shot Krassel through the heart. The German Collapsed on the ground.

An inquiry concluded that Reed had shot him in self-defense and the matter went to rest.

Reed stayed at the ranch on the South Fork until the mid-fifties, when he and Bessie moved to a small farm near the town of Sweet. He died there in 1958. Pgs 99-100

Outlaw Tales of Idaho: True Stories of the Gem State’s Most Infamous Crooks
By Randy Stapilus
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Dead Shot Reed

Spring 1914

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

June 1919

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

Excerpted from Warm Lake History:
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George Krassel

Killed June 27, 1919, by neighbor William “Deadshot” Reed, buried at north end of the Reed Ranch, South Fork Rd.

from Private Cemeteries and Isolated Graves, Valley County, IDGenWeb Project
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Reed Ranch

On the south end of the District, a ranger station was established at Poverty Flat soon after the forest was organized. This flat supposedly was named after an early attempt at homesteading resulted in the family starving out. There were two main routes into the upper end of the South Fork. The best was from the town of Cascade east through the old towns of Crawford and Knox.

From Knox travelers could come down the river onto the District. The second route started at Roseberry and ran east through Paddy Flat where the main Ranger Station for the District was located. Roseberry has long since dwindled in size because of the railroad bypassing it in 1914. The townsite is now marked only by an old hotel one mile east of Donnelly, Idaho. From the Paddy Flat Ranger Station it went up Kennally Creek and split with one trail coming down Blackmare to Poverty Flat and the other coming down Cougar Creek to Reeves Bar. A later trail up Buckhorn Creek also connected Long Valley and the bar.

This bar, now known as the Reed Ranch, has attracted a colorful variety of homesteaders and miners. The most prominent to follow John Reeves and Paul Forrester was William Reed, an ex-Texas Ranger. William Reed, or Deadshot as he was called, was reputed to be very good with a gun. One story has it that he brought his family to the remote South Fork to homestead where they would be safe from enemies made during his career as a law officer. Deadshot took out his first homestead entry in 1914 on the south end of the bar.

Following Caldwell’s death, a man named Tucker had made entry on the north end of the bar. Tucker apparently abandoned his attempt at homesteading due to Bright’s disease and a man named George Krassel settled on the old Caldwell place. Krassel had done a little placer mining up and down the river, and sometimes worked for the Forest Service building trails. He erected the first cabin on Dutchman’s Bar across Indian Creek from the present station; and Krassel Creek and Krassel Knob were named after him.

About 1918, Krassel returned to the river with his winter supplies in the fall and discovered Reed’s cattle had gotten out and were grazing his hay. Enraged, Krassel decided to pay Deadshot a visit with his rifle. Since there were no other witnesses to the incident, we have only Deadshot’s version of the story, which is that Krassel rode up to the Reed Ranch house, concealing his rifle behind the withers of his horse. Deadshot was .out in the field cutting hay and when Mrs. Reed noted that Krassel had a rifle, she wrapped Deadshot’s pistol in a dishtowel. She then summoned her daughter and sent her and the pistol to Deadshot. Krassel approached Reed on horseback and they had unfriendly words. Krassel started to swing his rifle out in the open when Reed opened fire, killing Krassel. An inquest was held and the verdict was self-defense. Krassel’s grave lies near the 1/4 corner below the first bend in the road as one leaves the airfield going north.

With Krassel gone, Deadshot Reed filed on the Caldwell homestead and was granted a patent. Walter Estep was the Paddy Flat Ranger and platted the land. Deadshot proceeded to farm the bar and supported his wife and raised 14 children, two of whom died before they reached adulthood. He sold his holdings to Carl and Warren Brown of ~Brown’s Tie and Lumber Co. in 1929 but the area is still referred to as the Reed Ranch today.

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

1933 Aug. 10,

Mike Popovitch a prospector was shot by Pat Reed (age 19) at the Willey Ranch, on the South Fork. Popovitch was in a drunken rage and insisted Reed drink with him. When Reed resisted, Popovitch took an ax and struck at Reed. Reed who was in bed reached for his gun and fired three shots. Popovitch died Aug. 14 in a Boise hospital after an operation on his bullet-shattered spine. He was buried in Morris Hill cemetery, Boise on Aug. 16.
(Reward of Rage p 131 and Aug. 16, 1933 Idaho Statesman.)

Excerpted from Warm Lake History:
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Pat Reed

[South Fork] It was during the 20’s and 30’s that efforts were made to improve the wildlife populations in the Salmon River country. Grizzly bear and wolves had completely been exterminated and weren’t really missed, but beaver and fisher were trapped elsewhere and turned loose on the South or’ to reestablish trapped out populations. The district boasted excellent deer herds as well as some elk, and many people journeyed from the Council and lower country areas to hunt. Besides natural predators, the deer competed with homesteader’s stock for winter range. It was generally assumed that any reduction in predator population would result in an increase in the deer population. One wealthy sportsman gave yearly prizes to the trapper who could come up with the most cougar scalps, The prize was usually taken by Pat Reed, one of Deadshot Reed’s sons.

excerpted from “Bury My Soul at Krassel Hole” – A History of the Krassel District, Payette National Forest
by Tom Ortman 1975
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For Better or Worse: The Legacy of William “Deadshot” Reed
by Kathy Hill (Author)
Paperback – 2003

Rewards of rage: The Deadshot Reed story as told to the author
by Art Colson (Author)
Paperback – 1997
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Reed Ranch Airport

(FAA LID: I92, formerly ID93) is a public use airport located 12 nautical miles (14 mi, 22 km) southwest of the central business district of Yellow Pine, in Valley County, Idaho, United States. It is owned by the Idaho Division of Aeronautics / USFS.

Reed Ranch Airport resides at elevation of 4,157 feet (1,267 m) above mean sea level. It has one runway designated 16/34 with a dirt surface measuring 2,175 by 100 feet (663 x 30 m).



Idaho History July 30

Major Lead-Silver Discoveries Spark Rush to Wood River Area

South Fork Companion April 26, 2017

Wood River Valley, looking south. Illustrated History, 1899.

On April 26, 1879, Warren P. Callahan filed on a lead-silver claim at the base of the ridge a mile or so west of the present town of Bellevue, Idaho. This filing was a major milestone for what would quickly build into a rush into the Wood River mining districts.

The Boise Basin gold discoveries of 1862 [blog, Oct 7] drew thousands of hopeful miners to southern Idaho. Soon, all the best claims had been staked, so prospectors began to broaden their explorations. Various parties visited the Wood River area in 1863-1865, and a few found enough “color” to do some mining there. However, the finds offered only minor returns, so no one particularly wanted to risk the unfriendly Indian bands that frequented the area.

In 1864, Callahan himself reportedly found the galena lode he would later claim. (From there, he went on into Montana.) Some prospectors knew that galena, a lead sulfide ore, often contains small amounts of silver. An ounce in twenty pounds of galena would be among the highest known silver fractions.

Few in the West, however, knew how to process the ore. Moreover, even a lode rich in galena versus useless stone, and high in silver fraction, required a major investment to pay out, because of the processing cost. In 1864, with gold fever in the air, no one had much interest in looking for silver.

Main Street, Hailey, 1888. Hailey Historic Preservation Commission.

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Cornerstone Laid for Alturas (now Blaine) County Courthouse

South Fork Companion August 11, 2016

Alturas County – Medium blue shows original. Dark Blue line: border in 1883.

On August 11, 1883, officials for Alturas County laid the cornerstone for a new county courthouse. The projected cost of the highly ambitious structure, which was to include both the court facilities as well as a jail, was authorized at $40 thousand (about $6 million using today’s labor costs).

The very first session of the Idaho Territorial Legislature defined, or re-defined, seven counties for the area “west of the Rocky Mountains.” One of those seven, created on February 4, 1864, was Alturas County. The original Alturas County contained nearly half the area of southern Idaho. It spanned about two-thirds of the east-west distance, and encompassed an area from the Snake River north to the Salmon River watershed. The original county seat was set as Esmeralda, a mining camp that soon disappeared. After April 1864, Rocky Bar served as the county seat. For fifteen years or so, mining in the Boise River watershed dominated the County’s economy.

Not much happened in eastern Alturus because of ongoing Indian unrest. However, after the Bannock War of 1878 [blog, June 8], stock raising grew on the Camas Prairie, and prospectors found rich lead-silver lodes in the Wood River Valley [blog, April 26]. The towns of Bellevue, Ketchum, and Hailey sprang up in 1880-1881.

The silver boom drew most of Alturas County’s population eastward. Thus, in the summer of 1882, after a bitter battle among the three towns, Hailey became the county seat. Prosperity seemed even more assured as Oregon Short Line railroad tracks marched across Idaho, and officials said Hailey would have a branch line connection before the next summer.

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Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series
Number 1061 July 1995

When Idaho’s territorial legislature set about organizing counties for an area (inhabited mostly by Indians) larger than Texas, not too much information was available concerning vast tracts of mountains and plains. Following Boise Basin gold discoveries of 1862, a new district of South Boise mines had emerged. A separate county was needed, so a huge central mountain area was set aside, with all its mines on its western edge. Some legislative member had heard that a town of Esmeralda had been started in or near Alturas County’s South Boise mines, so it was designated as county seat, February 4, 1864.

That turned out to be a poor choice. Less than a year after it had started, Esmeralda had become a ghost town. Located just west of lower Feather River, where mining did not begin for many years, Esmeralda (later revived as Featherville) was adjacent to Junction Bar. But little was going on there either. So when Alturas County was organized, April 4, 1864, that process took place in Rocky Bar, a mining center. Esmeralda was long forgotten when Featherville finally emerged on that same site.

Since there was an 1864 Esmeralda mine less than a mile from Rocky Bar, that location may have accounted for legislative confusion concerning where to place Alturas County’s government.

(This information has not been edited.) Publications–450 N. 4th Street, Boise, ID 83702–208-334-3428

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from Speaking of Idaho (via FB)


There are lots of ghost towns scattered around Idaho. Today’s story is about a town that came and went so fast, it probably doesn’t even rate a proper ghost.

Alturas County was enormous. When it was created in 1864, it included practically all the land between the Snake and Salmon Rivers in the south-central part of the state.

Now, when you create a new county, you always like to name a county seat. About the only thing you really need for a county seat is a town. But Alturas County, with all those thousands of acres, didn’t have a real town, so the legislature invented one. They called it Esmeralda, and it was located on a beautiful plateau near the South Fork of the Boise River, about a mile below what is now Featherville.

Esmeralda was never more than a handful of slap-dash cabins occupied by some early-day prospectors. Its moment of fame was little more than a moment. Two months after it was named the county seat of Alturas County, the county commissioners moved their operation to the new town of Rocky Bar, where gold had just been discovered. The commissioners and prospectors left Esmeralda, and the town just disappeared.

So did the county, eventually. Alturas County existed for over thirty years, but increased population within its boundaries prompted the legislature to split it up into smaller counties in 1896. Smaller, but not small counties. Blaine, Camas, Gooding, Lincoln, Jerome, Elmore, and Minidoka counties were all carved from Alturas.
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Hailey, Idaho

When in the spring of 1881, the citizens of Alturas county voted to remove the county seat from Rocky Bar to some point in the Wood River mining district, the town of Hailey had not even been founded. Before the election, which came four months later, this town had not only been laid out and started on, but it was successful in beating out Bellevue for the county seat.

In May, 1881, H. Z. Burkhart opened a stationery store in the new town of Hailey. Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Fox were the second arrivals for business. When he opened his grocery store, his wife opened a boarding tent, with a dirt floor.

Hailey was named after John Hailey. Hailey filed a homestead on the townsite in 1879, and a desert land claim in 1880 added another 440 acres. He, and his partners, had the townsite surveyed on April 20, 1881.

John was born Aug. 29, 1835, in Smith County, Tennessee. Moved to Missouri in 1848, Oregon in 1853, Washington in 1862.In the spring of 1863 he ran a pack train from the Columbia River to the Boise Basin mines, and by 1864 he had a stage line running over the same route. He was elected Idaho Territory delegate to Congress 1873, and again in 1885. He died April 10, 1921, at his home in Boise.

John Hailey is considered to be the founding father of the Idaho State Historical Society.

(History of Idaho: Hiram T. French) [h/t Bob Hartman IDAHO HISTORY 1860’s TO 1960’s via FB]

photo gallery:

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Drug Store in Hailey, Idaho 1884

Bryan Lee Mckee Boise & The Treasure Valley History

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Speaking of Idaho (FB)

With today’s 24-hour news cycle we sometimes reel from disaster to disaster. News did not travel so fast in the summer of 1889, but residents of Idaho must have felt a little whip-sawed nevertheless. First in the news, on May 31, there was the Johnstown Flood in Pennsylvania, sweeping more than 2,200 people to their deaths. Then came the Great Seattle Fire on June 6, burning 25 square blocks of that city to the ground. Then, on July 2, Idaho got its own disaster.

The fire alarm started ringing in Hailey at 1:30 in the morning and didn’t stop until the sun was well up. A fire had started in the Nevada Bakery. As the fire spread, townspeople saw that a row of frame buildings between the bakery and the Merchant’s Hotel was going to be lost. The hotel, though, was made of brick, so there the fire would stop. Or so they hoped. The flames barely slowed, engulfing the hotel. Other buildings in town were called fireproof until they were turned to tinder.

Within a couple of hours, most of the businesses in Hailey were little more than ash. About four square blocks burned. Remarkably, the conflagration did not touch any residence, and it left the offices of two newspapers standing as if it wanted nothing more than publicity.

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Bellevue Idaho, The Gate City

Idaho Genealogy

Bellevue is situated about five miles south east of Hailey. In 1880 the first building was erected there. It was a log building owned by Owen Riley, who was the first Postmaster. L. Young succeeded him in that office. The present Postmaster is Mrs. Florence V. Clark. In the building in which the first Post Office was located was a drug store owned by W. T. Riley and conducted by J. J. Tracy. The latter moved to Hailey in 1881 and has been conducting his own drug store here since that date. In 1883 a charter for the City of Bellevue was granted by the legislature, and with some amendments, is the charter under which the city still operates. Bellevue had a weekly newspaper, a bank, a school house, good business buildings and residences, and did a thriving business while the mines near Broad ford flourished. It was also the county seat of Logan County for five years. Today it has several general stores, a hardware store, a drug store, two garages with service stations combined, three churches, a grade school and an accredited high school, etc. It is one of the large lamb and sheep shipping stations.

On December 6, 1880, Hon. John Hailey filed on a desert land entry of 440 acres, for which he was granted a patent on April 5, 1884. This is the land on which the principal part of the city of Hailey is situated. The town was named for him, a pioneer of pioneers, and who served as a delegate to Congress for two terms.

[h/t ID AHGP]
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Guyer Hot Springs

Developed by Isaac Lewis in 1887 Guyer Hot Springs, located in the Warm Springs area west of Ketchum included a bathhouse and restaurant-bar with a dozen rooms, including a ladies’ parlor, along with a twenty-by-forty-foot dance floor. Lewis wanted Guyer to attract Easterners with both the money and the time to reach remote Idaho, and was pretty successful. Local families also enjoyed Guyer Hot Springs, given the lack of local entertainment.

In June 1914, a new mission-style hotel, and bathing facilities was opened to the public.

Sun Valley: An Extraordinary History, by W. Holland describes the resort “At Guyer, an elevated bridge with guard rails crossed Warm Springs Creek, where paths led to the hillside hot springs. Just below the bridge was a large water wheel, which cooled water for the bathhouse. Guyer hotel guests enjoyed hot and cold water in their rooms, an open-air plunge, and bathing facilities separated for the sexes.

“Guyer Hot Springs was a fashionable resort. Local ladies wore plumed hats and sixteen-button gloves while they played tennis or croquet, swung on a big wooden swing, and danced in the pavilions. Women splashed in long pantaloons and dresses.”

Raymond Guyer, Lewis’s son, took over the resort in 1913, and changed the original structure into a beautiful two-story building with gables. The plunges and baths were kept in their original location near the springs, but he moved the hotel up to the bench above the river. Charles H. Grout, a former manager of the Idanha Hotel in Boise, was hired to oversee the resort when it reopened in March 1914. The resort boasted an electrical lighting system of it’s own powered by a turbine engine

Raymond sold out to Shoshone retailer, Carl E. Brandt, in 1927. Brandt closed the resort, and piped the hot spring water underground into town to the St. George Hotel. When the St. George burned down the next year, Brandt built the Bald Mountain Hot Springs motel and pool next door.

Today Guyer Hot Springs are used only to heat a few homes in the Warm Springs area of Ketchum.

[h/t Bob Hartman IDAHO HISTORY 1860’s TO 1960’s via FB]

photo gallery:


Idaho History July 23

Silver City Stage 1910

(click image for larger size)

Front: Can you find me? This was taken at the half way house where horses are changed. Spect I’ll most freeze when I go over the summit going home.

Back: Silver City, Idaho. Nov 1, 1910

Dear Friend, Was indeed glad to get your card and know you had a good vacation. Course you describe inside of church! I meant to answer sooner but been trying to get your address, but those Grenleafs won’t send it. Risk this now. My Land! I wish I could run over and have a good visit with you all, and a good lunch. Big doings last night. I planned a Haloween party for eight school children and a good time we had too. Carried and used pencil you gave me so all the print is off. This old stage brings all my letters everyday. I’m planning to go out on it Wed. before Thanksgiving for Boise. My I can hrdly wait! O can’t I go with you and Edie tomorrow night? And I agrieve yet over the bacon picnic we never did have! Come have it up on one of our great mts. They’re great, but I like a city. I get so homesick sometimes. People are so rough. If you get this send another card.

“Little Eva”

source: Bob Hartman IDAHO HISTORY 1860’s TO 1960’s – Facebook
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Silver City

Silver City is without a doubt the queen of Idaho ghost towns. And while she may be a ghost town during the winter months, in the summer a combination of weekend visitors and local residents make for a busy community. The town contains many old and interesting buildings in various stages of disrepair as well as several nearby mine dumps.


Perched high on War Eagle Mountain, the Cumberland Mill near Silver City overlooks the Snake River Valley.


The Stoddard Mansion in Silver City presents the ornate “gingerbread” trim of its day.

Silver City had the distinction of having the first telegraph service in Idaho. In 1874, a line was built north from Winnemucca, Nevada, and in 1875, the line was continued from Silver City on to Boise City. Another first for Silver City was the printing of a daily newspaper. In 1874, The Idaho Avalanche, edited by W.J. Hill and considered one of the best paper in the West, became the first daily newspaper in Idaho Territory. This newspaper, under several different editors, continued to serve Owyhee County and in later years the name was changed to The Owyhee Avalanche. Silver City served as the county seat from 1867 until 1935, when it lost this honor to Murphy.

Excerpted from: Southern Idaho Ghost Towns By Wayne C. Sparling
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Silver City

From Ghost Towns Submitted by Henry Chenowith.

Certainly one of the better ghost towns having enough still standing to give visitors a good idea of how it was in its heyday. Silver City even had a brewery and a bottling plant. Some of the mines produced ore well into the millions of dollars during their lifetime. Silver City started its decline about 1889 when the inevitable began to appear. Even at that time, the city still had six general stores, two hotels, a newspaper, two lumber yards and several doctors and lawyers and, of course, its “Virgin Alley.” It is said one married man was added to the population above Slaughter House Gulch by his wife. The cemetery is located above Slaughter House Gulch. Silver City can be found just east of the Oregon Idaho border in the Jordan Valley.

Source w/lots of photos:
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Silver City in need of new watchman

Lacey Darrow Jul 19, 2017 KIVI TV

As the snow fell in the Treasure Valley this last winter, even more- much more fell in Silver City.

But among the silence of the snow was one man, alone, watching over the historic mining town.

… In the late 60’s after a lot of vandalism occurred they decided to hire a watchman to take care of the town all winter. The job has been filled ever since.

full story:
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Prospectors Discover Gold in the Owyhee Mountains

South Fork Companion May 18, 2017

Early Silver City. H. T. French photo.

On the morning of May 18, 1863, a band of twenty-nine men broke camp and marched south and west from Reynolds Creek over a regional divide.

Early that month, the group had set out from Placerville, in the Boise Basin. They were chasing rumors that Oregon Trail emigrants in the Forties had observed gold signs in southwest Idaho. After crossing the Snake River, they followed along it to the mouth of Reynolds Creek (which they named) and turned into the mountains.

According to the account given later by party member Oliver Hazard Purdy, scouts had observed “what appeared to be a large stream, judging from the topographical formation of the mountains, which were well timbered.”

… The explorers picked their way south through rough country and over a succession of small streams. Finally, about 4 o’clock, they curved eastward into the broad base of a canyon that narrowed as it cut deeper into the high country. Leaders decided the shallow bowl at the mouth of the canyon offered a better camping spot than anything they might find further up.

Most of the men began to unpack their mules. One man, however, saw some likely-looking gravel and scooped a batch into his gold pan. Excitement exploded when his pan showed something like a hundred “colors.” Everyone dropped what they were doing and spread out along what they called “Discovery Bar.”

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Skinner Toll Road Connects Silver City to California Supply Route

South Fork Companion May 19, 2017

Freight wagons near Silver City. Commercial Directory.

On May 19, 1866, with great fanfare in the Owyhee mining camps, the Skinner Toll Road opened for business. The new road vastly improved stagecoach and freight wagon traffic into Silver City and the other nearby mining towns.

Silas Skinner, from the Isle of Man, followed the rush after the May, 1863 discovery of gold along Jordan Creek in the Owyhee Mountains [blog, May 18]. He prospected for a time, but the cost of supplies shocked him. Merchants sympathized, but pointed out that they paid huge shipping costs to stock their shelves.

Goods reached the area over two main routes. The older route started in Oregon and back-tracked the Old Oregon Trail as far as Boise City. Wagons then traversed thirty to forty miles of rough road to reach the Snake River. After paying the toll to cross the river by ferry, the freight road followed Reynolds Creek deep into the mountains. The final two miles leading to the pass over to Jordan Creek rises over a thousand feet … greater than a 10 percent grade.

By around 1865, more freight rolled directly out of northern California and cut across the southwest corner of Oregon. The track hit the Idaho border 70-80 miles north of Nevada. From there, travelers might head northeast over the high ground to drop onto the Snake River plain and then on into Boise. Traffic for Silver City turned east and then southeast. Before the Skinner Road, essentially random paths led up to the mining camps.

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Tough Talk and Action Versus Snake War Violence

South Fork Companion November 25, 2016

The Owyhee Avalanche newspaper (Silver City, Idaho) for November 25, 1865 reported some “good talk” (their expression) by the Territorial Governor about the on-going Indian unrest.

Paraphrasing Governor Caleb Lyon [blog, Nov 14] the article said, [He] “says he will either fight or feed them, and for this purpose has requested, with all hopes of success, two regiments of cavalry. He says he does not expect to reduce them to a state of peace, except by offering them the terms of peace or death; and if they will not quietly accept the one, the other will be forced upon them.”

Preliminaries to what the newspapers called the “Snake War” had simmered and flared ever since the 1862 gold rush into the Boise Basin. In an attempt to counter the violence, in July 1863 the Army built Fort Boise, which sparked the growth of Boise City [blog, July 4]. That provided some protection along the Oregon Trail, but did little to quell raids on isolated ranches.

The conflict grew worse the following year, which spurred the formation of various ad hoc civilian volunteer companies. A fight in July 1864 resulted in the death of rancher Michael Jordan, a member of the party that originally discovered gold in the area [blog, May 18]. The Idaho Statesman in Boise reported (August 23, 1864) on “the probability of an extensive Indian war.”

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Silver City Volunteers Battle Bannock Indians at South Mountain

South Fork Companion June 8, 2017

Bannock tribesman at the reservation. National Park Service.

On June 8, 1878, a loose column of Silver City volunteers moved generally southward along South Mountain Creek. Angry Bannocks led by Chief Buffalo Horn were trying to join possible allies in Oregon. Common sense said they might head west over this broad, rugged saddle between the Silver City Range and South Mountain.

Many factors combined to cause the Bannock War. Most stemmed from the failure of white officials to deliver on the promises that induced the Shoshone and Bannock tribes to moved onto the Fort Hall Indian Reservation [blog, June 14]. One provision reserved the southern Camas Prairie for the tribes. The camas beds there were a vital food source. They became almost a matter of life and death when the Indian Agency failed to provide adequate rations. (This happened on a regular basis.)

White stockmen ignored the Camas Prairie clause of the treaty and officials did nothing to enforce it. Tension peaked when settlers drove hogs onto the Prairie. The hogs loved camas bulbs and devastated the beds. Even then, the tribes did not retaliate immediately. But finally, facing starvation, Bannock warriors fired on three stockmen, wounding two. Over the next week or so, the Indians burned many outlying homesteads and killed several settlers.

On June 4th, citizens in Silver City met and organized a troop of volunteers to fight the Bannocks. The roll call looked like a “who’s who” of Owyhee pioneers, including some who had been there from the beginning. For years they had dealt with Indian attacks on isolated settler cabins, stagecoaches, and freight wagons. They had no confidence that the Army would do any better this time than they had before. The volunteers marched out on the 7th and camped at a ranch about fifteen miles south and a bit west of Silver City.

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Governor Issues Proclamation to End Owyhee War

South Fork Companion March 28, 2017

Mine and mill buildings on War Eagle Mountain, 1866. Historical … Directory of Owyhee County.

Idaho Governor D. W. Ballard issued a proclamation on March 28, 1868 to halt a shooting war near Silver City. The statement said, in part, “the lawless proceedings of the parties referred to must cease and peace and order be restored, and to that end the whole power of the territory will be used.”

The conflict, now known as the “Owyhee War,” occurred between two competing mining companies: the Ida Elmore and the Golden Chariot. Both had claims on War Eagle Mountain, 1-2 miles southeast of Silver City.

The lode that developed into the Ida Elmore had been discovered in the summer of 1863. Within a few years, mining investor J. Marion More and a partner gained control of the mine. More had arrived early in the northern mining regions, and then got in on the ground floor in the Boise Basin. By the mid-1860s, he was one of the wealthiest capitalists in the Territory, and well known in Western mining circles.

Prospectors also found several other likely veins in War Eagle Mountain, one of the most promising being the Golden Chariot. By the end of 1867, owners had shipped or stockpiled over 350 tons of valuable ore.

Registration records for the claims showed that they overlapped on a two-dimensional map. However, no one paid much attention to this commonly-occurring feature; the respective veins were at quite different depths within the ridge. Developers assumed – in perhaps a bit of wishful thinking – that the two lodes did not connect deep below ground.

That turned out to be an incorrect assumption. When their tunnels met, the confrontation escalated into an underground shooting war. The first deaths occurred on March 25 and 26, when one man on each side was killed. Soon, the exchanges became extremely heavy, and included blasts with “giant powder” and fire bombs. A later investigator observed that one 15-inch supporting beam had been “nearly cut in two” by bullet impacts.

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Dewey, William H.

Author: S. J. Clarke (Publisher, 1920)
source: Canyon-Owyhee County ID Archives Biographies
File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by: Joy Fisher

Colonel William H. Dewey of Nampa, who has departed this life was one of the builders of Idaho’s greatness. His contributions to the work of development were real and creditable and his signal service was in the vigor he lent to the pioneer era in making his region habitable, in bringing its resources to light and in stamping his intensely practical ideas upon the constructive measures which have led to the upbuilding of the state. Such careers are too near us now for their significance to be appraised at its true value, but the future will be able to trace the tremendous effect of their labors upon the society and the institutions of their time. The possibilities of high position afforded in the United States to industry and fidelity were never better illustrated than in Colonel Dewey’s case. He crossed the plains when a man of about forty years and thereafter bent his energies to constructive work in the development of Idaho.

Colonel Dewey was born in Massachusetts in 1822 and in 1863 came to the northwest, making his way first to Ruby City, Owyhee county. From that town he afterward removed to Silver City, where he spent many years in the boom mining days, contributing much to the utilization of the great mineral resources of that district and to the progress made in other directions. He at once saw the necessities and the opportunities of the state and in pioneer times became identified with trail building; and his labors were continued in accordance with the period of development until he was actively associated with railroad building. He regarded no project that would benefit his community too unimportant to receive his attention, nor did he hesitate to become identified with the most extensive interests. In pioneer times he labored in the development of the trails, later assisted in the building of wagon roads and finally of railroads. He was also closely associated with the development of mining interests and whatever he undertook seemed to be attended with prosperity and success.

[h/t SMc]
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see also:

Colonel William Dewey: Mining Investor, Road Builder, and Business Developer

South Fork Companion August 1, 2016

Prominent Idaho pioneer Colonel William H. Dewey was born August 1, 1823 in Hampden County, Massachusetts (some sources give the birth year as 1822). Raised on a farm, he presumably followed that line until he moved to Idaho, by way of California, in 1863.

Dewey turned out to be what the Illustrated History called “a born miner.” A relative late-comer to the Owyhee mining regions, he balked at what he considered exorbitant real estate prices. Thus, in 1864 he and some associates started a new town that became Silver City. The county seat of Owyhee County moved there two years later. A new toll road that Dewey helped build along with Silas Skinner and another partner [blog, May 19] spurred the town’s growth.

During the heyday of the South Mountain mines, 1871-1875, Dewey, to quote the Owyhee Directory, “owned nearly one-half of that prosperous camp.” In 1875, Dewey, then a widower with a young son, married Belle Hagan. Soon after that, he opened the Black Jack Mine, which developed into a most valuable property.

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see also:

Biography Of Colonel William H. Dewey

Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

Among the prominent influential citizens of Idaho, Colonel Dewey, of Dewey, enjoys a unique position and reputation. He is a pioneer Idahoan in the true sense of that word, and the marvelous development of the interests and industries of his adopted state is largely attributable to his enterprise and sagacity. He is a man of remarkable resources, and has never failed to measure fully up to all the requirements and emergencies of life. Although over seventy years old, he is well preserved and exhibits unabated vigor of mind and body. Colonel Dewey is a native of the state of New York, and his first American ancestors were early settlers in Massachusetts.

In the autumn of 1863 he came to Idaho and located where the town of Dewey now is, but subsequently removed to where the town of Ruby City was located, and with others, March 21, 1864, laid out the town of Silver City.

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see also:

The Fabulous Col. W. H. Dewey

This historical works was written by Faith Turner. Published in Scenic Idaho (June 1953)

Col. William Henry Dewey, who was born in New York in 1823, came West by way of the Isthmus arriving in San Francisco in 1852. After a short venture into the contracting business he left San Francisco for Virginia City, Nevada, lured there by dreams of gold. When the hoped for riches failed to materialize Col. Dewey, during the year 1863, walked from Virginia City to the site of Silver City, Idaho, there he staked out a townsite which was to become the center of the gold fields. There he was to spend forty more years of a colorful and eventful life trimmed with diamonds and gold. Col. Dewey, so called because of his prosperity and partiality to the South, always wore a diamond stud in his shirt and many are the tales connected with these diamonds.

On August 5, 1884, a brief paragraph in the Tri-Weekly Statesman appeared revealing that Col. Dewey was being held for the fatal shooting of a man by the name of Koenig.

We take up the second half of the story with this affair. The old West was built out of blood and sweat and tears and whiskey and gunsmoke. Dewey was built to use them all.

Here is an episode as related by his son, Con Dewey: “My father and Andy Brennan fast friends were drinking one day in the Summercamp saloon, a big building which afterward was destroyed by fire. Brennan and Henry Koenig, the bar tender, had an argument and quarreled. Father berated Koenig for his abusive words; they finally apologized and he thought the incident was closed, but several of Koenig’s lodge brothers kept agitating the matter, urging revenge.

“Sometime later, on my father’s 61st birthday, August 1, 1884 (when I was only a few weeks old) he walked into the saloon and Koenig announced : ‘You are the man I am looking for. We have a shipment of whisky in the basement we are in doubt about, and knowing you are a good judge I’d like to have you test it.’ (Father could put a few drops in the palm of his hand, rub it, and tell the quality by the smell without even tasting it.)

“Koenig preceded father into the basement. Koenig went into a partitioned room and started to close the door, but our little dog that accompanied father bounced out and began barking a warning. Father, standing at the doorway of the cellar took two steps down to the basement floor, then a shot came through the partly opened door of the partitioned room, striking the wall above his head. A second shot ploughed through his hat and a third glanced off his side, hit a trouser button and went through his underwear, searing his skin. He drew his revolver and emptied it at the partition door.

“Koenig was wounded in the groin and died two days later. Father was arrested and tried for murder; he was convicted on false evidence and sentenced to the penitentiary for seven years, for second degree murder.”

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Murphy … Get[s] Regular Train Service

South Fork Companion August 7, 2016

Guffey Bridge, ca. 1898. Directory of Owyhee County.

On this day in 1898, the Boise, Nampa & Owyhee Railway initiated railroad service to Murphy. Colonel William H. Dewey [blog, Aug 1] promoted the line, with construction beginning in September 1896. The venture encountered just one unusual obstacle, but it was a substantial one: They had to bridge the Snake River. Even the economical design chosen – Parker trusses – represented a major expense in the overall budget.

Right after workers completed the bridge in 1897, the town of Guffey, named for one of Dewey’s partners, sprang up a mile or so downstream from the crossing. Guffey was the railway terminal for a time, and grew to be quite a respectable little town. Shippers transferred their freight to wagons for the long climb into the mountains.

Then crews laid the tracks into Murphy. The transfer point quickly moved there once trains began arriving. At the time, developers had high hopes for the mines around Silver City, but those optimistic notions never panned out.

In fact, the original concept called for the tracks to continue into the town of Dewey, a few miles from Silver City. That would have required the construction of another 25 miles of railway, with an ascent of over 3,800 feet. Needless to say, that line was never completed. By around 1912, all the big mines in the Silver City area had shut down. Still, shipments of livestock and other agricultural products kept the railway going until 1947.

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Owyhee Mining Investor and Developer John Scales

South Fork Companion May 6, 2017

Owyhee 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.

Scales’ tailing reservoirs and mill. Commercial Directory.

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.

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Hotel Owner/Operator and “Hospitality” Industry Pioneer Frank Blackinger

South Fork Companion August 26, 2016

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’s father sold the hotel in 1878, worked in Boise City for three years, and then moved to Bellevue and opened a meat market. Frank was already working in that area as a stockman and continued there for several years. The only son who survived to adulthood, Frank 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 [blog, Nov 14], 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. Frank returned to Silver City in the mid-1880s and began working at the hotel. When the Regans moved to Boise City in 1889, Frank became hotel manager.

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Silver City Merchant and Postmaster M. M. Getchell

South Fork Companion January 5, 2017

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

On 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.)

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Cattleman Con Shea Drives Texas Longhorns to Owyhee Ranches

South Fork Companion September 24, 2016

International Texas Longhorn Association

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.)

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 [blog, June 8]. 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.


Idaho History July 18

Thunder Mountain

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Thunder Mountain Mining District

from the Official Proceedings of the Fourth Assembly International Mining Congress Held at Boise, Idaho, July 23, 24, and 25, 1901

Feb 1901 –

Through the operations of a short mining boom in 1901- 02, Thunder mountain has become known all over the country from Maine to Oregon as a remote mining locality in central Idaho. In some places, no doubt, the opinion is held that it is a good place to stay away from.

Thunder mountain lies a little south of the 45th parallel of latitude, ad almost on the 115th Western meridian line. The mining district of that name comprises the country around it for perhaps thirty miles in every direction. No surveys have been made, and few maps indicate the exact locality. The district is new, very large, and, judging from the comparatively small amount of development work done thus far, is very rich. It is situated on the top lines of the watershed draining northerly into the Salmon river. The altitude is not as high as Cripple Creek and many rich camps in Colorado. None of the higher peaks reach quite 10,000 feet; the general average of the ridges being from 7,500 to 8,500 feet.

Continued page 40-45:
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No Place for the Poor Man

Colorado Springs Attorney so Speaks of Thunder Mountain.

Walked the Country O’er

Says There is Wealth There But it Will Require Capital to Develop It – Boise Booming

The Deseret News September 19, 1902

I.T. Jones, an attorney and mining operator of Colorado Springs, arrived in Salt Lake this morning from Thunder Mountain. Incidentally Mr. Jones proudly boasts that this summer in Idaho he has walked more miles than there are miles of railroad track in that state. As there are 1106 miles of railroad in Idaho, it goes without saying that Mr. Jones has worn out several pairs of shoes this summer.

“I thought that the best way to see the country was to walk,” he said this morning, “so four companions and myself got a pack train for our outfit and we walked into Thunder Mountain from Boise, a distance of 210 miles, and arrived there June 9. We made our headquarters at Roosevelt, from which center we thoroughly explored the country on foot. We started out of the district on the 15th of Last month.”

Mr. Jones in summing up the situation said that Thunder Mountain district was no place for the poor man. But for the capitalist with the money to put in for development, he was confident there was wealth practically in sight. He stated that the formation around Thunder Mountain proper consisted of a light talc with a porphyry blanket over it which eventually runs into a sugar quartz. The porphyry formation runs from $2 to $8 a ton, and can be treated for $1.60 a ton, all free milling. Most of the ore in and around Thunder Mountain proper is of a low grade order and can be treated by stamps or cyanides. Within a radius of 25 miles the porphyry disappears and immense quartz ledges crop to the surface. On Profile creek Mr. Jones said he followed one ledge for 15 miles which averaged 40 feet wide, and in places was 400 feet wide on the surface. Various assays of this ledge had been made, one showing 300 ounces of silver and one of gold, while another showed one ounce of silver and six ounces of gold to the ton.

For 30 miles around Thunder Mountain the country is mineralized, but its inaccessibility makes development slow, although there are abundance of water and fuel.

In answer to a question as to how many people there were in the district Mr. Jones said that when he left the postmaster informed him at Deweyville that he had mail for about 3,000.

Mr. Jones said that men were constantly coming into the district and leaving it, and many would spend the winter there.

Considerable good properties had been taken up by syndicates and Mr. Jones expressed himself of the opinion that all the “knocking” done in the numerous papers throughout the country had been instituted at the nstigation of the syndicates which were interested and desired to keep prospectors out until they had got the pick of the district.

In speaking regarding Boise Mr. Jones said: “Boise is a good town and I intend to settle up my affairs and return there in about two weeks. There is not a cottage for rent in the whole town and although three business blocks are now in course of erection there every office has been spoken for. I regard Idaho as being the state in the Union which has more opportunities for the young man than any other, and I intend to make it my future home.”

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Valley County Idaho Gold Production

By A. H. Koschmann And M. H. Bergendahl – USGS 1968

Posted July 16, 2009 Western Mining History

Valley County, in west-central Idaho, was formed in 1917 and is one of the newest counties in the State. The early gold production of the area now known as Valley County was reported under Idaho or Boise Counties. Staley (1946, p. 28) credited Valley County with 96,578 ounces of gold from 1917 through 1942. Total gold production from 1917 through 1958 was 324,460 ounces, most of which was mined from lode deposits of antimony-gold ore in the late 1940’s. The gold districts are in the northeastern part of the county in a triangular-shaped area with Edwardsburg at the apex and the Yellow Pine and Thunder Mountain districts at the southwest and southeast corners respectively. Each side of the triangle is about 15 miles long. Edwardsburg, however, had only minor gold production and will not be discussed here.

Thunder Mountain District

The Thunder Mountain district is in T. 19 N., R. 11 E., on Monumental Creek, in northeastern Valley County.

Discovered in 1896, the Thunder Mountain district is a typical example of the effect of rumor on the gold-fever-ravaged minds of that day. Accounts of wondrously rich gold ore attracted several thousand people to the district in 1902, and the towns of Belleco and Roosevelt sprang up; Roosevelt was the principal business center (Shenon and Ross, 1936, p. 18). The boom lasted until 1907 when the principal producer, the Dewey mine, closed regular operations. In 1909 a landslide destroyed the town of Roosevelt, and this disaster stifled the enthusiasm of those still remaining in the district (Shenon and Ross, 1936, p. 19). After 1909 there were only intermittent operations in the district, chiefly at the Dewey and Sunnyside mines.

The total value of production of the district to about 1940 was $400,000, most of which came from the Dewey and Sunnyside mines (Ross, 1941, p. 96). Although most of this was in gold, silver was also important as evidenced by the Dewey mine production record of 14,342 ounces of gold and 8,484 ounces of silver from 1902 to 1919 (Shenon and Ross, 1936, p. 38). Total gold production of the district through 1959 was probably about 17,500 ounces.

Bedrock in the Thunder Mountain district consists of tuffaceous and rhyolitic rocks interbedded with sandstone, shales, and breccias, all considered part of the Challis Formation of late Oligocene or early Miocene age (Shenon and Ross; 1936, p. 10). Locally, patches of basalt cap the higher areas.

The ore bodies are in altered rock, usually in the more permeable beds; at the Dewey mine, for example, the ore is in altered rhyolitic tuff, sandstone, rhyolitic lava, and breccia, in a steeply dipping shear zone. Pyrite and pyrargyrite were the only recognized ore minerals, and the gold was associated with pyrite irregularly concentrated in the rocks. The host rocks are highly silicified (Shenon and Ross, 1936, p. 39). At the Sunnyside mine the ore occurs in flow breccia overlain by interbedded sandstones, shales, and conglomerate; a mudflow overlies much of the area. At some places where the mudflow is close to the breccia, blanketlike ore bodies are formed. Apparently the mud acted as an impermeable barrier to the upward-moving ore solutions. The ore is highly oxidized although patches of pyrite can be found locally.

Yellow Pine District

The Yellow Pine district is between lat 44°50′ N. and long 115°00′ and 115°30′ W., near the town of Stibnite.

In about 1900, during the rush to the Thunder Mountain district, deposits of quicksilver, antimony, and gold were found in the Yellow Pine district. No work of any consequence was done, however, until 1917, when the demand for quicksilver encouraged development of several properties, notably the Fern and Hermes mines (Cooper, 1951, p. 152). Gold-antimony deposits were developed in 1929 at the Meadow Creek mine, but this property was closed in 1938. The Yellow Pine deposit, the major producer of the district, was discovered in the early 1900’s but was not mined until 1937. At first only gold and antimony were recovered, but in 1941 scheelite was found. Activity accelerated, and during World War II the Yellow Pine mine became the largest tungsten producer in the United States. The tungsten ore was exhausted by 1945; nevertheless, large-scale mining of the antimony-gold ore continued (Cooper, 1951, p. 174-175). At the end of 1952, the Yellow Pine mine was shut down and virtually no gold was produced from the district afterward. The nearby town of Stibnite was almost deserted by 1958. The Hermes mine remained active, however, and was still producing mercury in 1959.

The gold production of the Yellow Pine and Meadow Creek mines through 1945 was 101,437 ounces (Cooper, 1951, p. 155). Little if any gold was produced from any of the other properties. Total district gold production through 1959 was 309,734 ounces.

The oldest rocks in the Yellow Pine district are quartzite, quartzitic conglomerate, mica schist, altered limestone, dolomite, and tactite, all probably Ordovician in age (Cooper, 1951, p. 156). These rocks were folded and faulted, then intruded by a mass of quartz monzonite related to the Idaho batholith of middle Cretaceous age. There was also some postintrusion faulting that dislocated the igneous rocks (Cooper, 1951, p. 162-163). Dikes ranging from basalt to rhyolite in composition cut the quartz monzonite and fill many of the faults and shear zones.

Ore deposits, according to Cooper (1951, p. 164), are of two types: deposits of low-grade disseminated gold ore containing local concentrations of antimony, silver, and tungsten; and deposits of quicksilver. Currier (1935, p. 16-17), on the other hand, classified three types: arsenical gold ores, antimony-gold-silver ores, and mercury ores.

The gold-bearing deposits are characterized by auriferous pyrite and arsenopyrite, scheelite, and stibnite. Cooper (1951, p. 165) noted a zoning of the deposits. East of a north-south line, 1 mile east of Stibnite, only mercury deposits are found; west of the line the important tungsten-antimony-silver-gold deposits are found. All deposits are localized along faults; the zoning is probably due to depth below the land surface at the time of mineralization (Cooper, 1951, p. 165). Most of the deposits consist of a network of small mineralized fractures and disseminations in the adjacent wallrock.

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The Growth Of Quartz Mining Discoveries

Updated: June 30, 2013 Access Genealogy

Prospecting early indicated that the future mineral wealth of Idaho would depend upon quartz mining, and accordingly efforts were early made to develop that feature of Idaho’s principal industry. In the autumn of 1863 it was found that thirty-three claims of gold and silver quartz-mines had been made on the south Boise alone, ail of which promised well. The Ida Elmore, near the head of Bear creek, the first and most famous of the south Boise quartz mines in that year, was discovered in June. In an arastra it yielded two hundred and seventy dollars to the ton of rock; but at length it fell into the hands of speculators. The next several mines of this class were the Barker, East Barker, Ophir, Idaho, Independence, Southern Confederacy, Esmeralda, General Lane, Western Star, Golden Star, Mendocino, Abe Lincoln, Emmett and Hibernia. The Idaho assayed, thirty feet below the surface, one thou-sand seven hundred and forty-four dollars in gold and ninety-four dollars and eighty-six cents in silver; Golden Eagle, two thousand two hundred and forty dollars in gold and twenty-seven dollars in silver, from the croppings. At the Ida Elmore a town was laid out called Fredericksburg, and other towns were also laid out elsewhere, many of which remained towns only in the imagination. Rocky Bar, however, laid out in 1864, beautifully materialized, while Boise City, founded at the junction of Moore creek with the Boise River, has long been the capital of this commonwealth.

The first discovery on Granite creek, in the line of quartz-mining, was at first named the Pioneer and afterward Gold Hill, when consolidated with the Landon: and it was at length purchased by the “Great Consolidated Boise River Gold and Silver Mining Company,” which had control also of other mines. Even the poorest rock in the Pioneer assayed over sixty-two dollars to the ton, while the better class went from six to twenty thousand dollars! These assays be-came the occasion of an organization in San Francisco of the Boise River Mining and Exploring Company, which contracted for a ten-stamp mill to be used in the Boise country.

One of the rich lodes discovered in 1863 was the Gambrinus, owned by an incorporated company of Portland; but, like many other openings of mines, it lasted but a short time. It was so rich that pieces of rock which had rolled down into the creek and become water-worn could be seen to glisten with gold at a distance of fifty feet. On Granite creek a town was started, called Ouartzburg, two miles west of Placerville; but soon after mills were brought into the vicinity at a little distance, the initial town became extinct and forgotten.

The greatest discovery of this year, however, and the most sensational, was the result of a search made by a party of twenty-nine from Placerville to rediscover the famous “lost diggings” of 1845. Crossing Snake River near the mouth of the Boise, they proceeded, not in the direction supposed to have been taken by the party of 1845, but went along Snake River, on the south side, to a considerable stream, which they named Reynolds creek, after a member of their own party. While encamped here two of the men, Wade and Miner, ascended a divide on the west and observed that the formation of the country indicated a large River in that direction. Continuing their course up the Reynolds creek, in the direction of the supposed River, and crossing some very rough mountains, they fell upon the headwaters of another creek, flowing toward the unknown River, where they commenced prospecting, late in the afternoon of the 18th of May, and found a hundred “colors” to the pan. This place, called Discovery Bar, was six miles below the site of Boonville, on Jordan creek. The “unknown” River proved subsequently to be the Owyhee, whose course had previously been but partially known. After prospecting ten days longer, locating as much mining ground as they could hold, and naming the district Carson, they prospected two other creeks, Bowlder and Sinker, without making any further discoveries, and then returned to Placerville.

Note: This is quite long and covered a lot of the history of mining (and transport for the mines) in Idaho.

Idaho History July 9

Atlanta, Idaho


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Atlanta City, Alturas Co,

Post Office 23 miles n east of Rocky Bar, is a small but promising mining hamlet, having several very rich veins of gold and silver bearing ore. The mines are but slightly developed. The storms of winter render access difficult at that season.

Davis Nelson, postmaster and liquor saloon
Emerson William, butcher
Fillman John L, blacksmith
Young H D, lumber manufacturer

Alturas County

Organized in 1864. Bounded on the north by Boise, Lemhi, and Idaho Counties and Montana Territory, south by Owyhee County, east by Oneida County, and west by Ada and Boise Counties. Area. 13,600 square miles. Assessed valuation of property for 1874, $155,456. County seat. Rocky Bar. Principal towns: Yuba and Atlanta cities, distant respectively 112 and 115 miles from Boise City, the Territorial capital. Resources: placer and quartz mines are profitably worked, and numerous quartz mills are now in active operation urwn its various ledges. Silver-bearing ledges wore discovered within its limits in 1863. The mines of Alturas, particularly those at Rocky Bar and Atlanta have obtained a wide celebrity and are regarded as among the most valuable of the Pacific Coast. The veins are both gold and silver bearing. The distance from the great lines of travel, the expensive transportation of the great masses and quality of machinery and supplies necessary to mining, and want of population have been serious obstacles to the development of the important mineral resources of this region. The county is well timbered and watered, affording fine facilities for milling and mining purposes. The general character of the surface being mountainous, it is not possessed of any extensive agricultural lands, although it contains a number of valleys well adapted for grazing, ranging from one fourth of a mile to two miles in width, of exceeding fertility, and are well stocked with horses, cattle, and sheep. In the southern part of the county are three lone mountains, sharp and rugged in outline, called the Three Buttes, the highest being called Cedar Butte. These mountains are of volcanic origin and almost destitute of vegetation; and as they are visible at a great distance, on account of their isolated position, they are notable landmarks for travelers. In the extreme south of the county are located the great Shoshone Falls on the Snake River. These falls are about 300 yards in width, and the river makes an uninterrupted descent of 200 feet, the sound produced thereby being distinctly heard under favorable conditions of the atmosphere at a distance of twenty miles.

Officers: Stephen B. Dilley, Probate Judge, and Superintendent Public Schools; William Kelley, Clerk, Recorder and Auditor; George Ainslie, District Attorney; Mell Campbell, Sheriff; W. P. Callahan, Treasurer; John Van Schaick, Tax Collector, and Assessor; John Winkelbach, Coroner.

“Pacific Coast Business Directory for 1876-78,” Compiled By Henry G. Langley, Editor of the California State Register, Pacific Coast Almanac, San Francisco, 1875. Gazetteer and Business Directory of Idaho Territory

source American History & Genealogy Project Idaho:
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Atlanta, Idaho

Jan. 17, 1909

Named after the ledge found in 1864 by a group of prospectors who were southern sympathizers, Atlanta is about 35 miles east, as the crow flies, from Idaho City. It is close to 60 miles by the present day roads.

The Monarch was discovered in the summer of 1864, and the first quartz claim developed in the district, and was probably the best on the vein. It consisted of 1,600 feet along the vein, and was owned by the Monarch Mining Company, of Indianapolis, Indiana. At the point of discovery a veritable treasure of ruby silver was found, which, in the space of 20×50 feet, yielded $200,000.

From W. W. Elliott’s – History of Idaho Territory (1884):

“Gulch mining in Quartz Gulch (Atlanta) has been carried on successfully ever since 1864. In this way the Atlanta vein was found, $100 having been taken from a single pan of its decomposed croppings, and the miners naturally soon reaching the solid ledge itself.”Oliver’s Summit” near Atlanta, has paid $80.00 to the man, and is being mined every summer. Quartz Creek claims have yielded $100 per day to the man. In July, 1881, a $40-nugget was found.

A number of mines are located on this ledge. The largest, perhaps, is the Atlanta. It has large hoisting and pumping works, a shaft 400 feet deep, a mile or more of drifts and tunnels, two mills, and has taken out more than $1,500,000 in gold and silver ore of a high grade.”

source: Bob Hartman FB February 11, 2017
photo gallery:

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Gold & Silver Mining in Atlanta, Idaho

Gold and silver mining in Atlanta, Idaho, dates back to 1863, when a team of prospective miners led by John Stanley discovered gold along Yuba River. Despite attempts to conceal this discovery, word got out and a small gold rush to the area happened in August of 1863 that failed to yield any significant discoveries. Some miners stayed in the area, and continued exploring the placer deposits around the area.

In 1864, there was a second gold rush that was much more substantial than the first. Most of the mining activity extended from the Yuba River downstream along the Middle Fork of the Boise River. Additional discoveries were soon made to the south at Rocky Bar on Bear Creek and within the Feather River drainage.

This was during the height of activity taking place to the west in the Boise Basin, and thousands of men were exploring the rugged mountains in this area in search of new gold deposits.

The discovery of the Atlanta lode in 1864 established this area as rich in mineral wealth.

Until 1867, placer mining was the primary mining methods used along the Yuba and Boise River. This was attributed to extreme remoteness of the mining district and difficulties in bringing milling facilities to the district.

The remote location of the lode was a challenge. Refractory ores also stalled production of gold. When stamp milling began in 1867 the production really began.

In 1868, investors from all round the world started flocking to Atlanta. First on the scene were British investors. They were followed by Monarch, a company owned by investors from Indiana.

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Atlanta, Idaho

Postcard of Atlanta – 1908.

source Facebook – Bob Hartman IDAHO HISTORY 1860’s TO 1960’s
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Rocky Bar

The discovery of gold on the Feather River in 1863 touched off a new ruch to what became known as the South Boise Diggings. A toll road was built in 1864 and freight wagons started to roll in from the railhead at Kelton, Utah. From Mountain Home the toll road led to Dixie, Pine Grove, (which is located under the Anderson Ranch Dam waters) Junction Bar, and finally to Rocky Bar.

With the largest mines nearby on Bear Creek, Rocky Bat wuickly became the leading settlement fo rht South Boise miners. In 1864, with a population of nearly twenty-five hundred, it became the county seat of Alturas County. And along with Idaho City, Rocky Bar was a contender for the site of the territorial capital. When Alturas County was created in 1864, the first Territorial Legislature designated Esmeralda as the County seat. But since Esmeralds wasn’t much of a village and Rocky Bar was starting to boom, the county officials quietly moved their office up to Rocky Bar. This honor was held by Rocky Bar until 1881, when Hailey won the election and became the seat of Alturas County.

One account states that a twelve stamp mill was hauled by ox team from Omaha to Rocky Bar for thirty cents a pound. In 1892 much of Rocky Bar was wiped out by fire, but the town was soon rebuilt and mining continued. A large Chinese settlement hugged the banks along Steel Creek. There are still a few summer residents in town and on cafe and bar, or Saloon. The old mills have been pretty much torn down. With the death of Charley Sprittles, Rocky Bar’s last winter-time resident, the deep snows and wintry winds have this old camp all to themselves.

(Quoted from Southern Idaho Ghost Towns by Wayne Sparling)

Rocky Bar is located about eight miles north of Featherville, at the confluence of Bear and Steel creeks.

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Rocky Bar, Idaho

Rocky Bar is a ghost town in Elmore County, Idaho, United States. At its height in the late 19th century Rocky Bar boasted a population of over 2,500 and served as county seat of Alturas County from 1864 to 1882. It was also the original county seat of Elmore County when it was created in 1889.

Rocky Bar was founded in December 1863 soon after gold was discovered along the nearby Feather River. Within two years it became the main settlement in the area and was even considered as a possible capital for Idaho Territory. The town was destroyed by fire in 1892. Although it was rebuilt, afterwards it began a slow decline. Rocky Bar has not had a permanent population since the 1960s.

Rocky Bar is located 62 miles northeast of Mountain Home.

source Wikipedia:
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Annie McIntyre Morrow

Annie “Peg Leg” McIntyre Morrow was not a wicked woman, just more so lost. And the story of her life is one of tragedy, courage, and resourcefulness.

ByC hris Enss on April 13, 2016

Her name was Annie McIntyre Morrow, and the story of her life and times in the Idaho mining camps of Atlanta and Rocky Bar is one of tragedy, courage, and resourcefulness. She was born in Van Buren County, Idaho, on September 13, 1858. Her mother died giving birth to her. Annie’s father, Steve McIntyre, brought her to the mining camp of Rocky Bar in 1864, and the two settled there.

When Annie was six years old her father became partners with George W. Jackson, owner of one of the richest gold mines in the vicinity, the Gold Star. The two men quarreled; there was a shoot-out, and McIntyre was killed, leaving Annie an orphan.

At the age of fourteen, Annie met a man named Morrow, and the two became romantically involved. They married in 1876, but the marriage was not a happy one because Morrow beat his young bride. Annie left Rocky Bar with her husband but returned a few years later as a widow. Whether her husband died or whether she left him is not known.

Not long after her return to the South Boise mining area, Annie began operating a boarding house in Atlanta, Idaho, fourteen miles from Rocky Bar, over a four-mile mountain summit. Annie was an angel of mercy in the mining camp. She never turned down a hungry man or one without money. Her boarding house was a haven to those who were down on their luck.


Idaho History July 2

Fourth of July in Yellow Pine

By Ted Abstein

It really started about a week before when Sim Willey and his family would start for Yellow Pine from the Willey Ranch down the South Fork driving a steer for the old-fashioned barbecue. Then on the morning of the 3rd a couple of men with large canvas backpacks would go up Quartz Creek to the north cliffs where packed icy snow still lingered – they would overnite and then start back with a hundred pounds or so of ice for the once-a-year ice cream we enjoyed so. In the meantime the steer was spitted over a large barbecue pit in which there was a deep bed of glowing coals; men worked in shifts through the night, turning the spit and feeding the fire and basting the carcass.

About daybreak, or a bit before, the celebration began with a literal “bang”. Typical was Dad’s “alarm clock”: a quarter of a stick of dynamite on top of an anvil with another anvil inverted over it! The resultant bang-clang would be heard for miles.

The feast was something to behold on a long community picnic table near the barbecue pit. The ladies of the community vied mightily in a sort of gustatory Olympics of male approbation – that’s probably a very poor choice of words since the contest wasn’t all sportsmanlike; in fact, there were several resulting, long-lasting feuds which arose!

After the sumptuous repast and a few naps there would be the usual contests: sack races, three-legged races, etc. with a few coins to winning children – returns to the picnic table for snacks – and a makeshift local rodeo or ball game at the field below town. In those days it was a yearly highlight with attendance by many people from miles around. Looking back it doesn’t appear all that much – I guess it was easier to entertain us then!

pg 68 of the “Yellow Pine” book compiled by Nancy Sumner (available only in Yellow Pine. $15 – contact Marj)
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Yellow Pine Tavern

Date unknown source Tasha Edwards

“This is an old photo taken by my grandparents. Years ago they used to live near Yellow Pine, and would take my dad and Aunt to the tavern for candy or milkshakes (at least that’s how dad remembers it) ”

[posted at the old Stumble Inn message board]
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Yellow Pine Tavern

from Gordon Valdez, Murph Earl’s son-in-law

The tavern was built by Murphy and Mary Earl in 1940 and it has been in the Earl family every since. The log bar top originally extended further back than it does today. There were outhouses, an icehouse and a generator shack out back. Murph and Blondie McGill, Murph’s partner, were flying into Chamberlain Basin where McGill had cattle interests. They set down in Yellow Pine and were unable to buy a drink as there were no bars open.

Being saloonkeepers from Idaho City and Boise (the old Western on Main Street), they decided to remedy that situation and build a bar.

[h/t SMc – YP Walking tour]
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Murphy F Earl Obit

Birth: Feb. 23, 1910 Iowa, USA
Death: Jan. 10, 1982 Boise Ada County Idaho, USA

Obituary — Services for Murphy F. Earl, 71, Horseshoe Bend, who died Jan. 10, 1982, in a Boise hospital, will be conducted at 3 p.m. Saturday in Summers Funeral Home by the Rev. Bill Williams of King of Glory Lutheran Church. Private family interment will be Monday.

He was born Feb. 23, 1910, in Sioux City, Iowa. He married Mary L. Raski on Oct. 25, 1930, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the early 1930s, they moved to Idaho City, where they owned and operated a cafe and bar. In the early 1940s, they moved to Yellow Pine, where they operated a bar and cafe. He owned and operated the Western Bar and Cafe in Boise and a feedlot near Eagle. He and a partner built and operated the Outlaw Inn and the Turf Club in Garden City. His wife died in October, 1974.

Survivors include a daughter, Mrs. Gordon (Donna) Valdez of Lake Fork; a brother, Mart Earl of Eagle; two grandchildren, including Terry Francis Leatherman of Boise and Mary Valdez of Lake Fork; and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by three brothers. Friends may call at Summers Funeral Home today from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

-unknown newspaper clipping

Burial: Dry Creek Cemetery
Boise Ada County Idaho, USA
Plot: BRONZE 007 04-S
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Yellow Pine Stomp

Seems as though there was a Saturday night dance about once a month: first at the postmaster’s (A. E. Behne) cabin and, after it was built (circa 1922?), at the little schoolhouse. The music at Behne’s was from his victrola but later at the school cabin it was “live” – McCoy’s (forgotten his name) fiddle and various harmonica tootlers. For some of the dancers(?) as the night wore on and the jug levels dropped, it became more of an athletic contest than a dance with contestants out leaping each other and alighting with great fervor (origin of the Yellow Pine Stomp!?!) – I remember one night when Gil McCoy outdid himself by putting his foot squarely through the floor; that ended that dance because his foot was wedged securely and a couple of men had to chop him loose!”

by Ted Abstein “What it Was Like to Be Young in Yellow Pine” – pg 5 “Yellow Pine” Book – Marj has copies for sale $15
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Gil McCoy 1933


photo from Carl Kitchen collection

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Shootin’ up the Village

from The Yellow Pine Times April 2005

Sunday April 17th, approximately 10pm – several gun shots were heard on “main street” by most of the village residents. Witnesses reported hearing a series of shots from a small caliber gun that started outside the Corner Bar and traveled south down the main street. A short while later, a larger caliber gun was heard being fired – near the Community Hall. A couple of residents shouted from their porches to cease fire! Then it was quite.

The following morning, Monday April 18th, one sharp eyed neighbor noticed that the motor home (parked near the community hall) had had its tires flattened during the night.

On Tuesday, Mr. Eisberg called a meeting at the Silver Dollar Grill to apologize for the shootings Sunday night.


Thursday afternoon, a local resident entered our Community Hall to play ping pong and discovered that the table had a long fresh groove in its surface and then turned and saw that the front door had 3 bullet holes in it.


Subsequent investigation turned up bullet holes in the stage and wall opposite the front door, that continued through into the kitchen area. One bullet just missed an electrical outlet.

Our Village of Yellow Pine Association Chairman was notified, and Valley County contacted. Investigators from the Sheriff’s department came in on Saturday and collected up evidence including bullets and the tires that were flattened.

[h/t LC]
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Saloons were part of a man’s world in early Idaho

By Arthur Hart Special to the Idaho Statesman May 27, 2017

Even the smallest frontier Idaho towns had a saloon, and often two or three. With a largely male population of miners, cowboys and gamblers, it was a social center where you could play cards, shoot pool or mellow out on cheap whiskey.

Newspaper accounts of violence in Idaho saloons of the 1860s and ’70s nearly always made a distinction between “good whiskey” and “bad whiskey,” suggesting that it was the rot-gut bad kind that caused all the trouble. The editor of the Idaho Tri-weekly Statesman commented on July 21, 1871, “For the amount of saloons there are in this city it is singular that there is so little fighting going on. They must sell but little of the bust-head sort.” After a soldier from Fort Boise got drunk and started a fight in a Main Street saloon, the paper commented, “Cause, bad whiskey, of course.”

Part of the problem was that just about anybody with a few dollars and no other means of livelihood could buy a small stock of cheap whiskey and go into business for himself. Idaho City’s Idaho World said of saloons in July 1870, “There is only about a dozen or so more than there ought to be in Idaho City. Two or three houses might do a good business, but as long as a license to sell liquor costs as little as it does now we will have any number of saloons with none of them scarcely making a living.” Raising the cost of a license, the World thought, “would shut up and close out nearly all the little doggeries and ‘dead falls’ where villainous compounds are dealt out to everyone calling for it, drunk or sober, and where one-half or two-thirds of the crimes and violations of the law are hatched and concocted.”

Since a large part of the male population of Boise City was spending a lot of time in saloons, the proprietor of Johnny Crowe’s Sample Rooms sought to amuse the readers of his ads in the Statesman by listing popular euphemisms for inviting a friend to have a drink: “Let’s take a nip; irrigate; throw yourself around of suthin’; let’s smile; let’s wrestle with the common enemy; let’s drown the worm; let’s refrigerate; let’s stimulate; take a little pisen; hang your hat on a limb; open your mouth and prepare for a scorching of your innards.”

continued IdahoHistorySaloons.doc