Category Archives: Weekly History

Idaho History Feb 18

The Horse Queen of Idaho

Kittie Wilkins Raised Horses in a Remote Corner of Idaho and Became World Famous


Kittie Wilkins (1857-1936), Horse Queen of Idaho

She wasn’t a suntanned, masculine-looking, rough-talking, gun-totin’ woman of the Old West; she was feminine, pretty, blond haired with blue eyes and still part of the Victorian Age — wearing long dresses and the latest fashions, rode side-saddle and at first was even against women voting.

But Kittie Wilkins deserves her place in the history of the West by her love of horses — a passion that earned her the title of the “Horse Queen of Idaho.”

It all started with two $20 gold pieces.

Katherine “Kittie” Caroline Wilkins was born in Jacksonville, Ore. in 1857, her parents John R. and Laura (Smith) Wilkins having immigrated by wagon train to Oregon City, Ore. shortly after their marriage in 1853. Kittie had older brothers Elbert and John, and younger brother Samuel.

When she was just two, friends gave her parents two $20 gold coins to be held in trust for their daughter. Years later, her father was building his horse business and spotted a filly he wanted. He bargained the price down from $80 to $40 and paid with Kittie’s two gold coins. When Kittie was grown, she’d often tell that story — probably with a smile.

During her growing years, the family moved many times around the West—first to Placerville, Calif. where the ’49 Gold Rush was still booming, then Florence, Idaho, several stops in Washington Territory, Boise City and northeastern Oregon.

By 1869, they were back in Boise where Dad bought the City Market and advertised “The largest variety and best meats that can be procured in the Territory.”

A month later however, misfortune struck. The J.R. Wilkins’s City Market burned to the ground—along with eleven other businesses. It’s unclear what the family did in the next few years, but they earned enough money to send Kittie to Sacred Heart Academy in Ogden, Utah, and later to Notre Dame College in San Jose. It was a day and boarding school, high school and college, established in 1851 by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, an order of nuns founded in 1803 by St. Julie Billiart.

Later chartered as California’s first women’s college—the school had the reputation of being the “best school for young ladies in the West.” It was there that Kittie learned to play the piano, and for a high school graduation present, her parents gave her a square Weber grand piano. Not a bad education for a young lady of the Wild West.

By 1876, the peripatetic family was in the gold mining town of Tuscarora, Nevada where they had just found silver and thousands were rushing in. A regional newspaper report noted that John Wilkins was building the Wilkins House Hotel. Then, three years later their hotel also burned to the ground. After that, they turned their attention to the livestock business.

In the early 1880s, they moved to Idaho’s Bruneau country south of Mountain Home and started a horse and cattle enterprise called the Wilkins Horse Company at Bruneau’s Diamond Ranch—that Kittie later inherited. They used a diamond image as its livestock brand.

Official records state: “J.R. Wilkins acquires Wilkins Hot Springs/Kitty’s Hot Hole; 120 acres on Robinson’s Fork (Jarbidge River) of the Bruneau River, 100 yards from Sommercamp house; filed…Owyhee County, Idaho Territory, February 1886; headquarters for range on Wilkins Island, land between West and East Forks of Jarbidge River.”

The livestock grazed on 160,000 acres on a remote rugged plateau at an elevation of 6,000 feet straddling the Idaho-Nevada border. At one time, the Wilkins Company had around 10,000 horses—as well as cattle. Kittie’s natural talent working with horses began to blossom—leaving the handling of the cattle to others.

When she accompanied her father to livestock sales in the Midwest, she learned how to wheel-and-deal in a man’s world. She also could crack the whip over a team of up to 50 cowboys on roundups—riding side-saddle on horseback while wearing a long dress that covered her ankles.


Kittie Wilkins riding side-saddle

Soon newspapers across the country were writing about this unique woman who earned a reputation of being the only female in America whose livelihood was based solely on the horse trade.

In 1887, the San Francisco Examiner was the first to call her the “Horse Queen of Idaho,” while others called her the “Queen of Diamonds” because of the diamond design on their branding irons.

When Kittie came to town, newspapers in Sioux City, Omaha, Kansas City and St. Louis announced the arrival with headlines like “Horses Are Her Delight,” “Ways of the Lady Horse Dealer,” and “The Only One of Her Kind.”

The long-skirted horse lady from Idaho was on her way to becoming a media star of her day.

One report said, “She developed top-notch stock that was specially bred for different markets: Clydesdale and Percheron lines for heavy freight, Morgans for saddle and harness, and so on. Customers included the U. S. Cavalry, and some of her best stock went to Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show…

“During all that time,” the report continued, “Kitty not only ran the horse operation, but also handled all the marketing and sales, almost always traveling by herself.”


Wilkins’ letterhead (Courtesy Hank Corless)

She shipped carloads of horses to livestock markets as far as Yukon Territory. Once she sent a single shipment of 30 carloads of horses from Mountain Home to Kansas City.

Reports say it was the biggest horse sale ever made in the West.

Idaho State University Associate Professor Philip A. Homan wrote “Papers throughout the United States, even the world, spread the word about the Idaho girl who was America’s best judge of the quality and the value of horses and who was making a fortune selling them.”

Investing her two gold coins in a filly had paid off.

In 1900, the Boer War was raging and they needed horses. Kittie filled an order for 8,000 head for a buyer in Kansas who sent them to South Africa. Historian Homan—who is writing a scholarly biography about Kittie—says she may have been the war’s biggest supplier of horses.


Off-loading a horse in South Africa for service in the Boer War (1899-1902)

As the 19th century was ending, the horse age was also drawing to a close. Railroads were coast-to-coast, and in 1893 America’s first auto manufacturer was in business when Charles Duryea and his brother Frank founded Duryea Motor Wagon Company. Soon, there were Oldsmobiles, Ramblers, Fords, Cadillacs and others rolling out by the thousands.

Kittie didn’t care much for autos or bicycles—both competing with her beloved horses. She considered cars “ugly” and “unsafe” and believed that women riding bikes was “unladylike.”

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Wilkins family. In 1885, Kittie’s father filed a squatter’s rights claim on a parcel of land later called Murphy Hot Springs, with water temperatures as high as 149 degrees. It was a welcomed hot tub for their tired ranch hands, but later they lost the property in an ownership dispute.

The last chapter of her remarkable career was a bonanza selling horses to the military for use in World War I. Then motorized transportation took over.

Kittie never married, though there are accounts of a romance with her ranch foreman Joseph Pellessier who was seven years younger, but he was killed in a range dispute in 1909.

In the early 1920s, Kittie moved to a home in Glenns Ferry where she stayed active in charities and with family and friends. “Next to petting my favorite horses,” she once told the Denver Post, “I like nothing better than to sit down at my piano and let my fingers drift along the keys until I have exhausted my entire repertoire.”


Kittie Wilkins at her home in Glenns Ferry, Idaho

Kittie Wilkins died at her home on October 8, 1936. She was 79.

The Denver Post remembered her with a kind word: “Her face glowed with intelligence, gentle humor and glorious health, such as can only be acquired by outdoor life, and that is the life that is led by Miss Kitty C. Wilkins, the wonderful horse raiser of Bruneau, Idaho.”

Buried in Mountain Home, her gravestone misspelled her name as “Kitty” – like the Denver newspaper did. But underneath her name, the spelling is correct: “Horse Queen of Idaho.”

source: Syd Albright December 13, 2015 CdA Press
Special thanks to Associate Professor Philip A. Homan, Idaho State University, for research contribution.
— — — — — — — — — —

Katherine Caroline “Kitty” Wilkins


Birth: 15 May 1857 Jacksonville, Jackson County, Oregon, USA
Death: 8 Oct 1936 Glenns Ferry, Elmore County, Idaho, USA
Burial: Mountain View Cemetery Mountain Home, Elmore County, Idaho, USA

source: Find A Grave


Idaho History Feb 11

Lone Highwayman of Yellowstone

(click image for source on Facebook)

Teton Valley outlaw Ed Harrington, aka Ed Trafton, lived with his family in Teton Valley in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Pictured here with his family, from left to right are: the youngest daughter, Annie; Ed; the middle daughter, Helen; his wife, and their eldest daughter, Alice.

Released after doing 3 years of a 25 year sentence at the penitentiary for getting caught with too many horses and cows that didn’t belong to him, Harrington returned to Teton Valley. Even with his record he somehow landed the job of Teton Basin’s first official mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. But, as they say, old habits die hard.

As told by Diane Verna in TetonValley Magazine:

“He loved to rob the stores of the Upper Valley, securing himself an alibi before leaving Teton Valley in the middle of the night. The law caught up with him in 1901, and, according to Eugene Leo Cowan in his excerpt on Harrington in the Snake River Echoes, he spent two years in prison on charges of grand larceny. Yet “doing time” did not convince him to change his ways.

By now Yellowstone had been christened America’s first national park and well-to-do tourists from the East were flocking to see its many wonderful features. They traveled by rail to places like St. Anthony, where a stagecoach would pick them up for a tour through the park.

It was August 1908 when nine stage coaches were robbed somewhere between Old Faithful and Yellowstone Lake. It was estimated that the robber made off with $1,400 in cash and $700 worth of jewelry and watches. No one was ever indicted but Harrington, more commonly known by the name of Trafton during this period, was the main suspect, especially since he would brag of his exploits and show off the jewelry he acquired. According to Cowan, who corresponded with a relative of Trafton’s, the relative remembers “a large, glass-headed doll, and (being) told never to let anyone touch it because they would steal it…when it opened, this doll was full of expensive jewelry.”

On July 29, 1914, Trafton pulled off a similar feat, this time robbing 19 stages all by himself. This earned him the nickname “The Lone Highwayman of Yellowstone.” According to several different accounts, Trafton was pleasant robber, asking folks to “please” put all their money and jewelry in his bag and even posing for pictures at the scene of the crime. Indeed, many have referred to him as a nice, polite, well-spoken man who unfortunately made his living as a thief. Yet for all of his scandalous escapades, he never took anyone’s life.”

source: Bob Hartman Idaho History 1860s To 1960s
— — — — — — — — — —


Tourists in the Yellowstone Robbed of $7,000 in Money and Jewels Near Old Faithful Inn.


Last Coach Dashes Madly Back to Give the Alarm and Soldiers Start Quickly.

Special to The New York Times – August 25, 1908

Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone Park, Aug. 24. — A lone highwayman, whose features were concealed by a black mask, this morning held up seven stage coaches and made seven parties of tourists contribute more than $7,000 in a canyon within a short distance of this place in the upper basin of Yellowstone Park.

source (rest of story behind paywall): The New York Times
— — — — — — — — — —


The Yellowstone Park [part] VII

Details of the Hold-Up and Robbery.

I have been asked to repeat, with such additions as have been printed in some western papers, the story of the “Hold-up” In the Yellowstone Park on August 24, 1908. I would refer my readers to my letter written from the Lake Hotel on the afternoon of August 24 and published, with an account of the meeting held that evening, in the New York Observer of Thursday, September 3, 1908, for a summary of the incidents. In writing more at length, I will first quote the following letter written by me to a member of my family on the afternoon of August 25, 1908, from the Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The morning of August 24. 1908, was bright and clear and cold, and all wore wraps and overcoats. The drivers and horses were in fine fettle on account of Sunday’s rest, and the roads were free from dust or mud. We rolled over smooth roads, stopping to see several geysers and falls, to take a picture of some deer that showed themselves, and to drink at a spring of mountain water. The fact that we were forty minutes ahead of time, saved our leading coaches from participation in a disaster which befell those behind us.

Just as the fifth coach passed the spring where we had drunk. a highwayman, with a long mask over face and breast, halted it with a leveled repeating rifle, ordered the passengers to keep still and put their money and valuables into a bag, which he compelled a youth to carry in front of him. The men, women and children were, of course, frightened, and being entirely unarmed and undefended, they gave up all that they could not hide or beg off. The ruffian was most profane and vulgar in his language and brutal In his acts; he pulled off rings from women’s fingers, emptied bags and pocketbooks with his free hand, while he poked the barrel gun in the faces of his victims with the other, and struck on the head one who refused to be robbed. This course he pursued with more than a dozen coaches, and then, satisfied with the plunder, he took the bag from the boy, remarked that he “would meet his victims in heaven,” and fired his gun for the coaches to move on, or as some said, as a signal tea to a confederate who was waiting with horses nearby, with which to escape.

This is the tale, snatches of which were given to us by the excited passengers as coach after coach came in at the Thumb Inn. You can hardly imagine the scenes which took place, but I will say, for the credit of American women, that while many were hysterical and voluble, none fainted or behaved themselves unseemingly. The occurrence was at once telegraphed throughout the park, and on arrival at the Lake Hotel, we were besieged with inquiries, and before 7 o’clock It was determined to hold “a public meeting of citizens of the United States on the Yellowstone Park Reservation of the Government.” At once, upon arriving from the boat I wrote an “Augustus” letter for publication in The Observer. In order to be correct, I submitted this to several of the victims of the robbery whom I thought best qualified to know the exact facts, and to Dr. Myers and others of our party in whose judgment I could confide. As I could not telegraph, the lines being all occupied by the Government, I posted the letter at once. This led the gentlemen who were present to call me into conference as to what should be done. It was determined to hold a public meeting in the hotel hall, give a chance for speeches, and pass resolutions addressed to the Secretary of the Interior and the officials of the park, and to send the action of the meeting to the Associated Press. At 8 o’clock the hall was crammed.

Mr. Frank E. Higgins, of Columbus, Ohio, called the meeting to order, stated that Its object was to take definite and united action relative to the hold-up, and nominated Mr. Ben Drew, of Orlando, Florida, who was the first man to be robbed, as the presiding officer. Mr. R. R. Christian, of Spokane, Washington, was chosen secretary. Ms. Charles A. Stoddard, of the New York Observer, New York City, was requested to prepare and present a suitable memorial for transmission to the Department of the Interior. The following paper was presented, the author introducing it with an earnest address which was received with applause, unanimously adopted and signed by all present:

“On the morning of August 24, in Yellowstone Park, on the road between Old Faithful Inn and Thumb of Lake, several coaches of the transportation company and other vehicles containing men, women and children, were held up and robbed by a highwayman. These travelers were entirely defenseless, as by the rules of the park tourists and visitors are not permitted to carry weapons of offense or defense. They were insulted, struck, robbed of money and valuables to the extent of about $2,100.

“As this reservation has been taken from the public domain and placed in the sphere of the interior Department, and is professedly patrolled and governed by the United States authorities and soldiers, citizens of the United States have a special claim for protection and defense in their peaceable passage through the park or transient residence therein.

“The undersigned citizens and guests of the United States do therefore respectfully request the Hon. James R. Garfield, Secretary of the Interior, to make a suitable investigation of the facts set forth above, with a view to ascertaining whether there has been neglect of duty on the part of any guardians of the park, whether the aggrieved citizens have any suitable means of redress and compensation from the government, and what steps are necessary to insure greater safety and defense in the future in the Yellowstone National Park. (Signed)
“BEN DREW, President.
“R. R. CHRISTIAN, Secretary.”

General Young was requested to send a military escort for the tourists for the remainder of their journey through the park, and he did so. A committee was also appointed to obtain an itemized list of victims and their losses, which reported that there were nineteen coaches, twelve of which were robbed; ninety-one persons were robbed, and sixty reported no loss. The total amount of money and valuables taken was $2,100. in sums varying from $250 to $1. Non-negotiable drafts for $10,000 were also taken, which with tickets and other property, useless to the robber, were afterwards found In the woods not far from the road. A resolution of sympathy for Mr. Gaskin, the student of the University of Virginia, who was compelled to carry the bag for the bandit; and one calling upon Congress to provide funds for the employment of a competent police force to guard the park, were also passed, and the meeting adjourned, sine die.

Meantime, the telephone had spread the news far and wide, and early the next morning a reward of $3,000 for the capture of the bandit was posted by the Transportation companies; and newspapers as far east as St. Paul had elaborate stories of the occurrence and Interviews with tourists and army officers.

The following account was published In :The Pioneer Press” of St. Paul on August 25, with large headlines and special sub-heads:


“Special to the Pioneer Press.

“Lake Hotel, Yellowstone Park. Wyo., Aug. 24. – In true western fashion, a lone highwayman held up twelve stage coaches about 9 o’clock this morning almost at the summit of the continental divide, in the southeastern corner of the park.

“The line of coaches had just left the Old Faithful Inn, starting the third day’s tour of the park from the Upper Geyser basin to Yellowstone Lake, and the hold-up occurred about four miles out on the road.

“The bandit was a man about fifty years of age and wore a mask and false beard. He carried a repeating rifle in one hand and went through passengers with the other. He forced a young man to carry an open bag in which the booty was put as the passengers gave It up.

“The fact that tourists in the park are not permitted to carry weapons made It Impossible for any of the passengers or drivers to render resistance. After holding up the last coach the robber disappeared into the hills, and it was afterward found that he had made his escape on a horse belonging to the transportation company.

“All haste was made back to Old Faithful Inn to give the alarm. The soldiers encamped at the Thumb station were immediately notified and a messenger dispatched to the camp of the soldiers on West Gallatin River at the west boundary of the park. The soldiers from Fort Yellowstone were on the road to take up the trail within ten minutes after the news was received.”

A subsequent dispatch read as follows:


“Lake Hotel, Yellowstone Park, Wyo.. Aug. 25. – The lone bandit who yesterday morning held up stage coaches Spring Creek canyon and robbed 120 persons has apparently made good his escape according to reports received this evening by a searching party of cavalrymen.

“The bandit’s trail was followed easily from the zone of the hold-up to a point about four miles south, where It was lost in a swamp, the outlaw abandoning his horse at this point and proceeding on foot. Beyond this swamp the trail was found again after great difficulty, as the man’s foot-marks left little impression in the ground. This trail was followed for a distance of about twelve miles in a southwesterly direction, when it was lost altogether in another swamp, and it is now only a matter of chance – luck – If the desperado Is apprehended.

“There is no doubt but that the bandit is headed for the famed Jackson Hole country in Wyoming, about forty miles distant from the zone of the robberies, and with the night ahead of him and acquainted with the country the chances are slim of his being captured.

“The section of country through which the highwayman is fleeing is so rugged and covered with underbrush that pursuit on horseback is practically impossible, and the soldiers are following on foot. Contrary to expectations, the robber, up to the time the trail was lost, had not sought the high, mountainous country, but had skirted along the foothills. The Jackson Hole country is a favorite rendezvous for horse thieves because of the remoteness from civilization and its abundance of game.

“The sack used by the hold-up, In which the tourists were compelled to drop their valuables, was found in the brush to several hundred yards from the scene of the robbery, together with the empty pocketbooks of the victims.

“Washington, Aug. 25.- A telegram giving merely an outline of the facts regarding the stage hold-up yesterday in Yellowstone Park was received by the Interior department to-day from Gen. Young, superintendent of the park. It was stated it was the first hold-up in the park in eleven years.

“No surprise was manifested by officials here at the fact that no one in the coaches appeared to have had a gun, as the regulations do not permit firearms except on written permission from the superintendent.

“Secretary Garfield is away. His secretary, Judge Parker, pointed out that the victims of the robbery could not hold the Government responsible in any way. At the instance of the Interior department, the department of Justice has offered a reward of $300 for the apprehension of the robber.”

The following article appeared on August 27 in the St. Paul “Dispatch.” Parts of the narrative are marked by the vivacity which pervades the western press:


“The entire United States army would be needed to assure travelers in the Yellowstone National Park against any possibility of a hold-up. A hundred thousand men would be required. The main road alone is 120 miles long and it takes the stage coaches four days to make the rounds.

“Brig. Gen. Winfield S. Edgerly, commanding the department of Dakota, so expressed himself today. He was in the park last Monday when the latest ‘lone robber’ relieved the anxiety and the purses of 120 tourists. The general returned to St. Paul late yesterday accompanied by one of his aides, First Lieut. George P. Tyner, Second cavalry.

“The present arrangements for protecting the park and its visitors,” Gen. Edgerly continued, “would appear to be as effective as any that can be made with the small garrison. Fort Yellowstone, you know, has only four troops, about 400 men, of the Eighth cavalry, under Maj. Henry T. Allen. The horsemen of this single squadron manage, at that, to traverse the entire length of the main road, the road usually followed by the coaches – at least once a day. Then there are detached parties, or single men, going back and forth on various errands, so that the coach road is guarded far more closely than are any of our railroad lines.

“Indeed, the park Is not in charge of the military. The superintendent, Gen. Young, though he happens to be a retired army officer, is acting not under the war department, but under the department of the Interior. He has no control of the garrison, although he and Maj. Allen work harmoniously, and the major, of course, Is always glad to assist the superintendent with troops in any way consistent with the regulations.

“The only respect wherein the Government would seem to have incurred any responsibility for the hold-up is, as civilians have assured me, that it prohibits park visitors from carrying any firearms with them unless the arms are sealed so they can’t be used.”

“As for leaving visitors alone, that seldom occurs. Some 16,000 people came into the park this summer and I don’t remember a time I was on the coach road up there that one or more other parties weren’t visible from our coach, except, naturally, when we were making one of the sharp turns, such as the one the hold-up man selected for his collection service last Monday.

“I didn’t have to take any measures to order a pursuit of the robber. Maj. Allen sent his men out, and they have been doing the best they could in such a country. But off the regular roads the district is practically impassable for mounted men. The ground is covered thick with fallen trees, many of which have laid there for unnumbered years, At the best, a horse could hardly make more than three miles an hour, and he would soon tire out. A man on foot could outstrip a horse easily.

“Whether the hold-up gentleman had a horse, we don’t know. Most people think that he did, and that he might have taken advantage of a few level, clear lanes, carefully chosen, to hurry his retirement. He was followed a number of miles, and through one swamp, but his trail was lost in a second swamp. I am not acquainted with that country. I was told, however, that the man no doubt made for Jackson’s Hole, a very rugged section, well supplied with game, a real Desert Island for the land pirate. Like others that have sought the same refuge, he may be able to lie low in the Hole for many weeks, and I’m inclined to think that he won’t be caught until he ventures down to one of the railroad lines in search of a pleasant place to spend his new fortune.

“Still, there’s no reason to believe, at this time, that he has got away. The last hold-up on the park – away back eleven years ago – had the same result at first; the robber simply vanished. But he was caught, nevertheless, only nine days afterwards.

“The robber himself appeared to have a stronger belief in the efficiency of the soldier guards than the coach passengers have expressed since then. He may have fancied that the new Springfield would bark at him any minute; his voice trembled and the perspiration covered his forehead.

“No, he didn’t have two big 45 Colts, one in each hand. That’s the way they do it on the stage, but he was the real thing. He pointed at the passengers or drivers a little 30-caliber magazine rifle, though he had one or two revolvers in his belt. And he shot off his gun only once. Imagine a Wild West holdup – one of the biggest in history – with only one little shot like the exclamation of a firecracker! And he fired that one shot by accident.

“He was reprimanding a young fellow who had violated the etiquette of hold-up-ing. As the man called on this boy to produce his purse, open it and hand over the money inside, the boy drew out and dropped into the bag only two or three bills. Mr. Robin Hood saw the third bill. ‘You’re lying, you!’ he said, in that polite way the hold-up people ought to have. ‘Come down here and get your medicine.’ The young fellow came down as quick as Crockett’s squirrel, the robber seized the purse, raised his rifle and cracked the ill-bred stranger over the head, making a bump worth remembering to emphasize the lesson in manners. As the robber raised his gun to strike, it accidentally went off. But his game, of course was not to give any warning by unnecessary noise to the other coaches bringing up their gifts from around the bend in the road.

“No, the passengers and driver didn’t get off the coach and stand in a row with their hands up. Yes, I know they ought to have done that, but I fancy this robber wasn’t deeply read in his profession. He merely made one boy leave the first coach and stand with an open bag so as to assure the contributors that none of their money or jewels would be lost. As each coach came along the robber halted them and told the driver and passengers they’d get shot If they tried to pull a gun.

“Everybody’s impression was that he had some friends out in the thick woods close to the road who would supply the necessary reproof, if the robber’s request wasn’t heeded. So the people on the coach sat still. They didn’t hold their hands up, unless the position seemed restful. As he asked each one in turn for his subscription, he or she would drop into the bag money or jewelry or both the money and the purse containing it. Evey purse had to be opened to show it was worth accepting.

“But I understand that, although the man got some thousands of dollars in money and jewels, he missed perhaps half the loot he ought to have secured. He had a big job on tie hands, and he couldn’t waste time; he generally accepted ungratefully whatever was offered, if it was all in sight and not manifestly too little.

“One man who had a watch and chain, got the chance to reach over, unhook the chain from the watch, leave the watch in a vest pocket, and slip the chain Into a trousers’ pocket. He also separated a roll of bills, put most of them into the trousers’ pocket, and then, when the bag got around, he dropped in the smaller bills and escaped further attention.

“A woman traveling with her husband in one of the last coaches happened to see the coaches stopped ahead of her coach and guessed hold-up’ at once.

“‘I said to my husband, says I,’ she told at the hotel, ‘I says that’s a holdup George.’ Nonsense,’ says he, ‘they don’t have ’em here.’ ‘But it is whether it isn’t or not, says I.’ rather excited, you know; and that stupid husband of mine simply smiled. ‘Give me the money and tickets,’ I says, ‘and be quick about it.’ ‘What’s the use,’ says he, but he handed it over and I just – well, I just made a fresh deposit in the National Lisle bank, as they say down our way. ‘That’s only the tickets,’ I says to George; and before he could answer we’d been stopped around the corner, and the kid with the bag was waiting, as the man with the gun said, for us to ‘dig down.’ George dug and only, got $2. ‘More than that, you must have more.’ George said he hadn’t. Thinking the robber-man wouldn’t doubt a lady’s word, I chimed in: ‘But he really hasn’t any more, Mister; I know he hasn’t!’ ‘Into the stocking then!’ the dreadful creature came back at me. ‘and don’t you mind my looking.’ Of course I had to, but wasn’t going to do it without a word. ‘There is nothing but our tickets in it, Mr. Smarty.’ says I, when I’d fetched out the purse. Open it, Ma,’ says he. ‘No back talk!’ I peeped first for the right place, and then I opened it so as just to show one of those long curly tickets on each side. ‘There,’ says I, ‘didn’t I tell you!’ Then he didn’t want it and yelled ‘Next!’ but underneath those tickets on each side the purse we had a $50 bill. My husband would ‘a handed the whole thing over, like enough.”

The following letter was published in the “New York
Times.” dated –

WILKESBARRE, Penn., Sept. 5. – Forest Stephens, of this city, the only man who was struck by the lone highwayman, who two weeks ago held up and robbed coach loads of people in Yellowstone Park, returned home yesterday. He has a lump on his head the size of a hen’s egg.

He says of his experience: “We left Old Faithful Inn on one of the transportation coaches. There were eight coaches on the trip and each one of them carried its quota of passengers, ten and the driver. They followed each closely, and after we had gotten out about three miles the first one was halted. Naturally the others stopped and the highwayman had us all at his mercy.

“The highwayman was a light, wiry fellow, a little over five feet tall. He had bluish watery eyes, and a husky voice. He wore a mask, and had on khaki trousers, with a brown shirt and a felt hat He carried a short Marlin rifle, and held the weapon nervously with one hand while he went through his victims with the other. At all times he had the weapon pointed in the coaches, and every traveler feared to move.

“While there were a number of men on the trip, not one of us could resist the fellow, as no one carried a weapon, because of the law against touring armed. P. H. Gaskin, a student in the University of Virginia, was selected by the highwayman to carry the sack that he put his booty in. He went from coach to coach and gathered up the articles as the passengers turned them over.

“I was in the third coach, and when I saw the man I attempted to pull the bills out of my wallet. I had two $10 bills, and got one of them out, when the fellow saw me. He demanded my pocketbook, and when he found but $10 he commanded me to come down until he searched me. He got the other $10 all right, and then commanded me to go ahead. I thought Gaskin was meant, and when I moved he gave me jab in the back with the muzzle of the gun.

“In going around the coach I gave a nervous laugh, and this so displeased the highwayman that he gave me a crack on the head with the barrel of the gun. I saw the blow coming, and ducked in time to escape the full force. It made a lump on my head as big as an egg. and I had a headache for two days.

“As I was about to get back In the coach he discovered my watch. He grabbed this, and demanded whether I had any more valuables or money. I was about to say ‘No’ when he raised the weapon and said he was going to kill me. I thought it was all up, as it is not the most pleasant sensation looking down the barrel of a gun, especially when it is held with the trigger cocked and by a desperate character. I gave the two dollars I had in change, and he said he would let me go, but that he would kill the next person who did not turn everything over to him.

“Talk about ‘taking candy from a child,’ why, our highway-man was right there strong. In the second coach there was a youngster eating a bag of candy, and the robber took the candy, as the child’s contribution. He immediately started to eat the candy, and between bites. said: ‘Every little bit added to what you got makes Just a little bit more.’ After completing the job he bid us all good-bye, and said that he hoped to meet as all In heaven, as he was on his way.”

The dispatch given below points to a larger Yellowstone Park garrison:

Washington, Sept. 6. – Provision is being made at the War Department to increase the garrison at Yellowstone National Park, which is under the comma. of Major Henry T. Allen, 8th Cavalry. It is proposed to double the force. General Young, who is in charge of the park, has heretofore recommended that the force there be added to. The recent hold-up by a lone road agent of seven tourists’ coaches with a hundred and twenty passengers, calls attention to the necessity of a more thorough supervision of the park precincts.

In another article I shall give my letter to the Secretary of the Interior and his reply accompanied with the official report of the Superintendent of the Park.
[s.] Augustus

source: The New York Observer Thursday, April 29, 1909, page 519 (Google Books)
(The Yellowstone Park [part] VIII is on page 549)
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Lone Outlaw Holds Up Seventeen Stagecoaches – 1908

(click on image for large source photo)
A Wylie Way Coach, 1908. Photo, Yellowstone Digital Slide File.

What was probably the greatest stagecoach robbery of the Twentieth Century in terms of people (174) and coaches (17) occurred in Yellowstone Park on August 24, 1908, but the bandit grossed only about $2,000 in cash and jewelry. The holdup man was never caught. A similar robbery of 14 coaches occurred on July 29, 1914, but the holdup man was caught. Here’s how the park superintendent described the events of 1908.

The unfortunate event, the hold-up of seventeen coaches, surreys, and spring wagons on August 24, and the robbery by one man or many of the passengers therein at a point on the main road between Old Faithful Inn and the Thumb of Lake Yellowstone, and about 4 1/4 miles distant from the former, took place about 9 a. m. on August 24.

In accordance with the established time schedule, the first coach of Yellowstone Park Transportation Company loads at Old Faithful Inn at 7.30 o’clock in the morning; after all coaches of that company have been loaded, the Monida and Yellowstone Company coaches are loaded at same point and follow after. These are followed in turn by the coaches of the Wylie Permanent Camping Company—all on the road eastward toward the Thumb.

This was the order of travel on morning of August 24. As a precaution against dust and against accident on grades, drivers are instructed to maintain a distance of approximately 100 yards between coaches. On the morning in question eight vehicles were not molested by the robber. It appears that the trooper on patrol passed the point where the robbery took place ahead of the first coaches. The interval between the eighth and ninth coaches in order of travel was rather extended, with an angle of the road intervening in a narrow defile, thickly wooded on either side. The ninth vehicle was stopped by the robber with repeating rifle at a ” ready; ” and in vulgar, blasphemous language he ordered a young man down from the box seat and made him carry a sack alongside the coach—into which passengers were commanded to deposit their money and jewelry. This was repeated with each of the sixteen vehicles following. No one received physical injury excepting one passenger, whose actions did not suit the robber and who was disciplined by a stroke on the head with the gun, which was discharged at the same time. The injury was not reported serious. Four of the looted coaches belonged to the Yellowstone Park Transportation Company, five to the Monida and Yellowstone Stage Company, and eight to the Wylie Permanent Camping Company. As near as can be learned by the separate memoranda handed in by the passengers the losses sustained by them in the robbery aggregated $1,363.95 cash and $730.25 in watches and jewelry. Upon being liberated the first coach of those robbed drove rapidly to the camp of the road sprinkling crew, located about 2 miles east of the hold-up point, where notice was given and a messenger dispatched to Old Faithful Inn—distant 6 miles—with news of the robbery.

The agent of the Yellowstone Park Transportation Company at the inn telegraphed the news to all stations in the park and notified the detail of soldiers stationed at Upper Geyser Basin, within a few hundred yards of the inn. He also states that he notified the officer in command of a troop of cavalry camped in the Lower Basin, about 9 miles distant by the old road. Telegraphic notice was received at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and immediately transmitted to my office by telephone. The message was repeated to Major Allen, who was up in the park, and he was requested to give the matter his personal attention. All guard stations were warned and instructed and two scouts present at Mammoth were dispatched to the scene. They made the ride (49 miles) in four hours. Major Allen, who was in the park with General Edgerly, came into Mammoth the same evening, and on the following morning reported that he had given the necessary orders to his troops by telephone and telegraph from Norris. The robber was on foot, and disposed of a few pocketbooks and purses near the scene of the robbery, where they were found in a clump of bushes. One of these contained valuable papers and all were returned to their respective owners.

The trail could only be followed a short distance. The robber had apparently taken off his shoes and passed into a densely wooded region. All United States marshals, sheriffs, and peace officers in surrounding States, counties, and towns were duly notified and given description of the robber, as nearly as could be ascertained from tourists and drivers in the hold-up.

All passengers in their excitement blamed the soldiers. The character of the country is such that the entire Army of the United States could not prevent an evil-disposed man from entering the park with a gun.

On the date of the hold-up one troop was on practice march in the park and was camped within 10 or 12 miles from Old Faithful Inn. One troop has been camped in Lower Geyser Basin all the season and one troop has been camped on Yellowstone River within a mile of Lake Hotel all the season.

So far it has been impossible to locate an escaped criminal who was convicted of poaching in the park and escaped from confinement in the military prison at Fort Yellowstone in October last. There seems to be a well-grounded suspicion that he is the perpetrator of this daring highway robbery. It is a slow and difficult task to conduct a systematic search for this criminal, without funds for expenses, by correspondence alone. The detectives in adjacent States, with whom I have corresponded since the robbery, work for a per diem and expenses and not for rewards offered, and although they have been informed that this office has no money for that purpose, they have never hesitated to give any information in their possession in regard to this particular matter.

— Report of the Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. Department of Interior, Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, October 15, 1908.

source: M. Mark Miller
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300 Tourists Are Held Up by a Bandit

Lone Highwayman in Yellowstone National Park Makes Successful Raid 12 Coaches of Travelers and Takes Neat Cleanup of Valuables.

Press Democrat, Number 161, 10 July 1915

Livingston, Mont., July 9. —Three hundred tourists, including many Shriners en route to their conclave at Seattle, were held up and robbed near the west side of Yellowstone National Park today by a lone highwayman.

The tourists were in twelve coaches and had proceeded about fifteen miles from their starting point this morning when the road bandit was encountered. He began in the middle of the line and worked both ways, causing the passengers to walk up and deposit their valuables with him.

While it is impossible to secure an accurate list of his booty, it is estimated that he cleaned up between $2,000 and $3,000, or more.

source: CDNC
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Idaho History Feb 4

Idaho Stagecoach History

Wells Fargo Stagecoach

source: Wells Fargo History

Stagecoach Rules

Wells Fargo Stage Lines posted the following set of rules to be observed by passengers on their routes that give an idea of what some of the conditions were:

1) Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and unneighborly.

2) If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of some is repugnant to the gentler sex.

3) Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit with the wind, not against it.

4) Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children.

5) Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort in cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver.

6) Don’t snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger’s shoulder for a pillow; he or she may not understand and friction may result.

7) In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in a panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry coyotes.

8) Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses.

9) Forbidden topics of conversation are: stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.

10) Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It’s a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.

It is interesting to note that each of these rules was created due to some passengers committing these offenses in the past.

excerpted from: Stagecoach travel in Nevada
[h/t MC]
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Stagecoach and Freight Routes in South-Central Idaho

By Evan Filby, South Fork Companion June 3, 2012

Before railroads entered Idaho, animal-drawn stagecoaches and wagons transported most people and freight. Main routes connected large settlements, while feeder lines came and went as events dictated. One of the more interesting side routes operated in South-Central Idaho in the early 1880s.

When Congress created Idaho Territory in March 1863, many emigrant wagons, mostly drawn by ox teams, still crossed the region. They followed the Oregon Trail, but there was no stagecoach service along that route. Not until August of 1864 did scheduled stagecoach service arrive in Boise City. From there, the line continued more or less along the old Oregon Trail to The Dalles in Oregon.

That route across southern Idaho from northern Utah became the most traveled road in the Territory. The second most favored track ran across eastern Idaho into Montana. There, coaches and freight wagons took a path that was generally similar to the later railroad route.

Then, in 1869, crews completed the transcontinental railroad. A station at Kelton, Utah, near the northwest tip of the Great Salt Lake, became the preferred link for central Idaho and points west. Except in the winter, passengers and freight followed the so-called Kelton Road through City of Rocks. From there, they turned north and then west to the station at Rock Creek, about 12 miles southeast of today’s Twin Falls.

(click image for source size)
Stagecoach on Kelton Road. Idaho State Historical Society.

During part of the winter, passengers traversed the City of Rocks segment on horse-drawn sleighs. Meanwhile, freight wagons avoided that area, taking a track through Albion, then the seat of Cassia County, and on to Rock Creek. For nearly a decade, the route crossed the Snake River via a ferry 25-30 road miles from Rock Creek. (Over the years, at least two, and possibly three operators ran a ferry in this general area.) Coaches and wagons then followed the old Oregon Trail into Boise City.

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Stagecoach Routes in Idaho

Stage lines began to replace saddle trains in 1864 as soon as wagon roads were built. Stagecoaches were pulled by teams of four or six horses. They carried passengers, mail, and “fast” freight. Much of the gold and silver from the mines was shipped out by stagecoach. In fact, the stagecoach was to be far more important west of the Mississippi River than east of it, because in the West there were fewer navigable rivers and canals to compete with land transport. Stagecoaches were the most important means of travel in the west until the railroads were built.

Riding a stage was not always fun. The stage was noisy and bumpy, and the passengers were jammed together inside. It was an uncomfortable ride, and the rest stops were few and very poor. Stage stations were almost always dirty and smelly, and often the food was bad. Passengers suffered from dust and heat in the summer, mud in the spring and fall, and snow and cold in the winter. There were always mosquitoes and rattlesnakes in warm weather. Sometimes stagecoaches were held up by bandits who robbed the passengers and stole the mail and gold if any was aboard.

Stagecoach beginnings usually followed established trails in an effort to connect frontier settlements, or often forts, with established communities. A mail contract was indispensable to such an operation, but there were also government express and passengers, either military personnel or their dependents, to be hauled. In many cases stage fines acted as feeders to navigation on rivers like the Missouri, the Columbia, or the Sacramento. Whenever settlement began, small operators tried to make a living by transporting goods and passengers. The key to the success of these alone man-one horse” operations was a contract to carry the U.S. mail.

Idaho was served by two important stage lines. One line ran 675 miles from Salt Lake City to The Dalles, Oregon. It made three trips a week. The route passed through the Malad and Raft river valleys, through the Snake River Valley and Boise City, then west to the Columbia River. The other stage line ran from Salt Lake City to Virginia City, Montana. It passed through eastern Idaho and crossed the river at Eagle Rock (Idaho Falls).

source: Idaho Digial Atlas
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First Scheduled Stagecoach Arrives in Boise City

By Evan Filby, South Fork Companion 08/01

On August 1, 1864, the first scheduled stagecoach arrived in Boise City. The coach was, in a manner of speaking, about a month late: Indian unrest and other problems had delayed construction of the necessary way stations. The Idaho Statesman (August 2, 1864) reported that, “The Overland Stage will leave this city to-morrow morning at eight o’clock, carrying passengers and mails.”

The item said that the line had “good comfortable coaches, and good stock” and assured readers that “their time through from Salt Lake is proof enough of that.”

Ben Holladay’s Overland Stage Company operated the coach, which was contracted to connect Salt Lake City with The Dalles, Oregon.

Boise City stage, 1864-1870. Idaho State Historical Society.

Kentuckian Benjamin “Ben” Holladay’s family moved to Missouri when he was very young. As a teenager, he began learning the freight business in Weston, about twenty miles northwest of Kansas City. Ben’s big break came when he served as an Army supply contractor during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). Then his company benefited greatly from the surge in Western traffic after the 1849 gold discovery in California.

By the start of the Civil War, Holladay had built a substantial freight business, including a subsidiary that ran steamboats in California. In 1862, he bought out the Overland Mail Express, which owed him money. This provided the core for the Overland Stage Company, as Ben upgraded and expanded the operation.

Holladay also knew his way around the halls of Congress, which garnered him favorable treatment on mail contracts all over the West. These contracts provided a guaranteed source of revenue, even if the passenger and freight business lagged. Within a few years, Holladay’s company had annual government contracts worth well over $1 million.

Holladay stagecoach station. Library of Congress.

Other firms established the first stage service between Salt Lake City and the Montana gold fields in about 1862. Holladay began competing on that route the following year. With his mail contract as a base, Ben soon captured the bulk of that traffic. In 1864, Holladay went after a mail contract to add Oregon to his West Coast destinations. With the aid of an Oregon Congressman, he succeeded.

Boise City became a vital hub for traffic serving all the major gold fields in central and southwest Idaho. Major routes provided service into the Boise Basin (Idaho City), and into the Owyhee goldfields (Silver City).

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

source: AHGP Idaho
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A New Stage Line

The Emmett Index May 29, 1902

E. H. Beggs to Run Daily Stage from Emmett to Centerville

E. H. Dewey has made arrangements with E. H. Beggs to run a daily stage from Emmett to Centerville via Pearl and Placerville. This new line will begin operation on July 1st.

Such things as the above demonstrates that Mr. Dewey is exerting every effort to make business for his road and to build up our town. The liveliest place in all Idaho this summer, outside of Thunder Mountain itself, will be Emmett.

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Sults’ Ola, Thunder City, Vanwyck Stage

(Thunder City about six miles west of Cascade and Vanwyck was about three miles southwest of Cascade.)

Source: AHGP Idaho
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Emmett to Van Wyck

The early wagon road into Long Valley was via Squaw Creek, Sweet, and Brownlee, over Dry Buck Summit into High Valley, and on to Smith’s Ferry, Round Valley, and Clear Creek. The road and ferry were built about 1882, when the need for ties for construction of the Oregon Short Line initiated the first export of logging products from the upper Payette River. Before the Oregon Short Line built the Idaho Northern Branch railway to McCall (opened in 1915), a four-horse-team stagecoach was operated between Emmett and Van Wyck, carrying passengers, mail, and supplies.

excerpted from page 44: History of the Boise National Forest 1905-1976 By Elizabeth M. Smith
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Baalam Fox

by Kennie Lynn Klingback
… After the war he drove stage up and down the Santa Fe trail for Barlow & Sanderson, driving a Concord coach. He transferred farther to the Southwest near the Arizona border. Balaam then went into the employ of Ben Holladay on the Overland Stage Line driving stagecoach over rough roads in Idaho and Montana. Stage drivers were celebrated men in their time, paid well, and in their day became as famous as rock stars today. Balaam Fox is buried in the Sweet-Montour Cemetery under a Civil War era tombstone.
source: Gem County, IDGenWeb Project
[h/t SMc]
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Joseph C. Shepherd

1836 – 1904 Emmett Index
J. C. Shepherd, one of the pioneers of Idaho, died at the home of his daughter in Pearl, Tuesday afternoon of pneumonia. He was 69 years old and had resided in this vicinity since 1862. About three months ago he left Emmett to make his home with his daughter, Mrs. Mary Kidd. Mr. Shepherd was taken ill last Friday.
Mr. Shepherd was born in Pennsylvania. He came to the Payette valley in the spring of 1862. In the early sixties he ran a stage between Falk’s Store and Umitilla, Oregon. He located near the Block house below Emmett, where he conducted a meat market, stage station and a public house. Later he spent several years trapping. Tiring of this, Mr. Shepherd again entered the stage business, carrying the mail from Falk’s Store to Placerville.
When Shepherd located here there was nothing in Emmett but a post office and a few buildings. At one time in the early days he was quite wealthy. The last few years of his life he conducted a stage between Emmett and Pearl. He sold this business several months ago and retired.
continued: Gem County, IDGenWeb Project
[h/t SMc]
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Mackay to Challis Idaho Stagecoach circa 1901

(click image for original source and size)
Mackay Challis Stage William Gilders & Miss Ruth Baker

source: Mackay Idaho Blog
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When stagecoach was king in Idaho, not everything went smoothly

By Arthur Hart Special to the Idaho Statesman June 11, 2016

Travel by stagecoach in early Idaho was an adventure, whether it started that way or not, and you could never be sure what might happen before you reached your destination. There was always the chance that highwaymen would stop the coach at gunpoint, demand that the driver throw down the Wells Fargo strong box and that you might be robbed of all the money and valuables you had with you.

Lewiston, established on May 13, 1861, in what was then Washington Territory, had a stagecoach line to Walla Walla in February 1863, a month before Idaho Territory was created. Its advertisements in the Lewiston Golden Age, Idaho’s first newspaper, stated, “Walla Walla and Lewiston Stage Line. Thatcher, Rickey & Co. Proprietors. This line of Concord Coaches carrying the United States Mail and Wells Fargo & Co.’s Express leave Lewiston every morning at 3 o’clock. This line is in perfect order and has good careful and experienced drivers, and all passengers can go through comfortably as well as safely.”

It is noteworthy that this stage line employed Concord coaches, the finest made in America in the 19th century. In 1826 in Concord, N.H., wheelwrights J.S. Abbot and Lewis Downing teamed up to build the first of more than 3,000 stagecoaches, the unique feature of which was a suspension system of wide leather straps that allowed the coach body to swing back and forth, absorbing the jolts of the rough roads. Mark Twain, who traveled across the country from Missouri to Nevada in 1861 in a Concord coach, called it “a cradle on wheels.” His brother Orion had just been appointed Secretary of Nevada Territory, and their great adventure, described in “Roughing It,” was written in part from access to his brother’s diary.

Six-horse teams were replaced with fresh ones every 10 or 12 miles at way-stations that could also feed the passengers poor meals, typically made up of salt pork, stale bread and beans.

Stage travel was slow, typically about five miles per hour. Travel time from Boise to Portland in October 1863, was advertised as “about 7 days,” and from Boise to Lewiston as “about 3 days.” In winter, stagecoaches were equipped with runners in place of wheels, and snowstorms could make the road ahead impossible to follow, thus “about 3 days” was only a guess. If, as sometimes happened, a stagecoach was snowed in between stations, passengers could bundle up and wait for rescue or a change in the weather, but if young and physically fit, they might decide to walk or snowshoe the rest of the way. Some died trying that.

(previously posted in Idaho History June 12)
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Salmon, Idaho stage to Red Rock, Montana

source: Hugh Hartman Idaho History 1860s to 1960s
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Idaho’s stagecoach history long remembered by those who lived it

By Arthur Hart Special to the Idaho Statesman June 18, 2016

Photo caption: An Idaho “mud wagon” arrives at Silver City’s Idaho Hotel. Provided by Arthur Hart

Among the inconveniences of stagecoach travel in early Idaho were the early departure times. In August 1864, Ward & Co.’s Idaho City stage line, with an office in Riggs & Agnew’s saloon, left the City Hotel on Main Street in Boise at 4 a.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, arriving at 3 p.m.

The return trip left Idaho City at 4 a.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Mondays, arriving in Boise at 3 p.m. The company’s ad in the Idaho Tri-weekly Statesman promised, “All packages &c. entrusted to them will be promptly delivered.”

Stagecoaches arrived in Boise regularly in 1864, and there was usually a small group of idle men on hand to welcome them. It was a sight long remembered by old-timers.

John Hailey, a Stagecoach King in his day and first director of the Idaho State Historical Society, told the Statesman on July 7, 1907, “When I saw that old stage in the (Fourth of July) parade, decorated with sagebrush and being drawn by miss-mated horses, I felt like turning my head and not looking at it — such a burlesque. That looked nothing like the old-time stage coaches. They should have had six spirited horses and the coach stacked with trunks and baggage in the rear and on top, and a dozen or so persons riding, then they would have had a coach similar to the ones we used to drive. I’ve carried as many as 24 persons at a time, many of them riding on top of the coach. People used to sit at the Overland Hotel until two o’clock in the morning just to see the stage start out. The driver used to come down the street at a clanking trot, and the horses were trained so they would whirl in at the hotel with a flourish. They were always pulling against the bit and ready to go.”

In 1908 the Statesman reported that John Sandborn, one of Hailey’s old-time drivers, had returned to Baker City, Ore., after an absence of 23 years. After the railroad came, “The jehus (drivers) of that day were scattered to every point of the compass and few survive to tell the experiences of those pioneer days when the driver of a stage was looked upon as occupying as important a position as the conductor of a railroad train at the present time. John Sandborn was then a driver in the employ of John Hailey, the pioneer stage man of Oregon and Idaho. He was on the Blue Mountain division, and when the O. R. & N. closed up the gap between Baker City and Pendleton, George stepped down from the box and a few months later went to Montana and for the past 17 years has been driving stage in Yellowstone National Park.”

(previously posted in Idaho History June 19)
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Boise – Kuna Stagecoach

For the years between 1884 when the OSL Railroad ran a line through southern Idaho, and 1887, when a spur was ran from Nampa to Boise, a person would have to travel to either to Nampa or Kuna to catch a train. Kuna was a stage stop called “15 Mile House”. It’s first post office was called Owyhee, and then later changed to Kuna.


Boise – Kuna Stagecoach in front of the First National Bank on the south side of main st. between 6th & 7th in Boise.
Hugh Hartman collection
source: Bob Hartman Idaho History 1860s to 1960s
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Stagecoach robbers told Idaho drivers to ‘throw down the box!’

By Arthur Hart Special to the Idaho Statesman June 25, 2016

Wells Fargo Box 

When masked men held up a stagecoach in early Idaho, the prize they hoped to steal, above any other loot, was the Wells, Fargo & Co. treasure box.

Here is a typical example of such a robbery, reported on page one of the Idaho Tri-weekly Statesman on Sept. 7, 1869: “The Wells, Fargo & Co. stage from Helena, Mont., to Corinne, Utah, was robbed six miles north of Malad City, Idaho, by 4 masked men, while 3 others could be seen ‘on picket duty.’ The moon was just up on a night that was light and pleasant.”

The robbers got away with two strongboxes filled with gold dust and bullion, but the driver, another company employee, and 10 passengers were not robbed.

In August 1870, the Idaho World reported: “Two stage robberies have occurred within the past week in both of which the road agents appear to have ‘got away’ with considerable booty. The Idaho stage was stopped by four men … about four miles from Elko on the Cope road, and Wells, Fargo & Co.’s treasure box taken. We have learned no further particulars as to whether they robbed the mail or not or whether anybody was hurt. The express company offers a reward of $3,000 in coin for the capture of the robbers.

“The other robbery took place in the eastern end of our Territory. … The coach going from Helena, Mont., to Corinne, Utah, was stopped by six men at Snake River and the W.F. & Co.’s treasure box carried off, for which, and the capture of the road gentry, the Company offers a reward of $6,000 in coin.”

In October 1871, the stage between Boise and Umatilla, Ore., was stopped and robbed at about 10 o’clock at night 2 miles from Old’s Ferry by two men who took only the Wells, Fargo & Co. treasure box. Just two days later, Sheriff Bryon brought two men suspected of being the robbers to Boise. For an arrest to have been made so soon, the two must have been recognized at the time of the robbery.

Wells, Fargo & Co. was the target again when a daring nighttime thief dug under the company’s office in Silver City, pried up the floor boards and stole a treasure box containing $600. Highwaymen and burglars must have thought it nice of Wells, Fargo & Co. to box the loot in handy-sized portable containers. Robbers who held up the stage on Kelton Road on July 27, 1875, however, didn’t take the treasure box with them. Instead, they broke it open, emptied it and left it beside the road.

Stagecoach robberies were reported regularly in the Idaho Statesman throughout the rest of the 19th century, and almost always the Wells, Fargo & Co. box was the target, as the Statesman reported several times between Oct. 28, 1875, and Dec. 26, 1881. In May 1876, famed Deputy Sheriff Orlando “Rube” Robbins was one of the lawmen who went to Silver City and brought back a gang of four stage robbers. Robbins was often charged with tracking down road agents and other criminals and bringing them back to Boise for trial. He had a reputation for “always getting his man.”

Following the holdup of the Overland stage by a lone gunman in July 1881, Robbins was again sent in pursuit. The Statesman reported, “In the stage that was robbed were a gentleman, his wife and three children, and a hostler in the employ of the company. The box that was thrown out was the Wood River box, and contained, besides some small sums of money, six hundred dollars belonging to N. Falk & Bro.”

The Wood River mining boom that began in 1880 was at its peak when this robbery took place, and the Wood River Valley had become a major destination of travelers using John Hailey’s Utah, Oregon & Idaho Stage Co. coaches. After Hailey took up land between Bellevue and Ketchum, the new town started there was named for him.

Stagecoach robberies were common in Idaho in the 1880s and ’90s, sometimes within days of each other on the same route, but armed guards rarely rode along to protect them.

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Armored Stagecoach (Reproduction)

(from the movie “3:10 to Yuma” – filmed in New Mexico)
courtesy: Hugh Hartman Idaho History 1860s to 1960s
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Stagecoach Robbery, and Murder, in Portneuf Canyon

By Evan Filby, South Fork Companion 07/13

On the afternoon of July 13, 1865, the stagecoach traveling south from the Montana gold fields towards Salt Lake City reached a point about ten miles southeast of today’s Pocatello. They entered a stretch of Portneuf Canyon favored by bandits because heavy willow thickets crowded the road.

Portneuf Canyon, ca 1872. National Archives.

Two of the seven passengers had reportedly boarded at Taylor’s Crossing (today’s Idaho Falls) while the others got on in Virginia City. Among them, the men carried gold generally valued at $60-75 thousand ($4-5 million at today’s prices) plus at least $5,000 in cash. The exact details of the robbery that happened next have been distorted over time, but the bloody nature of the event remains.

One key discrepancy involves what “participant” Frank Williams was doing on the coach. Later narratives asserted that he was actually driving the stage. But the contemporaneous Idaho Statesman account (July 22, 1865), gleaned from an earlier Utah newspaper item, said, “The passengers booked for Boise were Frank Williams (a former stage driver) …” [and others]. That article also identified the driver as one Charley Parks, whom later accounts claimed was the “shotgun messenger.”

Suddenly, a heavily armed man leaped onto the road and ordered the driver to “Halt!” Then, according to the same report, six more bandits sprang from the brush along the sides. Wanting to protect their treasure, several passengers drew revolvers and fired. The blast of return shots wounded the driver and killed or mortally wounded four passengers. One of the murdered men was merchant David Dinan (sometimes referred to as Dignan). East Idaho pioneer Alexander Toponce recalled, “My friend Dignan had twenty-seven buckshot in his body.”

In the confusion, Frank Williams and another passenger, James B. Brown, escaped into the thick brush. The bandit fusillade missed the last passenger, a man named Carpenter, but he was covered in blood from those who had been shot. A few more men appeared, leading horses, and the robbers galloped off. They left the severely wounded driver and Carpenter, figuring both would soon die. After the robbers disappeared, Carpenter freed two stagecoach mules, helped the driver onto one, and they rode for help.

Unfortunately, the greater part of eastern Idaho – 10 million sparsely-inhabited acres – had virtually no conventional law enforcement at the time. Driven to desperation by the rampant crime, citizens formed vigilance committees. Thus, it was the vigilantes, along with agents from the stage line, who pursued the perpetrators.

Investigators first carefully checked the two passengers who had somehow fled unscathed through a fusillade of shots. When Brown was cleared, suspicion focused on Williams, who had since left the area. The vigilantes trailed him first to Salt Lake and then into Colorado.

Watchers observed that the man was throwing money around with abandon – far beyond the means of an ordinary stagecoach employee. Then Williams must have spotted the surveillance because he abruptly fled toward Denver. Caught on the trail, he quickly confessed his role, which was to tip off the gang when the stage carried a big haul.

Williams named his accomplices, who he claimed had told him there would be no violence. Unmoved by the man’s purported remorse, the vigilantes hanged him, and pinned a warning note to the body. They then tracked down five of the men Williams had identified and unceremoniously strung them up too.

The fate of the remaining 2-4 bandits is unclear, although two may have met their fate for other crimes. Investigators had much less success with the loot, which the crooks apparently spent even faster than the clueless Williams.

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Stagecoach descending into the Snake River Canyon

by Clarence Bisbee
source: Bob Hartman Idaho History 1860s to 1960s
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Stagecoach Robbery Near Grangeville

By Evan Filby, South Fork Companion December 29, 2009

On this day in 1897, citizens in Grangeville, Idaho, learned that the stagecoach from Lewiston had been robbed during the night. The stage had apparently arrived within 4 or 5 miles of town when two highwaymen stopped it. The robbers then relieved the two passengers of their valuables, such as they had, and ordered the driver to toss them the mail sacks.

Stagecoach with Camas Prairie in the background. Retouched U.S. Forest Service photo

The driver threw off a sack he knew contained nothing of particular value, but surreptitiously retained a second. (Evidence would soon confirm that these crooks were not too bright.) The robbers directed him back the way he had come. The driver started that way, but then retraced his path after the highwaymen were out of sight. The stage continued on into Grangeville.

Investigators traveled to the holdup site during the day to look for clues and perhaps tracks. They apparently found the looted mail sack because they were able to link another specific clue to the robbery: They found a “get out of town” notice served on one Charles A. Frush, identified as a “half-breed.” Such notices were generally handed out to drifters with no visible means of support who hung around town too long.

Frush was quickly arrested and he immediately “ratted out” his accomplice, a man named Daniel Hurley. Frush’s guilty plea and testimony that convicted Hurley did him no good. The Illustrated History said, “Both received life sentences.”

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Postcard of the Grangeville to Stites Stage – 1909

Look at the size of those hogs!
postcard from the Hugh Hartman collection
source: Bob Hartman Idaho History 1860s to 1960s
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Silver City Stagecoach

Stagecoach in front of the Silver City Post Office, Courthouse next door. Directory of Owyhee County.

source: South Fork Companion January 5, 2017
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Silver City Stage 1910

(post card)
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”
Bob Hartman Personal Collection
source: Bob Hartman Idaho History 1860s to 1960s
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Stage in Silver City

“A nice old postcard of the stage in Silver City.”
from the Hugh Hartman collection
source: Bob Hartman Idaho History 1860s to 1960s

Idaho History Jan 28

source: Payette NF

Big Creek Ranger Station History

The Payette National Forest has undergone a series of boundary changes, decreasing and increasing in acreage. On July 1,1908 the Idaho National Forest was created from the northern part of the Payette National Forest, but rejoined the Payette again on April 1,1944. The Big Creek Ranger Station was constructed as one of the many administrative sites of the then remote backcountry.

This site represents one of the “log cabin era” buildings built by the Forest Service. The early use of local materials – lodgepole pine and Douglas fir shakes – denotes the ingenuity required of Forest Service personnel in the establishment of these early administrative sites. The remoteness of the site precluded the use of milled lumber and manufactured materials to a great degree.

The 1911,1912, and 1919 maps of the Idaho and Payette National Forests show vast, unsurveyed mountainous areas with very little definition of forest service activity besides some trails. Today, it requires three and one-half-hours to drive from McCall, Idaho to the Big Creek Commissary. In 1924, it took approximately the whole day to travel the same distance. Julian Rothery who was Supervisor on the Forest from 1910-1912 expressed it this way.

In the early days, the Idaho [National Forest] was the last frontier, a rocky snow-buried land,.. Perhaps the most significant development in my time was the awakening to the necessity of roads, trails and telephone lines. The fires of 1910 generally were so remote and inaccessible that no substantial effort could be made to control them; and in some cases were never discovered and only the next year would a Ranger find the old scar.

If one has not visited this area of central Idaho, the remoteness of this rugged country now, and then, can only be imagined and be somewhat envisioned by comparing the development on the forest through historic maps. Specifically, the 1920 Payette National Forest map shows the road from the west deadending at the town of Edwardsburg (see map). Only the major drainages and mountain peaks were designated.
1920 Payette National Forest Map
(click image for much larger size)

By 1924, however, numerous roads, trails, and administrative sites had developed. As an administrative site, the 1924 Payette National Forest map indicates the forest service site was called “Big Ck Hdqts” (see map). This map indicates telephone lines leading to other ranger stations and surrounding lookouts.

1920 Payette National Forest Map
(click image for much larger size)

By 1936, the Idaho National Forest Map indicates the landing strip had been developed. The next Idaho National Forest map in 1938 shows the Big Creek Ranger Station had been designated as a District Office.

(click image for much larger size)
1938 Payette National Forest Map

Historic Function

The vicinity of the Big Creek site was first used in the early 1920s as ranger headquarters. Fred Williams tells of his experience.

The next season, 1922, headquarters was established in a set of old mining cabins on Smith Creek [two miles north of the present site] – the Station headquarters had been moved from Ramey Ridge – said cabin had been used as a barn, no floor or windows – it was quite a classy place. That fall we moved to Edwardsburg [one half mile south of the present site]…. In 1923 we established headquarters at what is now Big Creek headquarters – the Ranger Station was a 7′ x 9′ tent, the warehouse and office consisted of two 14′ x 20′ tents and the cook shack was made of whatever old canvas we could find.

Development of the Big Creek Ranger Station complex occurred over the next two years. The Commissary was first used in 1926 as an administrative building with multiple functions. It has three separate rooms on the ground level and two rooms on the second level. On the ground level, the west room was the commissary, which contained canned and dried foods, and other domestic supplies.

(click image for larger size)

The middle section was the office where the Ranger had the use of a telephone switchboard for dispatching duties. As a District Office, this main telephone switchboard operated the backcountry telephone lines. The system was phased out in the late 1940s and early 50s with the advent of the 2-way radio. Above this room were the sleeping quarters for USDA Forest Service personnel.

caption: Big Creek Ranger Station Switchboard (Kellogg Switchboard)
[h/t CG]

The eastern end of the building was used for the storage of livestock tack. Above this tack room was where the fire fighting tools were stored. This multifunctional building was unique to the administration of the former Idaho National Forest, and for the management of the former Idaho Primitive Area.

These early administrative sites would have had a ranger stationed at the site. As the site map, drawn in 1996 indicates, other structures were associated with the complex, including a dwelling, woodshed, outhouse, and tent platforms.

In the early 1940s the complex was upgraded and new buildings were constructed across the road and west of the airfield. At this time the functions of the commissary changed. The switchboard operations and ranger’s office moved to the newer facility. The commissary building continued to be used for storage of livestock feed and repair of tack.

source: National Register of Historic Places
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Big Creek Commissary


The Big Creek Commissary was constructed in 1924 – 25 during the initial development of the Big Creek Ranger Station. Of the original complex of buildings only the commissary remains. This structure is unique in its construction and represents one of the few remaining log cabin” era buildings on the Payette National Forest.

General Characteristics

The Big Creek Commissary is situated at 5,710 feet above mean sea level one half mile from the western border of the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness in Valley County, Idaho. The site is located thirty-eight air miles from McCall, Idaho, the headquarters for the Payette National Forest. The historic townsite of Edwardsburg is less than one-half mile to the south.


The site is accessed via Forest Service Road 340 which follows the Big Creek drainage northward. The Commissary is located within the minor drainage of Logon Creek which joins Big Creek one mile north. The mile-long meadow parallels Hogback Ridge which divides the Big Creek drainage from the minor drainage. The surrounding environment consists of a lodgepole pine forest interspersed with open, wet, grassy areas. The site was selected because of the abundance of straight, tall lodgepole pine trees that were used in the construction of the commissary and other structures.

The historic setting of the Big Creek Commissary has remained essentially unchanged since the completion of the building in 1925. The commissary is accessible by Forest Service road 371, pack trail, and the grass-covered airfield, constructed in circa 1935. A corral to the north of the commissary is used for the containment of horses and mules. Irrigation water for these pastures is derived from water lines extending from Logon Creek. The pastures provide for the grazing of horses and mules used for transporting people and equipment into and out of the wilderness.

Big Creek Commissary


The construction of the Commissary occurred in 1924 – 25, during the development of the Big Creek Ranger Station. Of the original complex of buildings and features, only the commissary and a non-historic corral immediately to the north remains. Other fence lines around the site are also non-historic.
The commissary building measures 56 feet east to west by 24 feet north to south with a six-foot overhang at the south. The structure is one-and-a-half stories in height. The foundation consists of a combination of formed concrete footings and concrete piers. The continuous concrete footing, located under the west half of the building, appears to have been added later as the sill log is completely enveloped. The east half is supported by concrete piers. The pier at the northeast corner is inscribed with the following information.
“Sept. 7,1930, Emmit Routson, Walter Hinkley, and Don Park.”

Log Construction

A sill log spans the irregularly placed piers at the east end and extends beyond the north and south walls. Exterior walls are composed of logs 10″ – 14″ in diameter. Logs used in the superstructure are smaller, averaging 7″ – 10″ in diameter. The primary daubing consists of tree lichen covered with concrete and the chinking is small poles of 2″ – 3″ in diameter. The exterior of the building has been stained a reddish-brown.
The log walls have been left in their natural round profile. The ends have been hewn and square notched. The intersection of the two interior log partitions is visible at the north and south elevations. Again the logs are square notched at these junctures creating a neat seam of hewn log ends. The overall effect is very uniform in materials and craftsmanship.
At the south elevation the roof extends over the south wall and is supported by five log posts. This deep overhang provides a sheltered area for the transfer of equipment and supplies. At the west end of the south wall is a sliding door which accesses the commissary space. At the center of the south wall is a single passage door of slab construction with one light that leads to an office space. At the east end of the south wall is a pair of doors of slab construction with one light each that open into the tack room. There are no windows on the south elevation.
The east elevation features a triple set of six-pane fixed windows that is offset to the north. The opening is finished with painted casings. Centered in the gable end above is another triple set of six-pane fixed windows. The shakes overlap the window frame and no casing was installed.
The north elevation features a modern sliding door accessing the tack room. At the center of the north wall is another triple set of six-pane fixed windows with painted casings. At the west end of the north wall is a pair of doors of slab construction opening into the commissary.
The west elevation features a triple set of six-pane fixed windows that is offset to the north. The opening is finished with painted casings. Centered in the gable end above is another triple set of six-pane fixed windows. The shakes overlap the window frame and no casing was installed.
The steep-pitched gable roof was originally finished with shakes. It is now covered with corrugated metal roofing. The ridge pole and purlins extend beyond the end walls creating a deep shadow. The gable ends are finished with six rows of hand-split Douglas fir shakes.

Big Creek Commissary


The interior of the building is divided into three bays separated by log partitions. At the first floor is the commissary at the west, tack room at the east, and office at the center.
The commissary space is open to the roof structure. Walls are logs with pole chinking. Flooring is composed of wood planks 6″ – 8″ in width.
The office space at the center of the building is finished with painted plywood paneling. Butt joints at panels are covered with battens, flooring is composed of wood planks 6″ – 8″ in width with wide baseboards. The old telephone switchboard remains in this space.
The tack room walls are logs with pole chinking. The flooring and ceiling are composed of wood planks. Workbenches and equipment for repairing tack are present.
At the east wall of the tack room is a stairway leading to the second level. This second level spans the office and tack room areas. This area historically served as sleeping quarters for crews and was used for storage. Flooring is composed of wood planks 6″ – 8″ in width.
There are no trusses supporting the roof of this massive log building. Three structural diaphragms, each constructed of sixteen horizontal logs spanning from north to south, support the purlins. This diaphragm system stiffens and strengthens the roof structure. USDA Forest Service engineers no longer use this structural feature; trusses are used in contemporary construction.
The history of the Big Creek Commissary as associated with the Big Creek Ranger Station forms an important link with the early development of Forest Service administrative sites in the back country.

… This property reflects the establishment of the United States Forest Service in 1905 and the reliance upon early Forest Service craftsmanship in constructing vernacular “log cabin” style buildings using local materials. This building period predates the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933 which initiated a major building boom for the Forest Service. Standardization of building plans ended the “log cabin” era of Forest Service rustic architecture. The 1935 Building Construction Manual for Region Four of the Forest Service does not illustrate log construction as found at Big Creek Commissary. Plans in this handbook are wood frame construction with logs used only for site features – benches, signposts, and fences. This verifies that by the mid 1930s the Forest Service had abandoned the use of logs in construction of their buildings. …

Seasonal Use Today

The Idaho Primitive Area, established in 1931, was renamed the River of No Return Wilderness in 1980. The name was legislatively changed to the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness in 1984. The historic commissary building remains a part of the Big Creek Ranger Station today as a livestock facility serving the wilderness area. It’s continued use is maintained through Forest Service facilities funding. The fencing and corrals have been replaced over the years. Evidence of earlier fence posts can be observed in the ground dose to the alignment of the existing fence. The ranger’s dwelling burned down in 1986. The woodshed was removed in 1990 after Section 106 review. It is unknown when the other structures were removed.

The Big Creek Commissary represents the oldest and largest, multi-room, multi-functional, log building related to wilderness management on the Payette National Forest today. This building and associated corrals are seasonally used today by livestock packers. Livestock tack, feed, and maintenance tools are stored in this building.

Architectural Context

Architecturally, the Big Creek Commissary exhibits a continuity of design, materials, construction techniques, color, and details. The use of locally available lodgepole pine, and Douglas fir trees for the building reveals the resourceful abilities of the USDA Idaho National Forest personnel. A circa 1929 photograph reveals that there was an adequate supply of tall, straight timber for the construction of the Commissary. Logs were carefully chosen in the forest for the construction of the buildings. Logs were selected for diameter, length, and straightness. All the logs used in the commissary building were peeled. It is likely that the logs were cut and left to dry prior to construction. The trees were felled with crosscut saws and axe. Mules were used to drag the logs to the building site. Many weeks, days, and hours were spent in preparation of the logs, Bark on each log had to be removed with drawknives. Logs were cut to length and shaped with adzes, and handsaws.

What is unusual about the Big Creek Commissary is the size of the log building, and the internal supporting horizontal log diaphragm system used to strengthen and stiffen the roof. The internal log diaphragm is a feature no longer used in construction of USDA Forest Service buildings. This type of log construction originated with the Scandinavian design tradition.

The origin of the plan for the commissary is unknown. The rustic design was used out of necessity, based upon the availability of materials, skilled craftsman, and the isolation of the setting from towns with sawmills. Logs were the only available building material and the construction techniques were known to the builders and acceptable by the agency directed to manage the forest resources.

The Big Creek Commissary is representative of the “log cabin era” of construction. USDA Forest Service personnel no longer construct buildings of logs. Inventories of other administrative sites on the Payette National Forest and on other forests south of the Salmon River yield on other log building of this scale or design. Only two other sites on the Payette have structures of this era; a log cabin at Cold Meadows Guard Station, circa 1925, and a cabin at Hays Ranger Station built in 1913. The last log structure built on the Payette National Forest was at Krassel Work Center in the early 1970s.

source: National Register of Historic Places
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(click image for larger size)
“The Ranger’s Cabin where I lived at Big Creek – 1969.” – Earl Dodds
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Billy Owens and His Banty Hen

One of the more time-consuming parts of my job as the Big Creek Ranger was that of providing for the everyday needs of the district employees. At the peak of the summer season there were about 25 employees working on the district. All of these people lived full-time on the district, and the Forest Service had to provide quarters and see that they received groceries and mail on a regular basis. If there were problems with any of these needs, they often became my problems. This situation was not entirely unique to the Big Creek District, as the old Krassel and Warren Districts on the Payette National Forest were faced with similar situations and I’m sure that there were other backcountry districts throughout the Forest Service that had similar concerns. In many ways, these situations are throwbacks to earlier days in the Forest Service when such arrangements were normal throughout most of the national forests in the West. …

The area of greatest concern I had with the needs of the district personnel was making sure that the employees manning the lookout stations had enough food supplies to last for about a month when they initially went to their stations. For a season or two, there were eight manned lookouts on the district, all of them remote from roads and somewhat difficult to access. Some of the young people that we hired as lookouts had little idea as to what they were in for in being so far from the grocery store. In my first year as ranger, I had experienced trouble with employees going up on lookout duty with an insufficient supply of food. I remember one young lad in particular who was just hired and told to go down to the local supermarket, open an account and assemble enough food to last for a month or so. When we picked up his supplies, they consisted of a bag of potato chips, a loaf of bread, a few cans of this and that and a half dozen boxes of instant-pudding mix – as if he were going on a picnic for the weekend. The instant-pudding mix was about the extent of his cooking skills and experience in preparing anything to eat.

In subsequent years we got on top of this problem and made up a suggested list of groceries and furnished each lookout with a copy of the Forest Service Lookout Cookbook that has special allowances for cooking at high altitude. It takes longer to do such things as boil spuds and cook beans on a lookout. In addition to this, I also developed a standard little talk that I gave to the employees who were going up on lookout at the time they were hired in an attempt to impress upon them how isolated and far removed from the grocery store they would be. Also, I emphasized that it was best to take the majority of their summer supplies with them when they initially went up rather than relying on someone at the grocery store to select their resupplies. …

Back in those days, the late 1950s, the ranger districts did their own hiring, usually from the pool of people who came to the winter office seeking summer employment. Most of us tried to hire local, or at least Idaho people, where possible, as we felt that they had had some contact with the Forest Service and had some idea of what they would be in for in working for the outfit. …

One spring, a nice, clean-cut young fellow named Billy Owens came into the office in McCall seeking a job as a fire lookout. He was a native of Riggins, Idaho, and impressed me as being a little on the serious side and likely to do a good job. So I hired him for summer employment … Billy had a rural background, and his mother must have helped him with his groceries. When he reported for work toward the end of June he had a large pile of stuff that included jars of home-canned fruits and vegetables and a live little banty hen in a special little homemade box, sort of like a bird cage. Billy was considerably smarter than the average bear and intended to have fresh eggs for the summer. …

The Payette National Forest had a helicopter on contract for fire control purposes – chiefly for retrieving smokejumpers from remote hard-to-get-to locations. The staff officer in the Supervisor’s Office, who was in charge of fire control activities on the forest, had previous experience in the backcountry and knew how much of a task it would be to man eight lookouts using horses and mules. He sent the helicopter out to the Big Creek District with instructions that this would be a one-day-only thing and that we should get all the stuff going to each lookout organized so that there was little down time for the chopper.

Four of the lookouts were to be flown up from the Chamberlain side of the district and four from the Big Creek side. At Big Creek, we carted everything out on the airfield and made four well- separated piles with the idea that the chopper could land right beside each pile to facilitate loading. The largest pile belonged to Billy Owen and was headed for the Rush Creek Point Lookout. Right on top of this pile was the homemade chicken cage with Billy’s little banty hen in it.

Things went pretty well with the first lookout, Acorn Butte, and then it was Rush Creek’s turn. The chopper made a neat landing right beside the pile of supplies, only the blast from rotor blades blew the chicken cage off the top of the pile. When it hit the ground, the cage popped open and out flew the little banty hen. For all the world, it looked like she went right through the whirling rotor blades but probably not. But for sure, she took off down the airfield at a fast clip – a lot like the Roadrunner in the comic strip. And the entire complement of the Big Creek Ranger Station, including the chopper pilot, dropped what they were doing and took off after her. It took quite some time with a lot of running around and hollering before someone was able to throw his shirt over the poor bird and we got her back in the cage and on her way to Rush Creek.

Most of us laughed about this for the rest of the day and even Jack Higby, who often was a little shy in the sense of humor department, managed a little grin and said “I hope no one took a picture of that!”

“The Rest of the Story” is that Billy Owens reported that the poor little chicken was so scared that it was weeks before she laid any eggs.

excerpted from: “Tales from the Last of the Big Creek Rangers Payette National Forest, Idaho” by Earl Dodds, pages 27-29,

Idaho History Jan 21


Landmark Historic Ranger Station


Landmark Ranger Station was established in 1924 and for years functioned as the forest supervisor’s summer office for the “old” Payette National Forest (combined with the Boise National Forest in 1944). The site consists of a ranger’s house, four cabins, a barn, saddle shed and blacksmith shop, three garages, an office, warehouse and numerous other outbuildings that were constructed between 1924 and 1942. The ranger station has been closed for over a decade.

source: Idaho Heritage
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Landmark Ranger Station


Building Location: Landmark, Idaho 83611, Valley County
Year Built: 1930

Constructed between 1924 and 1942, the Landmark Ranger Station was an integral hub in the year round activities of the Payette then Boise National Forests. Located in Valley County east of Warm Lake and south of Yellow Pine, the site is ideally situated to manage the vast region it historically oversaw. Closed and all but abandoned in the late 1990s, the site faced the possibility of being decommissioned.

That is until the arrival of Cascade District Ranger, Carol McCoy-Brown in 2005. She immediately sensed the importance and historical significance of the site and set about the process of bringing it up to date for continued use while maintaining its historical and architectural integrity. A series of grants from the Southwest Idaho Resource Advisory Committee, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Idaho Heritage Trust as well as continued and increasing Forest Service appropriations allowed the cleaning, staffing, and renovation of the complex.

New bathroom additions have been added to two cabins to allow their continued use and restoration, while the deteriorating logs of the barn have been replaced. Soon, the front porches, cedar shingle roofs, and distinctive pole fencing of the site will be restored. With 1.2 million dollars in deferred maintenance costs, the job isn’t over, but Carol’s tenacity and the continued support of the Forest Service will see this site restored to its proper role in the life of the forest.

Preservation Idaho is thrilled to award Ranger Carol McCoy-Brown and the Landmark Ranger Station project a 2010 Orchid Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation.

Building submitted by Preservation Idaho

source w/photo gallery: The Idaho Architecture Project
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Landmark Ranger Station, Ranger House,


Boise National Forest Building No. 1139
Valley County, ID
source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
(click link to access photo gallery)
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Landmark – Boise NF

… In 1964, two new positions, unique to the region in one case and to the Forest Service as a whole in the other, were added to the supervisor’s office: a forest-level position of contracting specialist, the first such specialist in the Forest Service, and personnel specialist, the first on any national forest in Region 4. Four years later, as the result of a study which concluded that in terms of workload, budget, and staff, larger ranger districts were in most cases able to operate more effectively than smaller ones, the Chief of the Forest Service established a new district size policy. At the time there were ten ranger districts on the Boise National Forest — Mountain Home, Cottonwood, Idaho City, Atlanta, Lowman, Emmett, Garden Valley, Bear Valley, Cascade, and Landmark. These were consolidated in 1972 to the present six districts: Mountain Home, Boise, Idaho City, Lowman, Cascade, and Emmett.

… Also in 1972, all of the Primitive Area land from Pistol Creek Ridge to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, as well as the land east of Morehead Mountain, was transferred to the Challis National Forest for administrative purposes. The land northeast of Antimony Ridge (including Stibnite) was transferred to the Payette National Forest. The balance of the Landmark Ranger District became part of the Cascade Ranger District, and Landmark Ranger Station became Landmark Work Camp.

… CCC camps in the Boise and former Payette national forests were located at Cottonwood Creek, Alexander Flat, Big Birch Creek (Twin Springs), Granite Creek (Idaho City), Gallagher, Tie Creek, Third Fork, Crawford, and Warm Lake. There were other camps which may have been base camps or subcamps, often called spike camps: Landmark, Pike Fork (Crooked River), Silver Creek, Mountain View (near Lowman), Deer Creek, Cow Creek or Danskin, Twin Bridges (Johnson Creek), and Stolle Meadows. In addition, there were state CCC base camps or spike camps — on state land and with their own personnel, but within the forest boundaries — at Centerville, Shafer Butte, Clear Creek (near Cascade), and Packer John (near Smith’s Ferry).

… Much was accomplished on the Boise and former Payette national forests with CCC labor. The CCC work in cone collection, seed gathering, and tree planting is mentioned elsewhere, as is the enrollees’ roadbuilding, construction of forest buildings, fire-fighting activities, and construction of recreation facilities. An inspection of the Landmark District in 1968 revealed that all campgrounds except Ice Hole still had some of the log tables built by the CCC in the 1930’s.

CCC projects on the Cascade Ranger District included:
— the building complex at Landmark, parts of which are still in use…

excerpted from: History of the Boise National Forest 1905-1976 By Elizabeth M. Smith
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Landmark Topo


source: Topo Zone (map is zoomable)
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Landmark, Valley County, Idaho

County Map Quad: “C”
County Name: Valley
Township: 15N
Range: 8E
Section: 12
Elevation: 6,617
Population (1960 Census): 6
Mailing Post Office: Warm Lake
Airport: Landing Field 2 miles S.
Streams: Landmark Cr. / Johnson Cr.

source: Gazetteer of Cities Villages and Landmark Sites in the State of Idaho, Third Edition January 1966, Prepared By Idaho Department of Highways, Highway Planning Survey, in cooperation with US Beureau of Public Roads
source link: Heather Heber Callahan – North Idaho History
(many pages of scanned images)
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Landmark is in the Stibnite Division

ID Demographic Data and Boundary Map

The Stibnite Division is a County Subdivision of Valley County. The subdivision has a Z5 Census Class Code which indicates that the Stibnite Division is a statistical county subdivision.

source w/map:
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Landmark USFS Airport – 0U0

Activation April 1944
Landmark, Idaho
Facility Usage: Public

Coordinates: N44°38.53′ / W115°32.00′
Located 01 miles SE of Landmark, Idaho on 19 acres of land.
Estimated Elevation is 6662 feet MSL.
Magnetic Variation from 1985 is 17° East
Dimensions: 4000 x 100 feet / 1219 x 30 meters
Surface: Turf-Dirt in Fair Condition

more info: Sky Vector
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Landmark Google Map

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Landmark landing


(Does anyone know the origin of the name? Is there a landmark there?)

Idaho History Jan 14

Warm Lake History Part 2

(Link to Warm Lake History Part 1)

Updated Jan 27, 2018
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Warm Lake c. 1911-1914

(click image for larger size)
click to see original
Description: Panorama of Warm Lake from hill 1/2 mile to east
Date: circa 1911-1914
source: U.S. Forest Service Payette – Boise National Forest
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Warm Lake, Idaho

Warm Lake is a 640-acre (260 ha) lake in Idaho, United States. It is located 26 miles (42 km) east of Cascade in Valley County, at 5,298 feet (1,615 m) above sea level. It is the largest natural lake in Boise National Forest.

The lake’s abundance of wildlife makes it very popular for camping, fishing, and hunting. Large mammals present in the area include moose, mule deer, black bear, and elk. Large birds present in the area include bald eagles and osprey. The lake contains rainbow, brook, lake, and bull trout as well as mountain whitefish and Kokanee salmon.

There are two lodges at the lake, North Shore Lodge, which was established in 1936, and Warm Lake Lodge, which was established in 1911. The Forest Service operates three campgrounds around the lake.

source: Wikipedia
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Warm Lake Lodge, Warm Lake, Idaho

(click image for larger size)
c. 1960’s
Postcard of the Warm Lake Lodge in Warm Lake, Idaho. All cabins at Warm Lake Lodge have electricity, Frigidaires, innerspring mattresses and are completely furnished for housekeeping.
Publisher Eric J. Seaich Co., Salt Lake City, UT
source: Digital Image Copyright 2013, University of Idaho Library
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Warm Lake Lodge Operators 1911 to 2001

1. Wm. (Bill) and Mary Lou (Molly) Kesler established the hotel around 1911. They sold in 1939 to Dr. Leo E. Jewell.

2. Clark and Beulah Cox leased the hotel for three years (1924-1926).

3. Mr. and Mrs. Louis Gannon operated the hotel 1934-1938 and were called owners in a May 28, 1937 Cascade News article. It states he purchased the Kesler and Gannon interest at Warm Lake. They may have been contract buyers.

4. Mr. Donald Merritt ran the hotel at the time of a newspaper article in May 1937. He may have been a contract buyer or lessee.

5. Dr. Leo E. Jewell M. D. of Meridian bought the hotel from Kesler’s and operated it from 1939-1945. His brother-in-law Leonard W. “Bill” Dodds was manager. Dodds became postmaster at Warm Lake March 15, 1940 (from book “Postmarked Idaho”). They built the first part of the existing lodge and removed the hotel. Several new cabins were built for rent over the years and when they were built old ones were removed.

6. Harold G. “Bert” and Ester Brewster were owners 1945-1947. He became postmaster July 15, 1945.
(Book “Postmarked Idaho” about early post offices in Idaho)

7. Pat and Betty J. Clark were owners 1947-1961. Betty became postmaster June 30, 1947 (PMI). Aug. 31, 1953 the post office was discontinued but soon reinstated. Pat Clark died in 1955. Betty married Andrew J. Wolfe in 1958. Mrs. Betty J. Wolfe was postmaster June 1, 1958 and post office was discontinued on April 30, 1960 (PMI).

8. Bob and Ellie Remington were owners 1961-1977 (plaque says 1976).

9. Ron and Pam Harper were owners 1977-1987.

10. Mike and Lauann Rowland were owners April 1987-____. They were owners on Oct. 4, 1990. They are reported to have the historical letters and papers about the lodge.

11. Lloyd and Linda Glass were owners ______ to May 1995. They now live in Lewiston ID.

12. Russ Cadenhead and June D. Lopez, May 1995 to January, 2011.

This was drafted Oct. 13, 2001 and is a work in progress. This may contain many errors. Any corrections would be appreciated. Additional research will be done. By LeRoy Meyer

source: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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Warm Lake, Idaho – 1951

(click image for larger size)
From the Mike Fritz Collection courtesty Heather Heber Callahan Idaho History 1860s to 1960s
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Charles Gill Interview About Warm Lake

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

Gill: Bill Darling was a fellow who might be classified as a hermit in a way; he lived down on the South Fork of the Salmon River. He had a little acreage down there I would say probably five miles below Poverty Flats. He had a little lean-to shack that he lived in and a shed along side where he kept some horses I guess. He made his living primarily taking hunters out in the fall. This was in the 20’s and I knew him in the early 30’s. He had been here quite some time prior to that. He was well acquainted with Molly and Bill Kesler. They had all been in this country many years. He knew Bob Barr and he was well acquainted with the well-known Dead Shot Reed but Dead Shot at that time was no longer living on his land down of the South Fork. Dead Shot Reed’s is still down there and signs still indicate it but it must belong to his descendants, his boys. It was interesting; I ran across those people and got acquainted with them, visited and talked with them.

Wilkie: I think Bill Darling was a caretaker at my fathers place one winter (North Shore Lodge) and helped my father get in wood or someone with a similar sounding name.

G: That could well be.

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

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

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

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

W: Did that burn down?

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

W: When did she die?

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

W: What happened to Darling? He died and I can’t remember what year he died (Aug. 6, 1963). His property was empty for many years and whether he had any family who inherited it, I don’t know or whether it went back to the Forest Service.

W: How old was he when he died, would you guess?

G: He must have been in his late 60’s that was my judgment. Because in the 30’s he was a well matured man in his 50’s, late 50’s, or early 60’s. He may have been 70 or better. I was a little bit young to be able to judge people’s age at that time, as I was only in my 20’s and early 30’s at the time (he died at age of 11 days, 1 month, 86 years at Cascade).

W: How did you happen to come up here?

G: Well we just came up here on a fishing weekend. Mr. Kinney and Mr. Glenn and I, we enjoyed the fishing and scenery and the lake. So that evening after we had fished we were setting around our campfire near the outlet of the lake on the Warm Lake Lodge side. We were setting around and Mr. Kinney said he wondered if anyone could build a cabin on this lake. Not knowing of course, we decided in that case, we stopped in Cascade on the way out and find out, in 1932. The Forest Service, I can’t recall the man’s name at the time, he didn’t know and he would have to write Ogden office, the regional office at the time, and he said come back in a couple of weeks and we’ll have an answer. Two weeks later, we went up and he had an answer. Yeah, we can give permission but we will have to survey the place for lots and a site to build on. But he gave us permission to go up and pick our spot before he even started surveying because we were the first ones to think about it. For that reason we were entitled to the breaks. They didn’t get the surveying of the lots done until 1933. But we started with one cabin in 1932 and built our first cabin. That’s the little cabin. The point was named after Mr. Kinney because it was his idea in the first place and so that’s how we happened to be here and we have been here ever since.

W: What did you do, go all around the lake looking for the best spot?

G: Pretty near all the way but on the one side ever there you can’t get around it because it’s swamp and it’s wet all the way. We walked the shore line pretty completely and got around here and saw it’s beautiful view and then right off this point at that time was where most of the fishing was being done for kokanee or silver sides or red fish because during the fall spawning season the sides turn red. The fish when not in the fall they are silver.

W: Were they still fishing than as well?

G: Yeah, they came here still fishing.

W: Did they rent the boats across the lake?

G: Molly and Bill Kesler had a couple of boats over there. Most people brought their own boats. There was very little fishing being done, very little. But after that when the place opened up for lots, the lots were grabbed up real quick. It was but a matter of years before all the lots were taken and cabins were built. After the first round of lots were taken the Forest Service decided to expand it and they moved to a second level of lots on top of the hills and opened up some lots in Paradise Valley where old Bob Barr had his place and so there were about eight cabins over there I think (10).

W: This was all in the 30’s?

G: Yeah.

W: When did they put in the swimming pool?

G: The CCC’s did that; they had their camp where the Conservative Baptist camp is now. That was the CCC camp and the boys of the CCC’s put the roads around the lake and roads into the cabin sites and build the corrals, fences at Stolle Meadows and put the swimming pool in and laid the pipe line for our water system around from Chipmunk Creek. They were a real productive organization, the CCC’s at that time in this area in particular. Most of the boys were from New Jersey and New York and far east states.

W: They must have been awed by this?

G: Yes, it was fun to talk to some of them. The fantastic stories and beliefs some of them had. They heard that gold was in Idaho and they thought all you had to do was pick gold up off the mountain and stick it in your pocket. One of them made quite a lot of fun ribbing him about fine gold that we found and they found those in areas where the yellow pines grew the big pinecones. Some of the people that knew a little better used to kid him and got him to believe those were immature pineapples. I guess he wised-up before too long.

W: Where were they housed?

G: Oh they had houses built for them.

W: Where?

G: Right where the Baptist Camp is. And there camp down below Poverty Flats quite a few miles down even beyond Dead Shot Reeds ranch on the South Fork of the Salmon River about 20 miles downstream from here.

W: Did you do any salmon fishing in those days?

G: They didn’t bother fishing you did salmon spearing.

W: You walked on their backs across the river?

G: No, spearing them was legal and everybody up here had a salmon spear. Generally a handle 12 to 15 feet long and we’d walked the riverbank and spot them. Sometimes you would get them under a log, sometimes would get them under a cut bank. Sometimes we would catch them on the riffles. There was a lot of salmon spearing done by people here. The women would go along with a man and they would often wade out in the riffles and stand there while the men chased the salmon up and down until they got them cornered some place where we could spear them. The women would stand and splash the water in order to keep the salmon from going between their legs and swimming on upstream and getting away from us. It was a lot of fun in those days with a lot of salmon. There were thousands of them in the river. Since the dams have filled the Columbia River up there is not as many salmon as there used to be.

W: I think when we bought the resort we didn’t know there were salmon up here. My father went over fishing with a little spinner over on the river and before the next thing he knew he had a salmon on and thought it was the biggest trout he had ever seen.

G: I caught them on a pole and line with a spinner. They don’t strike it too well yet at some of them, at certain times when they are freshest up here they will fight it especially if they had some red salmon eggs tied to it or red rags or something tied to it. I don’t know what there was about the red that made the salmon mad I guess. They thought it was eggs and they would come to drive anything away from the eggs and would come and hit the spinners.

W: They thought they were stealing the eggs or something?

G: Well I think they thought the spinner was probably another salmon or fish or something that was coming to eat them and they were hitting the spinner to try and drive it off. They didn’t really come up and try to swallow it because they say salmon don’t eat anything after they leave the ocean. All I ever caught or killed had empty stomachs so I’m sure they weren’t eating. They strike the lure because they are mad. That days gone forever, because there will never ever be more spearing done. I guess the Indians are still allowed to. There are not near as many salmon as there once was so there is not as much salmon fishing done really except in the main Salmon. The South Fork and Middle Fork, there is not much there.

W: Have you ever heard whether there were Indian groups around the lake in prior times?

G: I have never heard that but I assume there must have been. Whether they lived here or hunted in this area I don’t know but there must have been some.

Female: The Sheepeater Indians have a monument up here on the summit.

G: The Sheepeater Indians killed a white man on that first grade as you come out of Cascade. There is a monument commemorating that man.

W: I remember that monument. You can’t get to it now.

G: You have to take the old road to get around to it. He was, actually the Indians that killed him were horse thieves that had stolen his horses around Indian Valley and he had tracked them. They way-laid him. They knew he was after them and that’s where they killed him. I don’t recall what his name was but it’s on the tombstone down there. I’ve seen it and I’ve read it in a few history books about highlights of Idaho history but those were suppose to be Sheepeater Indians as they were called, that did the killing. I don’t know whether they were ever apprehended or ever anything done about it or not.

W: The cavalry came through here once chasing them and went into the Middle Fork, Artillery Dome was named after the military because they drug a cannon all the way in there. No roads.

G: That wouldn’t be part of the route Chief Joseph took?

W: No. His retreat was farther north toward Lewiston. Different territory entirely.

W: There weren’t too many Indians around this area.

G: There were Indians in this area; this isn’t too far from Council Idaho you know. Council was the meeting ground. That’s how it got its name. The Indian chief’s had their pow-wow’s there when they gathered to make plans and meet at the area where the city of Council now stands. There were plenty of Indians all right in this part of the country. How much they, whether they lived in any length of time any given spot or not is highly questionable. I suppose they were on the move most of the time. They probably hunted up here and maybe got salmon up here and picked berries up here in this country.

W: In the summer time?

G: Yeah, they wouldn’t stick around here in the winter. It’s too tough a winters, they would go down the Salmon River. They might have followed the elk herds and deer down the river for the winter. If a person had all the facts it would be a real interesting history.

W: I would like to know more about the town of Knox (Knox was one mile NW of Warm Lake). Who founded it for example and who built the buildings that are there and what they all were. I know they had one main street that had a blacksmith shop and a tavern or a bar.

W: There was a town there?

G: Store yeah. It could be called a town, a town of Knox. You are using the term town rather loosely when you call it a town because it was just a way station on your way to Thunder Mountain. The pack strings and stuff stayed overnight there. They had a place to sleep and feed their horses. A place to shoe there horses or do things like that they had to have done but when we came up here that day was long since gone. I don’t remember who was over there. The only building that was there that was being occupied was the big house that still stands there. I can’t remember the name of the people that lived there. It was pretty nice. We bought milk there and eggs there and bread. The lady that ran the place for some reason or another she had been nicknamed gold tooth. She had a gold tooth in front of her mouth. She was a beautiful woman and was one of those women who was absolutely spotlessly clean and anytime of the day when she came to the door you would think she had just stepped out of the beauty parlor. Her hair was made up. Her apron was spotlessly clean, her dress was spotlessly clean she looked like she stepped out of a bandbox as often say. A very pleasant person. I guess her husband; oh he ran a few cows in that pasture they had over there and then he packed in the hunters during the fall. He had a pack string and would take hunters in to these high lakes for deer hunting and elk hunting trips. But I don’t know what their names were and what became of them.

W: Then the Renieke’s bought it?

G: I think it was the Renieke’s that bought it, got it after that. I don’t remember what her or her husbands name was, I don’t think there name was Reineke. Reineke came along later I’m sure.

W: Where would one dig that information up?

[G]: Probably at the county court house, you would have to dig it from the records there. I imagine any transaction of the property would go on record. I imagine it might be at the Forest Service office. It was not Forest Service land; it was private land so I don’t know why the Forest Service would have it on their records. Any transaction would have been recorded at the courthouse.

W: When were the forests established here? Do you have any idea on that?

G: No I haven’t. I haven’t the slightest idea on that. I don’t know when they started calling that the Boise National Forest. I suppose it was just one of the national forests that was established. Way back in the early statehood days back in the 1800’s whether the boundaries were the same as they are today is questionable because I doubt if there had been any major surveys conducted in the state before the 1900’s. The boundary lines were ambiguous I presume. Probably based on a mountain ridge or a river or a stream would be the determining line until the surveys were completed.

W: Where did you get that bear?

G: Old Burt Bostwick shot that bear. Shot it at the upper end of the lake and he gave the skin to Mr. Kinney. Mr. Kinney had it made into a rug. It laid on the floor of this cabin for several years until it began to get kind of beat-up from walking on it so we put it up there to preserve it.

W: It looks good up there.

G: Yeah.

W: What year was that?

G: It must have been around 1938.

W: Any grizzly up in this area when you first came?

G: No, I don’t know if there has ever been grizzly in this country, none around when we were here.

W: Do you know when North Shore Lodge was built, Carters Camp, North Bay Camp?

G: I don’t know what year it was started but it must have been in the 1930’s (built in 1935). I would judge it was probably, if I were to make a guess I would say 1936 to 1938 somewhere in there. I don’t know how many years he kept it either.

W: We brought it from him in 1945.

G: He probably, it was probably 36 or 38.

W: Did they put in lawns and flower gardens? It was actually beautiful. None of those things would last. We kept them up quite nicely. It sure went down fast when we sold it to Chapin’s.

G: Well you know there are people who get these things like a lodge to make a quick buck and then get out from under it so they don’t care how it looks as long as they get the money. Yeah, and they will sell and this happens quite often when you get an unscrupulous owner. All he is interested in is making money and because it is the popular thing for a while and then he sells out. And that’s happened up here a time or two on both lodges.

W: Yeah, I guess they stopped a dentist from Phoenix or someplace from coming up here and doing this and wanted to use it for a tax right off.

G: Well I don’t remember that case but I can remember one owner that came from California and bought Warm Lake Lodge and he was advertising through his friends in California and the wealthy people in that area. He guaranteed they would catch all the fish they wanted. He was taking in pack strings of fishermen to Long Lake. This was at the time Long Lake was the best fishing lake in the country and was loaded with beautiful rainbows and cutthroat. He took parties up there 10-15 in a party on horseback and they would stay overnight and maybe stay two night and just catch those fish by the dozens and bring them out. Of course it didn’t take but a couple three years before the lake was fished out. But his sole interest was the moneyed crowd he wanted to get them in here and get their money and when fishing ran down and things went haywire he got rid of it.

W: Was it Clark?

G: I’m not sure. It seems to be it was though.

G: Did he die up here?

W: He died someplace yeah he died.

G: His wife and boys were partners and then they got to fighting and so the boys sold out.

G: They didn’t want anything to do with Warm Lake residents and Idahoans. I think that’s probably the person that … [?]

W: Long Lake in the old days was a real fishing spot.

G: Oh it was a terrific spot. It was about a four-mile hike when you drove up to Mormon Creek. If you were willing to make a four-mile uphill hike to get to the lake you got some fine fishing. But of course when you rode up on horseback it wasn’t much of a trip.

W: Yeah.

G: But there were a lot of us who hiked up there 2 or 3 times every summer. Well, I don’t know whether you remember the fellow by the name of Bill Allen who had a cabin over there by North Shore Lodge, owned by Rudolph now. Bill Allen was the one who had the cabin first. Bill was quite a fisherman, surprisingly a fine physical specimen for a man his age. He would hike to Long Lake 2 or 3 times every summer to go fishing up there and I’m sure he was in his 60’s when he was doing that but he was a tough man. He and his wife stayed in here all winter 3 or 4 winters, they stayed in all winter.

W: He was retired then.

G: Yeah, I don’t know what his: I think he had been a railroad man.
…. would have been the hunter and the roamer but he was a house cat. He wouldn’t leave the place at all, but the beautiful Angora cat; he would leave the cabin and sometimes be gone a week or 2 or 3 weeks and come back fat and sassy. He would kill gophers and squirrels and tramp the woods like a wild animal. He was a beautiful cat but when wintertime came he stayed around home. Bill Allen and his wife were fine people and they stayed up here all winter and cut a hole in the ice and fished. Before the snow was too deep they kept it scraped off and they were a great pair to ice skate, over in front of their cabin. They were a fine pair and their home was Emmett.

W: When did they sell, would you guess?

G: I can’t remember but it would have been sometime during the war years. Between 1945 and 1950 somewhere. Before Rudolph’s bought? They were there when the drowning occurred (Aug. 31, 1945).

W: Did anyone else stay there in the winter?

G: Burt Bostwick always stayed up all winter and Bob Barr and Bill Hall stayed a couple of winters and Molly and Bill Kesler. There was anywhere from 6 to 10 people for a period of 4 or 5 winters that stayed up here together.

W: Who was Hall?

[G]: He was Bakers brother-in-law.

W: He stayed at Bakers cabin?

G: No, he had a cabin around there on North Shore Drive on the other side of North Shore Lodge, next door to where Kniefel’s cabin is.

W: The first one or the second one?

G: The one toward the lodge. I don’t know who has it now. But that one Bill Hall built, I don’t know if his name was Bill or not (his name is Earl Hall). But anyway he built that one himself. He stayed in all winter. He was kind of a hermit type fellow. I remember one fall he took me in there to his cabin. He took my upstairs in his attic to show me his huckleberries. He would go out and days on end he would pick huckleberries. He had a framework built up in his attic. It was covered with canvas and he would spread his huckleberries all over that canvas. Under that roof on a hot summer day, hot sunshine in September, it would dry those things. They would shrivel up just like a raisin. When they got dry and shriveled up he would put them in sacks and clean bags. When ever he wanted to make a pie he just took a handful out and put them in water and they would pump up and just as nice as fresh huckleberries. He would do that ever fall, he would do that for muffins and hot cakes and pie all winter long. He would have several gallons of them all dried. When they pumped up they, a handful would make a bowl of them.

W: There don’t seem to be too many huckleberries around here any more.

G: This year there sure isn’t. Some years, I don’t know the reason why, some years we get a real good crop and might go three or four years and hardly get any and then another year we get all kinds of them. Year before last was a real good year. Last year there was just a few it was spotted here and there. I can’t find any this year yet. I haven’t been able to run across any so I’m afraid they all must have got frozen. But I thought it would be a good year for them, we had so much moisture and I didn’t think we had any cold weather this spring. We might have had a freeze at the wrong time.

Three western folk songs are played at the end of the tape.
This audiotape is a real treasure. Isn’t it wonderful that Charles Gill and Richard Wilkie took time to record these stories in July of 1978.

source: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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Warm Lake – from near Warm Lake Summit

(click to see original photo)
Date: 1928-10
Photographer: Ansgar Johnson Sr.
source: Idaho State Historical Society, Harry Shellworth Album
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Post Offices in the Greater Warm Lake Area

From a book “Postmarked ID” in the ID State Historical Library

The names of the postmasters are listed.

Post offices are listed in chronological order of the date the post office was established.

1. Washington established Jan.28, 1869 and discontinued Apr. 27, 1868. Reestablished July 27, 1870. Renamed Warren on Aug. 14, 1884.

2. Van Wyck established Mar. 14, 1888 about 3 mi. SW of Cascade. Discontinued on Sept. 29, 1917. Mail service was moved to Cascade.

3. Lardo established Nov. 30, 1889, 1 mi. west of McCall. Discontinued Oct. 15, 1917 and mail service moved to McCall.

4. Crawford established Sept. 19, 1890, 4 mi. NE of Cascade. Moved to Cascade Mar. 15, 1915.

5. Resort established June 1, 1898. Renamed Burgdorf Nov. 16, 1915. Also called Fred (Burgdorf) Warm Springs Resort.

6. Roosevelt established Feb. 15, 1902 about 18 air miles east of Yellow Pine. Discontinued Sept. 15, 1915. Mail moved to Yellow Pine.

7. Comfort established Oct. 7, 1903, Lawrence J. Phelan: Ernest W. Heath, June 15, 1904; Charles S. Smith, March 22, 1906; discontinued June 29, 1907 mail to Warren. On South Fork of the Salmon River 7-8 mi. SE of Warren, Center Sec. 2, T21N, R7E.

8. Knox established April 5, 1904, Charles C. Randall; La Velle L. Bush, May 6, 1907; closed June 30, 1908 mail to Thunder (rescinded); discontinued Oct. 15, 1908 mail to Thunder. 25 mi. NE of Cascade, SE Sec. 2, T15N, R6e.

9. Thunder City about 6 mi. west of Cascade. Established June 11, 1904, Minnie M. Avery; Charles T. Barringer, May 16, 1905; Just R. Warner, July 27, 1905; Fred S. Logue, Apr. 17, 1906, Thomas L. Armstrong, Dec. 14, 1908; John S. Logue, Jan. 4, 1911; Ella Smith, June 10,1912; Ella Cromwell, Nov. 5,1914; discontinued Dec. 30, 1916, mail to Cascade.

10. Elo established Mar. 31, 1905. Moved 1 mi. north and renamed McCall on July 13, 1909. Located 3.5 mi. SE of McCall.

11. Thunderbolt established Nov. 17, 1905, Wm. L. Standatler; discontinued Sept. 29, 1906, mail to Knox.

12. Yellow Pine established Oct. 5, 1906, Albert C. Behne.

13. Cascade established Sept. 19, 1890 as Crawford; renamed Cascade Mar. 15, 1915, Sarah A. Jones; Charles B. Mirgon, Nov. 23, 1921; Eva Hurd, July 1, 1927; Harold P. Gorton, Jan. 31, 1928; Leroy Lisenby, Dec. 19, 1930; Ira F. Madden, June 25, 1931. On UPRR 80 mi. north of Boise; 27 mi. S of McCall; on Payette River, center Sec. 26, T14N, R3E.

14. Stibnite established May 29, 1927, Harold D. Bailey; discontinued July 7, 1957, mail to Yellow Pine. Located 73 mi. NE of Cascade; 13 SE of Yellow Pine. NE Sec. 15N, T18N, R9E.

15. Warm Lake established Mar. 15, 1940, Leonard W. Dodds; Harold G. Brewster, July 15, 1945; Betty J. Clark, June 30, 1947; discontinued Aug. 1, 1953 mail to Cascade (rescinded) Mrs. Betty J. Wolfe June 1, 1958 (wed); discontinued April 30, 1960. A summer post office. 29 mi. NE of Cascade; 3 mi. SE of Knox; Sec. 7, T15N, R7E. At a summer lodge.

16. Deadwood established June 2, 1944, Oliver J. L. Hower; Charles F. Talbot, Aug. 20, 1945; Mrs. Frances Cahill, June 10, 1946; Mrs. Twilia L. Pratt, Aug. 13, 1946; discontinued June 30, 1948, mail to Cascade. At Deadwood Reservoir; about 25 mi. NE of Garden Valley. Summer office; made year around 11-5-46.

source: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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Warm Lake Post office History

Warm Lake
established Mar. 15, 1940, Leonard W. Dodds
Harold G. Brewster, July 15, 1945
Betty J. Clark, June 30, 1947
discontinued Aug. 1, 1953 mail to Cascade (rescinded)
Mrs. Betty J. Wolfe, June 1, 1958 (wed)
discontinued April 30, 1960
A summer post office.
29 mi. NE of Cascade; 3 mi. SE of Knox;
Sec. 7, T15N, R7E. At a summer lodge.

source: Valley County GenWeb
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Thunderbolt Post Offce

Thunderbolt mine located 4 miles up Cabin Creek from Paradise Valley

1905, Nov. 17 a post office was established at Thunderbolt with Wm. L. Standatler as postmaster.
It was discontinued Sept. 29, 1906 with Knox as the nearest post office.
From the book Post Marked Idaho.

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
See also:
Valley County Post Office History
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Thunder Bolt Mill and Mine

By Ron Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young boy: Where is the Thunderbolt mine at?

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

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

W: Oh!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

W: It never made any money, huh?

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

Young male: How did Cupp Brown get its name?

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

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

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

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

W: Maybe that’s it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possibly at Knox:

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

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

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

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

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

Boy: How big were they?

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

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

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

Are you still camping on Tripod?

Dolphin: No we are on Lodgepole.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

B: What’s it like?

W: It’s like a burnt lava rock, yeah.

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

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

Music on the tape
A repeat of some of Barr’s earlier comments
Western music
A repeat of earlier comments
End of recording
What’s a red side? Chinook or kokanee salmon?
Transcribe from the audiotape by LeRoy Meyer Sept. 20, 2000.

source: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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Thunderbolt lookout was built of logs and rebuilt in 1961-1962 using helicopters to transport material.

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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Thunderbolt Lookout

Location: 24.8 miles and 37 ° from Cascade, Idaho
Elevation 8654 ft.
GPS Coordinate: 44.7326 -115.64

link: The Pictures of Cascade Photo Gallery by area resident Mike Huston
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Thunderbolt Mountain fire burnt north of the lake 3 miles & north.
Meyer notes

Excerpted from: Warm Lake History by LeRoy Meyer
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2002 Warm Lake in Boise National Forest, Idaho

U.S. Forest Service, Wikipedia

Idaho History Jan 7


Early Mining on Monumental Creek

The Alton district [roughly the headwaters of Big Creek on down to Crooked Creek], however, did not include an obscure claim made in 1890. This claim was made by Claude and Elsie Taylor on Monumental Creek. [The Idaho World said the creek was named for the “Sheepeater Monument”.] … It was at the Taylor claim that the Thunder Mountain district began. …

The claim of Claude and Elsie Taylor where it all began on Monumental Creek would remain in the family and be mined until 1941.

excerpted from pages 50 and 67, Mining by Jim Witherell, “Valley County, Idaho Prehistory to 1920s”, Valley County History Project
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The Taylors on Monumental Creek

Claude and Elsie Taylor located a claim in 1890 near Monumental Creek between Copper Creek and Deer Creek some years before the Caswell brothers prospected the area. They worked the mine until 1941 and lived there for over 50 years. Then Si Simonds and his partner Swede Hanson worked claims in the area and built the airstrip. The place is now known as Simonds Airstrip.

(personal notes)
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Monumental Creek between Copper Creek and Deer Creek

(click image for larger size)
source: Google Maps
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Claude and Elsie Taylor

In 1890, Claude and Elsie Taylor had a placer claim in Monumental near Copper Creek and Deer Creek where they worked the claims many years. Elsie had two boys before she married Claude and one of them died and is buried there. When Mrs. Mabe had a baby girl at Cabin Creek, Elsie put on a proper city hat and rode horseback from her place to Cabin Creek to see the baby and rode home the same day. Claude was part Indian. Their claim was sold to Si Simonds. Si was retired Navy and his friend and partner Swede Hanson built there and prospected. They built an airport on the land by hand, and with a farm-all tractor. Bill Timms, an assayer at Thunder Mountain, had claims and cabins above the Taylors on the ridge. Near there, on Monumental, Rufus Hughes also had a claim and cabins.

Excerpted from: page 361 “Valley County Idaho Prehistory to 1920s”, Valley County History Project
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… Claude and Elsie Taylor established a claim in 1890 on Monumental Creek about seven miles from Big Creek… The Taylors occupied the land for more than 50 years and buried a son there.

Excerpted from: pages 209-210 Backcountry Homesteads by C. Eugene Brock, “Valley County Idaho Prehistory to 1920s”, Valley County History Project
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Claude and Elsie Taylor filed a mining claim on Monumental, Copper and Deer creeks in 1890. They occupied their land for more than 50 years and buried one of her two sons there. They Taylors sold their claims to Si Simonds.

Si Simonds bought the Taylor claims with his partner Swede Hanson. They built cabins and an airport there.

from Valley County Geneology, Complied and Edited by Eileen Duarte, “Free Land! Hopes and Hardships of Pioneers of Valley County, Idaho”, Valley County History Project
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1930 Census

Claude M Taylor Male Age 43 Married Head Birth Year 1887
Elsie L Taylor Female Age 34 Married Wife Birth Year 1896
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Si and Swede

Si Simonds and Swede Hanson went there after they came home from the war. The Hansons, Swede and Hilda and Bev, built a cabin there, with Simonds, Si and Ursula, living in the old Taylor house. They built the airstrip now known as Simonds.

(personal notes)
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This all started many years ago when Si and my Dad were in the Navy, Si decided they would get rich and tried to talk my Dad into going in to Monumental but my Mom said no at the time as I was still a very little girl. In the early 50s my Dad was able to make his first trip into Monumental. Si had already bought the Taylor cabin and eventually my folks were able to build the small cabin. My then husband, Bob Murphy, and I were able to go in off and on, our first trip was on horse back and Bob was not a horse person so when my Dad, who was in the lead kicked up a hornet nest Bob’s horse was next in line and we were on a very narrow trail on a slide quite a ruckus with Bob yelling WHOA WHOA WHOA. We hiked out when we were headed home.

The mine that was my folk’s was named the Beverly and when they left they sold it to the VonStattens who owned George Dovels place. My folks left Monumental after Slim was murdered… Si married Ursula [during that time], after she died Si left the place and it reverted to the F.S.

– Bev (Hanson) Larkin
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source: “The Thunder Mountain Story” by Earl Willson 1962

The Monument

By George Dovel The Outdoorsman

… I began flying Si and Ursula Simonds into their remote back country home on Monumental Creek in my helicopter in the Spring of 1956. Because there was no place to land near their cabin at that time, I had to land three-quarters of a mile down Monumental Creek at their former neighbor, Frenchy’s, cabin and help them pack their supplies up to their home.

Si and Ursula were like a father and mother to me and I fell in love with the country that was covered with snow for five months every year. This later became the Frank Church Wilderness but it was classified as the Idaho Primitive Area at that time.

I acquired a small mining property further upstream and later sold my helicopter and airport so I could move the family back there to share the experiences. One of the most remarkable natural wonders I have encountered in my travels was located about an hour’s walk upstream from our property, yet few Idahoans have ever heard of it and only a handful of those who travel the Monumental Creek trail have ever seen it.

This massive structure and two shorter monuments that cannot be seen in the photographs, were apparently formed when the land was covered with water and the water began to disappear. The huge boulder on top remained suspended on a column of what appears to be talc, decomposed rock and smaller rocks that has withstood extreme winds and storms for countless centuries.

source: Tom Remington
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Simonds & Hanson

(click image for larger size)
photo of the Taylor/Simonds house (left) with Hanson’s (middle) and shed (right).

(click image for larger size)
(photos courtesy Bev (Hanson) Larkin)
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The building of Simonds Air Strip on Monumental

Built by Si and Ursula Simonds, Swede and Hilda Hanson with help from Bob Murphy and Bev (Hanson) Murphy Larkin.

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Si & Ursula Simonds

Leon C. Simonds

(photos courtesy Bev (Hanson) Larkin)
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I was among the first to fly into Si’s along with my family. My folks, Hilda and Swede Hanson, had a cabin there also. George Dovel was our pilot and it was the first time we had flown in a small plane. My family also helped with the building of the strip and came in by way of horse back at the time. Many years later I found that Jim Larkin, my husband then, had never landed there as he was not impressed with the strip. Have many wonderful memories of the Idaho back country.

– Bev (Hanson) Larkin

Landing Simonds strip in the Idaho Backcountry 900’ long at 5243’ elevation

Note: The Forest Service has designated this airstrip for emergency use because of its condition and location. It requires special skills and equipment beyond what is anticipated for general aviation. Use is discouraged.
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Simonds Crash 2009

10:10 AM 7/14/2009 Cessna U206 1 Serious Injury A SPOT saved the instructors life.

During a biennial flight review, at the suggestion of the evaluating instructor pilot, the Pilot-In-Command elected to land at a remote back-country airstrip where he had not made prior plans to land. After landing at the 800- to 900-foot-long strip, the pilot took off in the high-density-altitude environment without having first completed an aircraft performance calculation or checking his airplane’s outside air temperature gauge. Although the pilot reported that there did not seem to be any issues with the engine producing full power, soon after liftoff the airplane struck a number of pine trees and descended into the terrain. A postaccident inspection of the airplane did not find any evidence of powerplant anomalies, but did reveal that the elevator trim was set at a five degrees tap up (airplane nose down) position, and that the flaps were extended 25 degrees even though the cockpit indicator indicated that they were at 20 degrees.

Probable Cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from the trees while taking off in a high-density altitude. Contributing to the accident were the pilot’s failure to perform pre-takeoff performance calculations, his positioning of the elevator trim in a nose-down position, and the discrepancy between the airplane’s flap positioning lever and the actual position of the flaps.

full report:
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Forest Service Firefighters Provide Assistance After Airplane Crash in Wilderness

On July 14, 2009, it appeared to be a great day for flying when veteran flight instructor Art Lazzarini and the pilot boarded their Cessna 206 on a rugged Idaho mountain airstrip. No one could have predicted what would happen next when shortly after takeoff, the aircraft clipped the top of a tall pine tree in a remote area of the Frank Church Wilderness area. Lazzarini, who specializes in backcountry flight training, initially thought the stout, single-engine utility airplane could survive the impact and keep flying. It was only after a second, third, and fourth impact, that he knew they were going down.

The airplane came to rest about three-quarters of a mile from the gravel airstrip [on Copper Creek which flows into Monumental Creek a tributary to Big Creek which flows into] the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The Cessna’s owner—the pilot, suffered only minor injuries; but Lazzarini wasn’t so lucky as he sustained a broken wrist, hand, and thumb on the right side, along with a fracture to his right forearm and pelvis in the crash. With the assistance of the pilot, Lazzarini was freed of the plane’s wreckage. Only then, did he contemplate the several issues that hampered their chances for a speedy rescue.

First, no one at home knew when the pair left Hailey, Idaho, or that they were going to take off from the unattended Simonds airstrip. The two had added it to their itinerary only after landing or practicing approaches at several nearby airstrips. They had not filed a flight plan with the FAA, and it was very unlikely that anyone had seen them go down. Several people, however, knew that their final destination was McCall, Idaho, as Lazzarini was schedule to teach a course there the day of the crash. Fortunate for the two, the students and other instructors were sure to miss him.

Although the airplane was equipped with a standard emergency locator transmitter (ELT) which was certain to send out a blaring signal, the United States’ satellites, five months earlier, stopped monitoring their particular frequency. That meant only local pilots flying above them might hear it; and even if heard, the signal would only alert the Civil Air Patrol or other searchers who could just track the signal to a 20-square-kilometer search area. It would be a difficult search to say the least considering they fell amid a very tall, thick stand of trees.

The one thing they did have in their favor was that Lazzarini and the pilot each had a personal locator beacon (PLB). The pilot dug the orange, handheld devices from the wreckage of the plane, placed them on the top of the airplane, and hit the 911 buttons. As he did so, an instant emergency message was sent to a communications center in Houston, Texas, where the dispatcher immediately started making telephone calls and sending email messages to those people identified by the two men when they purchased the PLBs.

One of those designated by Lazzarini was Lori MacNichol, the owner of McCall Mountain/Canyon Flying Seminars, where Lazzarini had been scheduled to teach later that morning.

Immediately upon notification, MacNichol plugged the reported latitude and longitude into Google Earth and took note of the location of the crash and the nearest available airstrip. The dispatcher, following local protocols, notified the local sheriff. MacNichol called the state aeronautics bureau and was informed the agency did not do rescues, only searches.

MacNichol didn’t need someone to search—she already knew the location of the accident; so she called the Forest Service’s aviation center in McCall, Idaho. At that time, a Forest Service de Havilland Twin Otter carrying smokejumpers was on a training mission just a few miles away from Yellow Pine, the location of the accident. MacNichol gave the latitude and longitude coordinates to the Forest Service dispatcher who relayed them to the Twin Otter crew via radio. Five minutes later, the Forest Service aircraft was overhead and saw the wreckage, but determined that the Simonds airstrip was too short for them to safely land.

Shortly thereafter, a medical helicopter set down in a remote field near the crash site and emergency medical technicians hiked to the accident site. Upon arrival, they stabilized Lazzarini; however, they were unable to carry him through the dense forest and over the rough terrain. It was then that another helicopter from the Forest Service carrying firefighters arrived overhead. The firefighters rappelled down ropes to the site of the accident and described the scene to the aircraft carrying the smokejumpers. Soon, the smokejumpers parachuted into the area and joined the other firefighters. The smokejumpers used chainsaws to clear a landing zone for the medical helicopter that subsequently, transported Lazzarini to a hospital in Boise where he was treated and recovered.

Thanks to the Forest Service firefighters Lazzarini arrived at the hospital less than four hours after the accident.

source: Pg 9 Fire and Aviation Management FY 2009 Accountability Report