Big Creek

Page last updated Oct 15, 2017

Big Creek, Idaho in 1939


Big Creek, Idaho in 1939 Photo from “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books

“Napier Edwards was a son of William Edwards and his wife Annie. In 1904 when Napier was two years old, they came to Big Creek, where they acquired a mining interest. The predominant metals were gold, silver, lead and copper. It was a 40 mile horseback ride from Warren to Big Creek. Soon Edwards built a road from Warren over Elk Summit to Big Creek. This family were real pioneers.”

Pg. 114 “Idaho Mountains Our Home” by Lafe and Emma Cox – Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books

“From Crooked Creek they [Clark, Beulah and Lafe Cox and party] rode up Big Creek to the Forest Service Headquarters , then called Edwardsburg, now known as Big Creek.” [1927]

Ibid. pg 25

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

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

Ibid. pgs. 71-72

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

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

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

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

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

Ibid pgs. 79-80

Where the Road Ends Outdoor Idaho

Copyright 2017 © Idaho Public Television

Big Creek

Deep in the heart of central Idaho, the isolated community of Big Creek was once the sole province of miners, Forest Service personnel and eccentrics. Today, the hodgepodge collection of homes on the boundary of the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness still remains a destination for those who want to get about as far away from city life in Idaho as possible.

We travel the rugged roads to Big Creek to talk with those who have thrived on its remoteness, including 100-year old Wilbur Wiles, who used to live there through the deep winters; Earl Dobbs, the first wilderness ranger in the area; and two backcountry pilots who forged a deep relationship over their mutual love for Big Creek.

8:45 video:
source webpage:

Links to more Big Creek stories:

Link to Cougar Dave Lewis Cougar Dave Lewis

Link to Frank Church Wilderness

Link to History Post Offices

Link to Curley Brewer

Link to Chamberlain Ranger Station Historic District

Link to Packing In

Link to Lafe and Emma Cox

Link to The Wolf Fang

Link to McRae Family