Stories Behind the Images Photos Courtesy of Clearwater Historical Museum The cover story of the magazine’s October 2019 issue was about a trove of historical photos discovered in rural Oregon that revived interest in the Idaho setting of
The Rugged Serenity of Gilmore By Storee Powell There is something incredibly satisfying about immersing myself in a ghost town’s remnants of a bygone time, because I can envision what life was like for the people living there—a
“Check out that old Masonic Lodge, honey,” I said to my wife Felicity. “That’s what our house should look like.”
“I think it’s for sale,” she replied.
I imagined helicopters lifting the barn-sized building out of the canyon in the Owyhee Mountains that shelters Silver City and arranging it on a hillside close to Boise. Then, with a laugh, I realized what she meant. “Oh, you mean live here?” Continue reading →
I love exploring ghost towns and digging up Idaho history.
I’ve spent a good amount of time wandering around Atlanta, Rocky Bar, and Silver City to name a few, and when I heard about a ghost town in eastern Idaho called Chesterfield, it went right on my “to see” list. What I saw was definitely not your normal ghost town.
Chesterfield is on the Oregon Trail between Soda Springs and the Old Fort Hall, about eleven miles north of Bancroft. The area around it, which includes the Portneuf and Bear Rivers, was noted by fur trappers as early as 1813. Bannock and Shoshone tribes ranged there long before white people created a trade center where emigrants stopped for supplies. This is where some of the pioneers split off to take the Hudspeth Cutoff southwest to California instead of the Oregon Trail heading northwest to Fort Hall.
At this year’s Memorial Day celebration in Chesterfield, I stood with a group of people watching as the American flag was raised, and the woman beside me said, “Who are you related to?” Continue reading →
In search of the ghost towns of central Idaho, I have spent a lot of time over the last ten years driving down gravel forest roads, fording creeks or boggy pastures, slipping through the snow, putting my four-wheel drive vehicle to the test.
My wife and kids have grown to love these trips as much as I do, though they may tell you differently. They might joke about the time I got us stuck in Florence and had to leave the women and children with the reintroduced wolves while I got a ride back to town (for three hours) to get a big enough 4WD to pull us out.
They might complain how their backsides often hurt from riding down rocky paths all day long, or recall the time we had to change a tire on a rocky, steep incline (in the rain) on the way to Yellow Jacket, but I think they also would have to admit that these are unforgettable memories.
One year, we camped in McCall and the next day drove on back roads toward Roosevelt, in the very remote Thunder Mountain mining area. After the mining in Roosevelt slowed down, a mudslide on May 31, 1909 blocked Monumental Creek and turned the town into what it is today, Roosevelt Lake. By then, only a few year-round residents remained, and they left. I’m told from the shores of the lake you can see the logs from buildings, and on a clear day you can see outlines of the structures on the bottom.
This intrigued me ever since I found out about it some time ago, but I didn’t account for how long it would take to get there. Before we made it to the lake that day it started getting dark, and we grudgingly turned back to camp. Continue reading →