Jerusalem Valley—Spotlight

Timeless, Pure, Inspirational

By F.A. Loomis

Jerusalem Valley, a tiny community just east of Highway 55 above Horseshoe Bend, allegedly was named when two Porter Creek natives left a bar and its fisticuffs in Horseshoe Bend in the 1880s. One said to the other, “It’s time to go home.” And the other responded, “Yes, let’s head back to Jerusalem.” The name stuck, for the valley seemed—as it still seems—timeless, pure, and inspirational.

When I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, my paternal grandmother was no longer teaching school in Jerusalem or on the Gold Fork River, but knowing she had once taught in Jerusalem gave me the incentive to learn its history. Those familiar with the area know how pristine it is, with few new housing encroachments. It is still easy to stand anywhere in Jerusalem Valley and see clean, rolling hills as far as possible, sparsely populated by horses, cattle, sheep, and homesteads amid wild grasses, alfalfa, sage, wild rose, and a smattering of tiny orchards or lone apple, apricot, or plum trees. The small population of today still looks forward to spring, when natural edibles such as woolly-britches, camas root, balsamroot, wild onions, and watercress appear.

In her 1976 book Ollie’s Yesteryears, Ollie Gunderson Grindstaff wrote, “The hills were covered from early spring until late fall with Johnny-jump-ups (dog-tooth violets), sego lilies, wild sweet peas (white and pink), snow drops, rooster heads, roses, violets, both purple and yellow . . . There were the woolly-britches that grew under the bushes all along the creeks and low places. Mother cooked them for greens, and we loved them. In those days fresh vegetables were nonexistent (except carrots from our cellar), so we were hungry for green stuff. Rather like the cows that had been on dry hay all winter and when they got a taste of green vegetation, they ate it all. Lena said she would never forget how the milk tasted after they ate so generously of the wild onions.”

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F.A. Loomis

About F.A. Loomis

F.A. (Floyd) Loomis writes about Idaho and its people. He is the author of The Upper Burnt Ruby Creek Triology, Vol. 1 Frankie Ravan, and Vol. 2 Ravan's Winter both won Idaho Author Awards. Confluence of Spirit, his third novel of the Idaho trilogy, will be released in 2023. He and his wife Kristin live in the Gold Fork River country south of Roseberry.

2 Responses to Jerusalem Valley—Spotlight

  1. Sharon Deeds - Reply


    I found a picture of an old train in Jerusalem valley and would like to see it. Can you tell me how to get to the site

    • admin - Reply


      On Highway 55 about 2.5 miles north of Horseshoe Bend, you’ll pass the paved Porter Creek Road on the right. Keep going on Highway 55 and in a little over one mile, you’ll pass an unpaved road on the right. About two-tenths of a mile past it, take the next unpaved road on the right, which is Waverly Drive, and you’re in Jerusalem Valley.

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