Up on the North Fork

How a Photo Trove Rescued a Community from Oblivion

Photos Courtesy of Clearwater Historical Museum

The images on these pages have a curious history. In the early 2000s, a man named Jim Smith was tearing down an old building in rural Oregon when he found a box of negatives. The photos apparently had been taken by a Dr. Watts, and Jim noticed a place identification: “Anoka, Idaho.” He contacted his friend, Eddie Anderson, because Jim knew he was an Idahoan and thought he might be interested. Eddie, who now lives in Craigmont, said sure.

Eddie had heard of Anoka when he and Richard “Tia” Pomponio had worked together as teenagers for the fire district up at Orofino. A supervisor there had talked about the settlement on the North Fork of the Clearwater River, but its exact location and other details were long lost. Many residents around Orofino had never heard of the place. Eddie handed the negatives on to Tia, who had prints made that were then scanned onto disks. Tia was struck by the original negatives, which were extremely thick. The writing on the box was in a foreign language he didn’t recognize.

Tia gave digital copies of the images to Orofino resident Mike McCarthy, who immediately realized he already had prints of some of them in his family scrapbook. His grandfather, William B. Kinne, who became an Idaho lieutenant-governor, had been among the Anoka homesteaders, along with others of Mike’s ancestors.

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