Author Archives: 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 books have won Idaho Author Awards. He is working on Vol. 3 Confluence of Spirit. A businessman and author, he lives in Boise with his wife Kristin.

Jerusalem Valley—Spotlight

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. Continue reading

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Stibnite–Spotlight

My uncle, Jesse Vernal Griffiths, and my mother’s sister, his wife Lillian Sego, moved to the central Idaho mountain mining community of Stibnite at the end of World War II, just after the Grimes Creek Dam blew. Jesse was an electrical worker at the hydroelectric plant at Grimes Creek. He became chief electrician at Stibnite, reporting to Ernest “Emmons” Coleman, head of the electrical works. Jesse’s mission in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s was to help close down the post-World War II mining operation. The Griffiths’ daughters, my cousins, have always been my primary sources for information about Stibnite: Carol, who was born in 1934, and Patty, born in 1937.

Our family lived in Donnelly, and my own memories of Stibnite are few, as I was just becoming a conscious human being in the early 1950s. I recall that the winter road into the community was almost a tunnel in places, with high, smooth, white walls of snow. Keeping my feet warm was difficult when we drove in the extreme winter cold. At any time of year, the trip took at least three-and-a-half hours from Cascade by car.

I recall that my older sister and I became carsick in the summer as we traveled to visit relatives there. At a picnic we had along the road, I remember a beautifully designed lavender and pink cake box my mother opened while we all sat on tree stumps and rocks at a campsite. We all had cake, except my father, who ate a piece of pie.

Apart from the traveling, I don’t personally recall much about Stibnite, but I do remember the impressions my older siblings spoke of when I was growing up. My sister loved the community café where she sat on a soda fountain stool facing glass windows overlooking the mining works. From there, she would enjoy a hamburger and chocolate milkshake as she watched huge trucks and machinery. Her favorite thing about going to Stibnite was getting hand-me-down clothes from our older cousins Carol and Patty. Continue reading

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The Feud

The homesteaded ranches of my family and Juliet’s family lay north of Arling and south of the Gold Fork River, divided by the demilitarized zone of Highway 55.

Our families were perpetuating a feud that extended back to our paternal grandfathers in the 1940s. Very little was said of the feud in my family, but it was understood that “something had happened” long ago to cause deep alienation, resulting in both families never mingling in public or private, and with others in the community expected occasionally to take sides. My older brother once brought Juliet’s older cousin home to meet my grandparents, and after he had returned her across the ranch border, he was severely chastised for bringing a Finnish girl—a “ferner”—onto our turf.

I had first learned of Juliet when she showed up at my grade school one year in the 1950s, visiting a cousin. A cute, brown-eyed girl with pigtails in a black and red-checked jumper and white blouse, she immediately stood out among the girls in my fifth-grade class. “She’s Matt and Flora’s niece, Howard and Ethel’s daughter. She lives in Utah and is visiting,” a knowing classmate told me.

Attracted immediately, I tried to converse with the visiting girl but had no luck. A year later, I heard she was visiting another cousin in Donnelly. I was intrigued and thought perhaps I could meet her. Perhaps she remembered me from her school visit. I concocted an excuse to visit the house where she was staying, took my trusty binder with holiday cards to the front door and asked if her cousin, old enough to be her aunt, would like to order some. When I saw Juliet walking through the living room I tried to say hello, but her cousin asked her to proceed to the kitchen where she was making cupcakes. Shortly after this, I was encouraged to go home; her cousin had no interest in buying greeting cards.
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The Crags by Pack Train

A Regular Tries the Bighorn Crags a New Way

Story and Photos by F.A. Loomis

Growing up in the Donnelly-McCall vicinity of Valley County, I was curious about the other side of the known universe, the eastern side of the wilderness area northwest of Challis. Sure, we had Big Creek, Monumental, the South and East Forks of the Salmon, Chamberlain Basin, Mackey Bar, and Flossie Lake. But what about that area fire fighters described as alpine heaven, that Middle Fork of the Salmon, which rafters had praised for the greatest day hiking they had ever done, and bighorn sheep enthusiasts had talked of as home to some of Idaho’s finest big-game prizes? Continue reading

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