Author Archives: Wallace J. Swenson

About Wallace J. Swenson

Wallace J. Swenson is a writer and Idaho native who lives in the Upper Snake River Valley with his wife of forty-seven years. A retired USAF veteran, he completed his second career in 2007, writes full-time, and is active in the Idaho Writer’s League. Author of ten novels in manuscript, his first in print, Morgan’s Pasture, appeared in the spring of 2010. His website is www.whitecloudliterary.com.

Firth–Spotlight

An Insider Finds This Old Town Still Reluctant to Make Noise

By Wallace Swenson

Straddling the rail line that angled through the Upper Snake River Valley southeast to northwest, and bisected by the two-lane track that eventually became US Highway 91, the sleepy hamlet of Firth didn’t amount to much in 1900. But as was often the case while the West was settled, the railroad put the namesake of a pioneer, Lorenzo Firth, on the map. In 1903, the Oregon Short Line, a narrow gauge connection to the transcontinental Union Pacific Railroad, decided to move the existing siding at Basalt, along with its water tower and maintenance sheds, one mile south. Exactly why this move was made has been lost in history; but back then, when railroad owners spoke, sparks flew and wheels turned. As was the fashion, the Pocatello Tribune reported laconically:

“As far as the Oregon Short Line affairs are concerned, Basalt is a matter of history. The new siding, called Firth, is three thousand feet long. A loading track has also been put in.”

And that was that. Continue reading

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The Moose and I

By Wallace J. Swenson

A bead of sweat, born in the region of the youngster’s hairline, started its journey down. Stealthily, it crept across the furrowed skin of his forehead, wound its way through the roots of his eyebrow, and paused.

Aware of it, the young hunter concentrated harder on the peep sights of his Mossberg .22 rimfire target rifle. Held rock-steady, the front sight remained centered on the left eye of the fourteen-hundred-pound bull moose that stood chest deep in the water forty feet offshore. Continue reading

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In a Meadow

I stepped out of the thick, dark, pine forest and into a meadow. As though on cue, it started to snow: big flakes, soft and fluffy, globs as big as daisies.

They fell straight down, but at a lazy pace. Actually, leisurely is a better word, like each one was looking for just the right place to settle to earth. I stood mesmerized for a minute or so, then stuck out my tongue to try and catch one like I used to when I was much younger. I managed to do no more than spot up my specs. I’d guess the open area was about two acres, and pear-shaped, more or less. I stood at the stem end. At the other side, a small grove of aspen trees huddled. Just the place for a deer to spend the day.

I don’t get around in the hills like I used to. I mean, I can’t head up a mountainside just to check out a copse of quaking aspen for a bedded deer. Nor traipse three ridges over and back again in eight hours. But I can still walk through the lower meadows and meanders around Palisades Reservoir. And I do, carrying my ancient rifle just so I don’t look like some old fool, lost after wandering out of camp. Little did I expect that this walk would present me with a life-changing image.
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