Blog Archives

Johnny Sack’s Cabin

Posted on by Geraldine Mathias / Comments Off on Johnny Sack’s Cabin

Out-of-state visitors to our Island Park summer home on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River usually come with a list of must-sees, including Yellowstone Park, the Tetons, and Jackson Hole. Once these bigger excursions are memories stored in their cameras, I take them for a short drive up Highway 20 to Big Springs and Johnny Sack’s Cabin. No one escapes a visit to me without seeing this spot.

Big Springs, a Natural National Landmark, is one of the forty largest springs in the world. It has a constant temperature of fifty-two degrees and produces more than 120 million gallons of water each day. I point out to my guests that these incredibly clear, quiet waters bubbling out of the hillside are the headwaters of the Henry’s Fork, the river they have just seen from my cabin’s deck. The water’s temperature helps to make Big Springs home to large rainbow trout, ducks, and terns, among other creatures. Eagles and osprey dive the waters for meals of fresh fish. We once saw a cow moose and her calf wade in the little pond created by the springs just below Johnny Sack’s Cabin, also on the site. The river widens quickly, flowing across Fremont County (it is soon joined by the Buffalo River), before it creates a spectacular path going over Upper and Lower Mesa Falls along Highway 47. Continue reading

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Still on Track

Posted on by Robert Jenkins / Comments Off on Still on Track

Since moving to the Magic Valley in 2008 from Seeley Lake, Montana, my time has been spent pursuing the interconnected hobbies of rail photography and railroad history, while admiring the area’s many scenic wonders. This pursuit of trains has taken me to many sleepy towns and pockets of natural beauty that are bypassed by the Interstates.

In many cases, these sights are either just out of view of the freeway or only a few miles’ drive away. Old towns now almost forgotten, such as Soda Springs, Lava Hot Springs, Minidoka, Shoshone, Gooding, Bliss, King Hill, Hammett, and Weiser, abound with natural charm. Each of these little burgs has a story to tell, history to be explored, and grace to be appreciated. Continue reading

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Donnelly—Spotlight

Posted on by Carl Somerton / Comments Off on Donnelly—Spotlight

In 1970, my parents bought a property in the Wagon Wheel subdivision about four miles from Donnelly by road and a half-mile straight up Boulder Creek. With no full-time residents, the roads were not plowed in the winter, although a parking area on Loomis Lane was plowed just off the old highway. When we went to the cabin on weekends and holidays, we had to cross-country ski or snowmobile in. We would haul the sleds up with us and go into the cabin. We had an old ‘40s car hood with a board across the end to haul groceries, bags, presents, water, and fuel in for the weekend.

The power lines extended across Boulder Creek and the power went out often. The first winter, we decided to put a wood stove in, as the house was all-electric. We hauled in the stove and all the parts and tools on the snowmobiles, using the sled. It had snowed enough by that time that my dad handed the parts of the chimney up to his friend, who hooked up everything on the roof. To this day, the wood stove, propane and oil lanterns, candles, flashlights, and extra water in jugs are kept for the not-so-often but still occasional power outages that are part of rural life. Continue reading

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Spare Me the Pâté

Posted on by Steve Carr / Comments Off on Spare Me the Pâté

I’m not a complete Idaho redneck. At least, I don’t think I am. Just because I buy my clothes at a big box discount department store doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a stroll around the Spud Days Fair with a dapperly dressed colleague.

Just because I don’t go to a fancy hair stylist doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the accompaniment of a well-coiffed friend at the tractor pull.

But when I’m the only one at the quaint French restaurant turning up my nose at the pâté, I begin to wonder about my sheltered life. Pâté, for my fellow Idahoans, is (according to my desk dictionary) a “rich, savory paste made from mashed ingredients, typically seasoned meat or fish.” Continue reading

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Buggy Ride

Posted on by Les Tanner / Comments Off on Buggy Ride

Here’s the scene: the wife and I, who have been married fifty years and one day, are riding around the Sun Valley area where we honeymooned, taking in the sights and reminiscing.

We drive up a bumpy and very dusty road—did I mention that my wife had spent a couple of hours washing and waxing the car before we left home?—to check out one of the spots we’d visited so long ago. When we get hungry, we stop in the shade of some pine trees to eat a magnificent picnic lunch. (Okay, not so magnificent, just a can of fake potato chips, two drumsticks from the deli at the local supermarket, some tepid bottled water and a nearly-ripe peach from Honduras or somewhere.) As we eat, we wander around looking at flowers and butterflies.

That repast finished, we drive back down to the highway, adding a couple more pounds of dust to the car, and turn west toward Galena Summit, where we had gathered some cool-looking rocks on our honeymoon. We come to a straight stretch where I can test out the new—okay, used—car that I’d bought the missus as an anniversary gift. I step on the gas and get the speedometer up almost to the forty mark when all of a sudden there’s a scream that causes every hair on my body to stand out straight. Continue reading

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Tribute to the Sheepmen

Posted on by Teddy Khteian-Keeton / Comments Off on Tribute to the Sheepmen

June 29 was one of the hottest days this year, but that didn’t deter more than four hundred people from gathering in the shade of trees to witness the dedication of a monument commemorating pioneers who brought the sheep industry to the Hagerman Valley.

From their rows of folding chairs, the audience had a clear view of a triangular- shaped piece of park next to Highway 30 that had been freshly landscaped to include a new mound, upon which bronze figures were assembled. The sun cast shadows at the feet of a tall shepherd leading his saddled horse, while a small dog crouched alongside, guarding a string of eight well-fed sheep.

The Hagerman Sheep Monument, created by renowned Idaho sculptor Danny Edwards, had been donated to the town’s historical society by J.W. “Bill” Jones, Jr. and his wife Deloris, to honor the pioneers and the lifetime achievements of Bill’s parents, prominent sheep ranchers Johnny and Ethel Jones.

The story behind this gift to the community goes back to the arrival in the Hagerman area of Johnny Jones in 1904. He had come from Wales, where he and his sister lived with their mother, who was separated from their father. As soon as he “could hold a pitchfork, he became a stable boy and a carriage boy to a lawyer, who was his mother’s employer,” according to a biography prepared by the Hagerman Historical Society. When Johnny was only twelve, he went to live with a relative in London, where he delivered eggs and milk for only twenty-five cents a day. Continue reading

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Chasing the Calf

Posted on by Paige Nelson / Comments Off on Chasing the Calf

On a beautiful Idaho spring day on the white sands of the St. Anthony Sand Dunes, we were trailing four hundred head of Black Angus cows and baby calves to their spring range just north St. Anthony.

It was crisp that morning and dry. The snowfall hadn’t amounted to much that winter and the spring’s rains were late. The dust billowed up behind the herd and the absent wind let it settle in our eyes.

We were running about a hundred head of first-calf heifers along with our seasoned cows. The heifers were wild and full of energy, and had no idea where their calves were. After gathering all the bewildered heifers and their bawling calves, we headed for an area called the Junipers, the first leg of our two-day drive. Most of the cows had found the open gate a few days earlier and, with their calves, had started on their own. Continue reading

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Ride the Beast

Posted on by Robert Ross / Comments Off on Ride the Beast

It looks like something out of a science fiction movie, man blended with machine. The mind of man is hidden behind a mass of metal, in a half-million-dollar, thirty-three-thousand-pound behemoth.

This man-machine moves forward with deliberation, metal claws reaching out like the appendages of an ocean crab—the jaws opening, then closing, powerfully moving, pushing, leveling everything in its path. The Beast, this mega-machine, is the world’s largest snow-groomer. And in a few minutes, I’ll be in the cab, taking the ride of a lifetime.

It’s 4:30 p.m. in Sun Valley, and there’s excitement in the hallways of a two-story building beside the main ski lift as the ski patrollers kick off their boots. They’ve made their final sweep of the mountain, more than two thousand acres, signaling to all, “Mountain closed to the skiers,” and also signaling, “Mountain open to the snow-groomers.” Continue reading

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A Dog Named Bad

Posted on by Janice A. Abel / Comments Off on A Dog Named Bad

The disheveled little dog shrank back from the kennel door and cowered under a yellow lab, seeking the big animal’s protection and refusing to meet our eager eyes.

He seemed to be about twenty-two pounds, not too tiny, with dirty white fur that stood out from his body, curly and wired, as if his tongue had explored an electrical outlet. His black nose, dark eyes, and gray- tipped ears were the only landmarks in the vast, off-white field of matted fur. It appeared that grooming had not been a top priority in his previous home.

We often talked about getting a dog, though I resisted. Our annoying cat had only recently stopped peeing on my bed. What if the next animal possessed such tiresome and difficult behaviors? But a boy needs pets and friends. Perhaps this matted mess could be both. Continue reading

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The Retro-Anglers

Posted on by Mahlon Kriebel / Comments Off on The Retro-Anglers

“Hey, Mahlon, jerk your pole downward to set the hook!” I had just missed the umpteenth strike and my audience was greatly amused. I was fishing the mouth of Stratton Creek, which empties into a dredge pond a couple miles north of Warren. It was a lovely spot, where the stream had etched a four-foot-deep channel through gravel before spilling over a sandbar into a blue pool some hundred feet in diameter. There was little brush to snarl back-casts and almost every cast yielded a strike. I could cast fine with the old telescoping steel rod but couldn’t set the hook. The rod and reel with level line were similar to one I had used sixty years ago. I challenged my hecklers, “Come here, show me.”

Since the 1970s, four of us had hunted and fished the Warren region, forty miles north of McCall, and we also had four newer members on this trip. Our group included a mining engineer, two university professors, an electrical engineer, a science teacher, a mining inspector, an executive in a hunting and fishing gear company, and a horticulturist. At an average age of seventy-five, our excursion resembled a safari, with personal sleeping tents, a cook tent, a dining tent, a pair of two-burner gas stoves (a third in reserve), a small stove for coffee, a huge ice chest with eight gallon jugs of ice, a “one-holer” outhouse without the house, a solar shower with privacy curtains, chain saws, shovels, axes, and four ATVs. The previous summer we had concluded that present-day gear favors the fisherman, so on this trip we had made it our challenge to fish with antique equipment such as my steel telescoping rod, which I had purchased at a second-hand store for eighteen dollars. Continue reading

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