Camas Prairie in the News 1881

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
18 Jan 1881, pg. 3, col. 1.

Road Meeting

A large number of the tax payers of Ada county met at the Council chamber on Saturday evening, the 15th instant, for an exchange of ideas regarding the best manner of securing a good wagon road to Wood River and free bridges across the Boise and Payette rivers. The meeting was called to order by Hon. John Hailey, and on motion, Hon. I.W. Garrett was elected chairman and Joseph Perrault secretary.

Mr. Garrett, on taking the chair, stated briefly the object of the meeting and the importance to Boise City and Ada county of good free roads to the growing mining country in Wood River.

Mr. Hailey explained that the road from Boise City to the old Malad station, on the Overland road, was good; that the work required to make a good road would be between that point and Bellevue. The matter of getting a good road from here to Wood River was of sufficient importance to the people of this city for them to subscribe liberally for that purpose. The route via Camas Prairie was 25 miles shorter, but snow fell there to such depth in winter that the other route was preferable. Mr. Hailey also pointed out the many advantages that would result to Ada county by building a good road to Wood River, as many of the supplies needed in that new mining region would come from Ada county, and it was to the interest of every one here to aid in this enterprise.

Mr. A.E. Calloway was the next speaker. He said that some time ago it was agreed to have this meeting for a general exchange of ideas. These measures of free roads and free bridges are of such importance of this county that no citizen who had the welfare of the county at heart could afford to overlook them. The main resources of every country lie first in its products, secondly in its avenues of travel. What few little roads we now have are encumbered by high rates of toll. We must have free roads, free bridges, and free ferries, so that those who have to travel will not be compelled to pay such exorbitant prices for that privilege. New mines are now opening that will create a market for all our county can raise, and in order to reach this market and secure the trade we must build a good free road. The plan is now maturing for a free bridge across the Payette and Boise rivers, and I, as one of the representatives of Ada county, are willing to pledge the county to that effect. If the wagon road is built to Wood River, that will be by private subscription, but, as far as the bridges are concerned, I believe it is the duty of Ada county to build them, as she can do this without embarrassing any one or compromising any public interest.

Judge Kelly, of the Statesman, said: I am fully in record with what has been said, as the importance of the subject cannot be overestimated. All that can be done tonight is to devise some plan to build the Wood River road. This county must supply nearly all the products used there, but the farmers cannot pay the toll that is asked on a private road. The toll from Boise to Owyhee is $9.50; to Alturas it is nearly $20 for the round trip for a single team, and these prices are almost prohibitive on farmers who drive but two horses.

Mr. Brumback, to test the sense of the meeting, offered the following resolution:

Resolved, That it is the sense of this meeting that a free road be built from some point on the Overland road to Galena, and that the Legislature devise a mode of building a free bridge across the _____ of Boise City.

Mr. Joseph _____ that the road between Bellevue and Galena was comparatively level, but that six small bridges would be required. He said there were other places than Boise where they could get their produce, but there was one advantage in getting it from here, as the teams, when on their way to Kelton, could bring in produce at low freight.

Mr. Garrett said if Boise wishes to deliver any great trade from Wood River it must reach out after it. We are not compelled to eat Boise flour or drink Boise whiskey. We buy where we can buy cheapest. The cast has already expended $12,000 in making a road from Blackfoot to Wood River. It is a good summer, but not a good winter road. The Union Pacific Railroad is already reaching out for that trade, and there is another road to Cassia county; hence it is evident that we are not compelled to come to Boise. But we recognize the fact that there are many things in Boise that we want.

Mr. Hailey offered the following resolution:

Resolved. That the chair appoint a committee of three to solicit subscriptions to build a road from some point near old ____ Station to some point on Big Cottonwood on Wood river.

Carried unanimously.

The chair appointed Messrs. J.H. McCarty, Joseph Pinkham, and I.N. Coston.

On motion Milton Kelly was added to the committee.

Mr. Dalley explained that the object of this subscription was to allow all persons an opportunity to show what they were willing to give. With a good wagon road this county would have an advantage over any other place in supplying flour, vegetables, etc. , to the Wood River people. The committee would solicit subscriptions during the week and report next Saturday. Mr. Hailey said he was in favor of building a Bellevue; that Alturas county could build the road to Galena, or declare the road already built a public highway. In reference to the bridge on Boise and Payette rivers, that would have to be built by Ada county.

Mr. Calloway said; To build these bridges, I propose that Ada County do it, and not burden the county either. I propose to issue bonds at a low rate of interest, and let another generation pay them. We, the pioneers who have built this country, and borne the brunt of the day, have done our share.

On motion of Milton Kelly, the chair appointed a committee of three to devise some plan to build bridges across the Boise and Payette rivers, and that the committee be instructed to report next Saturday.

Mr. I.N. Coston said he thought it a little premature to appoint such a committee. He thought the Legislature might consider it their duty to devise the ways and means to build.

Mr. Hailey said he would like to hear free discussion on this bridge question and hoped every one would express his views freely and he would be glad to hear from a committee, though of course, he would not agree to endorse any plan that he had not seen.

The chair appointed Milton Kelly, Dr. F. Smith and F.E. Ensign on bridge building.

Mr. Coston said that he never saw a time when the people were so willing to be taxed to build these bridges, and he agreed with Mr. Calloway, that the proper way as by taxation.

Mr. Calloway said: No one present rejoices more than myself at the unanimity of the people to build bridges. Since I came to this session of the Legislature I have been agitating this question, and I am confident that before another meeting a bill will be introduced to that effect.

On motion of Mr. Hailey, the tax-payers present voted unanimously in favor of building a bridge across the Payette and Boise rivers.

The meeting then adjourned, to meet again in the Council chamber, next Saturday evening, at 7 o'clock.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
29 Jan 1881, pg. 3, col. 2

From Wood River

Mr. George Steward arrived here yesterday, direct from Galena in the Wood River country. He came from Galena to Rattlesnake on snow shoes, crossing the Big Camas prairie, High prairie and Little Camas. He brings the painful intelligence of the killing of four men by a snow slide near Galena. The names of the unfortunate men were Merritt Kelly, his brother, Edward A. Kelly, a man known as Scotty and another named Casey. The Kelly brothers were natives of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and had been for many years residents of Alturas county. Merritt Kelly had been a member of the Idaho Legislature in the fifth session.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
10 Apr 1881, pg. 3, col. 1

Alturas County Items

County Commissioners met in regular session Monday, April 1, at 10 A.M., and elected Gilbert L. Betler of Bellevue, to fill the vacancy in the Board.

Tax levy for ____ , as follows

Territorial fund
Current expense and redemption fund
County General
Alturas county court house and county building fund
School fund
Hospital per capita

J.P. Gray resigned as Probate Judge and S.B. Dilley appointed to fill vacancy.

Fielding Ethell was appointed Justice of the Peace of Cold Springs precinct, and as Road Supervisor for the Overland road.

Adin M. Hall and Rudolf Poe were appointed as Stock Inspectors.

John Andrewartha, of Indian Creek; A. M. Daniel, of Canyon creek; J. G. Peck of Big Camas Prairie; George M. Parsons, of Bellevue; and Robert L. Gordon, of Galena were appointed Justice of the Peace for their respective precincts.

T. W. Rollins, Jr., is County School Examiner, and S.B. Dilley, Superintendent of Schools.

James A. Porter was granted a license to collect toll on his toll road, the old rates being greatly reduced.

W.C. Tatro was appointed Road Supervisor of District No. 1, (Rocky Bar).

George P. Hodson, of Ketchum, was appointed to make a survey of the boundary line between Alturas and Oneida counties.

Ed Roenning, who had his thigh broken some two weeks ago at the Ada Elmore mine, is doing as well as could be expected under the care of Dr. McKay.

Sol. Newcomer will go to Ohio soon to visit his aged parents and other relatives, and to attend the golden wedding of his father and mother.

D.H. Gray, Sheriff, has the following named deputies; Travis M. Johnson, Bellevue; John M.Casey, Atlanta; Hiram Hunder, Galena. Johnson and Hunter have both served as sheriffs of Alturas county, some years ago.

Thomas L. Johnston is going to Wood River.

The Ada Elmore mine is booming with rich ore, and lots of it, and the mill running night and day. True W. Rollins, Jr. is financial agent, P.B. Robers, superintendent and Lyman Ward, foreman of the mines.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
9 Jun 1881, pg. 3, col. 1

Wood River Earliest Locations and Progress From our Traveling Correspondent

Hailey, Idaho, June 5, 1881

It occurred to me as I was entering this town a few evenings ago, that the proper way to being a description of a country, whether new or old, would be by first writing its early history, and then follow its developments and progress from year to year, until our own time is reached.

The idea seemed so good that I at once determined to carrying it out, until I suddenly met with a stumbling block, which effectually spoiled my plans. It only required a little reflection on my part to put me in mind of the cruel fact that the Wood River country had no history, that the whole region has been a vast terra incognita until a few short years ago, and uninhabited by anything but roving bands of Bannacks and Nez Perces. To write the history of a country that had no history, would require a greater power of imagination than I am possessed of, and would, when completed, be less authentic than the stories about Don Quixote of "The adventures of Baron Munchausen." Hence, I must very reluctantly forgo my desire to take rank among Macauley, Redpath, Bancroft and other historians of the age, and confine myself to the work of an ordinary newspaper scribbler.

The probabilities are strong that no mines have been worked in the Wood River country before Columbus discovered America, and the present indications are that they lay undisturbed in the bosom of mother earth, even at the time when our revolutionary fathers responded to the bugle blasts on the fields of Treton. In fact, we do know almost to a certainty, that the first mine discovered in this great mineral belt was located by M.H. Williams, W.H. Spencer, David Whitemer and Ross Smith in the fall of 1864 near the head of Rock Creek, about nine miles west of the present town of Bellevue. It is known as the Big Camas, and has an 18 foot ledge of free gold assaying throughout $25 to $35 per ton, but owning to its distance from all former mining centers, and the great expense of labor and material which prevailed in early days it is as yet but partly developed. From that time until 1873, no new discoveries were made, but in August of that year John Callahan and Cyrus Hedges found the first galena and carbonate ore in two large bodies, assaying 200 ounces silver and 40 to 60 per cent lead. They named their locations the Keystone and Galena, and these are the pioneer discoveries in that great argentiferous belt which is now attracting such universal attention.

Later in the same fall, Matthew Graham, W.H. Spencer and M.H. Williams located the Antelope and Phoenix, and in the summer of 1875, Jim Wrencher and Ike Bryan founded the Paymaster, on the east fork of Wood river.

The Nez Perce war of 1877 and the Bannack war of 1878 prevented anyone from entering a country situated in such close proximity to Camas Prairie as this, but two years ago all danger from Indians was over, and prospecting now began in earnest. Many miners who had been attracted to Yankee Fork and Salmon river soon found their way into these regions, and discovered the Queen of the Hill, Oswego, Mammoth, Star, Scorpion, Julia, Black Bear, and several other valuable mines. A few miners and Mr. Croy's family even ____ on this river and were here in the spring of 1880, when the big rush began.

Last year was one of great activity, and it is estimated that 3,000 men scoured the mountains and gulches in their argonautic pursuit of the Golden Fleece. The Bullion was discovered by C.P. Croy, the Idahoan by A.P. Turner and Thomas Edgington, the Mayflower by George and Thomas Edgington, and the Jay Gould by the Lewis ____. Among other valuable locations made that season may be mentioned the Town View, ___ Moore, Climax, Monday, North Star, Penobscot, Elk Horn, Meyer's, Relief, Hard Times, Ornament, Iris, Garfield, Chicago, Ophir, _____, Ritchie, ____, Rippetoe, Lewis, Greenhorn, Beatty, Regulator, Wild Dutchman, Lark, Walton, Narrow Gauge, Eureka, May Queen, Saturn, O.K., Carrie Lewis, Acquisition, Lucky Boy, Old Abe, Taylor, and a great many more. These are all in the Lower Wood River country, south of Ketchum but nearly as many discoveries were made around Galena and Sawtooth City, as well as on Little Wood River and in the Smoky Creek district.

The towns of Bellevue, Bullion, Ketchum, Galena and Sawtooth City were started that season, and a great many people concluded to brave the cold and snow of last winter in these places.

Early in March this year the greatest stampede on record began. The stages from Kelton, Boise City and Blackfoot have been crowded to their utmost capacity, and all the roads leading into Wood River are lined with teams, horses and miners with blankets on their backs. Those who went to Deadwood, Leadville, and Tombstone, say they have never seen anything to equal this, and still they come. If I should venture an estimate of the number already here. I would place it 500 families and 10,000 men.

Bellevue, which has heretofore been the principal town, has now found a rival in the promising city of Hailey, situated five miles further up the valley. This place was only started seven weeks ago, but already has over 200 buildings, and that number keep increasing at the rate of ten per day. Great rivalry has sprung up between the two towns, and both will contend for the county seat when the special election takes place.

Bellevue people refer to Hailey as the "Mushroom City," and this impeachment and local paper here frankly admits by saying that "the town does seem to come up about as rapidly as the above mentioned vegetable," but the Haileyites retaliate by speaking of the place commonly know as Bunghole, but designated by the Post office Department as Bellevue.

It is too early to predict which of these towns is going to come out ahead in this race for supremacy, but Hailey seems to have many natural advantages. It is beautifully situated on the east bank of the river, directly opposite Croy's gulch, in which all the best mines have been discovered. The fault on which it is built is large enough for a city the size of San Francisco, and it seems to be the natural point of supplies for the surrounding country.

I shall have more to say of all the towns hereafter.


Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
2 Jul 1881, pg. 5, col. 2.

Horse Flies

The horse flies on Big Camas are a terror to the traveling public, but more particularly to their animals. Some horses become perfectly wild and unmanageable while pestered by these horniquibriniques.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
11 Oct 1881, pg. 3, col. 3.


Mr. J.S. Peck, formerly Justice of the Peace of this city, went out to Big Camas Prairie last June and located 10 miles from Soldier creek, and sent in last week specimens of potatoes and turnips to Mr. Cy. Jacobs, of this city, which he raised this year and which are as good and well matured as can be raised anywhere in the Territory. Those who are in doubt about raising vegetables on Big Camas will do well to call and examine these specimens. There is plenty of land on Big Camas as fair as ever lay out of doors, and so near the Wood River mines, all products will command a high price and ought to induce settlers to go there and take up farms without money and without price.

Idaho Tri Weekly Statesman, Boise City, Idaho
24 Nov 1881, pg. 3, col. 2.


John Graves was hunting out on Camas Prairie early in the week and, while reloading some Sharp's cartridges, he was in the act of driving the ball home when the charge was set off resulting in cutting off the index finger of his left hand, nearly severing the thumb, and ruining his little finger.

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