Friday, September 25, 2009

Sept 25 : Train Station, HBC Trappers Killed

The Union Pacific Railroad's "finest depot on the line" opened on September 25, 1903, at Nampa. Built at a cost of between $30,000 to $40,000, it served the Union Pacific for twenty years. Today it houses the Canyon County Historical Society Museum.

This item is on the ISHS “Moments in Idaho History” page. I have added the depot/museum picture from the Nampa web site.

On September 25, 1830, the Hudson’s Bay Company Snake Brigade, led by Irishman John Work, had trapper parties scattered along the streams that fed onto the southern Camas Prairie (generally … today’s Hill City and Fairfield).

In his journal, Work wrote, “Fine weather: encamped near the mountains.” That was about 6:30 in the afternoon. About an hour and a half later, a lone trapper ran into camp. According to Work, the man said that as he and three others “were going to their traps on the upper part of the stream in the mountain, they were set upon by a war party of Blackfeet and his three companions [were] killed on the spot, [and] that he barely escaped.”

As it turned out, the party Work sent out found one survivor, hiding in the brush. They had managed to shoot two of the Indians. Besides two trapper deaths (and one scalp), the attackers made off with all the horses, three guns, and the party’s ammunition.

Journals and diaries of the time suggest this was a typical incident: No big “massacres,” just a steady attrition in small attacks, adding to losses due to sickness and accidents. The British-Canadian and American trappers who explored Idaho and the surrounding regions paid a fearful price. (But then, so did the Indians -- shot during the attacks, or felled by the white man’s diseases.)

References: ISHS Moments in Idaho History
 John Work, T. C. Elliott (Ed.), “The Journal of John Work,” Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, Vol. X, No. 3 (1909).

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