Sunday, April 7, 2013

Roving Reporter: Travel Costs High and Winter Impedes the Gold Rush

On April 7, 1863, Correspondent “Rover,” wrote a long letter from Lewiston after arriving there from Portland, Oregon. First, he complained about the cost: “Total expense from Portland to Lewiston, $65.50.” He had good reason to squawk, since that was over a month’s pay for a skilled working man.

Yet in their rush, gold seekers spent as little time as possible in Portland. There, Rover said, “The merchants have large stocks of goods on hand, for which they have no customers.” On the other hand, he wrote, “At the Dalles we found business quite brisk, and a large number of miners fitting out for the different mining camps.”

Still, Lewiston was “the dullest of all dull places.” That was primarily because “No mining is yet being done at Florence, Warren’s diggings, Elk City, or Oro Fino. No pack trains can get into these places at present. Parties go in and come out on snow shoes.”

Supplies were not going to the Boise Basin either, “owing to deep snow on the mountains.” People still wondered about that region – discouraging as well as glowing letters had made their way out.
Lewiston, ca 1863. Nez Perce County Historical Society.

Earlier reports from the East gave the 46th parallel as the northern border of  the new territory. That placed it coincident with the northern border of Oregon (east of the Columbia River) and nearly thirty miles south of Lewiston. Because of that, Rover also said, “The people here are in doubt as to whether they are in Idaho or Washington. No definite news as to boundaries has yet been received from Washington.”

References: [Illust-State]
“Letter from Lewiston, W. T.,” Evening Bulletin, San Francisco, California (April 21, 1863).

1 comment:

  1. Hi Evan,
    I was hoping to send you an email, but could not find it or a link.

    I was also hoping that I could get you to do a guest post on my blog =>

    To celebrate the sesquicentennial I am doing a series of posts about Idaho Territory that include stories about pioneers, miners, outlaws, notables, ephemera, etc. Even posts about mining and ghost towns would be enjoyable.

    I want to fit in as many guest bloggers as I can as well.

    If you would check out my blog, my email link is on the side bar. I look forward to hearing from you.