Friday, May 24, 2013

Correspondent Rover: Business Lull in Lewiston, but Future Prospects Great

On May 24, 1863, correspondent “Rover” sat down in Lewiston, Idaho Territory, and penned another long letter to the Evening Bulletin in San Francisco, California. He wrote, “Business continues dull in this city. A stranger would suppose, from the large amount of freight landed here by the steamers each week, that an immense business was done; but such is not the case.”

“Freights are now very cheap,” he said, because of the steamboat competition he had noted in his letter of April 12. Thus, merchants were stocking up while they had the chance. But, Rover said, “I am of opinion that our people will be disappointed in their expectations in regard to a revival of trade in Lewiston this season.”

That was because newcomers were “nearly all heading for Boise and John Day’s river.” And, as a general rule, most found it easier to get off the steamer at Umatilla Landing, hire a saddle train, and cross the Blue Mountains into Idaho. The river travel to Lewiston took them several days out of the way, and the road south from there to Boise Basin was rudimentary, at best.

“It will be recollected that last year several thousand people were sadly disappointed in their expectations of acquiring wealth suddenly at Florence city and other mining camps in this region,” Rover went on. The current lull was simply a reaction to that disappointment: “As certain as a calm proceeds the storm.”

Still, he wrote, “ The business man here who is able to survive this dull season will reap a rich reward next year. … I have great faith in the future prosperity, growth and permanency of Lewiston.”

References: [Illust-North]
“Letter from Idaho Territory,” Evening Bulletin, San Francisco, California (June 6, 1863).

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