Saturday, June 8, 2013

Lewiston Still Optimistic about Its Role, Plans a Road South

On June 8, 1863, The Oregonian published a report that began, “The Lewiston people were greatly rejoiced last Tuesday, at the arrival of a party from Boise, bringing $50,000 worth of gold dust, who came through from the mines in forty-six hours travelling time.”

Lewistonians considered the amount of gold fairly impressive, but they “greatly rejoiced” because the shipment suggested the town was still “relevant” in terms of the mines. The article went on, “They reported good roads, free from Indians, and that there was no necessity for keeping guard at night over packs or animals. Miners are doing very well and every prospect is favorable.”

While this provided accurate news about the mines, probably only “dumb luck” allowed them to leave their goods and stock unguarded at night. Other travelers found the Indians as troublesome as ever.

Showing their optimism, “The citizens at Lewiston held a meeting, raising $2,000 immediately, and appointed a committee to employ a company of men and carry out the intent and wishes of the people of Lewiston in constructing a good road to Boise at the earliest practicable moment. The committee have selected H. D. Sanborn, Esq., to superintend the expedition.”

Homer D. Sanborn, a native of New Hampshire, had emigrated to Oregon in 1857, when he was in his early twenties. He then followed the rush into Idaho and, by 1862, had established himself as a Lewiston merchant. The article noted that his team “will remove all rocks and obstructions found, will build such bridges as may [be] necessary on small streams or over deep gulches, and place ferries or rafts on such places as are necessary. … It is now a settled point that there will be a good road in and out from Lewiston to the Boise country.”

Yet the project provided only a temporary illusion. Once the roads in southern Idaho improved, Lewiston lost any role for the mines there. Sanborn himself eventually gave up on Lewiston and returned to Portland.

Reference: [Illust-State]
Joseph Gaston, Portland, Oregon: It’s History and Builders, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago (1911).
“Gold Harvest,” The Oregonian, Portland (June 8, 1863).

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