Friday, September 27, 2013

Lack of Water Hampers Mining – Many Owners Want to Leave

Correspondent “Incognito” addressed a long letter from Bannock City to The Oregonian on September 27, 1863. He began, “We, of the Basin, have lately been the recipients of a few fine showers of rain, which have been very acceptable, but the one of last evening and this morning has been far the most agreeable.”

The day had opened with morning thunder and lightning, which became “a real old fashioned storm, for about two hours.” These outbursts were the first real break in the succession of hot days. Incognito went on, “This rain does good in many respects: It settles the dust, purifies the air, and may increase the supply of water, which last is most ardently hoped for.”
Lightning Strike Near Idaho (Bannock) City

The writer only said “may” because not enough rain fell to increase the stream flows all that much. He then remarked on a notorious feature of Idaho’s high country: Days can be quite hot, but “At night one needs all his blankets, and on several occasions, lately, while your correspondent was mining, frost has covered the ground to such an extent that he was forcibly reminded of chill November in Minnesota.”

As for the mines, Incognito said, “Mining is about the same as when I wrote last. An attempt was made on Tuesday, by a certain few, to lay over their claims in this district, to give them a chance to visit the land of the big red apples, but it was a failure.”

A block of owners had claims they could not work, for lack of water. They tried, unsuccessfully, to amend the local mining rules so they could retain their titles without having to be on the ground for the usual one day in seven. Incognito expected that “many of those claims will be left by [the] present holders, as the inducement is not great enough for them to stay by till spring.”

References: “Matters at Boise,” The Oregonian, Portland (October 13, 1863).

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