Saturday, April 30, 2016

Railroad Touts Plans for Larger Passenger and Freight Terminals in Idaho Falls [otd 04/30]

On April 30, 1909, the Oregon Short Line announced that they would soon begin a substantial upgrade to the railroad facilities in Idaho Falls. This notice followed several years of steadily rising activity at the town.
Train at older Idaho Falls depot, ca. 1905.
Bonneville County Historical Society.

The railroad history of Idaho Falls (then called Eagle Rock) began in 1879, when Utah & Northern Railway tracks arrived in town [blog, Apr 11]. For a time, Eagle Rock was “end of track,” with the usual large, wild tent city. Of course, those throngs moved on with the track-laying. However, new pioneers rode the train into the area and spurred a modest period of growth.

Nor did the freight business over the Eagle Rock toll bridge drop off that much at first. Basically, the wagon freight companies saw no reason to immediately shut down. They simply moved their southern terminus further and further north.

The “tipping point” came more or less when the Utah & Northern established a major station at Dillon in late 1880. After that wagon traffic – and toll revenue – declined sharply.

Fortunately, about then the U&NR decided to build its maintenance and support shops in Eagle Rock. The town’s population rose rapidly after that. With traffic increasing, the railroad also built a rough passenger terminal. However, Eagle Rock suffered a major blow in May, 1886: A huge wind storm wrecked the railroad roundhouse.

By this time, east-west traffic on the Oregon Short Line Railroad had grown substantially. Rather than rebuild in place, the company moved the shops to Pocatello, where they could more easily service both lines. The population of Eagle Rock plummeted immediately.

Long-term, farming and ranching helped soften the blow, and the numbers had almost recovered by 1899. A year later, an independent railway company completed a line north from Idaho Falls to St. Anthony. By then, the OSL had fully absorbed the U&NR. They built a new passenger station, situated near where the spur line tracks met the main OSL rails.

The arrangement puzzled, and annoyed, citizens. The new depot was too far from the old one, which continued to be used for freight … and that made a lot of extra work for patrons as well as railroad personnel. Moreover, the new depot was too small to handle freight business as well as passenger service. In fact, a local newspaper, the Idaho Register, asserted (November 9, 1900) that if a fire broke out in the new structure, “not a person in town would throw a bucket of water on it.”

In any case, crews soon began extending the rails all the way to West Yellowstone, Montana, gateway to Yellowstone Park. Even before the tracks reached “West” in 1909, the Short Line had leased the property; they would later also take over the company. The OSL (rightly) foresaw a major increase in traffic and, as noted above, decided to upgrade several of its Idaho Falls facilities.
Idaho Falls depot, after 1911. Bonneville County Historical Society.

The cornerstone of the project was a new, larger passenger depot. The company also expanded their freight terminal and added trackage to let through traffic bypass the downtown area. They also built a new roundhouse, sized to handle the larger locomotives that were becoming more common.

Although traffic declined after the 1920s, the passenger depot remained in use until 1964. At that point, the company built a new depot at a different location and demolished the old structure. Passenger train service to Idaho Falls ended seven years later.
References: [B&W], [Illust-State]
Mary Jane Fritzen, Eagle Rock, City of Destiny, Bonneville County Historical Society, Idaho Falls, Idaho (1991).
Thornton Waite, Union Pacific: Montana Division, Brueggenjohann/Reese and Thornton Waite Publishers, Idaho Falls (1998).

Friday, April 29, 2016

Angry Union Men Blow Up Wardner Mill, Kill One Non-Union Worker [otd 04/29]

On April 29, 1899, a train packed with perhaps a thousand angry union members rumbled along the tracks leading from Burke and Wallace into the Kellogg-Wardner area. They were headed for the concentrator mill of the Bunker Hill & Sullivan (BH&S) Mining Company in Wardner, Idaho.
Wardner mine before bombing, ca 1899.
Washington State Archives.

Near Wallace, they had loaded up with "giant powder" (an early form of dynamite). The act of violence they planned arose from years of labor-management confrontation, which had reached a “critical mass” in the previous few months.

Few “good guys” appeared in this tragic opera. The companies generally extracted substantial returns from their properties, while paying the miners as little as possible for their dangerous and debilitating labor. For years, many refused to recognize the miners’ union as a legitimate bargaining unit. Plus, they routinely placed spies in the union ranks.

The unions countered with informers of their own. Some were men who understood and sympathized with the workers’ plight. More were persuaded by bribes, or compelled by threats and bullying. In fact, some radical union leaders considered violence and intimidation their preferred weapons … strikes were too slow and ineffective. Union thugs routinely taunted, threatened, and – when opportunity arose – beat up replacement workers.

On this crucial day in 1899, the union “army” had targeted the Wardner mill because the BH&S still adamantly refused to recognize the union, and persistently suppressed internal union activity. When the union men reached their destination, explosives experts set the charges while the rest stood ready to quell any resistance. In a brief scuffle, a Bunker employee was fatally wounded.

At one point, a small group of union men had become separated from the main body. These may have been a scouting party, or just some men who had gone off on their own – stories varied. When the bands stumbled into one another in the dark, they exchanged volleys of gunfire before the mistake could be sorted out. One union man in the smaller group died instantly in the hail of bullets

After the blasts, the union force ran the train back to Burke, groups of men dispersing along the way.
Wardner mine after 1899 bombing. Washington State Archives.

Alarmed by the flagrant show of force, Governor Frank Steunenberg called in Federal troops to impose martial law. A substantial number of union men were imprisoned in an open-air stockade, dubbed the "bull pen."

In the proceedings that followed, state authorities removed the county commissioners and sheriff from office for gross dereliction of duty. Evidence showed that they had ample warning that the union was planning a violent, illegal demonstration ... and did nothing about it.

Prosecutors convicted the secretary of the Burke for second degree murder for the killing of the Bunker employee. He was not, apparently, directly involved in the murder. The state based his conviction on the established legal principle that a willing, knowledgeable participant in a crime that leads to murder bears equal responsibility. (The state Supreme Court upheld the decision, but -- the State having made its point -- he was pardoned and released two years later.)

The violence did not end there: In 1905, a union assassin murdered retired Governor Steunenberg with a bomb at his front gate [blog, Dec 30].
References: [B&W], [Hawley], [lllust-North]

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sportsman and Idaho Dentistry Pioneer Edward Maberly [otd 04/28]

Boise dentist Edward H. Maberly was born April 28, 1853 in England. Apparently his father and part of the family lived for a time in Illinois before 1855-1860. However, Edward did not arrive in the U. S. until about 1869. At that point the family lived in Mount Carroll, a northwest Illinois village near the Iowa border. His father, older brother, and Edward engaged in carriage painting and construction. They all moved to Ellsworth, Kansas, in 1878 – missing the earlier wild times when the town was known as the “Wickedest Cattletown in Kansas."

In the early to mid-1880s, Edward left his father’s carriage business. Then, at some point, he met the daughter of a dentist who had a practice in south-central Nebraska. Liking the prospects better than his old trade, he turned to dentistry after marrying Alice in 1889. Within two years, Maberly was serving as a “circuit dentist,” on a route that took him to towns in northeast Colorado and southeast Wyoming.
Fully-equipped dental “operatory,” 1900.

In 1894, Maberly graduated from a dental college located in Kansas City and practiced briefly in Nebraska.  He moved to Boise in 1895. According to the H. T. French History, "Soon after Dr. Maberly opened his offices in Boise, he saw the need of organization among the dentists of the state, and he got into correspondence with the dentists all over the state with the idea of uniting them in some manner, the first dental society in the state being the result of his efforts."

The Idaho State Dental Society – now Association – organized on a temporary basis in 1896. In June 1897, members adopted a Constitution and Bylaws, and established four standing committees. They also selected Maberly to be the first Secretary. After two years in that position, he became President of the organization.

In addition to his practice, Maberly served as Secretary of Idaho's first State Board of Dental Examiners, starting in 1899. The law that created the Board gave practicing dentists three months to register their names and business locations. New dentists had to appear before the Board to have their credentials assessed. In 1904, Maberly served on the Idaho State Conference Committee for the the Fourth International Dental Congress, held in St. Louis, Missouri.
Maberly Elk photo. Recreation magazine, 1898.
An "ardent sportsman," Maberly helped organize a state-wide sportmen's organization. Through that body, he urged the passage of laws for wiser fish and game management. He sent a photograph of elk in the Teton foothills to Recreation magazine, with the statement that the herd numbered "some 1,500" and had just been shooed away from stacks of hay in the valley.

He went on, "We rarely see so large a band of elk now; yet there are enough left to stock a vast territory if properly protected and judiciously hunted."

Maberly served several terms as President of the Intermountain Gun Club. He won many awards at shooting contests in Boise and around the Northwest, remaining competitive well into his sixties. In 1919, Edward and his wife acquired a place in Corvallis, Oregon, two of their children being enrolled in college there. Dr. Maberly closed his practice about a year later, but still spent much time in Boise.

On September 1, 1921, Edward was in Buhl, serving as judge for a field trial of hunting dogs – “work” he loved. The first trial had been completed when, according witnesses, he literally dropped dead of a heart attack.
References: [Brit], [French]
E. H. Maberly, "Elk in the Teton Foot Hills," Recreation, Vol. VIII. No. 2, G. 0. Shields, Publisher, New York (February 1898).
R. Ottolengui (ed), “Idaho State Dental Society,” Items of Interest: A Monthly Magazine of Dental Art, Science and Literature, Vol. 19, Consolidated Dental Manufacturing Company, New York (1897).
Transactions on the Fourth International Dental Congress, St. Louis, Mo., U.S.A. August 29 to September 3, 1904, S. S. White Dental Manufacturing Company, Philadelphia (1905).

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Governor Issues Proclamation to Protect Chinese from Attack [otd 04/27]

Gov. Stevenson. City of Boise photo.
On April 27, 1886, Idaho Territorial Governor Edward A. Stevenson issued a proclamation that said, in part, "The life and property of our citizens, and those of the Chinese as well, who are engaged in our midst in peaceful occupations, are entitled to and must receive the equal protection of the laws of our Territory."

Chinese miners had been active participants in the gold fields from the earliest days. Every region followed much the same pattern: Whites wrote district mining codes that excluded Orientals altogether, and might enforce the rules with violence. Then, unable to find enough cheap white labor, miners changed the rules to allow white owners to hire Chinese workers. Finally, whites began to sell played out (supposedly) claims, or abandon them to the Chinese.

In January 1866, the Territorial legislature passed a law that overrode local codes and allowed Chinese to work in the gold fields … upon payment of a $5 per month fee. With two or three thousand Orientals working in Idaho mines by 1868, this represented a tidy sum for the government. That number ballooned even further after the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The 1870 census for Idaho enumerated 4,274 Chinese (28.5 percent) among the Territory's 15 thousand inhabitants.

Yet they were still not really welcome, for various reasons: blind racism, perplexity at their "odd" diet and customs, and their infamous opium dens. There was probably an element of jealousy too. Chinese miners, often in communal groups, could wrest decent profits from claims that whites considered worthless. Few whites wanted to work as incredibly hard as the Orientals, but that was surely counted against them too.
Chinese Workers with White Miner. Personal Collection.

Predictable results followed: a host of discriminatory laws and taxes, calls for their expulsion, and unpunished white offenses against Chinese. Crimes against Orientals sometimes included mass murders that were conveniently blamed on the Indians. Members of various “Anti-Chinese Leagues” met openly to advocate their expulsion from the United States. The Idaho Statesman reported (February 27, 1886) on one such convention, which called for a boycott of businesses that employed Chinese labor.

Some elements within these organizations wanted stronger actions, although leaders said, “We denounce all violence and attempted violence on the person or destruction to the property of the Chinese.”

Stevenson’s proclamation came about partly because, in late 1855, vigilantes lynched five Chinese suspected of murdering a white storekeeper in Pierce. This atrocity even came to the attention of the Emperor of China, and the Chinese ambassador demanded an investigation. (Nothing much came of that, of course.)

With all that publicity, Stevenson had to respond to a tip that plans were afoot to expel the Chinese from Idaho, by force if necessary. His proclamation enjoined such actions "with the assurance that the law will hold those who may engage in such deeds responsible, individually and collectively, for the results of their acts."

The proclamation, and probably some internal squabbling, defused the conspiracy, so there was no outbreak of violence.

Collectively, the Chinese made a substantial, but largely ignored contribution to the growth of Idaho, and not just in terms of mining. However, the pressure against them never let up. The 1900 Census enumerated just 1,467 Chinese in the state (less than 1 percent).
References: [B&W]
Arif Dirlik, Malcolm Yeung (eds.), Chinese on the American Frontier, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (2003).
Proclamation [forbidding forcible expulsion of the Chinese after the first day of May 1886], Territory of Idaho, Edward A. Stevenson, Governor; April 27, 1886.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Major Lead-Silver Discoveries Spark Rush to Wood River Area [otd 04/26]

On April 26, 1879, Warren P. Callahan filed on a lead-silver claim at the base of the ridge a mile or so west of the present town of Bellevue, Idaho. This filing was a major milestone for what would quickly build into a rush into the Wood River mining districts.
Wood River Valley, looking south. Illustrated History, 1899.

The Boise Basin gold discoveries of 1862 [blog, Oct 7] drew thousands of hopeful miners to southern Idaho. Soon, all the best claims had been staked, so prospectors began to broaden their explorations. Various parties visited the Wood River area in 1863-1865, and a few found enough “color” to do some mining there. However, the finds offered only minor returns, so no one particularly wanted to risk the unfriendly Indian bands that frequented the area.

In 1864, Callahan himself reportedly found the galena lode he would later claim. (From there, he went on into Montana.) Some prospectors knew that galena, a lead sulfide ore, often contains small amounts of silver. An ounce in twenty pounds of galena would be among the highest known silver fractions.

Few in the West, however, knew how to process the ore. Moreover, even a lode rich in galena versus useless stone, and high in silver fraction, required a major investment to pay out, because of the processing cost. In 1864, with gold fever in the air, no one had much interest in looking for silver.

By around 1875, however, silver discoveries in Colorado and Nevada had made shrewd (or lucky) investors fabulously wealthy – the Comstock Lode being perhaps the most famous. People all over the West searched eagerly for the next big strike. However, in Idaho deadly clashes with indigenous Indians [Bannock War, blog, June 8] delayed serious exploration until 1879.

Numerous other filings followed Callahan's and triggered a substantial rush into the region in 1880. The towns of Bellevue and Ketchum soon followed, and then Hailey in 1881. An experienced miner from Silver City toured the area and noted (Owyhee Avalanche, Silver City, Idaho, February 26, 1881) that the prospects were “exceedingly rich.” He also wrote, “There are about five hundred people in Bellevue at present, and the town contains four saloons, seven stores, five hotels and restaurants, two livery stables, a Postoffice and jail … ”

Main Street, Hailey, 1888.
Hailey Historic Preservation Commission.
For awhile, all the ore had to be shipped out of state. Loads went first by freight wagon to the railroad station at Kelton, Utah. Trains carried it to smelters in Salt Lake, or even as far away as Denver. To offset the substantial expense, investors selected only the richest ores for shipment. One ore body, reportedly the richest ever found in the U. S. up to then, assayed out at “112 ounces of silver to the ton.”

As soon as possible, developers built smelters in Hailey and then Ketchum. Their initial capacities were limited and ore shipments continued until they could be upgraded.

Finally, in May 1883, the Oregon Short Line completed a branch line into Hailey and the production of the mines skyrocketed. The railroad extended its branch into Ketchum in August 1884.

As so often happened, the boom times passed rather quickly. There would be later discoveries, but the Wood River economy soon turned more to stock raising and farming.
References: [B&W], [Hawley]
"Site Report - Wood River," Reference Series No. 206, Idaho State Historical Society (1981).
Merle W. Wells, Gold Camps & Silver Cities, 2nd Edition, Bulletin 22, Idaho Department of Lands, Bureau of Mines and Geology, Moscow, Idaho (1983).
"Idaho Lead-Silver Mining Camps, 1879-1884," Reference Series No. 668, Idaho State Historical Society (1984).

Monday, April 25, 2016

Prichard Tries to Hide Coeur d'Alene Gold, Sparks Rush Anyway [otd 04/25]

On April 25, 1882, Andrew J. Prichard* discovered an outcropping of rich gold-bearing quartz in the Coeur d'Alene River watershed. Prichard, and others, had unearthed signs of gold in the area before, but this find is credited with setting off the decisive rush into these Idaho mountains.
Coeur d’Alene mining area. University of Idaho Archives.

Rumors of gold in the Coeur d'Alenes had surfaced as early as about 1852. But such stories were common and no one paid much attention.

In 1859, Lieutenant John Mullan saw possible gold bearing strata when he built his military road through the area [blog, Feb 5]. After the discoveries became common knowledge, Mullen wrote a letter to an area newspaper editor in which said that he had observed “wide veins of quartz projecting at numerous points along the line of my road along the Coeur d'Alene, all of which indicated the presence of gold.”

In fact, one of their hunters returned to camp with some coarse gold dust he claimed to have found on the headwaters of the Coeur d’Alene River. The road-builders discounted the claim, figuring he had traded with some travelers from the gold fields in Canada. Mullan also said he “did nothing to encourage” any exploration because he “feared any rich discovery would lead to a general stampede of my men from my expedition.”

That seemed to work. Still, what appeared to be more substantial stories set off a failed rush in 1865. Also, Lewiston developer John Vollmer [blog, Jan 25] reportedly staked some prospectors in 1873 and 1874. They claimed to have discovered a good lode, but could not relocate it the second year.

Prichard entered Idaho from Montana in 1878 and trekked along the Coeur d'Alene River. He found some gold-bearing quartz upstream from today's Kellogg, but lacked the resources to exploit that discovery. Over the next few years, he kept searching the river and its tributaries for other outcroppings and for easier placer gold.

Prichard's April 1882 discovery finally convinced him that the gold fields could support "at least 15,000 to 20,000 men." A confirmed adherent of the Liberal League – a loose affiliation of "free thinkers" – Prichard tried to restrict the news to like-minded believers. In a message to a friend, he described the find and asked him pass it along “to as many Leagues as you can on this coast, and request them to get together and keep this information to themselves.”
Hydraulic placer mining, Eagle Creek, 1884.
University of Idaho Archives.
As usual in such cases, it soon became general knowledge. A relatively small rush in 1883 was swamped by the hordes that arrived the following year. Towns sprang up all over the place, including Eagle City, Murray [blog, Mar 5], Beaver City, Carbon City, Littlefield, Raven City, and Myrtle. Placer miners scrambled onto every promising stretch of river and creek.

Eagle City boomed to over two thousand inhabitants, and the District Court held its first term there in 1884. Yet Murray supplanted the town within five years, and Eagle City barely lasted into the next century. In fact, Murray remains as the only survivor from all those gold towns.

Actually, while many struck it rich in gold, the true wealth of the Coeur d’Alenes turned out to the huge deposits of lead-silver ore that were soon discovered in the region.

* Various references, including newspaper articles of the time, alternate between spelling the name as "Pritchard," versus sometimes without the "t". The "Pritchard" version also appears in some fairly recent history books. However, it seems that the family preference is for the spelling without the "t," and the creek itself is shown as Prichard on U.S. Geological Survey maps.
References: [B&W], [lllust-North]
"First recorded Coeur d’Alene gold found in this creek," Spokane Chronicle (May 23, 1936).
"Placer Mining Sites," Reference Series No. 892, Idaho State Historical Society (1987).

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Boise’s Water Supply, a Local “Taj Mahal,” and Geothermal Development

Hosea Eastman. H. T. French photo.
In the words of the Owyhee Avalanche (August 27, 1881), brothers Benjamin M. and Hosea B. Eastman were “rattlers in the way of enterprise.” Not referring to the deadly snake, the writer meant the two regularly shook up the status quo. Their far-sighted improvements and innovations led Boise development for over forty years.

Both were born in the White Mountains area in north-central New Hampshire. Hosea was born in 1835, while Benjamin was five years older. Before ending up in Idaho, the brothers ran a sawmill and lumber business in New Hampshire, farmed in California, and mined in Oregon.

In late 1863, they moved to Idaho and staked placer claims on Jordan Creek, near where Silver City would soon be founded. They made enough from their claims to invest substantially in a well-paying lode mine. After about five years, they liquidated their mining properties and acquired the Idaho Hotel in Silver City. The brothers, Hosea in particular, proved to have a special talent for hotel work. They turned the Idaho into the premier hostelry in Silver City.

Unfortunately, in 1875, bank failures in California dried up outside capital and led to financial problems for the Silver City mines. So, in 1877 and 1878, the brothers sold the Idaho and purchased the venerable Overland Hotel in Boise City. Although the brothers remained partners in the Overland until 1903, Hosea generally took the lead, and newspaper accounts identified him as such.

They immediately remodeled the property, added more rooms, and upgraded most of the facilities. Hosea was particularly unhappy with the hotel’s water supply. He finally located a reliable source of cold spring water in Hull’s Gulch, about a mile and a half north of Fort Boise. In 1881, workers completed a system to pipe water to the hotel. With a considerable surplus available, they began distributing water to nearby businesses and residences.
Overland Hotel, ca. 1885. Idaho State Historical Society.
In 1891, the company they had formed to handle the water business merged with another firm to create the Artesian Hot and Cold Water Company. Hosea remained General Manager of the company for over a quarter century. (He passed away in 1920, Benjamin having died in 1909.)

Shortly after the merger, the company had deep wells drilled at a known “hot spot” a few miles southeast of downtown. These tapped into a steady flow of hot water, measured at 172ºF. The firm also had a large, opulent natatorium built. A huge “plunge” formed the centerpiece: 120x62 feet in expanse, ranging from 2 to 14 feet in depth. It was fed by a continuous flow of water that had been allowed to cool to a comfortably warm temperature.
Around the big pool, patrons could enjoy steam baths, hot tubs, showers, and massage parlors. Upper floors soon sported a fine bar, ballroom, and an exercise/health pavilion. Historian Hiram T. French, writing in 1914, dubbed the Moorish style structure “the Taj Mahal of the West.”
The Boise Natatorium, ca 1898. [Illust-State]
Soon, the company began selling surplus hot water to heat many buildings in downtown Boise. The city thus lays claim to being the first American town to have geothermal heating. Business at “the Nat” bloomed after the interurban rail line located a station nearby. It became the preferred site for inaugural balls, fancy weddings, and regular dances with big-name bands.

Still, the Idaho Statesman article (May 24, 1922) about the Nat’s thirty year anniversary made it clear that the facility was well past its prime. Finally, a wind blast in the summer of 1934 damaged the structure beyond repair, and it was torn down. After that, and still today, only an open-air pool remained.

Through all those years, Boise continued to benefit from the geothermal resources developed by Eastman and his partners. In the 1980s, developers drilled several more, much deeper geothermal wells, and just recently one system was expanded across the river to the Boise State University campus.
References: [Hawley], [French], [Illust-State]
Dick D’Easum, The Idanha: Guests and Ghosts of an Historic Idaho Inn, Caxton Printers, Ltd., Caldwell (1984).