Saturday, June 23, 2018

Ricks College (Brigham Young University-Idaho) President Hyrum Manwaring [otd 06/23]

President Manwaring.
BYU-Idaho archives.
Hyrum Manwaring, President of Ricks College (now Brigham Young University - Idaho) was born June 23, 1877, southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah.

In 1890, the family moved to near Provo, where Hyrum began working as a railroad section hand. He eventually advanced to a foreman’s position. However, he felt the need for more education and attended the preparatory school at Brigham Young University.

In 1899, Manwaring started a three-year mission in Australia. He then mixed personal education and teaching for several years until, in 1911, he received his B.A. degree from Brigham Young University in Provo. After teaching English at Provo for three years, he joined the Ricks College faculty in Rexburg, Idaho, as Head of the English Department.

Manwaring’s very first views of the campus and the town depressed him. He later wrote, “I stood lonely and very depressed and silently shed tears to think I was bringing my dear wife and children to this place.” But then, somehow, “I suddenly seemed to catch the spirit of the pioneers, and to dream of the great potentials that lay before me.”

Next, he met the “vigorous” student body, who “looked energetic and eager to work at any task that was hard and challenging.” In the end, he wrote, “I left Rexburg happy and enthusiastic with the potentials I saw and experienced.”

When Ricks became a junior college in 1923, Manwaring served as Head of the Department of Psychology and Education. That same year he received his Master’s degree from BYU-Provo. He also acted as Summer School Director while then-President Romney attended graduate school, and later taught some of the first night classes provided at Ricks.

In 1929, the Ricks Board of Education offered Manwaring the job of Acting President. At the time, the family had sold their Idaho property and moved to Washington, D. C., where Hyrum planned to attend George Washington University. Manwaring took some time to consider his options before accepting the position. His tenure was soon made permanent.

Over the next decade, Manwaring's faith and natural optimism must have been sorely tried. Budgets had always been tight, and even before he assumed the Presidency rumors abounded that the school would be closed. This being the depths of the Great Depression, the LDS Church found it couldn't give the school away. The state of Idaho said they couldn't afford to run it.

To survive at all, as a church or state institution, Ricks needed full accreditation. With that, earned credits could be transferred wherever a student might want to go. Hyrum pushed hard to upgrade programs, and to convince the accrediting body that they provided a quality education. Finally, despite its uncertain future, the college received the coveted certification in April 1936.

The following year, the school began to receive better funding from Church authorities. Even so, rumors about a possible closure continued to surface whenever finances were particularly tight. Finally, in the spring of 1940, school officials received word that there would be no further attempts to give the school away.
Student Center. BYU-Idaho photo.

As with most colleges and universities, Ricks had to substantially step up recruitment during World War II. Even so, male enrollment for the fall of 1943 showed a dramatic decline.

In 1944, Manwaring made his last commencement address as College President. He continued teaching at Ricks for almost a decade, and then taught part-time until he passed away in 1956. Today, his memory is honored at BYU-Idaho in the Manwaring Student Center.
References: [Defen]
David L. Crowder, The Spirit of Ricks: A History of Ricks College, Ricks College Press, Rexburg, Idaho (1997).
“Hyrum and Bessie Manwaring,” The Presidents and First Ladies, Brigham Young University – Idaho.
Jerry C. Roundy, Ricks College: A Struggle for Survival, Ricks College Press, Rexburg (1976).

Friday, June 22, 2018

Irrigation Water Flows into East Idaho's Great Feeder Canal [otd 06/22]

On June 22, 1895, water was diverted from the Snake River into the Great Feeder Canal. The Diversion Dam, located about 20 miles northeast of Idaho Falls, supplied water to one of the most ambitious of the early irrigation projects in Idaho. The main Canal and the many smaller canals it feeds now make up one of the largest irrigation systems in the American West.
Headgates, Great Feeder Canal.

As in the Boise and Payette river valleys, pioneers along the upper Snake River began digging small irrigation ditches almost as soon as they settled there. Thus, the first "active irrigation farming" began in 1868, just three years after Matt Taylor built his toll bridge [blog, December 10]. The farm was located about 15 miles north of the spot called, successively, Taylor's Bridge, Eagle Rock, and (today) Idaho Falls.

Still, the region remained mostly ranch country until the railroad arrived in 1879, when homesteads blossomed. To this point, settlers had mostly tackled side streams of the Snake River itself, or creeks flowing into it. Finally, in 1880, ambitious irrigation companies filed two major water rights. They edged small weirs into the Snake’s current to divert water into multi-user canal systems.

Within a decade a network of canals laced the plains along both forks of the Snake. However, water supplies for these systems depended largely upon the vagaries of the river. It was sometimes a case of too little or too much. Often, small diversion dams washed out during spring high water and had to be rebuilt every season. Conversely, major changes in the river course sometimes left entire canal systems without a source.

One such twist created what locals called the "Dry Bed." The Bed had once been an important river channel but now lay dry most of the year. Thus, in 1895, a score of different canal companies cooperatively formed the Great Feeder Canal Company. Construction began immediately on a substantial diversion dam and ditch segment. They located the dam far enough upriver so the flow would fill the old channel and feed water to numerous component canal systems.

Reported with a full-page spread in the Idaho Falls Times (June 27, 1895), the opening was a well-attended, gala event. There were songs, a prayer, a poetry recital, and – of course – speeches by various dignitaries.

All did not go quite as planned, however. As the third or fourth major speaker began, “Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to – ”
“Boom!!!” the Times reporter wrote. The miner handling the dynamite had jumped the gun on breaching the holding wall, “and with a mighty roar in rushed the foaming stream and 2,000 second feet of water had passed through the headgate before the speaker could utter another word.”
Great Feeder Canal.

As with all such systems, their work had only begun. Continual upkeep and periodic upgrades – supplemental dams, replacement headgates, and more – were and still are required to maintain a good flow to water users. Today, besides its traditional uses, real estate ads tout residential properties that are near or "back up to" the Great Feeder Canal. (Which does not mean a property has any water rights associated with the Canal, but it sounds impressive.)

The Great Feeder, or Dry Bed as it is still identified on many maps, is also host to an odd, but useful annual event. A special fishing season opens on April 1 when the channel is emptied for routine maintenance. Individuals with valid fishing licenses can each "harvest" a half-dozen fish – which would die anyway – using any means short of chemicals, electric shock, or explosives.
References: [B&W], [Hawley]
Barzilla W. Clark, Bonneville County in the Making, self-published, Idaho Falls, Idaho (1941).
Mary Jane Fritzen, Idaho Falls, City of Destiny, Bonneville County Historical Society (1991).
John L. Powell (ed.), “Great Feeder Canal Company Records, 1896-1983,” Manuscript MSSI 31, Brigham Young University-Idaho Special Collections, Rexburg, Idaho (2002).
Steven Pope, “Dry Bed Canal Fishing Begins,” (April 1, 2010).

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Sportsman, Animal Advocate, and District Judge Charles F. Koelsch [otd 06/21]

Judge Koelsch. H. T. French photo.
Idaho District Judge Charles F. Koelsch was born June 21, 1872, in Mayfield, Wisconsin, about twenty miles north of Milwaukee. He graduated from high school at the age of fifteen and then studied at Northern Indiana Normal School (now Valparaiso University). Charles taught school several years after that, but also studied law.

Koelsch moved to Boise City in 1895 and began reading law in the offices of William E. Borah [blog, June 29]. At that time, Borah was gearing up to run for the U. S. House of Representatives. Koelsch was admitted to the Idaho bar in November 1897 and practiced in Borah’s office for about a year. Charles dissociated himself from Borah’s office when voters elected him to be a Probate Judge in the fall of 1898.

Charles served two terms in that capacity. In 1904, he was elected to the position of Prosecuting Attorney for Ada County. During his term as Probate Judge, Koelsch published An Exposition on the Constitution of the State of Idaho, the first text to discuss and analyze provisions of that document.

As Prosecuting Attorney, Koelsch played a peripheral role in the trial of “Big Bill” Haywood, accused of conspiring to assassinate ex-Governor Frank Steunenberg. In 1946, Koelsch wrote “The Haywood Case: A Review” for the Idaho Mining Journal, Boise. It is often cited as an account by an “insider” of events during the trial and the surrounding context.

After his term as Prosecuting Attorney, Koelsch returned to private practice in partnership with Joseph T. Pence. About that same time, Pence was elected to a term as Mayor of Boise [blog, November 9]. Charles himself was elected to a term in the state House of Representatives in 1912. The firm of Pence & Koelsch would handle many important cases for well over a decade.

In 1926, Koelsch campaigned for the seat as Judge of the Third District Court, covering Ada, Boise, Elmore and Owyhee counties, but lost (badly) in the primary. Three years later, Governor H. Clarence Baldridge appointed him to that position when the incumbent resigned. Koelsch continued to be elected to the judgeship for over twenty years.

A “great sportsman,” in 1938 Charles and some like-minded citizens proposed a voter Initiative to create a non-political Idaho Fish and Game Commission. Koelsch drafted the Initiative, which passed handily.
Pronghorn antelope. Idaho Fish & Game.

During his long tenure as judge, Koelsch handled many crucial issues. But in 1944, he “ruled” on a less weighty matter involving a jury trial where he was presiding (Post-Register, Idaho Falls; November 23, 1944). Asked if female jurors should or should not wear their hats, he said, “If they are pretty hats the women may as well wear them. … If they are those ugly ones, the ladies had better take them off.”

Charles retired from the bench only when forced to do so by a change in the legally-mandated retirement age. That was on January 1, 1951. His son, M. Oliver Koelsch, actually succeeded him in that position. (Eight years later, President Dwight Eisenhower appointed M. Oliver to be a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge.)

Koelsch did not retire from active participation in public affairs, however. Before 1900, Charles had helped form Idaho’s first humane society, to prevent cruelty to animals. That group did not last. However, he was later affiliated with the Idaho Humane Society that is still in operation today. Three years after his retirement, Koelsch signed (Post-Register, Idaho Falls, August 4, 1954) an animal cruelty complaint “in behalf of the Idaho Humane Society.”

Charles F. Koelsch passed away in April 1965.
References: [French]
Idaho Humane Society: History, Boise.
“[Judge Koelsch News],” Idaho Statesman, Boise (August 1926 – February 1950).
J. Anthony Lukas, Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets Off a Struggle … , Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York (1997).
Byron Johnson, “Homer Martin - a ‘Poacher’ Extraordinary, ” Wild Idaho News, Boise (Aug 14, 2006).
Charles F. Koelsch: MS 152, Idaho State Historical Society, Boise (December 11, 1990).

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Boise River Water Flows into the New York Canal [otd 06/20]

On June 20, 1900, a rude diversion structure turned water from the Boise River into the New York Canal. The diversion, though feeble, culminated nearly twenty years of effort to bring irrigation water to the higher benches paralleling the river.
New York Canal construction. Boise State University.
Individuals and small cooperative groups began diverting irrigation water from the Boise River less than a year after the 1862 gold discoveries in the Boise Basin. With limited resources, ditch developers had to be clever and creative. Whenever possible, they led their channels along old creek beds and other natural depressions. According to Beal & Wells, "by the summer of 1864 all the river bottom land in Boise Valley was under irrigation."

As Idaho's population grew and funds became available, developers tackled larger, more ambitious irrigation projects. Around 1882, investors from the East began considering an extensive project along the Boise.  They had the notion that gold recovered from hydraulic placer sites over on the Snake River might pay much of the construction cost. After that, collecting fees for water delivered to new farms on the Boise Bench would almost be “gravy.”

The placers would have produced mostly “fine gold,” that is, tiny particles that can be finer than flour. Fine-sized gold tends to be of higher purity and there can be a lot of it along a big river like the Snake. However, no economical methods to recover the dusty material existed at that time. Thus, in the end, the placer gold mining notion went nowhere.

Company Engineer Arthur D. Foote laid out plans for a system that could eventually irrigate an estimated half million acres. Foote then spent thousands of dollars to survey a seventy-five mile main canal and an intricate grid of lateral ditches. With an elaborate map drawn from these surveys, planners could start wooing investors.

Work began on the upper end of the canal in 1884. However, very little got done because a recession in the East dried up capital. The startup firm did just enough work – basically, a handful of men chipping away at the rocks – to maintain their water right through 1886. Competing efforts also lagged, and then collapsed.

Not until 1890 did serious work again proceed on the canal. A fresh infusion of capital resulted in about 14 miles of partially finished ditch before that money ran out in late 1892. Then the nationwide Panic of '93 caused yet more delay. When money again became available, in 1896-1898, several competing interests fought over who had rights to what. Some of these cases rose all the way to the Idaho Supreme Court.
Boise River Diversion Dam, 1909.
Canal in foreground. National Archives.
In 1899, various interests finally reached an accommodation in what became the new New York Canal Company. At last, in 1900, they got water through their ditch. However, the amount was a mere trickle compared to Foote's grand original concept. Insufficient flow and uncertain water rights created a snarl of problems.

Finally, water users asked Congress to authorize a larger project to meet their needs. In the end, the U. S. Reclamation Service (later the Bureau of Reclamation) took over the canal and made it part of a larger Payette-Boise Project (Idaho Statesman, September 1, 1905).

The Bureau of Reclamation made two key additions to the project: a permanent Diversion Dam, 7-8 miles upstream from downtown Boise, and a reservoir (now called Lake Lowell) near Nampa. Finally in 1909, substantial amounts of water began flowing through a greatly expanded New York Canal system.
Reference: [B&W], [French]
“The Beginning of the New York Canal,” Reference Series No. 190, Idaho State Historical Society (March 1972).
Arthur Hart, “Idaho History: The New York Canal was an epic achievement,” The Idaho Statesman, March 14, 2010.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Idaho Chief Justice, Businessman, and Educator James F. Ailshie [otd 06/19]

James Franklin Ailshie, Chief Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, was born June 19, 1868 in Greene County, Tennessee, 50-70 miles east of Knoxville. He attended a "noted preparatory school" through his junior year and then moved to Missouri, where he taught school. After a couple years there, he took a Principal’s job in Washington state. Ailshie then attended Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
Waller Hall, Willamette University, 1880.
Salem Public Library Collections.

Ailshie received his B.A. and LL.B. degrees from Willamette in 1891, then moved to Grangeville, Idaho to establish a practice. By that time, the town had substantially outgrown nearby Mount Idaho. In 1892 and again in 1898, Grangeville citizen tried unsuccessfully to capture the county seat designation. (They finally succeeded in 1902.) In addition to his thriving law practice, Ailshie served two terms as a Regent of the University of Idaho, starting in 1893.

Ailshie was elected to the Idaho Supreme Court in 1902 and moved to Boise the following year. Reelected to the Court, he served until his resignation in 1914. During four of his years on the Court, he served as Chief Justice and was, at one time, the youngest Chief Justice on any state Supreme Court.

In 1909, Willamette University honored him with a Doctor of Laws degree. James H. Hawley noted in 1920 that "About two-thirds of the [Idaho] constitution was tested in the court during his service on the bench."

While not on the Court, Ailshie was very active in Republican Party politics. In 1898, delegates to the state convention of the Republican Party elected him as convention president. In 1900, 1916, and 1932, he served as delegate to the Republican National Convention. In 1913, he missed election to the U.S. Senate by just four votes in the legislature.
Justice Ailshie.
University of Idaho Special collections.

Ailshie resigned from the Court in 1914 to run for a U. S. Senate seat under the new direct election mode dictated by the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution. He had hoped to resign earlier, but the illness of Justice George Stewart [blog, Feb 26] delayed that. (Stewart died the following September.) After his failed run – which he blamed partly on his inability to campaign – he moved from Boise to Coeur d'Alene and resumed his private practice.

Ailshie was President of the Idaho State Bar Association in 1921-22 and was a long-time member of the their Board of Commissioners. He also served three years on the Executive Committee of the American Bar Association, and over a decade on that organization's General Council.

In the late Twenties and early Thirties, he was a member of the Idaho Law Journal Board of Advisers. During that period, he also served on the state Commission on Uniform State Laws. That Commission advises the legislature on laws that should be revised to be more consistent with the laws in other state.

Besides serving on the University of Idaho Board of Regents, Ailshie taught there at the College of Law, lecturing on "mining law and legal ethics." For a time while practicing law in Coeur d'Alene, he owned a farm-ranch operation near Grangeville. He was also President of the Grangeville Light & Power Company and Director of a bank there.

Ailshie again served on the Supreme Court in 1939-41, and from 1945 until his death in May 1947.
References: [Defen], [Hawley], [Illust-State]
“James Franklin Ailshie: Biographical Sketch,” James Franklin Ailshie Papers 1902-1931, Manuscript Group 9, University of Idaho Special Collections (July 1997).
Ben Ysursa, Idaho Blue Book, 2003-2004, The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (2003).

Monday, June 18, 2018

Idaho National Guard Mobilized for Mexican Border Duty [otd 06/18]

On June 18, 1916, state authorities mobilized the Idaho National Guard for duty on the Mexican border. The Governor had received instructions from the Secretary of War under the National Defense Act, passed by Congress two weeks earlier.
Pancho Villa, ca 1914.
Library of Congress.

Since about 1910, Mexico had been wracked by fighting between various revolutionary factions. In 1914, a coalition headed by Venustiano Carranza gained the upper hand. Because Carranza promised a constitutional government, eventually, the United States recognized him as President of Mexico in 1915.

However, Carranza’s refusal or inability to propose deep social reforms caused a split with more reformed-minded revolutionaries such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa.

As a revolutionary ally of Carranza, Villa’s success and charisma attracted support from the United States, including guns and ammunition. That ended after his split with Carranza. Angered, Villa turned against his erstwhile allies. In early 1916, Villa’s troops killed seventeen Americans working for a mining company in Mexico.

In March, Villa raided the border town of Columbus, New Mexico, about 70 miles west of El Paso, Texas. The garrison reportedly inflicted heavy casualties (60-80 killed) on the revolutionaries. However, 18 Americans – soldiers, militia, and civilians – were killed and many structures burned.

Newspapers all over the country clamored for action against Villa. Less than three months later, Congress passed the National Defense Act. At the time, the Army was badly undermanned to handle all its commitments, so they needed reinforcements from the Guard. Authorization to call up these units had one major string attached: Guard soldiers were not to operate on foreign territory.

The Spanish-American War of 1898 had established the position that the government could nationalize Guard units for a declared war. Because the Villa campaign was not part of a declared war, the troops could only "defend the border."

That turned out to be a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” stance for the government. Some units resented being hauled across the country to watch over a stretch of barren desert. This hardly fit the traditional scenario where militiamen were called out to protect their home state from imminent invasion. But other Guard units wanted to march into Mexico and fight.
National Guard troops bivouacked in Nogales. National Archives.
Mobilized units of the Idaho National Guard arrived in Nogales, Arizona in mid-July, joining regiments from many other states. That freed Pershing’s troops to pursue Villa's units deep into Mexico.

For several months, the Idaho regiment drilled and conducted patrols across the rugged border country. They were mustered out of Federal service in late January 1917. (Some Guard units did see live action and had soldiers killed or wounded.)

A fundamental flaw in the militia/national guard concept appeared even that early: What do we do with the demobilized soldiers? A sergeant wrote to the Idaho Statesman (January 2, 1917), “All of us were working or going to school before we left, while now our positions are filled … ”

Business groups made some sincere, but spotty attempts to alleviate their plight. Yet even today there are few good answers to the problem. For the 1917 soldiers, the issue went away a few months later: Guard units were recalled for duty in World War I. Thus, the border duty became a “dress rehearsal.” It toughened the men to field duty and provided officers and men experience in coordinating the regiment's actions as full units.
References: [Brit], [Hawley]
Cornelius James Brosnan, History of the State of Idaho, Charles Scribner’s sons, New York (1918).
Jerry M. Cooper, The Rise of the National Guard: The Evolution of the American Militia, 1865-1920, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln (2002).
Richard W. Stewart (ed.), American Military History, Vol 1, Center of Military History, U.S. Army, Washiongton, D.C. (2004).

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Nez Percés Drub U. S. Army at Battle of White Bird Canyon [otd 06/17]

On June 17, 1877, a column consisting of U. S. Cavalry and a few civilian volunteers engaged Nez Percés warriors in the Battle of White Bird Canyon. This was the opening clash of the Nez Percés War, which ultimately forced a large part of the tribe off their ancestral homeland.
Chief Joseph, ca. 1895.
Illustrated History of North Idaho

The reservation treaty of 1863 divided the Nez Percés into "treaty" and "non-treaty" factions [blog, June 9]. By the mid-1870's, many land-hungry whites had settled on areas held by non-treaty bands. They demanded that authorities force the Indians to move onto the small reservation in Idaho.

Chief Joseph of the Wallowa bands eloquently argued that the original 1855 treaty was still in force for those bands that had refused to sign the later document. That being the case, the authorities were obligated to remove the intruders. An Army staffer who studied the legal situation agreed, declaring that the newer provisions were "null and void" for the non-treaty bands.

Few whites wanted to hear that, so they declared that a majority had signed the 1863 and it was therefore binding on all. As noted in the earlier blog, that claim was at best specious, if not completely dishonest. Nez Percés leadership was not a democracy. Although family ties and a common language linked the bands, each was autonomous and their chiefs formed a council of equals.

The situation exploded when the Army ignored all that and moved ahead with plans to forcibly relocate the bands. Word reached Fort Lapwai on the 15th that the unrest had turned violent, so a force led by Captain David Perry moved out late that evening. They rode through the night and all the following day, with only brief rest stops, and arrived at White Bird Summit about midnight on the 16th. By then warriors had killed 8 to 10 civilians and burned many outlying buildings. The troopers and volunteers began descending into White Bird Canyon at about 4 o’clock in the morning.
Captain David Perry.
Nez Perce National Historical Park

John McDermott's book Forlorn Hope provides a detailed description of the action. After the first contact, Perry tried to arrange a battle line. Meanwhile, the small band of volunteers charged on horseback around the left. Effective counter-fire repelled their attack, so they gathered on a knoll to anchor the left flank.

At a crucial turn, a shot killed one of Perry’s buglers and the other lost his bugle. Then a ferocious Nez Percés counter-attack sent the volunteers fleeing from the field. With no bugler, Perry could not wheel his troops to meet the sudden assault from his exposed flank. His line collapsed into a confused retreat. Perhaps only some desperate stands by small, isolated groups saved the cavalry from total annihilation.

Once north of White Bird Hill, the cavalrymen made a fighting retreat across the prairie. Nez Percés warriors finally broke off the action when a column of armed civilians rode out to help the retreating force. The survivors reached Grangeville between 9:00 and 10:00 in the morning.

The Indians scored a decisive victory, despite being heavily outnumbered (60-70 warriors versus over 100 whites) and fighting with inferior weapons. The Army suffered thirty-four dead (to none for the Indians), and were driven headlong from the battlefield.

In the end, of course, the outnumbered and outgunned Indians were forced to flee Idaho. The tribe's ultimately unsuccessful attempt to escape into Canada is now legendary.
References: [Illust-North]
“Battle of White Bird,” Reference Series No. 440, Idaho State Historical Society (June 1967).
Jerome A. Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 1877: The U.S. Army and the Nee-Me-Poos Crisis, Montana Historical Society Press: Helena (2000).
John Dishon McDermott, Forlorn Hope: The Nez Perce Victory at White Bird Canyon, Caxton Press, Caldwell, Idaho (2003).

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Distinguished Federal Judge and Legal Educator Ray McNichols [otd 06/16]

Judge McNichols.
Photo courtesy of
University of Idaho College of Law.
Federal District Judge Raymond C. McNichols was born June 16, 1914 in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The family moved to Lewiston at some point, and Ray later graduated from the University of Idaho. During and after World War II, he served as an aviator in the U.S. Navy.

After leaving the service, McNichols attended the University of Idaho College of Law, graduating with his LL.B degree in 1950. He then opened a law practice with a partner in Orofino.

In 1954, Ray “threw his hat in the ring” for the Democratic nomination to run for Idaho’s U. S. Senate seat. He later withdrew (Idaho Falls Post-Register, May 30, 1954) from the race so as not to “dilute” the Democratic vote. (The Republican won the seat anyway.)

In 1960, McNichols served as Vice Chairman of the Idaho delegation to the Democratic Presidential Convention (Idaho Falls Post-Register, March 14, 1960). That convention selected John F. Kennedy as the party nominee. Several months after Kennedy’s assassination, President Lyndon Johnson appointed McNichols as a Federal Judge for the District of Idaho. During 17 years of full-time judicial service, McNichols presided over some 2,000 cases, achieving "legendary" status on the Federal bench.

In late 1976, a three-judge panel that included McNichols declared one provision of the original Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) to be unconstitutional. They ruled (Idaho State Journal, Pocatello, January 2, 1977) that a clause authorizing inspections of a business site without a search warrant violated the Fourth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. The U. S. Supreme Court later affirmed that decision. Thus, except in cases involving “closely regulated” industries, an OSHA inspector must obtain the owner’s consent or have a judge issue a search warrant.

During that same period, McNichols presided over a case brought by computer disk maker CalComp against International Business Machines (IBM). CalComp was a so-called “plug-compatible manufacturer” (PCM), which built computer peripherals for IBM personal computers. CalComp insisted that IBM had engaged in illegal monopolistic behavior, causing great harm to their company. The suit was filed in late 1973 and three years of discovery followed.

The actual trial began in mid-November 1976 and CalComp’s presentation ran into February. As soon as they finished, IBM countered with a motion for a directed verdict against CalComp, supporting it with a substantial legal brief. Judge McNichols weighed the evidence and then ruled in their favor, taking the case out of the hands of the jury. CalComp appealed, but a three-judge panel affirmed McNichols’ decision.

In 1981, McNichols chose "Senior" judicial status. After that he handled cases only part-time, but remained active in legal affairs for the rest of his life. In 1984, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America presented McNichols with the Outstanding Federal Trial Judge Award.

University of Idaho Law Library.
In addition to his legal activities, Judge McNichols taught classes for a time at the University of Idaho College of Law. After his death from a heart attack in December 1985, numerous prominent leaders – former governors, senators, and legal professionals – offered tributes to McNichols' judicial skills, wit, and "gentlemanliness."

He is honored at the University by the "Judge Ray C. McNichols Memorial Fund" and the "Raymond C. McNichols Moot Court Competition."

In moot court competitions, students prepare legal briefs and argue hypothetical appeals cases, often before real judges. This is training for appellate arguments, which involve arguing specific points of law after a trial verdict has been made. Unlike a trial, there is no presentation of testimony or other evidence and decisions are made by judges, rather than a jury.
References: Bruce H. Bruemmer, Kevin D. Corbitt, “Historical Note,” California Computer Products, Inc., and Century Data Systems, Inc., vs. International Business Machines Corporation Records, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota (December 1996).
“District Judge Ray C. McNichols,” U.S. Courts, District of Idaho.
“Idaho Federal Judge Ray McNichols Dies,” Spokane Chronicle (Dec 26, 1985).
Robert L. Knox, “New Developments in the Law on Monopoly: The Impact of the IBM West Coast Cases,” Vol. 14, Golden Gate University Law Review, San Francisco, California (1984).
“Raymond Clyne McNichols,” Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, Federal Judicial Center.

Friday, June 15, 2018

V. D. Hannah, Pioneer Grower of Fine Fruit, Vegetables, and Purebred Livestock [otd 06/15]

Agricultural pioneer Henry Van Dyke Hannah was born June 15, 1842 in Ohio County, Indiana, about 25 miles southwest of Cincinnati, Ohio. After completing a common school education, he spent several sessions at a prep school and then at an early agricultural institute or college.
Henry V. D. Hannah. [Hawley]

After that, he worked on his father’s farm until 1862, when he enlisted in the Second Indiana Light Artillery. Wounded at least once, Hannah carried a Minie ball in his abdomen for the rest of his life. At the end of the war, he returned to farming with his father. However, with the war over, the farm economy entered a severe depression and, for various reasons, southern Indiana was hit particularly hard. So young Hannah headed west.

In late 1872, he was in Idaho looking for acreage, after about three years in Oregon. He started in a valley area northeast of Weiser and would be associated with that town for many years. Even that early, “V. D.” – as he was now commonly known – sought the top of the line in his business. In May, 1873, the Idaho Statesman carried his advertisement to sell fertilized eggs from top-breed chickens he had just imported from the East. A couple months later, he gave the Statesman editor a basket containing the “fattest gooseberries we ever saw.”

That fall, Hannah set up a sales stand in downtown Boise with a wide variety of fruit from his farm: two kinds of apples, peaches, pears, plums, grapes … and even some tomatoes. All were judged to be outstanding examples of their kind. Nor did he neglect the animal husbandry side. Besides his purebred chickens, he also advertised top-grade hogs “and a good Boar, for service.”

Over the following years, V. D. added high-grade turkeys and geese to his poultry line, as well as herds of purebred sheep and shorthorn cattle. He also continued to improve his fruit lines. In 1884, the Statesman reported that he had seven varieties of grapes under cultivation on two-year-old vines. When agricultural fairs appeared, Hannah was always among the prize winners, in many different categories.

When a commission was assembled to organize Idaho’s exhibits for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, V. D. handled the agriculture portion. Besides the expected products, he included two new items from his ranch: figs and cotton. The exhibit was a huge success and he was similarly asked for advice five years later for the World’s Fair held in Omaha.

When growers organized the Idaho State Horticultural Society in 1895, V. D. was named a trustee and served on the Legislative Committee. Two years later, the State Board of Agricultural Inspection was created. Although Hannah was not a member of the first Board, he later served as a member.

In 1905, V. D. took on a task similar to his World’s Fair duty – the Lewis and  Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon. By this time, the Hannahs was living near Caldwell.
Idaho Building, Lewis & Clark Exposition. Library of Congress.

Nothing out of the ordinary came Hannah’s way until 1917, when he was 75 years old. He was appointed to appraise land being offered as collateral for loans from the state. He gave up that position in November, 1918. But even at his advanced age, he still grew crops and animals. His History of Idaho biography said, “It is like attending a fine stock fair to visit his farm and see the splendid animals and poultry that he has produced.”

He passed away in July 1923, shortly before the Annual Meeting of a regional cattle growers association. They observed a long moment of silence in his honor.
References: [Hawley]
“[Idaho Hannah News],” Idaho Statesman, Boise (December 1872 – July 1923)..
“[Other Hannah News],” Reveille, Vevay, Indiana; The Standard, Greenburg, Indiana; The Oregonian, Portland (October 1870 – September 1919).
Paul Salstrom, From Pioneering to Persevering: Family Farming in Indiana to 1880, Purdue University Press, West Lafayette, Indiana (2007).

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Some Words of Explanation (RE: Shoshone-Bannock Reservation)

The “On This Day” item for June 14 states that the original boundary definition for the Shoshone-Bannock Reservation (now the Fort Hall Indian Reservation) “made no sense.” The hand-drawn map looked impressive, but it did not (could not, in fact) match up with the written description. But officials didn’t know that, and at least some thought the information was based on an actual survey.

The Shoshone-Bannock Reservation was one of two described in an 1867 letter from the U. S. General Land Office (GLO) to the Acting Secretary of the Interior, Judge William T. Otto. That, and a letter from the Office of Indian Affairs, became the basis for the Acting Secretary’s recommendation to President Andrew Johnson. The President’s very brief Executive Order (indirectly) approved the following border description:
Judge William T. Otto,
Acting Secretary of the Interior, 1867.
Library of Congress.
The boundaries as defined by the local Indian agents, as per separate diagrams of the above reservations are:
1st. The Boise and Bruneau Bands of Shoshone and Bannock Reservation: “Commencing on the south bank of Snake River at the junction of the Port Neuf River with said Snake River; thence south 25 miles to the summit of the mountains dividing the waters of Bear River from those of the Snake River; thence easterly along the Summit of said range of mountains 70 miles to a point where Sublette road crosses said divide; thence north about 50 miles to the Blackfoot River; thence down said stream to its junction with the Snake River; thence down Snake River to the place of beginning,” embracing about 1,800,000 acres and comprehending Fort Hall on the Snake River within its limits.

It is unclear how the original authors of this statement arrived at that description. Perhaps it grew from talks with tribesmen and trappers. It was certainly not based on an actual survey. The same has to be said for the “separate diagram” (map). In any case, more and more whites settled in the region over the next few years. And these white ranches and towns were often visited by Indian bands, who tended to wander around despite the treaty. Naturally, the settlers asked: Are we on the reservation, or not? The Indian Agent could not be sure.

Finally, complaints from agency officials induced the GLO to do something. A contract was awarded to surveyor John B. David on April 5, 1873. The initial leg of the survey was straightforward. Based on the river junction at that time, David placed the western boundary at 112º 44.3' West. A run south along that line for 25 miles ended at a point not quite two miles southwest of Bannock Peak.
Survey crew, ca 1873. Library of Congress.

I used a modern topological map (below) to illustrate the border he surveyed. The party would have traced the straight solid line that has been superimposed on the left side of the map. The heavy line on the far right shows the course of the Bear River. The Bear continues south until it empties into the Great Salt Lake

Surveyor David faced a quandary … two quandaries, in fact. First, the line running along 112º 44.3' W does not cross a divide between the Snake and Bear river watersheds. (Nor will it, even if you extend the line further south.) Secondly, the “Sublette road” landmark (about three miles east of today’s Lava Hot Springs) is only about 40 miles, not 70, east of the point near Bannock Peak. It is not quite on a line pointing exactly east either, but that was a lesser problem.

Both the range David was in (the Deep Creek Mountains) and the next to the east (the Bannock Range) run in a north-south direction. Neither has any substantial “summit” (divide) that would take the survey party in an easterly direction, per the Reservation description. David’s field notes are not now readily available, but historian Brigham Madsen accessed them for his 1980 book on the Northern Shoshoni. He offered the following quote from the surveyor’s report: “Believing it to be the meaning of my instructions to follow said divide, rather than an Easterly direction, I did so.”

With that, we can infer what he decided by where he actually ran the survey line. The Bannock Range recedes into a kind of saddle directly to the east of where the straight south line ended, offering no summits that might lead to somewhere useful. But a distinct ridge re-forms to the south of the swale. From there, the survey party could remain in the mountains, needing to cross only two narrow valleys to go east.

So David traced a straight line at about 15º south of due east. A run of 24 miles (dashed line on the map) brought them almost to the ridge. The party then turned in a southerly direction, using the crest as a general guide. The Bannock and Portneuf ranges are quite rugged, so the surveyors would have found it much easier to run straight-line segments over the lower slopes. For the next twenty-five miles or so, they used the high ground to make a loop around the south end of Marsh Valley, “bridging” over to the Portneuf Range at Red Rock Pass (near Zenda).

Deeper into that range, a hogback running in a north-northeasterly direction provided a guide for the surveyors. After eight to nine miles on a straight course, they would have encountered a ridge where they could look out on the Bear River valley. At last they were at an actual Bear River divide. A careful check of their east-west position (longitude) would have told David that they were east of “where Sublette road crosses said divide.” So then the party headed in a north-northwesterly direction until they were directly south of the Sublette landmark.

From there, the surveyors headed north until they hit the northernmost loop of the Blackfoot River. They found that the “about 50 miles” between Sublette road and the river was closer to 36 miles.

The original description appears to have been largely a guess, based on vague notions about the regional geography. Thus, the new southern and eastern borders were quite different from those in the original diagram … the one approved by President Johnson. Still, the 1873 line became the definitive description of the Reservation, and the starting point for what came later.
References: Executive Orders Relating to Indian Reserves: from May 14, 1855 to July 1, 1912, U. S. Office of Indian Affairs, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C. (1912).
Brigham D. Madsen, The Northern Shoshoni, The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1980).
Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office to the Secretary of the Interior for the Year 1874, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C. (1874).

President Andrew Johnson Authorizes Fort Hall Indian Reservation [otd 06/14]

President Johnson, 1870-1880.
Library of Congress.
On June 14, 1867, President Andrew Johnson signed a very brief Executive Order that authorized two reservations “as recommended by the Acting Secretary of the Interior.” One such reservation, located in southeast Idaho, was for the Shoshone and Bannock Indians. The input used by the Acting Secretary proposed a boundary that supposedly encompassed about 1.8 million acres. As written, the border description made no sense, but it was accompanied by a hand-drawn map that proved “good enough” at the time.

There was also another slight "catch" involved. The Shoshone and Bannock bands for whom the reservation was created had not yet said they would stay there. Various accords signed in 1863, including the “Box Elder Treaty” [blog, July 30], had been peace agreements, not reservation assignments.

Those treaties were largely meant to allow safe passage for white travelers through regions where the Shoshones commonly roamed. In return, government agents would give the bands provisions and other goods. The agreements outlined where the terms generally applied, but did not constraint the bands to remain within those (vague) boundaries.

This loose approach soon became untenable, largely due to white settlement. Many hunter-gatherer societies live “on the edge” of hunger. That was certainly true in the arid country occupied by the Sho-Bans (a modern term). White settlers naturally occupied the most productive lands first. Thus, they depleted natural food sources out of all proportion to their small initial numbers.

By 1865-1867, many bands had become dependent upon the government allotments just to avoid starvation. Officials decided the only workable answer was to move the tribes onto reservations. There, they could be taught to become self-sufficient farmers. Just over a year after Johnson’s executive order, the tribes acquiesced to the "Fort Bridger Treaty of 1868," in which they agreed to occupy the reservation.

In return, the government made many promises. A reservation physician would provide medical service. Also, craftsmen (carpenter, blacksmith, etc.) would be available to teach these skills to the Indians. Tribesmen who made "good faith" efforts to cultivate the land would receive, for up to four years, an allotment of seed and necessary farm implements.
Fort Hall Reservation Indians, ca. 1875. Library of Congress.

A number of buildings would be erected at government expense, and each Indian would receive an annual allotment of warm clothing, or the materials to make those garments. Other clauses promised an allowance that might be used for food, presumably to carry them through the period until they could raise their own.

The Bridger Treaty also reserved the southern Camas Prairie for their use, and defined a new region in (future) Wyoming – today’s Wind River Indian Reservation. Negotiators assumed that the main reservation had already been fixed by Johnson’s Executive Order. However, a survey in 1873 had trouble dealing with the ambiguities in that first loose definition. As finally set, the Reservation encompassed about 1.2 million acres. (See Relief Map here.)

Sadly, the Sho-Ban suffered through years of broken promises: inadequate food and clothing, no seed or training, and so on. All that, plus white violation of the Camas Prairie provision, would set off the Bannock War of 1878 [blog, June 8]. Moreover, by the end of the century, re-negotiations drastically reduced the size of the reservation to around 540 thousand acres.

In 1936 and 1937, the tribes created a governing constitution and bylaws, and organized themselves into a Federally-chartered corporation. Today the Sho-Ban can, by and large, provide reasonable services and opportunities for their people.
References: [Hawley]
Charles Joseph Kappler (ed.), Indian affairs: Laws and Treaties, Volume I, Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C. (1903).
Brigham D. Madsen, The Northern Shoshoni, The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (1980).
Shoshone Bannock Tribes web site.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Burke, Idaho, Ready for Almost a Century of Silver Production [otd 06/13]

On June 13, 1885, a group of prospectors met and “declared” the town of Burke. They picked a spot about six miles up Canyon Creek from Placer Center (soon to be Wallace), itself only a few months old. The gorge is so narrow at Burke that during the winter the bottom gets only two or three hours of direct sun.
Burke, ca 1888. University of Idaho Library.

The previous year, searchers had uncovered two fabulous silver lodes, the “Tiger” and the “Poorman.” Other prospects soon followed. However, only the Tiger saw much development during that year. Lacking funds, the discoverers bonded their claims to John M. Burke, a Virginian who had been a banker in Utah for awhile. He, in turn, passed the rights along to Stephen S. Glidden, a wholesale grocer in Thompson Falls, Montana.

Glidden sold his business the following spring, and he, Burke, and some others improved the roads and trails into the mountains. Further development proved the worth of the Tiger, and hinted at the high value of other claims. They needed a supply point, and a place to put an ore processor, and chose Burke as the best site available.

Growth was very slow at first. In fact, not until May 1887 did they get around to really organizing a town, with street names, specific lot sizes, property recording requirements, and so on. The hamlet then contained only about twenty actual buildings.

However, in December of that year tracks from Burke linked to a new narrow gauge railway at Wallace. In January, 1888, the Wallace Press listed around 35 business buildings in Burke, including “… seventeen saloons, four general stores, one beer hall … and not a hotel in town.” (There were two boarding houses, however.)

The arrival of the railroad sparked a construction boom. By the end of the 1888 building season, Burke reportedly contained around three hundred buildings, including ore concentrators for the Tiger and Poorman mines.

Those properties easily lived up to their early promise. Output from the mines reached their mill capacities within a few years and continued even after a disastrous fire that destroyed the Tiger and Poorman mills, and supporting structures, in March 1896. At that point, miners had pushed their tunnels down over a thousand feet. With no pumps running, those deep shafts began to fill with water.

Undeterred, management immediately contracted for new, bigger and better equipment for the mines. Despite other huge discoveries in the Coeur d’Alene mining districts, in 1898 the Tiger and Poorman still produced around 14% of all the silver-lead ore in the region.

The 1890 census recorded 482 inhabitants in Burke itself, and that number had increased to over a thousand in 1900. After that, as throughout the Coeur d’Alenes, Burke’s prosperity rose and fell with the prices of silver and lead. The population peaked at over fourteen-hundred in 1910-1912, and then slowly but steadily declined, dropping below a thousand in 1940.
Burke, 1946. Museum of the Rockies, Montana State University.
For over half a century, Burke boasted a structure that was unique in the world. Built in 1896, the Tiger Hotel mostly served mine officials and workers, although visitors might rent a room if it was available. With the canyon being so narrow, the hotel's substructure was raised so Canyon Creek could flow underneath.

Unusual ... but the true oddity was the pair of railroad tracks running right through the lobby. (We're told that only heavy sleepers got the rooms directly over the tracks.) The hotel survived two World Wars, but was finally torn down in 1954.

The last mine near Burke shut down in 1982 (The Oregonian, Portland, June 13, 1982). The hamlet’s remnant is now often referred to as a “ghost town,” with 300, or 75 (depending upon whom you believe) inhabitants.
Refrences: [Illust-North], [Illust-State]
Judith Nielsen, “Tiger Hotel Company,” Manuscript Group 80, University of Idaho Archives, Moscow (February 1993).

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Irrigation Developer, Idaho Governor, and U. S. Senator James Brady [otd 06/12]

Senator and Governor James H. Brady.
Library of Congress.
U. S. Senator and Idaho Governor James Henry Brady was born June 12, 1862 in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. According to the biography in J. H. Hawley's History, Brady graduated from Leavenworth Normal School and then taught for three years while studying law. From this statement, one can infer that young James was a intellectual prodigy. Leavenworth Normal School closed after the 1876 year.

Very young professionals, including lawyers, often fudged their age back then so as not to put off potential clients. It appears that's what James did. When the 1880 U. S. Census recorder for Dickinson County, Kansas came round, James listed his age as 24, adding six years. He later began "correcting" that, giving his age as 36 for an 1895 Kansas state census.

After two years as a newspaper editor, Brady started a very successful real estate business, with offices in Chicago, St. Louis, and Houston. Extensions of that enterprise brought him to Idaho in 1895. From a base in Pocatello, Brady led irrigation and water power developments all over eastern Idaho.

One of those projects was an American Falls hydropower plant, which began operation in 1902. The initial structure included a diversion weir to direct flow into the power plant. (A dam impounding the entire river was not built until twenty-five years later.)

In 1907, The Oregonian, in Portland, reported (October 23, 1907) that “The Idaho Consolidated Power Company, with a capital of $2,000,000, has absorbed the American Falls Power, Light & Water Company, the Pocatello Electric Light & Power Company and the Blackfoot Power & Water Company.”

James had holdings in all of these companies and the paper noted that “Brady retains the presidency of the new company.” Power County, created in 1913, got its name from the presence of the American Falls hydropower plant. The town of American Falls easily won the county seat.

Brady also played a major role in the National Irrigation Congress, serving as its Vice President and on its Executive Committee. His activities for other national business development organizations gave him considerable name recognition outside the state of Idaho.

In 1909, Brady began a two-year term as Idaho Governor. During his tenure, Idaho instituted a school for the deaf, dumb, and blind, and made provision for orphaned or neglected children. The legislature also authorized local option liquor laws and implemented a direct primary system.

Brady failed in his re-election bid. However, Idaho's U. S. Senator Weldon Heyburn died in office and, in 1913, Brady was selected to fill the remainder of his term. At the completion of that term, Brady was elected for a full term that was to run into 1921.

War bond sales, WW-I. Library of Congress.
His national reputation earned him a number of important committee assignments. His seat on the Military Affairs Committee particularly interested Brady. Despite deteriorating health, he threw himself into legislative programs intended to support World War I soldiers and sailors, and their families.

The Senator had a heart attack and died in January 1918. Hawley, a political opponent but personal admirer of Brady, wrote, "his dying regret was that he could not live to do his part in the solution of the problems which he saw would confront this country after the victory, which he knew would come to the arms of the Allies."
References: [Hawley]
“Brady, James Henry, (1862 - 1918),” Biographical Directory of the United States Senate, online.
“Idaho Governor James Henry Brady,” National Governors Association, online.
Albert R. Taylor, “History of Normal-School Work in Kansas,” Transactions, Vol. VI, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka (1900).

Monday, June 11, 2018

Prolific and World Famous Bridge Designer David Steinman [otd 06/11]

D. B. Steinman.
Boston College collections.
David Barnard Steinman, considered one of the greatest bridge designers of all time, was born June 11, 1886 in New York City. He grew up almost literally in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, which turned his thoughts in that direction. The first in his family to attend college, he received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1911.

Even before the doctorate was finished, the University of Idaho hired Steinman as a civil engineering instructor. A technical publisher later issued his doctoral dissertation as a book that became a must-have text among professionals of the day.

Steinman proved to be an enthusiastic and popular teacher. He handled, at his request, a heavy teaching load of engineering courses. But not content with that, Steinman also organized and taught the first classes in architecture offered by the University. Remarkably, he attained full professor status before he moved on after just four years.

He actually executed his first bridge design while in Idaho. Limited to logs for material and the Boy Scout troop he led as Scoutmaster for a construction crew, Steinman developed innovative ways to complete the design anyway. Beyond that and his teaching, he found time to lead an extensive program of campus improvements.

However, although he enjoyed teaching, a relatively new, little-known university offered too little scope for someone of Steiman's genius and drive. In 1914, he took a job in New York City with one of the leading bridge designers of the era. After a brief period with another well-known designer, Steinman started his own engineering firm in 1920. Soon, he and another designer formed a partnership that would work together for a quarter century.

Entire books have been written about the many bridges (over 400) Steinman and his partner designed and built, the innovations he devised, and the string of awards he won. Some of the projects they tackled were considered almost impossible, and many required new designs and approaches.

One example was the Waldo-Hancock Bridge across the Penobscot River in Maine, completed in 1931. The historian for the Historic American Engineering Record program wrote that, “Technologically, the Waldo–Hancock Bridge represented a number of firsts.”

It was one of the first two in the United States to use pre-stressed cabling, which reduced the installation and adjustment time. Also, for the first time, parts were pre-marked as to where they were to be installed – another significant cost savings. The bridge was also the first to include a tower truss type that would later be used in the Golden Gate Bridge.

Like engineers worldwide, Steinman was shocked by the wind-caused collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940. He went on to make major contributions to our knowledge of bridge aerodynamics.
Mackinac Bridge.
Wikipedia Commons, submitted by “Jeffness” in April 2007.

Steinman considered the Mackinac Bridge his "crowning achievement." The span, which connects the bulk of Michigan to its upper peninsula, held the record as the longest suspension bridge in the world for forty years. It's still the longest in the Western Hemisphere.

While Idaho could hold him for only four years, the University can point with pride to a remarkable number of his students who went on to make important engineering contributions. One of his students became Chief Engineer for the Hoover Dam project. Another worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority and consulted with Israeli officials on water projects for the Jordan River.

Steinman was working on a design to bridge the Strait of Messina, to connect Sicily to the Italian "boot," when he died in August 1960.
References: [Brit]
Richard J. Beck, Famous Idahoans, Williams Printing, (© Richard J. Beck, 1989).
Katherine Larson Farnham, Waldo-Hancock Bridge, HAER No. ME-65. Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service, Washington, D. C. (November 1999).
Rafe Gibbs, Beacon for Mountain and Plain: Story of the University of Idaho, The Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho (© The Regents of the University of Idaho, 1962).
Richard G. Weingardt, Engineering Legends: Great American Civil Engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers (August 1, 2005).

Sunday, June 10, 2018

More Paved Highways, Better Bridges Demanded by “Good Roads” Groups [otd 06/10]

On Tuesday, June 10, 1913, the Fourth Annual Convention of the Intermountain Good Roads Association opened in Boise. Convention sessions ran through Thursday evening, with such topics as "Good Enough Roads for the Traffic." Thursday morning, former Idaho Governor James H. Hawley spoke on "Good Roads and Their Relation to Mining."
Mud is the enemy. National Archives

On Friday, the convention offered a tour to the Arrowrock Dam site. The dam was then about two years from completion. At this fourth convention, member states were identified as Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Roads in Colonial America were notoriously bad. As long as most people lived near the Atlantic coast, goods and people could travel by small ships built for that trade. Roads stretching inland were little more than widened trails scraped on the surface. That slowly improved, mostly through the efforts of toll road builders.

Thus, except for special cases, almost the only decent road surfaces were the streets in towns that could afford them. Rural areas largely made do with dirt tracks that turned to bottomless quagmires when it rained. Farmers knew they would benefit from better roads. However, the status quo was “good enough” most of the year and they shied away from the cost for something they used only once in a while.

Oddly enough, pressure for change arose from what was essentially a recreational fad, the bicycle. Without going into the morass of who invented what, when, bicycles were “all the rage” in the United States by the 1870s. Clubs proliferated, and they wanted to do more than just pedal around town. Thus, bicycle enthusiasts started the Good Roads Movement in 1880.

Good Roads associations quickly grew all over the country. The advocacy changed as cars became more common, and automobile companies took up the cause. By 1913, better roads and bridges for motor vehicles were the main focus.

The first Intermountain Association convention had urged "the American Automobile Association to consider a transcontinental route from New York to San Francisco or Los Angeles or the north coast cities." Such a planned road would hopefully replace the hit-or-miss (often "miss" in the West) patchwork of locally-maintained routes.

The Boise convention passed a resolution that expressed the delegates' "appreciation" of national efforts to construct such a route: "a great national free thoroughfare for the accommodation of all sorts of transportation."

Delegates also advocated educational improvements. They recommended the creation of collegiate engineering coursework "wherein shall be given special consideration and attention to the subject of public highways." Moreover, the faculty offering that coursework should establish an outreach program to provide instruction for county road builders and overseers.

As it happened, the University of Idaho already had such a program. They had completed their second annual good roads short course just months earlier. One of the lecturers was David B. Steinman, who would go on to become a world renowned bridge designer [blog, tomorrow].
Howdy! Montana State University Archives.

Another resolution said, "we demand the opening of the Yellowstone and all other natural parks to motor-propelled vehicles, thus enabling the people of our country to 'See America First'." That resolution paid off two years later, when the first cars were admitted to Yellowstone Park.

At the conference, delegates elected prominent Boise physician Dr. Lucien P. McCalla to be the Association’s next President. Within a day of so of the convention’s closing, Dr. McCalla received a telegram welcoming the Intermountain Association as an affiliate of the National Highways Association. Such recognition was expected to significantly enhance the prestige and resources of  the regional body.
References: [Brit], [French]
“Fourth Annual Convention of the Inter-Mountain Good Roads Association,” Better Roads Magazine, Vol. III, No. 7, Better Roads Publishing Company, Jamestown, Ohio (July 1913).
William Clark Hilles, The Good Roads Movement in the United States: 1880-1916, M. A. thesis, Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina (1958).
“Join National Organization on Highways,” Idaho Statesman, Boise (June 14, 1913).
Mary Pickett, “Powered Vehicles had Bumpy Start in Yellowstone, Glacier Parks,” Montana Standard, Butte (October 4, 2008).
“Resolutions of the Good Roads,” The Evening Standard, Ogden, Utah (Sept 26, 1910).

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Treaty of 1863 Reduces Nez Perce Reservation, Sows Seeds of Trouble [otd 06/09]

On June 9, 1863, U. S. government negotiators concluded a treaty with the Nez Percés Indians. That treaty substantially reduced the "official" reservation, and promoted tensions that would bear ill fruit many years later.
Nez Percés Chief Lawyer, ca. 1861.
University of Washington Special Collections.

By 1845-1850, white settlement between the future border of Idaho and the Cascade Mountains had significantly intruded on native tribes there. This resulted in series of clashes, the “Cayuse War,” that ran on until 1855. At that point, the government “negotiated” treaties that forced several tribes onto small reservations. In fact, the restrictions in those treaties led to yet another Indian war three years later.

Officials also negotiated a first treaty with the Nez Percés in 1855. However, unlike the other tribes, the Nez Percés received a reservation that included much, although not all, of their traditional homeland. Space precludes a full discussion of all the white misconceptions concerning the tribe and this treaty. Basically, white officials felt they were benevolently “granting” the Indians an expansive domain. Conversely, the Nez Percés saw the treaty as recognition of their sovereignty over lands they had held since before Europeans settled in the New World.

Also, the Indian Agent disliked dealing with fifty-plus band chiefs. Thus, he arbitrarily designated a Head Chief who would ostensibly speak for all. His chosen one was a man known to whites as "Chief Lawyer.” Indian leaders, who composed a council of equals, put up with this foolishness, but not to the extent of letting the so-called Head Chief do anything important. Fifty-eight band chiefs signed the 1855 reservation treaty.

Yet even then many tribesmen opposed the agreement. They felt that the goods and services promised by the white negotiators were not a fair trade for the lands that were ceded. Then delays in providing the promised payments further strengthened the anti-treaty faction. Still, events proceeded without severe problems for awhile.

But opposition to the pact grew even greater when white settlers began to push onto Nez Percés treaty lands. The numbers were small at first. As time passed, however, more and more stock raisers began to compete for Nez Percés range. Given time, even this friction might have been resolved.

But then prospectors discovered gold on the reservation lands in Idaho. Local chiefs feared permanent settlers, but transient miners seemed to pose no particular threat. The Indians agreed to the construction of a warehouse where steamboats could offload shipments for transfer to pack trains. Nothing more, however, was to be built there.
Lewiston, 1862. Nez Perce County Historical Society.

Whites violated that agreement almost immediately. The full tent city of Lewiston sprang into being on Nez Percés land and grew explosively.

Government officials had a far greater agenda than just solving the Lewiston situation when negotiations for the 1863 treaty began. Land-greedy settlers wanted the territory alloted by the 1855 treaty. With glowing promises, officials "persuaded" Chief Lawyer to accept, for the whole tribe, a small allotment stretching from near Lapwai to around Kamiah.

Naturally, tribes living on the “ceded” lands refused to sign the new treaty. The Nez Percés were thus split into "treaty" and "non-treaty" factions. By some chicanery, officials scraped up over 50 signatures for the treaty, even though the agreement covered no more than half of the bands.

Amazingly, this untenable situation held, despite rising tensions, for fourteen years. (As usual, few of the glowing promises were ever honored.)
Refrences: [B&W]
Jerome A. Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 1877: The U.S. Army and the Nee-Me-Poos Crisis, Montana Historical Society Press: Helena (2000).
Francis Haines, The Nez Percés: Tribesmen of the Columbia Plateau, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman (1955).