to celebrate 150th year in 2012, area history included
(History continued from last week)
Little things that make a story. All through the 150 years of our history we have incidents and for that matter some interesting people that “help us make a story.” The other day we were thinking about some of the people who lived just above where the ferry crossed the Salmon River and a few more that lived on the river just below. One of the more impressionable of these was the fellow by the name of Harry Tiser who had a little shack at the end of the road. Some of the local young people used to “fun” ole Harry just to see him get riled up but mostly he never bothered anyone and just went about his business mining the cracks in the rock back and forth across the river. Every once in awhile Harry would come to town in his old battered pickup. Some times he would wear a shirt when he came out but otherwise he would just have on his old blue bib overalls and seldom wore shoes. To my knowledge he would scrape off his whiskers or just knife-trim them about every three months. Once in awhile he would come over to our picnic site for a set-to and a visit. This visit would amount to “river talk” or just about what had been going on up and down his stretch of river. I can’t recall him ever doing much reading and if he did it wasn’t worth repeating I guess. A few times Harry would talk about things that happened to him and different encounters with some of the folks on his turf. Sometimes he’d talk about the wild animals that came down for a drink, etc. One of his best stories had to do with a trip out to see the local doctor. Seems he let it get so bad he could barely get in the rig to come out. Anyway, he apparently had fallen down and had this wound on his leg. The doctor cleaned it and gave him some healing salve to use a couple times a day. He said he took the salve twice a day like the doc said and “damn near died” and “got terrible stomach problems.” Near as I could figure he took the salve orally instead of rubbing it on his leg. Harry told me he would just as soon not see the doctor again!
Just a half mile or so down river there was another mining claim for quite a few years operated and worked by Paul Bogli after WWI. Before the present road was built just across the top of the high bluffs the old trail swung a littler higher on the hill about 50 to 75 yards north of the present road and went right through the Bogli mine site before dropping back down to the end of the road site. Many stories have come from this area and from the neighbors and relatives. It’s my understanding that Paul was visited by some fellows in the early days and then he came up missing. When the friends and family later visited the mine there was no trace of Paul or his outfit. The story was that he died in a boating mishap and his death was never resolved. This is also the site of the sand bar which we always called Pine Bar. Later on the boat ramp up above here about ¾ mile now has the sign calling the area Pine Bar. As I recall between the two areas we have had several people from the area lose their lives in drowning accidents.
The next site, about half mile west of the Bogli mine was the area of the Murdock Cabin by a spring of water that had been collected in a cement box. Here is where Roy Murdock and Bernard Roscoe lived for quite a spell. They had relatives in this area of Salmon River and seemed to be well known by everyone who visited the swimming hole here. They both were friendly guys and especially Bernard liked to visit and would gladly spend time with those who enjoyed a little company. Roy died of old age and Bernard was killed when he apparently fell off a bluff while hunting with friends up on Joseph Plains.
The next folks I remember lived in a cabin on the little knoll just on the West side of Graves Creek where it enters into the Salmon River at the Coopers Ferry site. These people were there for quite a number of years and had a number of friends who lived in Cottonwood and they traveled back and forth to visit. I only knew these people as “Mom & Pop” Warren and remember that they ran a small upholstery shop on the side. As I remember none of these above mentioned people had electricity or indoor plumbing.
Just in passing as we move on down the river I have to mention the Burgune cabin which was made mostly of river rock and the remains of it can still be seen in the blackberry bushes just across from Pete and Hilda Johnson’s there on Cooper’s Bar. It’s my understanding that the Burgunes also had a place up the ridge just above Graves Creek somewhat near to the old Roberts place only on the Salmon River side of the ridge. Burgunes were independent self-supporting people. Grandpa worked in the sawmills and on ranches. One of the daughters married Carl Rehder and was grandma to the Rehder family.
Just above the Cooper Ferry hook on this side of the river there was a little shack in about the first gulley. For a few years a small little guy by the name of “Little Joe” lived in this shack. As he had no means of support, how he managed to get by was a mystery. A couple of local people moved him into Cottonwood and set him up to stay in the old service station building that set back in the trees where the carwash now stands. I know he lived there without power, etc., for awhile about the time of WWII. I don’t remember what happened to him after that.
Back on the river, Oscar and Tempest Thompson were living on Coopers Bar for many years selling out to Slim and Mary Johnson circa 1950’s. This large area on the south side of Salmon River across from the mouth of Graves Creek formerly known as Coopers Bar and Ferry was later the Oscar Thompson Ranch and then the Pete and Hilda Johnson Ranch which it still is today. Pete and Hilda run a very successful operation from here and run cattle now over on Getty Creek on the Snake River side of Joseph Plains.
Just ¾ mile down the river is Rice Creek and of course the home of Elmer and Eva Taylor for many years. This was the location where the local ranchers from “across” the river set up the Community Corrals to hold and sort cattle on the way to market at Cottonwood. The early bridge across the river wouldn’t support the big logging trucks so Prairie Land and Timer built a tram to lift the logs off the truck on the south side take them via cable and sling to the north side where they would be put back on the truck (which had crossed the bridge empty) and continue on out to the mill at Grangeville. I remember that the man who ran the tram was called L. G. Ireland and lived in a small travel trailer below the cable operation. His dad also lived in a cabin also on the north side of the river about 1½ miles down river at or on American Bar. Later most people will remember that Ruth and Claude Bell lived in this cabin near American Bar.
About two and one half miles down river on the South side is the location of the Unzigger Place later bought by Vern and Maggie Wright and now occupied by their daughter and son in law Connie and Joe Anderson.
Most of us who have lived in this area have spent many happy hours down on Salmon River. We always had this special stretch of river mostly for use of local folks as the road only passed through the Graves Creek-Rice Creek crossing to the south side of the river then split up Rice Creek to cover the Joseph Plains and Doumeque country. The road came out on the hills in the Camp Howard area then down a very pretty grade to the White Bird area. Beautiful country with a great history all its own. Some of the families with deep roots “across the river” are the Heckmans, Canfields, Brusts, Spencers, Morrows, Hollandsworths, Fitches, Johnsons, Taylors, Thompsons, Wrights, Shroyers, Robbins, Rookes, Sloviaceks, Rickmans, Coopers and many more who came and have left this special part of Idaho on the ridge between the Salmon and Snake Rivers. This truly is a country of many stories of families who lived on the backs of the past and present, the tamed and the wild country.
Since the early 1950’s steelhead fishing has really caught on and especially in the fall people come from pretty well all over to fish the “River of No Return” some 10 to 12 miles south of Cottonwood.
The area where Harry Tison lived.
The Bogli mine site. The road on the hill (center of the photo) was the only way in.
Roy Murdock and Bernard Roscoe lived near the sand bar (white spot in middle of photo) that used to be called Pine Bar.
Pete & Hilda Johnson’s ranch, the former Coopers Ferry site. Photos by Don Hoene.
Elmer Taylor Ranch. There used to be a logging tram there.
Frank Ireland homestead and later Claude Bell homesite at American Bar across the river from the Pine Bar boat ramp.