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Idaho Mines and Mining

Idaho is essentially a mining territory. It was her mines that first stimulated immigration to within her borders, and it is to the results of the mines that her present prosperity is due in a great measure. Now that mining has been reduced to a legitimate occupation, there is less reckless speculation, perhaps, than of old, but more solid, substantial business. The days of stock gambling in mining properties are about over. Science, aided by practical experience, has taught the best methods of treating ores. Capitalists no longer purchase prospects for fabulous prices on the strength of picked specimens or the vicinity of rich claims. It is a fortunate circumstance for Idaho that mining has been for the most part a steady, productive industry, yielding rich returns to the patient and intelligent prospector, and that it has not been necessary to rely on fictitious “booms.”

Political Secessionism And Crime

Before the mining period, commencing in 1862, Idaho was a comparatively unknown region belonging nominally to Oregon and afterward to Washington. During the years 1862-3 such was the rush of immigration to this section that Idaho was erected into a territory of the United States government. The enabling act to organize as such was passed by congress in the spring of the latter year, and on the 22d of September William H. Wallace, late delegate to congress from Washington, who had, on July l0th preceding, been appointed governor of Idaho by President Lincoln, issued his proclamation for organizing the territory, with the capital at Lewiston; but the fact of this proclamation was scarcely known to the miners in the wilderness, far removed from mail facilities, until the following spring. Meanwhile the laws of Washington were in force. The first occurrence of the name Idaho territory in the public records seems to have been under date of August 7, 1863, in Boise. James Judge was on that day made assessor. Previously to his election as delegate Wallace had districted the territory, for judicial purposes, as follows: First district, Nez Percé and Shoshone counties, A. C. Smith judge; second, Boise county, Samuel C. Parks judge; third, Missoula county and the country east of the Rocky mountains, Sidney Edgerton judge. Florence, Bannack City and Hellgate were appointed as the seats of federal courts. Edgerton was named as the chief justice of the territory, and probably should have been given the more populous region of the Boise basin; but Wallace was prejudiced against “imported” judges. Alexander C. Smith, being from Olympia, was given...

The Snake River Valley Reminiscences of the Early Days

In 1833 Captain Bonneville, an officer in the army, secured leave of absence and spent about two years here, mostly in the Snake river valley. He left his horses for the winter with some Indians at a camp near where St. Anthony is now located. He and his men made their way down Snake river in boats till they reached Black Rock canyon, where now is Idaho Falls, the thriftiest town in southeast Idaho: but they dared not venture in their boats through the canyon. Captain Bonneville found a desolate sage-covered valley, holding out no promise of ever being more than a range where Indian cayuses might pick a precarious living on bunch grass. Not a tree as far as the eye could reach, except an occasional wind-twisted and gnarled juniper growing out of the seams in the lava rock along the banks of Snake River. In 1849, when the California stampede was on, many of the gold-seekers passed over the same Snake river valley, and, in after years, relating their experience, described it as one of the most hopeless spots encountered in their ox-train journey across the continent. In 1864 the stampede for Alder Gulch, Montana, was fairly under way. Whether from east or west, the Snake River valley was on the route. A ferry was put in by John Gibson just below where Blackfoot now is, and soon afterward one by a man named Kutch, some miles further up the river. The same year Harry Rickets started a ferry, known as the Eagle Rock ferry, to catch the travel that came over what was known as Lander’s...

The Growth Of Quartz Mining Discoveries

Prospecting early indicated that the future mineral wealth of Idaho would depend upon quartz mining, and accordingly efforts were early made to develop that feature of Idaho’s principal industry. In the autumn of 1863 it was found that thirty-three claims of gold and silver quartz-mines had been made on the south Boise alone, ail of which promised well. The Ida Elmore, near the head of Bear creek, the first and most famous of the south Boise quartz mines in that year, was discovered in June. In an arastra it yielded two hundred and seventy dollars to the ton of rock; but at length it fell into the hands of speculators. The next several mines of this class were the Barker, East Barker, Ophir, Idaho, Independence, Southern Confederacy, Esmeralda, General Lane, Western Star, Golden Star, Mendocino, Abe Lincoln, Emmett and Hibernia. The Idaho assayed, thirty feet below the surface, one thou-sand seven hundred and forty-four dollars in gold and ninety-four dollars and eighty-six cents in silver; Golden Eagle, two thousand two hundred and forty dollars in gold and twenty-seven dollars in silver, from the croppings. At the Ida Elmore a town was laid out called Fredericksburg, and other towns were also laid out elsewhere, many of which remained towns only in the imagination. Rocky Bar, however, laid out in 1864, beautifully materialized, while Boise City, founded at the junction of Moore creek with the Boise River, has long been the capital of this commonwealth. The first discovery on Granite creek, in the line of quartz-mining, was at first named the Pioneer and afterward Gold Hill, when consolidated with the Landon:...

The First Settlements the March of Progress

The first settlements made by whites with-in the present boundaries of Idaho were effected by Jesuit missionaries, as is true throughout the Pacific coast region; and previously to 1863, the beginning of a new era in this region, there were but two or three settlements made by others. In the primeval stage the country was not at all inviting to civilized people. The almost omnipresence of red savages precluded all thoughts of prospecting in the mountains for valuable minerals, while the valleys seemed to be only arid deserts absolutely irreclaimable for agricultural purposes. In the outside world ideas as to the climate were de-rived only from hunters and trappers, who spent only the winters here, in the mountains, where the cold was intense and snow abundant, and from emigrants, who passed through here only during hot weather, when the valleys they traversed seemed to deserve connection with what was known as “the Great American desert.” One authority states that the first permanent settlement in Idaho was made at Mount Idaho, the present County seat of Idaho County. Probably the first permanent settlement, however, was made in 1834 in which year Nathaniel J. Wyeth, with a party of sixty men, started across the continent and established Fort Hall as a trading post near Snake River. This fort was the most important point between the Missouri River and Salt Lake to most of the early transcontinental emigrants. It was at the crossing of the Missouri-Oregon and Utah-Canada trails. On the 11th of June 1834, Wyeth and his party encamped on a branch of the Blackfoot, near Port Neuf; the 12th on...

Idaho Historical and Descriptive

As to the exact time and period in which the United States acquired possession of what is now the state of Idaho there seems to have been somewhat of confusion in the minds of historical writers, and while it is scarcely demanded that we enter into a consideration of the various theories and conjectures that have been advanced, it is proper that the matter receive due attention and that the most authentic evidence be recognized. The majority of writers and text-books have assigned the region as a part of the vast area included in the Louisiana purchase, to which due reference is made on other pages of this work. This view, however, can not be held as essentially correct in its premises. What was generally known as the “Oregon Country” was not an integral portion of that purchase, and no better or more concise evidence to this effect may be found than that given in the following excerpt from James G. Blaine’s valuable work, “Twenty Years of Congress:” The Louisiana Purchase did not extend beyond the main range of the Rocky Mountains, and our title to that large area which is included in the state of Oregon and in the territories of Washington and Idaho rests upon a different foundation, or rather upon a series of claims, each of which was strong under the law of nations. We claimed it, first, by right of original discovery of the Columbia River by an American navigator, in 1792; second, by an original exploration in 1805; third, by original settlement, in 1810, by the enterprising company of which John Jacob Astor was...

Rival Claims and Pretensions

The claims of the European nations to ownership of the lands and resources of America rested on a somewhat flimsy basis in right. Its morality was that of might. There was a quasi yielding to these claims as against each other on grounds of discovery and formal occupancy. At the same time not one of these powers stopped for a moment to consider what rights of these people that were found there when they came would be violated by their assumptions. Barbaric nations never had any rights that nations calling themselves civilized have felt bound to respect. England, France, and Spain were, as relates to what were termed barbaric nations, the freebooters of the world. America was a field for civilized rapine worthy of the struggle of these racial giants. Under some forms of treaty, designed mostly by either Party to limit the pretensions of the other, but as far as possible leaving itself free to enlarge its own claims as it might have power to enforce them, these powers moved forward first in the agreed division of the area of North America among themselves, and then in using the allotted areas as the small change that settled the balances of peace and war in continental Europe. Plenipotentiaries sat in European capitals, five thousand miles away from the regions most interested, and arbitrated American destinies. In this wav America became the real, though passive, arbiter of the world’s new era. It was what Providence had thrown into the balances of history to poise ultimately its beam for the equities and liberties of humanity. Let us see how the question...

Idaho, the Gem of the Mountains, Origin of the Name

The Mountains have ever been the bulwarks of freedom. Valor is born there; virtue is cherished there, and these are the seeds of song and story. No land ever yet had a literature to endure that had not these for its theme, these off-springs of the pure, sweet atmosphere and sublime splendor of inspiring Mountains; and the more glorious the Mountains, the more glorious the song and story. What then may we not prophesy for Idaho when her torn and devastated placer fields all are terraced vineyards, as in Savoy, and the peace and rest of the old pastoral days of Greece shall possess her? Meanwhile it remains for us to dwell rather upon the vital present; to note the assurances offered in the fair new state of Idaho as this wonderful nineteenth century draws rapidly to its close. Here nature has been lavish to prodigality; here mountain and valley yield forth their treasures; and here are the homes of a progressive, enlightened and a loyal people who honor and receive honor from the whole noble sisterhood of states. The Gem of the Mountains may well challenge admiration, and it is hoped that the pages of this work may bear their part in perpetuating the dramatic story of the brave men and virtuous women who gathered about the cradle of the infant Idaho, and also tell the latter-day story of peace and prosperity. Of the first mentioned duty and its difficulties, we can not, perhaps, do better than to quote from one to whom this mountain-land has ever been most dear. When he essayed a similar work, he said:...

Geological Agencies

In General it may be said that the mountain ranges of Idaho are volcanic upheavals, the mighty bending upward of the crust of the earth’s surface when its inborn fires were lashed to unwonted fury in some stormy age of old eternity. The valleys were doubtless formed by this upheaval of its enclosing ranges, leaving the floor of the surface here comparatively undisturbed. This really rests on a foundation of aqueous rock of unmeasured thickness, on which the alluvial matter that forms its soils has been deposited. With this there are, in many places, deep deposits of water-worn pebbles and stratified sand, which were made at an era much more modern than that of the underlying sandstone. It is useless to endeavor to identify these changes chronologically, as creation in its being and in its mutations writes its historic days in millennials of age, and thus puts our conception of time, drawn as it is from human experience and human history, entirely at fault. Of course, in indicating the forces that formed the now verdant valleys, glacial action must not be forgotten. Far extending moraines and wide glaciated surfaces tell the story of the far-away eras when these mighty ice-plows furrowed and planed down the broken face of the earth’s crust, and smoothed it into its now beauteous vales. Enough has already been said to indicate to the reader that the Mountains of Idaho are of volcanic formation. The great snow peaks are all volcanoes. They are called extinct, though some of them still give distinct evidence of an internal unrest born of pentup fires. Buffalo Hump has been...

Early Explorations

During the long period of time in which the Pacific coast of North America was being slowly brought to the knowledge of civilized man, the course of narrative shows that the Frenchman and Spaniard were the pioneers of exploration in this region, both by sea and land. Spain led the maritime nations in distant and successful voyages. The voyage of Columbus, under the auspices of Ferdinand and his noble queen, Isabella, whose reign over the united kingdoms of Castile and Aragon gave Spain so much glory in that adventurous and chivalrous age, had kindled every maritime Spaniard into a very knight of the seas, and inspired the whole nation with a burning zeal for discovery and conquest of distant lands. Her rulers were among the greatest and most renowned of all ages of the world. Ferdinand and Isabella were succeeded by Charles V., one of the most enlightened and powerful monarchs that ever sat on any throne. He was succeeded by his son Philip, who, though haughty and imperious, so carried forward the ideas and purposes of his great father that his kingdom reached the very zenith of power and influence in the councils of the European monarchs. The woe pronounced upon a “land whose king is a child” could not fall upon Spain during this period. Weak and lusterless as may now be the condition of the Spanish nation, and little as her power is felt or feared in the world today, then soon the Saxon asked privileges of the Castilian and measured his own power by the standard of the other’s greatness. Under the impulse thus pervading...
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