Prospectors, Forerunners of Civilization

Prospectors, the usual forerunners of civilization in mineralized regions, were still seeking new El Dorados. A few of them set out from Rocky Bar in 1865 and discovered and filed for record two gold quartz mining claims on what was later to be known as the Gold Belt, and which are the earliest recorded mining claims in any part of what is now within the confines of Blaine County. These were called the Big Camas and the Black Cinder, the notices of which were filed for record on September 11, 1865, and are recorded in Book 4 of Quartz Mining Records of Alturas County, Idaho Territory, on pages 41 and 44, respectively.

The locators of the Big Camas were Ross Smith, David Whitmer, John Tudor, H. S. Waikfield, J. B. Ingersoll, J. B. Harris, D. W. Lichtenthaler and M. H. Williams. The locators of the Black Cinder were Ross Smith, M. H. Williams, J. N. Mason and W. H. Spencer. Two of these locators, M. H. Williams of Bellevue and David Whitmer of Broadford, were early pioneers of Wood River and lived here until called hence. This record effectually disposes of the contention that the earliest discovery of minerals in what is now Blaine County was on Warm Springs Creek in 1878. But there were no permanent settlers in southern Alturas County until 1879. The great obstacle to the development of this region until that year was nomadic bands of blood thirsty Indians, who regarded the mountain ranges and Camas Prairie as their peculiar property. After they were driven out in the campaign of 1878 white settlers followed almost upon their heels.

Unlike Pierce, Florence, Warren’s diggings, Boise Basin and Rocky Bar, it was not gold, but large quantities of high grade silver and lead ores discovered in many of the hills and mountains in the Wood River country, which attracted people from far and near, notably from Boise Basin, Rocky Bar, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Colorado, the Black Hills of Dakota, and else where. At the time in question and until the building of the Oregon Short Line Branch of the Union Pacific railroad in 1883, the nearest railroad station was Blackfoot, Idaho, on the Utah and Northern, a narrow-gauge railroad.

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