Three Goodale Routes In The Payette Valley
Jim McGill (Update 01-09-05)

Attached below is a map of the Emmett to north and NW, with the three routes that can correctly be considered part of the Goodale Cutoff through that area. In the identification of the main Oregon Trail and California Trail, and other alternates, variants and related routes, historians have related all the acceptable secondary routes that made ways for emigrant traffic to reach their destinations to the originals, with names of the route system or with the names of the leaders that discovered the related routes. In this case, Goodale’s Cutoff, as in all others, the leader did not have to follow the route himself to have his name shared on all subsequent variants. If later emigrants began to use the variants, trail mappers and markers have used the name of the originator in tagging and identifying the following changed or supplemental routes!

Every variant that has been researched and searched in this present Goodale paper, and is being called part of the Goodale North or Goodale Cutoff by the writer meets every similar criteria that prior trail historians, researchers, writers, markers, mappers, and rut-nuts have used in decisions about legitimate emigrant trails. All three routes which are the subject of this addendum to the original research paper are prime examples such trails and variants. The same kinds of former emigrant trails identification measures have been applied, and all three have been found to be primarily used by emigrants, emigrant miners and all other kinds, or received equal use with freighters, stages, and other purposeful travelers to and through Idaho. None can be eliminated from being an emigrant road, but Tim Goodale only followed one of them!

In writing the recent paper on the Goodale North, the middle route of the three-through Sand Hollow and crossing the two Willow Creeks before meeting the southern route near the mouth of Little Willow-was only briefly addressed. In that paper this writer had originally indicated that the north side bluffs route could be a variant of the Cutoff.

The other route that went north of Emmett and on through Crane Creek (Map below–large gray dots) is well established in the Goodale North research paper. The route along the south side of the Payette River (dark dots) is also well documented as slightly later but probably the most used route by emigrants, and became the main Boise City to Umatilla Road to the Olds Ferry after 1864. (The north side bluff route was first used as the Umatilla road.) The lighter gray dotted route across the southern end of Sand Hollow, over the bluffs north of the river and across Big Willow Creek remained to be better studied and better documented when the original paper was written.

The Sand Hollow route was that which was document by the 1864 Harriet Loughary Diary, crossing the Payette River near Emmett. This was also the route documented with mileages given in the first half of the March 1863 Horton road report, the north route in the second half. (The southern route was unknown in early 1863.) The question that remained was whether this may have been a trail variant or even Goodale’s original route toward the Weiser River!

A trip to the area on December 25, 2004 (and again on January 14, 2005, and some subsequent to that) and a detailed study of the 1867 land plats, as well as time spent in viewing the available Internet satellite photos, offered more complete information that filled some of the gaps. The biggest question about that middle route of the three shown was why it would have been used and the trail being followed so far north from the Payette River for several miles.

In following along Highway 52 from Emmett NW it became evident that a route near the south side of the river, as the 1867 land plats showed a road followed, would not have been possible without much road work to go around and through some of the sloughs and winding channels of the river. Emigrants would not have done this work, but would have found the route better after the Umatilla stage road was completed with some necessary road work, probably in 1864.

The question remained, would Goodale’s group have started road improvements that early in their travels? Moses Splawn’s and Dunham Wright’s accounts both seem to indicate that they did road work only after starting up toward and along the Weiser River area. This writer’s early supposition that Goodale probably did not cross the Payette River at Emmett and followed the south side to the Bluff Station area crossing was based much on the early thinking that this would have been an easier south side route as compared to that middle route. It was also based upon the heavy use of the southern route by later emigrants who seemed to indicate at times that they thought they were following Goodale. No one on the Goodale Train that supplied any account indicated where the Payette River had been crossed.

In examining the entire middle route by this time, and studying the Payette River on the plats and on the satellite photos, it became apparent that the middle route would have been a relative easy route, over low rolling hills most of the way, and along flat stream bottoms. In the 1860s the main river channel was flowing almost one mile north of its present course, part of the way from the Emmett Valley to Little Willow Creek. It was under the bluffs on the north!

Especially between the two Willow Creeks the main river channel was on the north side of where Highway 52 now passes, and the southern route’s crossing of the river was a mile north of where a map indicates that it would have been crossed today if the same trail had followed the same route. That mean the river was flowing where Big Willow Creek is now flowing, under the 150 feet high bluffs (under the “Diversion Dam” name on the NW corner of the above map). This channel is still visible along the bluffs. Thus the north side road had to be up on top of the bluffs.

In the area seen on the map south of the mouth of Big Willow Creek there was then and still are very many channels of the river, and sloughs and swampy areas. The river lines on the map across and through that north side area represent all of those channels. The road would have needed to go up on the rolling hills to the north to get through, and would have stayed drier and easier than anywhere along the river on either side.

The ruts still go up a gradual valley to the NW of Sand Hollow and over the top to Big Willow on a relative easy route. (The ruts are still very evident on the satellite photos from about half way across, on the northern end on to Big Willow, but in dense brush on the SE end.) Almost every yard of ruts that remain has now been walked, and many photos taken. The route from Big Willow to Little Willow follows a present dirt road part of the way, and is still evident where the early plats show it was located.

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