As stated in the introduction, we hope to amend the concept that the only true emigrants on the Oregon Trail system, had to go on to Oregon or at least to the Northwest beyond Idaho. When one hears in discussions about the Goodale North route that most travelers north of Boise were “only miners with pack trains, not emigrants with wagons” (as we will see not an overall accurate assessment), a concept seems to be implied that miners were not really emigrants! We will examine the evidence.

One primary and dependable record from 1863 seems to be appropriate here, which almost hooks the title emigrants to the miners. In a hotel ad found in the Oregonian newspaper from August 4, 1863, we find, “New Discovery. New York House! Pleasant Valley, Baker County, Oregon. Built and furnished good house on the Emigrant road to the Boise Mines.” 1)Nellie Ireton Mills, All Along the River: Territorial and Pioneer Days on the Payette (Montreal, Canada: printed privately, 1963), p. 37. This advertised house was on the labeled “emigrant” road that many miners were using to go back to Idaho across the Brownlee Ferry-and later ferries too. The upper continuation of Goodale’s whole “mining” road across Oregon was commonly called an emigrant road in Oregon.

The first towns that grew up north of Boise were in and near the Boise Basin. These grew rapidly within a year of Goodale’s Train. Emigrants were a part of this growth! In the mid to later 1860s, other towns and ranches began to be established along and near the upper Weiser River, and west, east and northeast of the early emigrant town of Salubria. We see some amazing statistics about the first Boise Basin towns. Beth Gibson wrote:

By October [1862], two towns sprung up, Pioneer City and Idaho City. News got out [about the gold] and the rush was on. On March 4, 1863, President Lincoln signed a bill creating Idaho Territory. By then, Idaho City was even larger than Portland [writers emphasis], with 6,275 people. Placerville had 3,254, Centerville had 2,638, Pioneerville had 2,734, and Granite Creek had 1,500. 2)Beth Gibson, “Boise Basin Mining District,” Beth Gibson Papers, (2001), p. 1. Obtained from the Internet, AOL hometown page, search by James McGill, 10-24-2004.

This Beth Gibson report went on to add that though many people left the Boise Basin during the winter of 1863-64, they were back by the thousands in 1864, and by then new stage lines were running to the Basin, including a stage from Boise. There were also stages begun that year from both Walla Walla, and Umatilla to the Boise Basin. 3)Beth Gibson, “Boise Basin Mining District,” Beth Gibson Papers, (2001), p. 2. Obtained from the Internet, AOL hometown page, search by James McGill, 10-24-2004.

Umatilla Landing in Oregon had begun in 1862, and within a year it was a strong rival to Walla Walla. A stage route was soon established to Boise and to Placerville directly from Umatilla. In 1864, a Umatilla to Horseshoe Bend stage route was also begun. 4)ISHS, “Stage Lines – Boise Basin.” Reference Series, #144, (1971). Internet search, “Umatilla Boise road,” 10-21-2004. Wagon-passable roads were needed for stages, and it is reasonable to recognize that though early in the 1860s pack trains did carry a lot of supplies into the Boise Basin, it was not long before wagons were being used as well. They used part of the Crane Creek route!

We are reminded that a trip from Boise to Idaho City used only part of the lower Goodale North route. But there is evidence that by 1863, the whole road through Crane Creek was open for wheeled passage, and on NW all the way to the Brownlee Ferry. In a report dated March 17, 1863, W. P. Horton wrote from Boise, about his travel from Washington and Oregon to Placerville. He recorded two routes-from Walla Walla via Olds Ferry to Placerville, and in the reversed direction, the central route from the Emmett area Payette River crossing to “old emigrant crossing of the Powder River,” via the Brownlee Ferry:

From the Payette river to a small creek, (the road being level, with wood, grass, and water). . . .12 [miles]. From this creek to another small creek, (road level and water, grass and wood plenty). . . .11. From there to another small stream, (road, wood, water and grass very good). . . .11. From this stream to Weiser river, (the road crosses this stream where it is divided by an island – both parts being very wide, so it will hardly ever be past fording). . . . 11. From the Weiser river to a beautiful stream [E. Pine Cr.]. . . .14 [etc.]. . . . 5)W. P. Horton, “Placerville, Boise Mines,” Washington Statesman (no city) April 4, 1863, p. 3, c. 2. Typed copy obtained from Gary Franklin, Cambridge, January 20, 2003, pp. 1-2 .

The mileages indicate that the streams at the indicators were probably first Willow Creek, then Little Willow Creek at Little Willow Flat, Crane Creek and then the Weiser River. Horton indicated he had obtained the second route information from “three gentlemen, all of whom, to my own knowledge, are wholly uninterested,” thus information should have been accurate. They had traveled that route to Walla Walla, and back to Placerville with wagons, via Crane Creek! (W. W. Lloyd and Mrs. Edna A. Melhorn, “Baker County Historical Society,” Oregon Historical Quarterly, V. 49 (1948). p. 306; Hiram T. French, “Discovery of Gold,” Chapter 5, History of Idaho (Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1914), p. 35; Ibid, “Boise County,” p. 133. French quoted the story told by Moses Splawn, before recorded in John Hailey’s History of Idaho.; pp. 35-36-continuation to Brownlee.)

In the first mileage distance to Willow Creek (quoted above) the report stated that the route was “level!” When first exploring the route, May 13, 2004, with one BLM officer and four other I-OCTA members, and searching for the old ruts near two present graveled roads (Map below) that divide (bottom of T7N, R1W, Sec. 5), go north over a steep and loose-soiled grade up the foothills, and down to rejoin near a valley ranch, the writer wondered about the accuracy of the stated “level” information. That searched for the route was over a hill that was anything but level for the first 2-3 miles!

Variant North Of Emmett followed Gradual Elevations

Variant North Of Emmett followed Gradual Elevations

When on October 22, 2004, this writer and wife found the actual old trail ruts just east of Haw Creek (T7N, R1W, Sec. 4), and somewhat east of those present gravel roads-exactly where the 1867 land plat indicated the road had gone-the word “level” seemed to have been used as a relevant description. The one mile grade up was certainly not steep, all the way over a small pass. This was not much of a climb compared to many other hilly roads that wagons used. The term, level, was also applied along other sections of the same road, but it would be difficult to find any real level road going on north of the foothills beyond Emmett for some miles! Kelly described this same area as “easy rolling hills!” 6)Milton Kelly, Editor, “Editorial Correspondence: Emmettsville,” Idaho Statesman, Boise, June 22, 1876, p. 2, col. 1. Obtained from Larry Jones, ISHS, June 9, 2004. See information under p. 10. Along the route to Little Willow Flat road clearing would have been required in some places to allow wagon passage.

Who were the people using the discussed route during the early and late 1860s? Who were all those people that ended up in the Boise Basin in 1863, coming from both SE and NW, at least 16,446, according to the Beth Gibson count in Endnote 16 and p. 12? Of course the answer must include some Chinese, probably few of them with wagons. But there were people with many occupations, some coming all the way from the eastern states to try their luck at mining and other support occupations. Many continued in their former occupations, and helped develop those towns where the miners spent their gold!

Nellie Mills wrote a description of the typical people headed to the mining towns.

Farmers left their plows. Merchants and bankers were on their way. Clerks quit their jobs. . . Tinhorns knew “the pickings’ would be good. Carpenters, preachers, packers, millwrights, doctors – everyone was going, and many of them in the fall of ’62 and spring of ’63. . . Trappers and prospectors followed the eastern extension of this trail [going south] from the Weiser River to Crane Creek, thence over a pass in the hills to Squaw Creek. 7)Nellie Ireton Mills, All Along the River: Territorial and Pioneer Days on the Payette (Montreal, Canada: printed privately, 1963), p. 32.

On only the first 10 of the 23 page, 1870, Idaho City Precinct, Federal Census, are found people with 46 varying occupations. Among the miners and laundry people, a lot of Chinese named as both, were also numerous individuals in practice with many expected job areas that provided services, food, and supplies. Notably were 6 attorneys, 5 shoemakers, 5 blacksmiths, 2 brewers, and 3 watchmakers. There were also 5 butchers, 1 photographer, 2 soda water makers, 2 dairymen, a typesetter, a wagon maker, and a tin-smith listed. Liquor salesmen and bartenders, druggist and doctors, hairdressers and barbers, and prostitutes and pool room attendants supplied all of the society members, including also the lumbermen, sawyers, carpenters, cabinet makers, and livery stablemen, with goods and services that were needed outside of their own professions. The money men, bankers and Wells Fargo people, and the many mining related jobbers also called Idaho City home during the 1860s. 8)Fitz James Clyde, Enumerator, 1870 U. S. Census (August 24, 1870), Idaho City Precinct, Boise County, Territory of Idaho, pp. 53-62. Ancestry.com – Images online. October 27, 2004, http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-2530104-10470501?url=http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7163

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References   [ + ]

1.Nellie Ireton Mills, All Along the River: Territorial and Pioneer Days on the Payette (Montreal, Canada: printed privately, 1963), p. 37.
2.Beth Gibson, “Boise Basin Mining District,” Beth Gibson Papers, (2001), p. 1. Obtained from the Internet, AOL hometown page, search by James McGill, 10-24-2004.
3.Beth Gibson, “Boise Basin Mining District,” Beth Gibson Papers, (2001), p. 2. Obtained from the Internet, AOL hometown page, search by James McGill, 10-24-2004.
4.ISHS, “Stage Lines – Boise Basin.” Reference Series, #144, (1971). Internet search, “Umatilla Boise road,” 10-21-2004.
5.W. P. Horton, “Placerville, Boise Mines,” Washington Statesman (no city) April 4, 1863, p. 3, c. 2. Typed copy obtained from Gary Franklin, Cambridge, January 20, 2003, pp. 1-2 .
6.Milton Kelly, Editor, “Editorial Correspondence: Emmettsville,” Idaho Statesman, Boise, June 22, 1876, p. 2, col. 1. Obtained from Larry Jones, ISHS, June 9, 2004. See information under p. 10.
7.Nellie Ireton Mills, All Along the River: Territorial and Pioneer Days on the Payette (Montreal, Canada: printed privately, 1963), p. 32.
8.Fitz James Clyde, Enumerator, 1870 U. S. Census (August 24, 1870), Idaho City Precinct, Boise County, Territory of Idaho, pp. 53-62. Ancestry.com – Images online. October 27, 2004, http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-2530104-10470501?url=http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7163