The Oregon Trail related Cutoff from near the crossing of the Snake River at the Fort Hall site and through south-central Idaho to Ditto Creek, near Mountain Home, for some time commonly known as “Goodale’s Cutoff,” has by 2005 been extensively researched, documented, and mapped. The evidence indicates that it should be more appropriately called the “Jeffrey-Goodale Cutoff,” because of John Jeffrey’s influence in getting emigrants to follow that route 10 years earlier than Tim Goodale’s Wagon Train reopened the trail. And, indeed, the name “Jeffrey’s Road” was used on some earlier maps and records before someone substituted the name of Goodale and dropped Jeffrey’s name! 1)Fred W. Dykes, “Cold, Hard Facts About Jeffrey’s Cutoff,” Overland Journal, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Winter 1996-97), p. 6. The name, Jeffrey-Goodale Cutoff, will be used on the newly revised Western Trails Map, which includes all the historic western trails, thanks much to the influence of trail researchers in Idaho, notably Fred Dykes of Pocatello.

The documentation concerning the many emigrants who followed the route across south central Idaho, for years after Goodale’s long train passed in July and August of 1862, has been included in the writings of various historians. Goodale does deserved some credit, although according to Irving Merrill and Merle Wells it seemed to be partly the decision of the members of Goodale’s Train who chose to follow that trail rather than the traditional and much-used Oregon Trail around the south side of the Snake River. 2)Merrill, Irving R. and Wells, Merle, “Goodale’s Cutoff from Boise Valley to Powder River.” Overland Journal, Vol. 14 (Spring 1996), p. 9. Had not Jeffrey encouraged that route years earlier and built a ferry, and then enough wagons passed to sufficiently open and mark the route before Goodale, Tim Goodale may not have given opportunity to participants in his train to follow that route!

One thing is certain and will become evident in this paper: Goodale knew much about many of the old Indian trails across Idaho, several of which wheels of wagons had never before followed. As a mountain man and western traveler for years, he had, no doubt, crossed the area of Idaho several times. “He found time to range widely throughout southern Idaho, gaining a detailed knowledge of the Shoshoni and their lands.” 3)Irving Merrill, “Tim Goodale and His Cutoff: a Major trail Segment During and After the Fourth Emigration Wave.” Overland Journal, Vol. 8 (Fall 1990), p. 10. This fact becomes more important as we begin to look at the continued route of that part of the Goodale Train that chose to travel from the Boise valley northwesterly (Map, p. 4). One important choice of routes was made as his Train approached the Payette River. Goodale crossed and followed the river NW, and turned north and NE toward Middle Valley and the Middle Weiser River. The continuation on that longer route rather than a possible route along an old Indian trail north from the later Emmett area, required a decision along the way. Goodale needed to choose the route that would have been the best wagon trail. Some road building to allow wagons to pass was required even on the route he chose.

The exceptionally long Goodale Train that had been increased in size and left today’s Champagne Meadow (T3N, R25E, Sec. 31) on Champagne Creek, now Butte County, July 29, 1862, included other trains that had caught up there with the Goodale Train. These many wagons traveled together to near Boise. The added wagons then divided back into smaller trains, most of which followed along the Oregon Trail down the Boise River and crossed into present day Oregon near Fort Boise. But Goodale took his mostly mining-interested emigrants on a new route from Boise, NW to the Payette River. He followed above it for many miles downstream, went northerly and crossed the Weiser River and NE to the later Salubria/ Cambridge area. (Map, route 4 addressed later.) A few miners chose to go from there toward the northern, new mines at Florence, ID. The remaining wagons went on northwest to the Brownlee Ferry site on the Snake River. These cross to Oregon, and went to the Auburn, OR, and to the Powder River mines.

The miners on the main Goodale Train built/cleared a road to the Brownlee Ferry, crossed over the Snake River on the Ferry, built another road out of the canyon, and went on to the Powder River. Very soon miners were coming back easterly into Idaho as well, while other emigrants moved westerly on part or the entire Goodale route.

In the effort to research and identify this route, as well as a trail variant that would soon take others to the same area of later Salubria and Cambridge, it has become apparent that little credit has yet been given to Goodale for his leadership and influence upon much of the later travel across Idaho for several more years, especially to the north of Boise. That variant, indicated on the early land plats and here defined for later understanding, went from near the present Emmett, north across Willow Creek, through the Crane Creek area, and down Dixie Creek to cross the Little Weiser River. It was being used after the Goodale Train passed in 1862. It had started as a pack trail earlier for the miners who came from older northwest gold fields to the newly discovered gold in the Boise Basin, but did soon allow two-way wagon travel. When the news about the Boise Basin gold strikes got out, many men came across Idaho from the east and followed that variant.

We do verify here that there is little doubt that Goodale knew about the soon-begun wagon variant route through Crane Creek to the Cambridge area, as we will see in information presented later, but we will also see that there were reasons that he chose to lead his train on the longer route through the areas of the Payette, the Snake, and the Weiser Rivers. He was neither blindly leading in unknown areas nor “lost” anywhere along the way, as reported later by one of the miners from the Grime’s party that traveled with him. 4)Geneva Gibbs Barry Jewell, “Indian Valley and Surrounding Hills” (1990). p. 8. Only 4 pages of a typed copy, unpublished paper, obtained by mail from Gary Frankin, Cambridge, January 20, 2003. (The Train had met the Grime’s mining party near Boise, and they traveled with the emigrants toward the north. That history has been widely published.)

Few details have been recorded, and the “Goodale North” route (the name coined by this writer in some communications that were sent out during the research), with later variants, has been mostly left out of many Goodale trail history accounts by earlier writers! The exact routes, as near as can now be identified, have been little considered before now. Scant information in print offers the reader/student little chance to learn the details about those trails north. If the amount of prior information accumulated and printed were necessary to substantiate that the Goodale Train made it across Idaho to the Oregon border, it would hardly verify the trip from Boise to the Snake River and the Hells Canyon area! Many miles were on that route, and many days spent to get there!

Back to: Goodale North Trail

References   [ + ]

1.Fred W. Dykes, “Cold, Hard Facts About Jeffrey’s Cutoff,” Overland Journal, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Winter 1996-97), p. 6.
2.Merrill, Irving R. and Wells, Merle, “Goodale’s Cutoff from Boise Valley to Powder River.” Overland Journal, Vol. 14 (Spring 1996), p. 9.
3.Irving Merrill, “Tim Goodale and His Cutoff: a Major trail Segment During and After the Fourth Emigration Wave.” Overland Journal, Vol. 8 (Fall 1990), p. 10.
4.Geneva Gibbs Barry Jewell, “Indian Valley and Surrounding Hills” (1990). p. 8. Only 4 pages of a typed copy, unpublished paper, obtained by mail from Gary Frankin, Cambridge, January 20, 2003.