Roads and Bridges

The roads and bridges of Blaine County are in good condition. The roads are being im proved from year to year and new up-to-date steel and concrete bridges are replacing wooden structures. We learn from history that the first thing which the Romans did after conquering a country was to construct good substantial roads and bridges. This was an absolute necessity with her far-flung empire in order that she might move her armies to any given point with the least possible delay. We are now following in her footsteps in this respect. Good as are the roads now being constructed, it is not contended that they will have the durability of the Roman roads. Those roads for which federal aid is given are being built for military strategic purposes as well as to facilitate travel and commerce. Prior to 1914, all road-building in Idaho had been of the order known as patch-work. Bad holes were filled and the job was done.

The legislature of 1913 enacted a law which provides for systematic, scientific road-building. On May 12, 1914, pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 179, Session Laws of Idaho, 1913, page 558, the Board of County Commissioners of Blaine County entered into an agreement with the State High way commission of the State of Idaho for the construction and improvement of the public highways in said Blaine County, Idaho, and appropriated $20,000 for the cost and expense of construction and improvement of said highways, and the State appropriated $10,000. This was the beginning of systematic road-building in Blaine County. The first contract for the construction of the Sawtooth Park Highway was let to O. C. Burton of Richfield, Idaho, on September 4, 1914. This covered the grading of a 30 mile section from the Lincoln County line to Hailey, at an estimated cost of $7,515. Work was commenced about October 1, 1914 and completed in the following year. A new roadway from Bellevue to Hailey, running on the west side of the railroad right-of-way was secured and the new road built hereon. This road has been maintained by the State since its completion. Previous to this, the road between Bellevue and Hailey ran through the ranches, beginning on Main Street in Bellevue, and ending on Main Street in Hailey.

The highway from Boise via. Mountain Home and Fairfield, which comes within Blaine County a few miles west of Camp Creek Canyon, and comes east as far as Hailey, is a main traveled road, and is traveled not only by people coming and going to Boise, but by many tourists en route to the Yellowstone National Park and other places, who often stay over night at the Hailey Tourist Park. This road is maintained by the county and kept in good condition. The highway which comes into Blaine County about four and a half miles in a northwesterly direction from the Craters of the Moon, and which comes via Carey and Picabo to Hailey, is a main highway to Arco and other points east. This highway has been taken over by the state and is maintained by it. The state also has taken over the highway from the Lincoln Blaine county line up to its junction with the road above mentioned, a little south of Picabo. All the secondary roads needed throughout the county have been built and are maintained by the county and kept in good condition. Trail Creek Highway is one of the scenic roads of the county. It is a short cut from Ketchum to Mackay, the distance being only about 60 miles.

In the early days this was a toll road. It is now maintained by the county and kept in good condition. There is a good road from Ketchum to about one mile beyond Warfield’s Hot Springs. The forest service is building this road and eventually will have it constructed to Carrietown, in Smoky Mining District. The contract recently has been let for the construction of 8.91 miles of highway beginning about one mile north of the Lincoln-Blaine county line, on what is locally known as the ‘Timmerman Hill Highway, and by the state as the Sawooth Park Highway, and by the federal government as U. S. 93, and extending a short distance north of the Stanton school house. The contractor will receive $63,080 for this contract. Blaine County has appropriated, $10,000 for this work which is expected to be completed this year. This new road will shorten the distance in Blaine County approximately two miles and in Lincoln County approximately three miles. The distance from Hailey to Shoshone will then be 43 miles. The grade over Timmerman Hill will be materially reduced. It is expected that a contract for the completion of the remainder of this road in Blaine County will be let this year and the road completed next year. This high way will join the main highway running north and south at the southern end of Main Street in Bellevue.

Lincoln County also has let a contract to have part of this road constructed this year, and it is expected to have the remainder of the road up to the Lincoln-Blaine county line completed next year. There is a gap of about 11 miles of this road which begins at the northern base of the Sawtooth Mountains which is nearing completion. When the U. S. 93 Highway, which extends from Las Vegas, Nevada, up through Idaho and Montana, to the international boundary line, will have been constructed, it will be one of the best and one of the most scenic highways in the country. The first view one gets of Blaine County from the summit of Timmerman Hill looking north, is one never to be forgotten. The beautiful Wood River Valley, with its cultivated farms, and the lovely Silver Creek, meandering in its course, are near by, and the majestic Sawtooth Mountains, about 60 miles to the north, is such a scene as would inspire even a Peter Bell to rhapsodize, and Wordsworth tells us that: “A primrose by a river’s brim, A yellow primrose was to him, And it was nothing more.” The scenery all the way through Blaine County is magnificent. Between Gimlet and Ketchum, upon looking to the right, one beholds, a few miles distant, the stately form of Hyndman Peak cleaving the sky at an elevation of 12,078 feet above sea level the highest mountain in the county and the second highest in the State. This mountain was named in honor of Major William Hyndman, of whom mention heretofore has been made. A short distance north of Ketchum one sees Glassford Peak straight ahead, towering to an elevation of 10,500 feet. This mountain was named in honor of Thomas H. Glassford, a popular railroad conductor on the Wood River branch of the Oregon Short Line Railroad in the early nineties. Boulder Peak and many other lofty crags add to the sublimity of the scene. At the southern base of the Sawtooth Mountains was the old town of Galena. In the summer, there is one little store there, in the winter it is deserted, but the door is unlocked so that a wayfarer may find shelter.

The elevation there is 7294 feet. Upon reaching the summit of the Galena Grade in crossing the Sawtooth Mountains, one finds the elevation to be 8752 feet. This highway was constructed by the Federal government in co-operation with the state and county, and that is ample warrant for saying that it is a good highway. Each year this road is being improved by widening it in places and eliminating sharp turns. In crossing the mountains on this road you behold some of the most magnificent scenery there is to be found anywhere. There are many beautiful streams along this highway which have been bridged with not only substantial but beautiful bridges. The latest one constructed on this highway is. situated about two miles south of Ketchum, and crosses Wood River near Mrs. Bonning’s ranch. It is an imposing structure. It has one steel span of 161 feet, two concrete approaches of 20 feet each, making the total length of bridge and approaches 201 feet. The total cost of bridge and approaches was $26,702.98. The rights-of-way leading to and from this bridge cost $675.00. The roadway, which is 2.704 miles long cost $19,891.30. The total cost of bridge, approaches, rights-of-way and new roadway was $47,269.28.

Of this amount, Blaine County paid $14,440.90. On May 14th of this year, this bridge was dedicated with impressive ceremonies. H. C. Baldridge, governor, and many lesser dignitaries were present and made suitable addresses. The honor of dedicating the bridge was accorded to two pioneer women: Mrs. George W. McCoy of Ketchum, and Mrs. J. C. Fox of Hailey.

Back to: Blaine County, Idaho Genealogy and History

Source: Based on McLeod, George A. History of Alturas and Blaine Counties, Idaho. The Hailey Times, Publisher. Hailey, Idaho. 1930.

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