Joining of Trains at Champagne Meadows

The collection of this information together does generate some possibilities to think about that have before been little considered. The joining together of several trains at Champagne Meadow to cross the southern Jeffrey-Goodale Cutoff, and the several divisions of the same in the Boise Valley and along the Boise River does complicate the matter. It appears that the divisions back on the Oregon Trail were not always according to the original make up of each prior train.

The division of the early Goodale Train, some to go on the new route through central Idaho and some down the old Oregon Trail also complicated the study. Whether that Goodale Train going NW was divided and later rejoined, as Nellie Mills indicated, is not clear, but neither has it been rendered an impossibility!

There still remains the fairly well established fact that Tim Goodale did lead a portion of the original train across the Boise River and to the Emmett area. This need not be eliminated even if some other wagons went to another crossing of the Boise River and then on north to a crossing of the Payette River by another route. The 1868 land plats do show a faint trail, probably originally an Indian trail, from the south and following near the Snake River across T6N, R5W, T7N, R5W, and T8N, R5W. On the plat for T8N, R5W the Goodale Cutoff-Umatilla Road turned from westerly to north and followed near the Snake River through T9N, R5W. Any train coming from the south along that possible faint trail route would have crossed the Payette River in T8N, R5W, down stream about 2 miles from the Bluff Station, to join a train coming from the east on the north side of the river!

The little doubt that has been cast on the route of Tim Goodale NW from Eagle, and down near Freezeout Hill, hinges mostly on the information attributed to Dunham Wright by the recorder of his stories, Frank Jasper. His own admission of doubt about historical accuracy of some of Wright’s stories and whether Dunham witnessed everything that he told stories about is an important factor. To try and write everything later as though it came directly from Wright’s mouth is a questionable practice in itself!

All the other accounts do allow, with little doubt, for a group of wagons with Tim Goodale along to have split off at Boise and gone to Emmett. Nellie Slater’s diary account is the only fairly dependable primary information that does put William Curtis’ drowning much downriver from a Boise crossing.

Attempting to change the history of Goodale’s Train, supported over the years by many well researched articles and very early available accounts-upon the questionable information of Dunham Wright’s almost completely second-hand and/or almost 80 years later accounts-seems very presumptuous. If Wright’s information was actually the result of his being a direct witness to the drowning of William Curtis, some difficulty is posed, but does not completely disallow a situation in which he could have been separated from the Goodale Train for a time.

We do know that Tim Goodale was not the only “Captain” along on the large combined train, Goodale acting more as a scout and guide for all. After they again divided into smaller trains they traveled on with separate leaders at different times, and the accumulated information verifies they went different routes. If the Boise River crossing near Boise was difficult because of high water possibly only some wagon’s chanced the crossing there and went on with Goodale. The early established crossing near Caldwell may have seemed inviting to some other Captains going west. We do know that there had to be several trains crossing Idaho during the same few days, and in studying the group that followed Goodale north we loose track of some of those trains from the time of their divisions near the Boise Valley.

All of this would not have eliminated the possibility of Goodale’s sharing the location of another Indian trail route, shown on the early land plats, that a Captain of another train may have tried from north of the Parma area. The travel time for both routes being similar could have brought them back together in the Payette Valley north of the river.

The main information that has before been little considered, that one train may have followed the Boise River to the Parma area and then went north to the Payette, is a possibility that might be worth some further research. Others who want to change history and contend that Goodale did not go over Freezeout Hill have a large and probably futile task to accomplish!

Any other information that may be available on this subject, whether supporting Goodale’s Eagle to Emmett route or strengthening the case against this trip, will always be welcomed by this writer. It is hoped that this supposed controversy, which has now arisen, generated mostly from the Dunham Wright and Emma Fowler accounts, would raise the interest for other researches. There could come out of this a stronger search for information and efforts by others to complete the Goodale North story appropriately. (July 19, 2005, Revision)

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