We now have direct information that substantiates that the central Crane Creek route was chosen by emigrants as early as 1867, and probably some even earlier, and as late as the 1880s, many coming from the southern and eastern U. S. Though the original Mann Creek part of the western route seemed by 1870 to be a better road-improved by settlers along the Creek-those heading to the Middle Valley still drove north through Crane Creek and back west and SW to Midvale. This middle variant of the Goodale North offered the best route to a large area all along the Weiser River in the 1860s, for both settlement and town growth.
The most difficult part of the original route, which passed NE near the western side of the State (later becoming the route of Highway 95), was fully supplemented and almost completely replaced by the Crane Creek miner-begun route. That happened quite early enough to accommodate most emigrants that chose the Goodale North and settled many parts of Idaho, and some going on to Oregon!
The northwestern link of Goodale’s Cutoff, from Salubria to the Brownlee site on the Snake River, was also used for many years, long before the Pine Creek Road was built. The accounts of continuously available ferries on the old Brownlee site seems to indicate that traffic may have been only periodically interrupted at times. The unimproved road over Tim Goodale’s Pass may have had limited traffic for some years, but the route did not seem to ever be closed. Many miners found the route important, and at least some emigrants did too. For years it was not forgotten that this was Goodale’s emigrant road, and people referred to it with Goodale’s name attached. In 1875, this same road was the beginning of a new connector to the Weiser mines.
Tim Goodale left the train when it crossed the Brownlee Ferry, and by 1863 was living in Eagle Valley, on the Powder River in Oregon, along his Cutoff! That year, as Horton described the road from Walla Walla to the Olds Ferry, he gauged one of the mileage measurements from “Grand Ronde Valley to Tim Goodwell’s [sic],” and the next section from “Tim’s place to Rock Creek.” Goodale came back to live at the Brownlee site in 1864, and ran the ferry. It appears that he was able for a few years to see first-hand some of the further developments that came out of his effort to lead his train across Idaho. He was around the area long enough that other settlers, who before may not have known much about him, must have become acquainted and/or heard about him. It is evident that many early writers and history story-tellers invoked his name and his relationship to the places he had been-attaching his name to the same-and recognized his influence on several historical sites!
After a great amount of research and years of expertise in the areas of historic trails and wagon roads, neither Irving Merrill nor Merle Wells, in their historical article, “Goodale’s Cutoff from Boise Valley to Powder River,” were reluctant to apply Goodale’s name to all of the well used routes from Boise to Brownlee, and on across Oregon to the meeting of the Oregon Trail near Baker, OR. The soon-opened variant through Crane Creek is not described in detail in their writing, but they wrote,
Goodale’s western cutoff [which includes the central route that was being used extensively] . . . carried a considerable volume of traffic right after it became passable. An 1862 Boise Basin gold discovery . . . transformed travel patterns in the area. Late in 1862, a gold rush to Boise Basin attracted a mining stampede to Goodale’s [by way of Crane Creek] route.”
Irving Merrill, still today, attaches much importance to the northern Goodale’s Cutoff, including the Crane Creek route, and knows the emigrant-travel importance of this trail!
The whole route from Fort Hall to the Powder River in Oregon is now viewed through a great amount of evidence, and known to be a highly used mining/emigrant road. Oregon has not been reluctant to recognize their part of the route as “Goodale’s Cutoff,” and have labeled available maps with this designation! The Powder River portion of the Goodale was also a strongly miner-traveled road, to Oregon mines, and back from the west to several areas of Idaho where mines were found to be sources of rich ore. Oregon people referred to this route as the “old emigrant road.” It is not improbably that even some emigrants who had interests other than mining followed the northern route to Oregon at times. Other records and diary information may still be forthcoming for better support of this contention.
In compliance with the decisions that were previously made about the three “Goodale” variants on the eastern end of the Jeffrey-Goodale Cutoff, the Crane Creek route on the middle section of the Goodale Cutoff should well fit the pattern as a Goodale variant. The Willow Creek and Crane Creek road was used as soon, or sooner, than any of the eastern variants, one of those marked as a Goodale variant, the McTucker Road, available only by the late 1880s. We have shown that emigrant farmers and emigrant miners, as well as people from many other professions, traveled all of the Goodale routes for years after Goodale’s Train. (That Loughary route NW from Emmett, on the north side of the Payette River, is also now proven to be as important as the all of the routes.)
One of the Idaho Historical Society’s Reference Series said, “Brownlee’s ferry across the Snake River made the western part of Goodale’s Cutoff practical, and at the other end, Gibson’s ferry operated near Ferry Butte. With these two good Snake River crossings, Goodale’s route became a popular one from that time on.” That speaks of the whole route, and we know now that the Crane Creek road was an integral part! Merrill wrote, “Goodale’s route ended where it rejoined the earlier trail near present-day Baker City, Oregon. Some of his grateful emigrant followers started calling the route Goodale’s Cut Off, and it was this name that stuck.” Some question may here arise about whether Goodale’s immediate followers on his train were very “grateful,” but others who came in later trains probably much appreciated his opening of the route. The point is made that his name has been used extensively to identify his Cutoff. Over the years his name had also been used in several of the discovered records to describe that part of the traveled route which the miners opened in late 1862, through Crane Creek.
Merrill and Wells wrote, “Goodale’s western cutoff (or actually detour) via Brownlee’s ferry did not attract too many westbound emigrant wagons [on to Oregon].” But they also verified, “Northwest of Boise valley, he [Goodale] needed a continuation of his cutoff to Powder River-scene in 1862 of a gold rush to new mines that followed a much greater excitement at Florence.” When Goodale met the Grimes party and took them along, going to and eventually returning from Walla Walla with supplies to work their own Boise Basin discoveries, mining certainly was even more established as the chief purpose of that train. But probably few if any wagon trains later followed their original route along the western edge of the State, both miners and other emigrants choosing the Crane Creek route!
Parts of the section of the original passage of the Goodale Train NE of Payette and on to their camp in the Cambridge valley may be a little more difficult to accurately map, but it seems to be rather conclusively determined that the old Indian trail that Goodale was said to follow actually went up Mann Creek. In a phone conversation with Larry Jones, Idaho State Historian, November 4, 2004, he agreed that this was probably the actual route. This is based mostly on the fact that no evidence of an early trail/road of any kind is indicated on the first land plats, along Monroe Creek where U.S. 95 now follows, or anywhere before that highway reaches 4 miles NW of its Mann Creek crossing. There has been found on the ground some trail evidence still visible over Midvale Hill, and satellite photos do show some possible early ruts along sections of the route not yet visited.
Without other trail route evidence on that part of the Goodale North, about the only thing that could be done to fit with a mapping and marking scheme would be to designate at least part of U. S. 95 as a Goodale historic drive route, as is done in other areas of the State of Idaho. The central variant has now proven, by ground exploration, to be a route where the old ruts are still evident for much of the distance. It is also known now that the Boise to Emmett route contains miles of trail remnants, and the trail along the north side of the Payette River to the west has yield the evidence several miles of ruts, from Sand hollow to Willow Creek and on the western end near Little Willow Creek. Land plat and satellite evidence are in agreement, and do indicate that most of the Cambridge to Brownlee route, over the hills and through some forest land, can be identified. Ruts have been discovered along several areas of that trail.
This project is already well begun, but far from finished. Volunteers and helpers are needed, and there will be a lot of pleasurable seeking and finding done, as well as a continuation of research and information gathering beyond the printing of this paper.
Federal protection of all the Goodale route and variants will hopefully be enhanced through congressional legislation designating the route as part of the National Historic Trails within the National Trails System. Even without this, completion of the job at hand and mapping and marking must be done to an extent that no section of old trail and/or ruts will be ignored. This certainly is a valuable cultural resource and historic asset for Idaho, and to the whole Oregon Trail system!
Only route segments on public lands, administered by the U. S. Government, would be designated as National Historic Trail. Since significant portions of the routes are on private lands, a considerable amount of cooperation by land owners will be needed to protect those historic emigrant road remnants. All that remain are an important part of Idaho’s historical heritage, and an extended, marvelous opportunity for rut-nuts and/or trail historians to make a good contribution to the existing body of trails history. But the History of Oregon was also enhanced by this trail’s connections to that state, and all of Oregon’s people must share pleasures and values in this identification and preservation effort!
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