Noxon, circa 1907, No. 2 Charles Maynard's home; No. 3. NPRR water tank; No. 4. NPRR Sectionhouse; No. 5. Clifford Weare's Post and Poles Store; No. 6. Charlie Maynard's Noxon Bar; No. 7. NPRR Depot; No. 8 Mrs. Baxter's Noxon Hotel; No. 9 Ellis Store (Buck's General Merchandise Store); No. 10. Thomas Evan's ranch house; No. 11. U.S. Ranger Station located there later; No. 12. 1st Noxon School; No. 13. Thomas Evans' place; No. 14. xxx; No. 15. George Buck's house; No. 16. Grandma Ellis' house. Courtesy Granville and Pauline Gordon collection.
Joe and Myrtle (Ellis) Hammons also homesteaded on the north side of the river, building their house at the base of the high rock bluffs about four miles west of Noxon, approximately a mile farther from town than Ura and Pearl (Huffman) Ellis. William and Nettie often rode horseback together over the countryside and visited their relatives, Ura, and the Saints, Huffmans, and Hammons.
The happy couples attending a dance in Wagner's Hall Monday night (Labor Day) congratulated themselves on the accomplishment and discussed, also, the completion of the railroad's new half mile spur to the Western Montana Lumber Company's sawmill. They danced and visited into the wee hours as their little toddlers, one after another, succumbed to sleep amid a welter of coats piled on the long benches placed along the walls of the hall for seating.
Convicts from the state prison at Deer Lodge were being used as laborers, to build a road between Plains, Montana and Cabinet, Idaho, but the work hadn't progressed to Noxon. The dancers had only wagon roads and narrow trails to travel with the horses they fed, watered and curried each day. People outside the valley who had automobiles and were wanting to vacation in Montana were still dependent on the railroad to haul them from Sandpoint, Idaho to Missoula, Montana enroute to vacationing in Yellowstone Park. A through road for automobiles was still years away from completion. As yet no one of authority in the county felt it was necessary.
The railroad depot, logging boom, saloon and hotel kept the little settlement of Noxon lively enough. The 'Dinky', or 'Galloping Goose', as local people referred to it, provided easy transportation between the small towns, but only on its routine schedule once each way every day. In between times people walked or rode horseback. The young sports concocted rigging that attached to a bicycle, creating something that could be ridden on the railroad tracks. The railroad frowned on it but the daring young men just laughed and used it anyway.
Main Stree of Noxon looking west, early 1900s. NPRR water tank. courtesy William Finnigan collection.
Laundry and bath water was generally rainwater from the roof caught in barrels set for the purpose. Or from snow melted in the water reservoir of the kitchen stove or in a copper boiler or washtub set on top of the stove. Saturday was generally considered bath day with each family following their own dictates.Lucy Jenkins said, "In summertime it got so stale it'd almost gag you. About the only time you could relish a good cold drink was when he'd (Maynard) first deliver it. In the wintertime they'd (cisterns) freeze. We'd get out and bore a hole in it and take a saw and saw the ice out. Or we used a hand axe to break a hole in it."5.
While the Forest Service diligently went about solving its problems, settlers moving into the area faced their own problems and solved each in whatever way they could. Not only those living in the Bull River valley, but all up and down the Clark's Fork, had to combat mosquitoes. The Sanders County Independent Ledger told its readers,
"In New Jersey where mosquitoes are of a large variety and frequently annoy automobilists by puncturing the tires on their bubbles, the chauffeur carries a sawed off shotgun loaded with salt, but out here the 'skeets' are of a very inferior quality and shooting irons are seldom used."The editor published the following solutions,
"One ounce of citronella, one ounce of Spirits of Camphor and one half ounce of oil of cedar, shaken well. A few drops on a bath towel hung over the bed will keep em away. Where they are abundant and persistent a few drops rubbed on the face and hands will suffice.
Farmers were encouraged to wax war on Columbian ground squirrels (gophers);"Pyrethrum powders (a Chrysanthemum flower powder), mimms culcide, sulphur, jimson weed or dried orange peel may be burned in the house with good effect. Remedies for bites: moist soap or whiskey rubbed gently and externally on the puncture. In using the latter remedy care should be taken to avoid internal application."6.
" ... add to one gallon of flour, one cup of salt, one cup of sugar, one ounce pulverized strychnine. Mix well together and use enough water to make a thick paste, or batter as for pancakes. Put about a tablespoon down each hole..."The gopher, being tidy about his feet, would lick them and be poisoned.
Steam donkey used to move logs in the
mountains. Circa early 1900s.
Mrs. Baxter (Lena) had brought a prize chicken from eastern Montana, which she kept in her chicken coop not far from her cabin on Pilgrim Creek. While she was at the hotel in Noxon one afternoon several young guys stole it and ate it. The thieves didn't fare so well when they tried the same thing with Mrs. St. Clair, also on Pilgrim Creek. She emptied a .44 calibreWinchester into the door of her chicken coop the night she heard prowlers. The next day a bag with three dead chickens was found inside but no one had been shot. Joe Hartman was sheriff then and she reported it to his deputy, Clifford Weare. Chicken stealing was a prevalent pastime in the valley and nothing much was ever done about it.
The town also had its share of 'characters' and Bob Crosby was one of the local men well known for his drinking habits. Bob, an old cedar post maker, had a clubfoot acquired in a logjam on a river drive.
"He'd get drunk, put his hat on one of the stumps scattered around town and talk and yell or preach one of the damndest sermons you ever heard at it, until he fell exhausted to the ground."8.
"I went up with him, not knowing who it was," Weare said. "I thought maybe it was some transient but there was old Bob, drunk and thinking that the tent had kicked him and wanting to kick it back. And all the while there sat that woman with a shotgun. If Bob'd started over there she'd a shot him, protecting her three kids like she was.
"I convinced Bob to come home with me and explained to the woman that he was just a harmless drunk who had the tremors and was imagining things."
Party time at Noxon. Circa 1910-1918. Don Maynard and Nettie Hazelroth are in this photo. The rest are unidentified but are believed to include Marineus Larson and Madelaine Brown. Courtesy William Finnigan collection.
Ruth and Charles Thompson, 1914. Courtesy Hazel
and Howard Ellinwood collection.
"You never seen a prettier field of clover in your life that first year. After the fire the ground was all ash," Frank Berray said.
"Thomson thought he had the world by the tail on a downhill pull. So he got everybody he could get to come down and homestead some land. This included Pilick and Watsons, from east Helena, who were working in the smelter. All but Pilick, he was a railroad man. Henry Mayer come on his own hook. He bought out Buck Vogle who'd homesteaded up Dry Creek. We called him 'Buck' because he wore a six-shooter strapped on. Mayer gave him $500 for his relinquishment on his homestead."12.
Crop of clover grown on Bull River, circa May 1916. Courtesy Hazel and Howard Ellinwood collection.
"You crossed the tracks in Noxon near the depot to the river, turned east a short distance and got on the ferry." On the north shore of the river, "You hit the Lewis and Clark trail, the old Kootenai Indian trail, and went west on it. Lewis and Clark's cabin was still there." (The cabin, recalled by another settler to be there in very early years, was probably a fur trappers trading station about a mile west of the ferry landing on the north side of the river where a small creek flows.)
"Howard had told me that we would live on a county road on Bull Run (river). We hit this trail. It was pretty rocky. After we had traveled quite a distance I asked him when we would hit the county road.
"'Why, this is it,' he replied."
Noxon Ferry, October 13, 1914. "x" marks the northbank landing. Hazel and Howard Ellinwood collection.
The water-powered wheel Hoard Ellinwood built
on Star Gulch at his Bull River homestead. Using
this, he cut lumber and slats for his buildings.
Courtesy Hazel and Howard Ellinwood collection.
"I will relinquish my homestead right of 160 acres (so many miles from town); land is all level, an ideal place for raising cattle and alfalfa, 20 acres cleared, ten acres seeded on hay, nice young orchard, big log cabin 18'x24'; barn 18'x34', room for hay overhead; one team weighing 2600 lbs; one No. 1 sleigh; 15 chickens; one hog and all kinds of small tools and all household to go with the place. Lots of water for irrigation. I will relinquish cheap for cash", were typical advertisements.14.
Howard Ellinwood and his horse, May. March 1916. Hazel and Howard Ellinwood collection.
When this failed, a public meeting was demanded of the State Railroad and Public Service Commissioners, to hear protests. On April 3 settlers complained,"We have all become so accustomed to the conveniences of this accommodation train that it now seems almost impossible to get along without it. We sincerely hope the NP officials may see the 'folly of their ways' and keep the 'Dinkey dinkeying'."15.
"It has been of inestimable convenience - if you want to stop at any of the towns, sidings, or any reasonable place, the 'dinkey' does it for you; if anyone down the line is sick the doctor can go post haste. Very few of the other trains stop at any of the smaller towns and without the 'dinkey' it is impossible for people to come to the county seat, transact business, and return home the same day."
"Arrangements are now complete for a Fourth of July celebration at Noxon. Much as our citizens would like to attend the celebration at the county seat, they feel unable to leave their dairies and gardens for even one day at this season of the year.
"The celebration here will be in the nature of an old-fashioned picnic. Every family is asked to bring a lunch basket and spread a cloth underneath the magnificent trees on Pilgrim creek. No free dinner will be served, as it was last year, because of the labor it devolves upon the good house wives (sic) who already have more than their share of labor.
"A short appropriate program will be rendered in the forenoon. The afternoon will be given over to races and other sports; the evening to dancing and a display of fireworks.
"Everybody - especially everybody in the extreme western section of the county - is cordially invited to celebrate at Noxon."
|Noxon community picnic, circa early 1900s. Courtesy Clayton Bauer Collection.|
Cap and Julia moved back into the cabin next to Cap's brother Jim while work was rushed on the new log house they had started building near the north end of their ranch. Frank came home to help them so they could get moved into it before winter, but it was far from finished. "It was pretty cold that winter, I'll tell you," Frank said.
Caption: George Gardner and Loren Kin. Circa 1909-1910. Courtesy Clayton Bauer collection.
The July 31, 1914 headlines were ominous. War had been declared. Uncertainty gripped the little valley of homesteaders. Everywhere folks met it was the foremost subject of conversation. The railroad was their only link to supplies, doctors, and relatives. Their anxiety lessened somewhat when the railroad employed Urie (sic) Ellis as night watchman when the engines were 'tied up' on the sidings at Noxon for the night. NPRR night guards were armed.
Clifford Weare took up a homestead on the north side of the river about four miles downstream from the Noxon ferry crossing. Several others, among them Jess Beason, Charlie Munson, and Gorbett, had attempted to homestead that piece of land before him. The forest service had 'talked' them off of it.
"I loaded up the lumber in the evening. George Jamison helped me and we came over next morning. We cut some trees, laid some logs down, laid the floor on and started putting the two by fours (2"x4" boards) up. George was the worst carpenter you ever seen in your life.
"He was nailing the boards on and walking on this two-by-four that was around the outside and he kept bending it down all the time so it was just a big circle, instead of getting in the middle and nailing it so it wouldn't settle.
"But we built it enough to stay in that night. I just stood some boards up, you know, a peaked roof, put some tar paper on the inside, some lathe to hold the tar paper on. Single boards only. The wife drove the team and got over there about nine o'clock (that morning.)18.
"When I was about eight or nine years old Papa moved us to the chicken coop near what was to be our new house location.
"The barn was built and the chicken coop was near it. It had no windows in it. And of course the barn supports a lively fly population. Every morning when we'd wake up, despite strips of flypaper, the ceiling was just black with flies. Mama would give each of us children a handful of flour and instruct us to fling it up to the ceiling while she struck a match to ignite it. That way we singed and killed millions of flys that year while our house was being built."19.
Clifford and Ethel Weare's family, circa 1913. Frieda (6 1/2), Marian (5), and Clifford A. 'Buster' (born January 2, 1910.) Their dog, 'Penny.' Courtesy Clayton Bauer collection.
"Soon here come the Ranger, Clark, walking over from Noxon," Weare said.
"He said I didn't get no permit. I told him I didn't want a permit and by golly they weren't going to run me off, too.
"Clark said, 'I hate to see you getting into trouble but they're going to arrest you if you stay.'
"While we was outside talking the wife hollered dinner so I said 'C'mon in and have dinner and then I'll see you in jail.' So he came in and ate dinner and we talked some more and when he got ready to go I said, 'Well, I'll ask you, what would you do if you was me?
"'Don't say anything,' he says, 'but I'd do just what you're doing.' He never came back."18.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, January 1911.
- Cabinet Forest Quarterly Journal 1911.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger and NPRR records.
- Don Maynard, tape-recorded oral history.
- Lucy Jenkins, tape-recorded oral history.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, July 1, 1911.
- Clifford R. Weare, tape-recorded oral history.
- Clayton Bauers, tape-recorded oral history.
- Ira B. "Strawberry" Bartholomew married Ethel Fulk Greer. The Bartholomews became prominent in the towns development. Strawberry lived and logged in the area until age forced his retirement in the 1960's. After Ethel died, following a long illness that kept her in Sandpoint Manor, Sandpoint, Idaho, Strawberry lived at their home in Noxon until an he was injured when a passenger in a automobile accident. He then went to live with Ruby, Ethel's sister in Red Lodge, Montana until his death.
- Billie Finnigan, interview, June 13, 1986. In later years Don Maynard moved to Clark's Fork, Idaho. He became a State Senator working hard to improve life for his constituents. One of his lifelong hobbies was collecting beer bottle and can labels from all over the world).
- Letters from Hazel Ellinwood and her daughters, Gladys E. Marine and Sally Robertson.
- Frank Berray, tape-recorded oral history, 1970.
- Clayton Bauer, tape-recorded oral history.
- Sheila Creighton Graeber, oral history, June 13, 1986. George Gardner married Sheila Creighton who had remained at Noxon, hired by Clayton Bauer to stay with his aging mother after Creighton's left. George became the first county roadman to plow snow on the road built up Bull River. Sheila became Post Mistress after Goldie Greer Dobravec retired.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, 1914.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, March, 1914.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, April, 1914.
- Sanders County Independent Ledger, December, 1914.
- Clifford R. Weare, tape-recorded oral history, 1970.
- Frieda Weare Ulrick, tape-recorded oral history, 1979.