If a man wanted supplies hauled from Thompson Falls to the end of the wagon road (to the mines in Idaho) freight was 5 cents a pound. Rates jumped to 12 cents a pound the rest of the way. All prices were subject to fluctuation due to the condition of the trails.
Chinese were acceptable as pack animals on the different trails, the rowdy men guffawed. However, they'd best stay away just the same.
The best way any person, "however ill-informed" might get at the exact height of the giant forest trees which "rival the famous big redwoods of Calaveras county, California" took little equipment."The fiat has gone forth that no Celestial can ever gaze upon the woody gulches of the Coeur d'Alene and live. This camp, like Leadville, will never feel the curse of Coolie cheap labor. There is but one voice upon the subject. A man who would advocate Chinese immigration would be snubbed. The first representative of the Flowery kingdom will meet with a reception, which in all probability will satisfy his countrymen that the mines won't pay. John Chinamen got into the California mines, into many other mines, but he must not think of attempting a visit to those of Northern Idaho. If he insists in coming, however, let him bring a roast hog, plenty of firecrackers and colored paper, and all the essential for a first class Chinese funeral. He needn't bother to bring the corpse. It will be in readiness."2.
Kate and Ed Hampton. Courtesy Stewartand Agnes Hampton collection.
"When the sun shines, or during bright moonlight, by marking two lines on the ground, three feet apart, and then placing in the ground on the line nearest to the sun a stick that shall stand exactly three feet out of the soil. When the shadow of the stick exactly touches the furthest line, then also the shadow of the tree will be exactly in length the same measurement of its hight (sic).... the sun will be at an exact angle of forty-five degrees."3.
Although the population remained mainly transient, early in January of 1885 some of the people living in the northwestern sector of Montana territory began agitating to have a county separated from Missoula County. Letters began appearing in Missoula newspapers.13.
"Probably to start at the source of St. Regis, down to Missoula River, down the Missoula to the junction with the Pen d'Oreille; up the Pen d'Oreille to north line of the reservation; east to county line and north to British America; west to Idaho and south to the start. (This would have included present Sanders, Lincoln, Flathead and most of Lake counties plus some of Mineral County.) The county seat to be at Thompson Falls."14.
January 16, 1885 the Missoulian published a letter from Nep Lynch of Horse Plains, which said a division of the county would be a hardship on taxpayers; a petition was signed mostly by transient packers, and only two of fifteen who had signed paid more than $100 in taxes. If the county divided, a new one would have to assume part of Missoula County indebtedness for Missoula's courthouse and jail and also then build another new courthouse and jail.
January 21, 1885, and also in subsequent weeks, The Missoula County Times published detailed discussions of any county division and its problems. In the January 23, 1885 Missoulian, a letter to editor from A. W. Moore of Thompson Falls said 120 there signed the petition for a new county; the heaviest taxpayers, Glidden Griggs and Company, were not opposed as their representative Mr. Blakesly signed; next heaviest taxpyer, J. M. Robert signed. Letter to editor from AHB (Asa H. Bradley presumed) of Heron Siding said 100 had signed there, including all the businessmen; also that 70 had signed at Horse Plains.
Missoula County Times, January 23, 1885, wrote that if the county seat is at the Head of the Lake (Flathead) it would be a long way for the rest of the people to go to the county seat. Horse Plains was a long way for the Flathead people to go. Thompson Falls or Heron Siding would mean leaving teams at Horse Plains to continue travel by NPRR to get to the county seat as the road didn't go through. On February 18, it reported that people at Horse Plains signed petition asking that the bill be amended to permit vote on the location of the county seat. Eastman's original bill put the county seat at Thompson Falls.
When the Ravalli county bill was defeated in Council 11-0, Eastman announced he would no longer push his Pen d'Oreille county bill. For the time being the drive for a separate county was a dead issue. The settlers returned to what was most urgent: making a living, building log cabin homes, and improving trails into wagon routes.
Bobsledding on Olver's place west of Noxon. Courtesy Steward and Agnes Hampton collection.
Business didn't die out completely in the west end of Missoula county although certainly the area was not often the concern for action taken by the county commissioners whose meetings were held over one hundred miles east of Trout Creek, Noxon and Heron. Occasionally someone got around to letting the rest of the territory know there were still people living on the borders of the territory. On March 19, 1886 an unsigned news item from Heron said business was improving;"First place I stopped off was Heron Siding and were it not for the Railroad Hotel, it would remind one of Goldsmith's deserted village. A long row of empty saloons told the story of the Coeur d'Alene boom ... at lower end of town a large number of Chinese were camped."22.
"Clark Hotel and restaurant are closed now but will open soon; Bert McClellan and C. McElvaney are the boss fishermen of the area.23.
Although little settlement was reported at Noxon yet, early in the year Charles Morton was boss of the railroad section at Noxon. He and his wife lived in the section house where she conducted a boardinghouse for the 60 Italians making up the work train.25. Knutson had gone over to the Coeur d 'Alene's to supervise railroad building at St. Maries.
Jim and Caspar Berray with horses. Circa 1890s.
Courtesy Julia Higgins Berray collection.
Caspar Berray, lst homesteader
in the Bull River alley. Courtesy
Frank Berray collection.
Looking east up the Clark's Fork River at Smeads on the right bank. Circa 1890s. Courtesy Maxine Higging Laughlin collection.
Julia Higgin Berray, lst homesteaders
in the Bull River alley. Courtesy
Frank Berray collection.
Cap and Jim walked five miles from Heron to Smeads each day all summer to work in the shingle mill.
"Swinging along in the early dawn everything fine and with nothing wrong but all too often when they returned home along about dusk their tranquility would be shattered and they'd stop to stare up in a tree where a body swung, dangling by the neck. Other nights they'd waken to the report, 'So and so' was killed last night at the Blind Pig ... robbed of all his things. Yet doors were never locked for people didn't steal from a house, even when no one was home."41.
It was impossible to get supplies in to the section to be built between Troy and Libby either upstream or downstream along their line.*54. Rails, steel, ties, and other necessary supplies were shipped to Smeads spur on the Northern Pacific railroad. Here they were transferred to the ferry and taken across the Clark's Fork River to be freighted north to the Kootenai valley. Rutherford, who'd had the ferry license at Smeads had lost it to Tom Stanton. But when Stanton got into the freighting business he could no longer operate the ferry so in September 1891 John Williams took it over. Williams gave it up and in January 1892 B. S. Baker brought the barge like affair with it's heaving loads across the Clark's Fork to where contractors and freighters had been hacking out a tote road from Smeads north through the Bull River valley toward Troy, roughly following the Old Daly Trail.55.
Higgin's home at Smeads. Circa 1880s. Courtesy Maxine Higgins Laughlin collection.
To carve a route through the Bull river valley meant traversing rough terrain at the base of numerous mountains that edged the twisting river and natural meadows of the narrow valley. Along the rivers edge great swamps of boggy land were covered with a mean plant called "Devils Club" that grew as high or higher than a mans head and almost as thick as a hedgerow. Its prickly thorns left scratches that burned and festered. Mosquitos were a constant nuisance, though not of the infectious kind that carried malaria. Enormous cedar trees grew in the bottomlands, their roots, like tentacles, swelling the ground around them making it impossible to pioneer a road through without great difficulty.
The mountains rose rocky and steep. Dynamite was used to fracture impassable outcroppings. Swamp grass grew abundantly in natural clearings as much as half a mile wide. Some of these meadows were a mile or more long. Deep drainage ditches dynamited out to channel the water to the river. The soft black soil sucked the tons of freight down. Men cut small poles and laid them crosswise of the freight route, corduroying it, creating a surface strong enough for the struggling sixteen horse teams to pull their loads across. Tom Stanton, newly arrived from the Flathead country, cracked his long black-snake whip, shouted curses, and gained a reputation the winter of 1892 running teams over the road carrying supplies for building of the Great Northern Railroad.55a.
Other men who had come west to work in the mill at Smeads snatched the opportunity to get ahead by becoming their own boss. Some of them left the shingle mill, took a small contract clearing right of way for the tote road, made wood, and went on to bigger contracts. They wound up rich. And then they left the country.56.
Others also toted supplies. A couple of husky fellows who had a packing contract would catch up a bunch of wild horses, cinch on a load and turn them loose. A good packer could put on a load so the toughest bronc couldn't get rid of it. Cap Berray said,
"You'd see packed horses all over the woods at the mouth of Bull river. They'd buck and run, rub against trees and even lie down and roll, until they hadn't an ounce of kick left in them. Then the riders would round them up again and get them going along the trail. The thick woods and brush and the steep mountainsides along the valley trail discouraged them from wandering anymore."56.Work was plentiful for men who were hardy, determined and willing to endure the hardships of the changing seasons. Spring brought incessant rain and mud from March usually through June with only a short interval sometimes the last week of April and the first week of May. July was balmy with cool mountain breezes afloat with mosquitoes. August dust mingled with sweat and horseflies. Tired men refreshed with an evening swim in Bull River or in one of several small mirror-like lakes along the valley before slipping into their bedrolls.
September brought two weeks of rain again, followed shortly by crisp frosty nights that heralded vibrant fall colors clothing the rugged terrain in unsurpassed beauty. Sun sucked the morning fog from the valley and warmed the afternoons until mist spread from the river over the meadows again at dusk. Gophers burrowed in for a long winter, their shrill call no longer piercing the sunny air. Mountain grouse whirred from the underbrush in short, noisy bursts of flight. Flocks of southbound geese rested briefly on the small lakes where men had quit their summertime evening swims after the first few frosts.
Deer snorted and stomped, peering from alder, buck brush and mountain maple thickets, as the teams and men inched their heavy loads across the forty miles. White tails flagged as antlered kings bounded a retreat up into the peaks that were whitening with snow long before October brought it to the valley.
Next: Chapter 5
- Missoula county courthouse records.
- Frontier Times, Thompson Falls, MT, April 12, 1884.
- Frontier Times, Thompson Falls, MT, April 24, 1884.
- Missoula county commissioner records. Incomplete.
- Missoulian, September 12, 1884.
- Missoulian, November 14, 1884.
- A Heritage Remembered, by Lorraine Dufresne.
- Missoulian, November 4, 1884.
- Missoulian, September 12, 1884. Clyde Eastman served during the session January 12, 1884 to March 12, 1885.
- Missoula county courthouse deeds.
- Frontier Index, Thompson Falls, MT, 1885.
- Missoula county courthouse deed records.
- Missoulian, a letter (anon), January 9, 1885.
- Those newspapers are available only at the Helena, MT Historical Library.
- Missoulian, February 27, 1885.
- Frontier Index, Thompson Falls, MT, June 12, 1885.
- Missoulian, February 27, 1885.
- Missoulian, July 24, 1885.
- Missoulian, November 13, 1885; November 20, 1885.
- Missoula county courthouse records.
- Missoulian, December 11, 1885.
- Missoulian, January 26, 1886. The 1884-85 Polk Gazeteer did not mention Heron.
- Missoulian, March 19, 1886; The Polk Gazeteer 1886.
- Missoulian, April 16, 1886.
- Missoula County Times, April 21, 1886; May 5, 1886.
- Missoulian, May 7, 1886.
- Missoulian, Sept 3, 1886.
- Missoula county courthouse records.
- Frank Berray, oral history collected by Fay Cooey, U. S. Forest Service, 1973.
- Missoulian, August 27, 1886; Missoula County Times, November 24, 1886. Thomas Greenough was warned by NPRR General Manager I. R. Oakes to stop cutting ties on NPRR land in the lower end of the county (Missoula County Times, December 8, 1886); undated letter from the General Land Offices, Greenough wrote in response to letter from GLO saying he had cut and removed timber amounting to 701,918 railroad ties from the vacant public lands along the Clark Fork river, Sanders County. "You are liable for full market value of timber at the time of its sale by you, 35 cents a tie". (701,918 x $.35 = $245,671.30).
- Missoulian, November 12, 1886; December 24, 1886.
- Frontier Index, Thompson Falls, MT, January 1887.
- Caspar Berray scrapbook. Undated clipping, probably Sanders County Ledger circa 1950.
- White Pine-King Of Many Waters, by Charles C. Strong, 1860-1898 John B. Leiberg was commissioned to survey timber on public lands in northern Idaho and the adjoining Bitterroot Mountains. His final report was not submitted to the Department of Interior until 1898.
- Frank Berray, tape-recorded oral history 1971.
- Stewart and Agnes Hampton, oral history, September 1983.
- Frontier Index, 1887.
- In the fall of 1887, a famous lawsuit with the Federal Government was started on September 23rd. A bill of equity was filed in Wyoming by the Government for timber cut from government lands. They asked for $2,000,000 and a perpetual injunction to prevent more such cutting. Their bill said the license to cut expired by law in July 1879. At this time, opponents of the land grant roads considered the NPRR should have been completed and thus the NP's right, given in the charter, to cut timber for the road from government lands should have expired. Later, on December 16th, a U.S. Grand Jury in Montana found an indictment against Oakes, Buckley, E.L. Bonner, the NP timber gent, and others for unlawfully taking timber from public lands and shipping from the territory.Chief Engineer Anderson said that the Montana Improvement Co. had cut timber for the railroad and for mining camps working under the laws of Congress. The difficulty lay in the fact that the land was not surveyed. The NPRR charter said the land grant lands must be surveyed as quickly as possible. The NP had tried. But Land Commissioner, Sparks, would not approve surveys and also would not accept railroad money for use in surveying as was permissible. There had been earlier litigation. Anderson stated that the timber was cut for construction and repairs. The Government claimed that it should not have been cut for repairs. The timber directly responsible for the case was cut at Eddy Station, near Cabinet Gorge, in 1884. The case was long and tedious, as were many involving the NP grant. In January 1889, the U.S. Attorney General had another suit involving the same case in the St. Paul Federal Court. This was the result of all parties trying to combine all the various timber trespass cases into one based on an agreement in the fall of 1888. James McNaught was counsel for the NP in these cases and one verdict by the Supreme Court of Montana had been in favor of the NP as the government had made no surveys. The final results of this case were a long time in the future.
- Unnamed news clipping, March 17,1888, in University of Montana archives.
- 1890 Souvenir of National Irrigation Congress. The State Lumber Company that Smead founded at Smead's was incorporated March 9, 1891 in conjunction with Justin E. Morse and David Lamont from Dillon.
- Helen Berray Kirschbaum, tape-recorded oral history October 1978.
- Clifford R. Weare, tape-recorded oral history, February 1977.
- Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Bulletin #12, July 1959.
- In The Shadow Of The Cabinets, Libby Writer's Group, Montana Institute Of The Arts.
- Tape-recorded oral histories - Frank Berray, Evelyn Berray, and Harry Tallmadge.
- National Archives.
- Polk Gazeteer, 1890-91. A newspaper clipping (newspaper omitted) in University of Montana files states that Doc Smith had a store at Smeads in 1888.
- Clifford R. Weare, tape-recorded oral history 1970.
- Montana In The Making, by Newton Carl Abbott.
- Polk Gazeteer 1890-91 and Missoula county courthouse records. The postmaster position at Trout Creek was taken over by S. Alfred Bourke April 27, 1888.
- Frontier Index, Thompson Falls, MT, December 1889.
- Missoula county courthouse records December 3, 1889.
- Missoula county courthouse records, April 1890; Polk Gazeteer 1890. An early report listed a high school at Trout Creek, however it must have ended when the railroad division left that town, which drastically diminished the population.
- a Missoula Gazette, February 24, 1891.
- b. Missoula ounty courthouse license books list: May 1891, Evans and Lloyd. August 1891, Delormer and Dorrison; Mrs. Kate Morris. September 1891, Tom Conroy; John J. Elligan; P. J. Smith. November 1891, Cummins Bros. January 1892, Ames and Carter; E. E. Embody. February 1892, Alfred Vogel. May 1892, Clarence Clay. February 1893, John Miller. State Lumber Company also was licensed to sell liquor as well as lumber.
- A Missoula Gazette, January 1, 1892.