Photo by Bert Huntoon, Bellingham, WA, Courtesy W. R. Chuck Peterson collection.
The valley of the Clark Fork River evolved -- the land Behind These Mountains.
Cabinet Gorge on Clark's Fork River. Courtesy
Maxine Laughlin collection.
Rock Island, looking east. Circa 1890. Courtesy William Finnigan collection.
"From the crossing of the Spokane to the ferry on the Pend d'Oreille, a distance of forty-two miles, the road is already a passable one for wagons, and the last thirty miles is nearly destitute of feed. Leaving the ferry, we next took the trail leading toward the BitterRoot, around the edge of the lake.
"This is the part of the trail which is most feared on account of the mud and water. The flats over which the trail passes are exposed at low water, being from eight to fifteen feet above low water mark. The soil is clay and covered with swamp grass, which, after being water soaked under the snow during the winter, is very poor feed for animals. Occasionally we met with rushes, which helped to fill up our otherwise starved animals.
"The lake flats are bordered by Cedar Swamps, in which the snow was still lying from a foot and a half to three feet deep, and water was standing in ponds and pools, making them impassable. Sloughs put in from these swamps, which are more properly the mouths of the small streams which drain the country to the north. The flats are muddy from the travel, but not bad, as horses only sink in about six inches; then the ground is stiff enough to hold them up.
"The sloughs spoken of look formidable, but pack horses seldom mire down in them, and, altogether, the trail is not so bad as was expected. Thirty five miles from the ferry we crossed Pack River, and in sixteen miles more reached the head of the Lake, at the mouth of the Clark's Fork-fifty one miles.
"The Pend d'Oreille Lake is a beautiful sheet of water, environed by mountains, whose steep precipitous sides are covered with snow, and threes stick amongst the rocks wherever the soil or a crevasse afford a foothold. The maps do not give a correct idea of the configuration of its shores, … the indentations of its bays or its mountains. For a wagon road the north side of the lake presents but a few obstacles, but to construct it will be expensive – say $500 a mile
"Up the Clark's Fork: For six miles the trail keeps up the right bank and crosses two large creeks coming from the north, then we ascend the Cabinet mountain, covered with snow (April 13), and struck the Clark's Fork above the Cabinet ... The pack string jangled its way through the heavily timbered mountain valley following the faint Kootenai Trail. Over twenty weary mils passed before the first grass for the horses was found at Vermillion River ... the estimated distance being 447 miles, or nearly 100 miles further than the wagon road."23.
"Stepping ashore, I found myself in odorous contact with a group of Spokanes - a woeful cluster of emaciated vagrants, of whom one old fellow, almost naked, having nothing on him but a red blanket, ingeniously shaped and stitched into something like a windy dressing-gown, with the help of a "buck and saw" was shortening fire-wood for the Mary Moody - his grandson, a sort of Cupid in a very sooty chemise, helping him with the brightest industry. The son of the old top-sawyer - an elderly scamp in another red blanket, furnished with a fur collar - sat on his breechless haunches close by, smoking a brier-wood pipe; and, solemn as an owl in daylight, superintended the job complacently."Describing the Mary Moody he wrote,
"Built on the lake in the winter of 1866, all her timbers were whip-sawed. The planking is of yellow fir. Her upper woodwork is of white pine. Four months after the first tree was felled for her she was afloat. Fifteen days after that her steam-whistle startled the echoes of the mountains, the lonesomeness and mysteriousness of which she has forever banished; and elk, and bear, and Red Man stood with straightened hair and ears at the shrill challenge of their invader."
" ... surpassingly rich in agricultural facilities, and, far away, the most beautiful portion of the Territory, the scenery of it blending all the sterner and loftier with all the gentler features of Switzerland and the Tyrol - will be pierced and opened from the Pacific ..."
"Entering Clark's Fork of the Columbia - or the Flathead River, as it is popularly called - we ascend twenty miles to the Landing (Cabinet Gorge steamboat landing). Swift water - of considerable dept, force, and fierceness in many places - is encountered.... out of the deep places and the swifter waters we glide into and over broad shallows that have silver bottoms; and these are the play-grounds of bewildering shoals of trout....
"What most delightfully arrests the eye is a meadow, three hundred acres in extent, smooth and level as a billiard- table - green, too, as a billiard-table, with the sweetest and richest grass, which takes one up to his neck in a sea of emerald - with Indian lodges emerging from it in all their rude upholstery of crimson-painted skins and bands of Indian horses swimming, as it were, slowly through it, their heads alone being visible except, indeed, where the grass has just been mowed, ... (by) a mowing machine - the property of the Steamboat Company - drives through it, ... The hay was hauled to Cabinet Landing "for the use of the animals that enter and come out of Montana by this most picturesque of roads ... As we near the Landing, all along the left bank, a little back from the river, grandly overlooking, and with precipitous bold cliffs of red slate serving as an uplifted shield to everything - woods, meadows, Indian lodges, all the incidents and figures of the scene - the Cabinet Mountain magnificicently towers...."
Continuing through the Clark's Fork valley Meagher traveled,"... in a bustling little place ... in it's noisy infancy - consisting of two houses, and a capacious shed for mules and horses. A saw-mill is in vehement operation...." Mr. Abrahams, the owner, he describes "a rigid religionist, who shuts himself hermetically up on Sundays." Mrs. Abrahams table "is perfumed with a bouquet of mountain flowers, the offering of the men at work about the Landing, who ... vindicate the proverbial gallantry of Americans to their countrywomen ... Another lady is present, whose son served in the Second Wisconsin at the first battle of Bull Run."
"with a vigorous old gentleman who had been a Quarter-Master somewhere or other during the war," and an Indian half-breed of the Flathead nation, half French, half Indian, named Francis Joseph. "A striking specimen of intuitive gracefulness and intelligence. Tall, lithe, strenuous, of exhaustless activity and endurance.... waving mass of the softest and richest black hair, and hands and feet of the daintiest fashion.... brimful with good-nature, was faithful, and incessantly obliging." Their trail "for nearly two miles lay through a forest in which a fire had furiously raged some days before.....(reducing it ) to heaps of gray ashes, rendered the trail soft and treacherous, filling up, as they did, great holes into which the horses plunged, or where there were hot cinders underneath the ashes, blistering the animals into frantic pirouettes and pranks.... our ears were contantly filling with the roar of the Cabinet Rapids."25.
The Walla Walla Statesman reported,
"The first town on Pend Oreille Lake was developed by Mr. Moody to accommodate passengers arriving on the new road." Pend d'Oreille City, as the town was known, was described in the Helena Tribune of 1866, "consisting of a large store comfortably stocked with California and Oregon goods-dry, soft and liquid; a billiards saloon of grand dimensions; a moderately proportioned hotel; and half a dozen private residences, evenly and compactly built of logs and snugly shingled."26.
|Painting of Pend Oreille City, by W. R. 'Chuck' Peterson.|
"Up to the 12th of April (1867) the steamer had made five trips to Cabinet, carrying the mail and a few miners and travelers with their horses. On the 12th of April the first pack train went up, and went directly through without difficulty. On the first of May these trains were arriving at Missoula City, a distance of 180 miles from Cabinet (or upper) landing, to the surprise of everyone, because of the late snow. From the 12th to the 30th of April the steamer Mary Moody made 28 trips or one and a half trips daily, a distance of fifty miles between landings, transporting in said trips over 1200 animals, with their cargos, and 148 miners or travelers, besides packers to the number of 150. Passage for the 50 miles, $4, and same for riding and miners pack animals; $5 per head for pack trains, including cargoes; $3 for riding and loose animals in the train.
"The Company have their second boat, of 100 ton carrying capacity, now finished, in style and comfort equal to the Columbia River boats, with corresponding power. They will have their third boat completed and ready for service by the first of June, which will give a complete and reliable line of steamers for a distance of 125 miles, from Pend d'Oreille Landing to Thompson's River, with good wagon roads to the Columbia River, and Missoula City and Helena, in Montana."27.
" ... after a portage of seven miles along the left bank (to) avoid the Cabinet Rapids.... "the second boat on the stocks, opposite us, on a broad, pebbly beach ... ox teams laboring up with lumber from the saw-mill ..." An abundance of fresh water, fish and game and "Indains, who are few and wide apart ... cultivate the friendliest relations with all strangers, boating joyously that they have never stained their hands with the blood of the Pale Faces. These are the Kootenais, the Pend d'Oreilles, and the Flatheads."25.
- Manuscripts compiled by Dorothy H. Hunton, Thompson Falls, MT 1966. Manuscripts by: Evelyn M. Davis, Ruth Harlow, Russell R. Ross and others. About five miles east of the town of Eddy, not far from the highway is an immense boulder upon which very early tribes of Indians painted symbols. Another of these rocks with more numerous Indian paintings dating back before 1800 is near the present town of Perma, on the north side of the river. Indian mounds up to four feet high were found at Lightening Creek. Not even the Indians of the fur-trading era could recall the origin of the pictographs.
- Lewis and Clark Journals.
- The Missoulian, undated.
- History Of The Northern Pacific Railroad, by Eugene V. Smalley.
- Montana In The Making, by Newton Carl Abbott. Tradition has it that David Thompson built a trading post at the mouth of Bull River in 1808 but the record is not totally clear.
- Frank Berray, oral history.
- I. V. Anderson, forester and mapmaker at Thompson Falls, MT.
- A poem often quoted by Joe Brooks, a valley resident from aged sixteen until his death at eighty. He laughingly claimed it was all he recalled of his school days.
- History of Montana, by M. E. Leeson. Published by Warner, Beers and Company 1885, Chicago.
- Wild Horse Plains, by ...
- Clifford R. Weare, oral history.
- Not In Precious Metals Alone, by Montana Historical Society.
- History of The Northern Pacific Railroad, by Eugene V. Smalley.
- History of Montana, by M. E. Leeson (1885).
- Gold Rushes and Mining Camps of The Early American West, by Vardis Fisher and Opal Laurel Holmes.
- History of Montana, by M. E. Leeson (1885).
- The Northern Pacific; Main Street Of The Northwest, by Charles R. Wood.
- Manuscripts by Dorothy H. Hunton Thompson Falls, MT 1966. Manuscripts by Evelyn M. Davis, Ruth Harlow, Russell R. Ross and others.
- Montana In The Making, by Newton Carl Abbott.
- History of Montana, by M. E. Leeson (1885).
- Clifford R. Weare and Swan Swanson, oral history.
- Gold Rushes and Mining Camps of the Early American West, by Vardis Fisher and Opal Laurel Holmes.
- The Walla Walla Statesman, an early northwest newspaper, printed many tales of the hardships of travel the winter of 1866. The Walla Walla Statesman, May 25, 1866. The Clark's Fork Route. "Ringold's City, Elk Creek, May 12, 1866.
- Sandpoint News Bulletin, Leisure Time, February 2, 1978. By Ken Firoved.
- No. 209 Harper's New Monthly Magazine, October 1867, article by Colonel Cornelius O'Keefe (a pseudonym used by Thomas Francis Meagher). 26. The exact location of this town has not been proven but according to research done by W. R. "Chuck" Peterson, historian, Hope, ID, everything indicates that it was located on the side hill behind the rocky point which forms Buttonhook Bay, in what is now Farragut State Park. Leisure Time, Sandpoint News Bulletin, February 2, 1978.
- Walla Walla Statesman, May 10, 1867.
- Sandpoint News Bulletin
- Polk Gazeteer August 5, 1867. This election precinct was discontinued June 13, 1868 according to the Polk Gazeteer.
- In 1869 William Milnor Roberts camped there while locating the route for the planned transcontinental Northern Pacific Railroad. Samuel Wilinson's writings on NPRR history.
- Manuscripts compiled by Dorothy H. Hunton, Thompson Falls, MT 1966. Manuscripts by Evelyn M. Davis, Ruth Harlow, Russell R. Ross and others.