Sunday, January 23, 2011


Rock Lake in the mountains near Noxon, where prospectors like Captain Peter Weare and his wife, Emma came to search for gold. Courtesy Wally Gamble collection.
Trails to the mines in the Coeur D'Alenes were still in use although not nearly the amount of traffic was using them as in the early days.1. Rates were: Team of horses or mules $5.00; each additional animal $2.00; one horse and vehicle $3.00; man on horseback $2.00; pack animals $1.00; loose animals fifty cents; footmen fifty cents each.

The first mines recorded in the area near Noxon were the Jim Freeman prospect at the head of Copper Gulch and the Clark's mine at the head of Rock Creek.

Hikers on the slopes near Rock Lake in
Sanders County. Courtesy Wally Gamble
On Pilgrim Creek, about three miles southwest of Noxon, Jim Miller developed his mining prospect.
"Two adits were driven into the ridge in about a N.40 degree W. direction. From the size of the dumps remaining it is estimated that there were about 700 feet of underground workings in each adit. A few mineralized specimens from the dump contained quartz, chalcopyrite, copper pitch, and minor amounts of pyrite. The greatest portion of the dump is made up of thin-bedded grayish-green calcareous argillite (a type of rock). The argillite is fine grained, weathers brown to light tan, and displays ripple marks and mud cracks. Crystalline calcite of secondary origin fills voids and cracks in specimens of vein quartz." (The sum of the work Jim Miller did on Prospect creek, as recorded in Bulletin 34, May 1964, by Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Butte, MT.) Two mine dumps can be seen north of the road opposite the Stover, or Mountain Home ranch. The abandoned adits are about on the section line between Sec. 26 and Sec. 35, T. 26 N., R. 33 W.
Miller stayed around and became well remembered as 'the old prospector'. Like all the other mines of the country at that time, it had yielded nothing of value then. Never-the-less, he was one of the earliest prospectors to make a strike near Noxon who stayed in the area, unwilling to quit the mountains in which his faith of a good strike lie.

For a time Miller lived at the junction of the North Fork trail with the Bull River tote road. Connallys prospected with him. They had three tunnels; 100-feet long, 50-feet long and 30-feet long. Copper was 12 cents a pound after it was smeltered so no one was making much of a living at it. Miller and Connallys were prospecting for gold when Captain Peter Weare arrived in 1901.2.

Haycock was a prospector who lived at Smeads. He'd blown off both hands and blinded one eye in a dynamite accident. His partner took care of him just like a baby. They had an old team and continued to prospect. Up north, at the south end of Bull Lake, the Ross brothers ran two prospecting tunnels up on the creek named for them. Their dreams of finding the mountain's storehouse of riches would not be fulfilled during their lifetime.

In 1903 prospectors had not completely stopped working in the hills surrounding Noxon although most of them had moved on seeking the ever-elusive 'big strike'.

King and Lowry were prospecting on the East Fork of Bull River below St. Paul Lake. Prospectors were working in Copper Gulch and Last Chance below Chicago Peak. And on the Milwaukee Pass below St. Paul Peak, copper and silver were looking pretty good. When King and Moore from Kalispell owned the mine, Pat Moran mined with King. Tom Moran was the prospector and lived in the basin that bears his name -- Moran Basin.

Frank Berray told of one tragedy in a prospecting tunnel on the East Fork of Bull River one summer day,
"I think his name was Moran, but I'm not sure. Now they don't know whether someone short fused him or whether he short fused himself. They always did their blasting at noon. They'd set five blasts and only four went off. He was out of the mine. Maybe it was long fused. Anyway, he went back in to see why it didn't go off. Then it did.
"When he was blowed (sic) up King took him and laid him out on the ore dump. And then they come for help but the trail got afire.
"The folks noticed the trail afire and when King come down they asked him why he set the trail afire. Well, he said he just accidentally set it afire. So they couldn't get up there. King told them that the boy was dead.
"It was about four days before we got in there on account of that fire. I and a fella named Jace Edwards and my dad went up there and packed him out. When we got up there to get him of course he'd laid out there and he was in pretty bad shape. His whole face was blowed (sic) full of rock.
"We wrapped him (his body) in canvas and put him on the pack horse."
Skillikorn, a barber who once had a shop in Noxon and then barbered in Thompson Falls, years later was to tell stories of a copper mine in Copper Gulch so rich that pack trains were used to pack it out before the 1910 fire. There had been two or three owners, he claimed, but they all died and the mine was deserted. To the left of a small knoll high on the mountains where Copper Creek flows, an arastras (a large stone wheel, turned by mule power to crush the rock, freeing the gold it contained) was left at a mine dump near the ridge to Moran Basin. (A family out picking huckleberries and fishing in the late 1930's found the stone-wheel arastras.)

The majority of strong, resourceful men found woods work more profitable. All along the banks of the Clark's Fork River and the larger side streams feeding into it lumberjacks swung heavy axes, and pulled wide toothed saws in steady rhythm that chewed handfuls of sawdust. Only functional necessities rewarded their labors; tents or small log cabins that contained no more than a bunk bed made of rough lumber upon which a bed roll could be placed; a rough plank table constructed of whatever materials were at hand; an enameled basin for washing up with water bucketed from a nearby stream. A coffee pot, cast iron griddle and skillets, pots, pans and a minimum of utensils; warm flannel and woolen clothing; sturdy leather boots caulked with steel pegs in their soles; kerosene lamps. Most of them were men unencumbered by family ties. 'Jacks' were transient men working for whichever company owned the timberlands. They were a breed of men who moved on whenever brighter prospects beckoned or restlessness urged them.

Cedar poles, cedar shakes and shingle blocks, white pine logs and railroad ties were the most desired. The choicest timber with the easiest access succumed soonest to the woodsman's axe. Tie hackers hued the trees on the gound to proper dimensions by standing alongside and slicing with a broad axe, using either a right hand or left hand axe, depending on how they swung. The entire length of the tree was hued to dimension before it was cut into tie lengths. Any man who could slice with precision found ready work.

Each winter since 1887 earthen dams were rebuilt on Bull River to catch the melting snow water in the spring and raise the water level high enough to float shake blocks to the shingle mill at Smead's spur on the Clark's Fork River. All winter men spent backbreaking months in the exhilarating occupation of felling enormous prime logs with crosscut saws; cutting them to log lengths, limbing them, skidding them with teams of massive horses and sleighs with steel clad runners to big skidways on the river banks. Here they were branded on the end with each logger's stamp, (a metal hammer with a brand raised on its surface. When the log was struck with it, an imprinted 'brand' was made.)

Cedar was cut into shake block lengths for the shingle mill, made into fence posts or left whole for cedar poles.

Where log chutes were used to utilize the pull of 'gravity' to cut the log moving costs in getting them from the high mountains to the riverbanks it was constructed of native western larch, one of the more durable and tougher species available. Logs were often skidded onto rollways located near the top of the hand made log chute. If the logs didn't move fast enough the camp cook sent out a bucket of bacon grease to speed things up a bit by 'painting' the chute liberally with grease.

(insert picture)
Caption" Log drive, begun April 20 nine miles south of Polson, Montana. Forty-seven days and 150 miles later, near the end of June 1924 the drive was at the mouth of the river, four miles west of Clark Fork, Idaho. Courtesy Gordon Daugharty collection.

Spring brought melting snow and high water, and thawed the forest floor to morasses of mud that ended all felling and skidding for as long as three months. As the sun rose crimson over the mountain ridges the log decks amassed on the river's banks were rolled into the water. The dams were dynamited. 'Herds' of logs sped down the miles of rushing waters until their momentum was spent. With three dams, located to float the timber by stages down the narrow Bull River canyon, millions of feet of cedar and white pine raced to meet the Clark's Fork. The mouth of Bull River became gorged with them solid enough to easily walk across the river on them.

A log boom was erected there to check their wild ride. Shake bolts and ties for railoads were taken across the river to Smeads.

The corraled logs were formed into miles long log-drives. Brawny, hairy-chested log drivers, dressed in caulked loggers boots, peg-legged wool pants held up by wide elastic suspenders, a plaid wool shirt and a battered felt hat were known as 'river pigs' or 'hogs'.

As soon as the ice left the river each spring they arrived from the whiskey sumps of Sandpoint, Boise, Missoula, wherever, roaring with alcoholic bravery and superman strength to take up the challenge of 'floating' the logs, to be sorted and guided to the to the sawmills downstream in Idaho.

'Pigs' along the shoreline, with long pike-poles kept the drive moving out into the current where more 'pigs', yelling and whooping, would drive their cant hooks into the logs directing the bobbing 'sticks', many of which were at least three foot in diameter, away from rocks, jams, and calamities; all the while doing a daring dance across the heaving logs.

Boats (or bateaus) floated down stern-first, with four oarsmen rowing against the current as hard as they could. Their grunts and blazing epitaphs mingling with the dull booming protests emitted from the logs as they were pushed by the relentless current of the river.

Tremendous log jams formed. To release 'wing' and center jams, the 'pigs' roped down the boat to ride behind the plunging 'drive' to see that every possible log got through.

The drives plunged headlong on high spring waters towards the Heron Rapids and the Cabinet Gorge. Many were splintered beyond use in dynamited jams necessary to get the remainder through to the waiting waters of lake Pend Oreille. (When the river level drops low sunken logs are visible below Cabinet Gorge yet.)

Don Maynard, Senator from Idaho who lived at Noxon for a time, said,
"Some mornings in the spring when you went to work there was a little ice on that damned river. The boss'd always say, 'Jump in there, she won't burn ya!'"
They'd 'break' the skidways scattered all along the Clark's Fork River, sending the winter's accumulation of timber down river to the 'sortin gap'. The 'sortin gap' was where the logs were separated into individual booms after being deposited by the Clark's Fork into Pend Oreille Lake.

Here they were caught up by booms secured to deep sunk pilings near the mouth of the river. Each owner of logs in the drive had to pay per thousand board feet to take his logs through it before they could be taken in tow by tugboat to the sawmills in Idaho; Hope Lumber Company, Humbird Lumber Company, and other mills in Idaho on the shores of the sparkling waters of Lake Pend Oreille.

Little Johnny Knutson was a boy enchanted by spending every minute he could sneak away from his parent's watchful eye to emulate the 'river pigs' spinning on logs in the river. He was not the only boy whose hero was a genius at riding the twirling logs on the roiling waters of the Clark's Fork.

The crews slept in tents and camp was moved every day unless the drive was held up to break log decks or rollways to put the logs afloat. The men enjoyed breaking the decks because then they never got their feet wet. Johnny loved to watch the camp outfit, called a "Wannagan", being loaded and moved and often receiving from the cook a morsel or two. The Wannagan was moved either by a 4-horse team pulling a wagon with a hayrack on it, or floated downstream on a boat.

Summer logging camps were made up of tents bearing great similarity to those used by the railroad builders. Wet weather miseries most hated were the drying of sodden, stinking clothing around the pot bellied heating stove.

(insert picture)
Caption: Humbird Planing Mill. Photo by Wagner, courtesy W.R. 'Chuck' Peterson collection.

Nels Nelson, foreman of Humbird's Gold Creek Camp No. 1, reported an earthquake shook the area October 28th. On November 6, 1903 the Sandpoint News Bulletin published the story of the Humbird Lumber Company's purchase and enlargement of the Kootenai Bay Lumber Company's mill at Kootenai Bay near Sandpoint. Employment was to be plentiful by spring.

The newspaper also reported that Sandpoint had electric lights "for a month already." Mr. Rutherford was the owner, using two 90-horsepower Fraser and Chalmers boilers, a 125 horsepower Fraser and Chalmers Corliss engine and one 3000-light monocyclic General Electric generator with a primary voltage of 3,450; distributed at 110. Humbird Lumber Company used the same kind of generator also and had l,000 incandescents.

It was the time for sawmills. Rathdrum, Coeur d'Alene, Sandpoint, Kootenai, Clark's Fork and Hope, all surged into the new century with sawmills galore. Timber was king. With a saw and an axe a man could make good wages and lumber companies began springing up all over northern Idaho and western Montana. No one was particularly careful who owned the land they logged on, or else they used ruses to gain claim to it. Men risked their lives and liberty to acquire land. Murders were committed with no one punished for the crime. At one point in Idaho a so-called Association of Killers of Homestead Jumpers was organized and in an open meeting discussed ways and means of ridding the community of persons who legally had as much right to the lands, which they had jumped as those who were claiming them.

The settlers on those lands underwent hardships, but not to make a home, only to secure a timber claim of 160 acres worth the $10,000 to $25,000 which could be gotten from the lumber companies having holdings in the region. One government report stated that,
"76% of the entire watershed, title to which can be given, or which has passed to patent through pretence of compliance with the public land laws, is now in the hands of large stumpage holding concerns, none of it being developed agriculturally."
Indeed it was the era of rape and run in the timber rich mountains of the northwest and Montana was not exceptional. The 'thunnk' of axes biting deep into the sapwood of virgin timber blended with the whining 'zzwing' of crosscut saws. The valley was alive with the noise of forests being devoured. The ferocious endeavors and overlapping shouts of "Timberrr" were soon letting sunlight into what had before been dark, dense forests. Every stick of timber close enough to water to be readily skidded was falling prey to the lumbermens' dreams of riches and power. Great river drives took most of this timber to Idaho mills.

LaClede Lumber Company had a camp on Gold Creek. Moonlight Joe worked in it. He never knew enough to quit working so the men tagged him 'Moonlight' Joe. Granville Gordon went there once as a log scaler. He later told Weare it was such a dirty camp. He said,
"They had a toilet out there and when they'd ring the dinner bell for the men to come eat, here would come all the flies from the toilet. As soon as dinner was over, they'd all go back to the toilet."
With the closing of the mines in Butte, Montana, undesirables of the tough element were appearing in the area. They created a stir in the normally quiet towns and caused the law enforcement some little troubles. But the Butte mines were closed only several weeks until the governor passed the "fair trial" bill.

An early blizzard November 1903 closed the Humbird mill for the winter about a month earlier than planned. But no hardship on the employees resulted as they normally went into the woods to work in the winter anyway. The mill's payroll was cut very little.

Humbird Lumber Company had logging camps in Gold Creek near the Idaho-Montana border on the north side of the Clark's Fork. A railroad line cut across the timbered slope, it's high trestle spanning the deep creek-carved ravine. The logs were hauled out on it to be dumped into a chute that went to the Clark's Fork River. From there they were driven down the river by 'river pigs' to the mill at Kootenai.

Shay engine believed to be used in logging done by Humbird Lumber Company on Gold Creek, near the Montana - Idaho border. Circa early 1900s. Courtesy William Finnigan collection.
 In December of 1903 the Sandpoint paper announced that the largest shipment of merchandise ever received by the town of Hope, Idaho was brought in by NP railroad.3.

Under the blazing summer sun the next year sweat trickled down their backs as B. B. Bunn and George Phillips cut and harvested hay. There was not much hay land opened up and most hay was shipped in on the railroad. Bunn was an energetic and enterprising man. Soon he built a sawmill on his place on Pilgrim Creek (the Pervis Stover ranch mid 1900s-2010).

(insert picture)
Caption" B. B. Bunn's sawmill on Pilgrim Creek, Noxon, Montana. Courtesy William Finnigan collection.

A pile of sawdust is all that marks the spot where he sawed the lumber for the two-story house he built there. While he worked in Bunn's mill Frank Berray, youngest son of Cap Berray, enjoyed especially the company of his boss' daughter, Josephine. The comely young lady became the first schoolteacher on Bull River in 1910.

Lillian Raynor Evans and Josephine Bunn at
Noxon, Montana, early 1900s. Courtesty
Edna Evans Cummings collection.
Weare put in a sawmill on the east side near the mouth of Pilgrim Creek, less than a half mile from the mill located on the west side of Pilgrim Creek.

When Sam Higgins moved into the valley he brought with him cattle purchased from McGowan's in Plains. He moved them onto a place in the Bull River valley next to Cap and Jim Berray, who were more interested in ranching than in logging or mining. Fires in the valley created more grazing for cattle. The men had used dynamite and teams pulling slips to dig drainage ditches across the natural marshy meadow land that in places contained as much as sixty or eighty acres of treeless landscape. Their goal was to create hay land. The wild grasses were referred to as belly scratch and provided poor feed at best.

Guy and Isaac Engle were about as tough a looking pair as ever came into the country on horseback. And there were things in their background they didn't mention even among themselves; their credo being, 'the less said the better.'

Guy filed in Missoula on November 1905 for homestead rights on a piece of property up Rock Creek, a half dozen miles east of Noxon on the north side of the river. Within a few years he'd built himself an el-shaped log house measuring 18'x24' with the second room being 16'x16', an 18'x24' log barn and had cleared and cropped three acres. Another three were partially cleared.
Mrs. Ellis and Carrie Virginia Engle.
 Courtesy Alma Taylor Greenwood

Guy Engle raised oats and hay and planted 75 fruit trees, owned two horses and two cows and cut 35,000 dead cedar posts in 1910. These he hauled to Noxon by sled in the wintertime, crossing the ferry whenever the weather allowed.

Earl Engle's cabin on Rock Creek northeast of Noxon, Montana. Circa 1904. Courtesy Alma Taylor Greenwood.
Katie and Earl Engle at their home on Rock Creek. Earl married Katie in 1904. Courtesy Alma Taylor Greenwood collection.
As early as 1907 he harvested 100 pounds of spuds, a bushel each of turnips and carrots and had planted 500 stawberry plants. In two years his harvest yielded 400 pounds of spuds and fifty quarts of strawberries.

His brother, Isaac, raised stawberries and also gooseberries and currants. He dug an irrigation ditch to irrigate eight acres of land, five of which he cultivated. Life was never easy but 1910 was made harder yet when, while he was out fighting forest fires, horses were turned into his place and destroyed his garden.

The next year Guy added one and a quarter acres of wheat, cutting it for his chickens; increased his garden to one acre and harvested two and a half tons of timothy, thirty crates of strawberries, six crates of currants and gooseberries and six boxes of apples. A year later he hand dug two tons of spuds from his garden and one ton of carrots besides doubling his applie and timothy yield.

Most homesteaders were as honest and hard working as the Engle's, but some preferred to defy the law and continue stealing timber. The government sent agents to protect its property but this proved a deadly struggle. Homesteaders who could afford the weekly paper read the following account without undue surprise and some who read it laughed aloud.
"We were surprised to learn that an attempt has been made to assassinate a Mr. L. R. Garvis, Special Agent, who is investigating alleged illegal timber cutting in western Montana ... our people will always do all they can to help the government to discover the rascals. The only way Mr. Garvis will get in a gun fight here is having an ace up his sleeve." 4.
But the government was not going to ignore timber stealing any longer. Neither were all the timber men willing to sit on their hands while the timber was there for those who had the guts to take it out, with or without benefit of a bill of sale.

At Noxon, Ed Hampton, Clifford Weare, Dan DeLong, and William Anderson were pole contractors hiring crews of men to take the timber out. The railroad spur was kept busy as men loaded out flatcar after flatcar of poles and box-carloads of hand split cedar posts for an insatiable market. During the summer Ed Hampton would spend a week at a time at Smeads looking after his tie camps. Having an absolute passion for cards, in winter he was more often found in the local saloon pitting wits against all comers. Swan Swanson spent entire summers with a crew loading out boxcars from Smeads Spur. Weare and DeLong were kept on the go as well.

When the price rose high enough, furs trappers shipped a railroad carload of pelts east in June, 1905, the results of a winters work.5. Noxon was a growing community in the heart of cedar post and pole industry that shipped carload upon carload of timber products out on the rails daily. The sweet scent of cedar filled the air from high decks of posts flanking the railroad track for a half-mile, waiting to be shipped. Money flowed through the merchants hands, both from the sale of the timber products, and from the lumberjacks who bartered the output of their labors for food, clothing and the necessities of life.6.

With new immigrants flocking to the United States at a rate of a million a year, it wasn't unusual for alien political ideas to gain in popularity. In Chicago, a group of these hard working men who regarded Socialist doctrines as too peaceful, and therefore, incapable of solving the problems of the working class, organized the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905. The IWW was an extreme left wing group. Riots resulted. Socialists and labor unions immediately repudiated them.

Talk of their activities moved west with the pioneers. Around the pot bellied wood stove in the Post and Poles Store many a discussion ensued. The men seldom agreed. Politics were as diverse in Noxon as could be found anywhere in a nation still young. Some men were staunch Republicans, some believed blindly in Democratic platforms. Others stubbornly insisted that Socialist doctrines were the only right ones for a true democracy. Taxes and how they were spent were always good for a lively argument.

While the business men kept an eye on world affairs, they kept closer track of timber sale notices, calling for sealed bids such as the following,
"Notice of sale of U. S. Timber ... all that lot of timber belonging to the government of the United States will be offered at public sale on the 25th day of July, 1905, to wit: 400 telephone poles, said poles being at the present time on the right of way of the NPRR at Vermillion Junction, 2 1/2 miles east of Trout Creek, Montana. ...
"All bids must be for cash and accompanied by 10% of the amount of bid ... no less than the market value of the poles will be considered."
Bids were to be received by E. A. Winstanley, Receiver of Public Moneys, Missoula, Montana up to noon July 25th. Long before Sanders County Independent Ledger news items such as the following reached the paper and could be printed and circulated, the prominent men knew all about it and were already in action.

Long before many Sanders County Independent Ledger news items, such as the following, reached the paper and could be published and circulated, the prominent men know all about them and were already in action.
"Frank B. Lyons, the sawmill man of Camden, Washington arrived Sunday and will be here some time. Later on he will put in a sawmill but for the present time will be looking after his mining interests.
"Several mine owners and prospectors from Butte passed through here this week on their way to their claims located on Rock Creek. They expect to build a road this summer."
On August 8, 1905 Frank B. Lyons filed on 160 acres of land under the timber and stone entry law. The entry was contested by Clifford Bourgault who, on October 20, 1905, filed a contest alledging that the land was more valuable for agricultural purposes than for timber. The case was heard December 1905 and again in May 1906. Not until 1907 did a final decision come about giving the land to Lyons.

The judgment said, "There is a great conflict between the testimony of the contestant (Bourgault) and the contestee (sic) (Lyons). For instance, contestant estimates the timber at 600,000 to 700,000 feet while contestee (sic) places it at 2,500,000 feet. The quantity of level land is given by contestant at 140 acres and by contestee as 60 to 70 acres. The cost of clearing is given at $10 per acre by contestant while contestee places it at $200 per acre. One of the contestant's witnesses, who placed the cost of clearing at $10 per acre, based his estimate upon the statement that he could take out 100 stumps from 10 to 16" in diameter "easily" in one day.
"It appears that this land lies at a great altitude and frost occurs every month in the year; that while a part of the tract is level, there is not sufficient water to irrigate any part of the land at the season it is most needed; that the creek bottom land is mostly a sour, rank soil upon which crops will not grow successfully and that the remainder of the land is gravelly and rocky soil and lies primarily on the mountain side; cost of clearing would be prohibitive - so any prudent farmer could not undertake with a view to possible profit."7.
Lyons was not sitting idly by waiting for a decision. Instead he was negotiating a deal with James Miller, who was living on the north side of the river, to buy his mining claim up Bull River. One stormy night the two got the more ride than they'd bargained for, rowing across the Clark's Fork at the mouth of Bull River. Miller was flat on the floor of the boat by the time they beached on the far side. Neither were reported to be stone sober.

A contract was agreed on for making a road up to the mine which "was expected to be worked throughout the summer."8. The road building to the mine kept Miller busy all summer. (Where this mine was located is unknown. Miller was involved in several mines.)

Diversified farming began to take hold as mining and prospecting ebbed slightly. Homesteaders returned to the old way of farming - so much land for hay, so much for grain, so much for pasture, wood supply, garden, orchard, bunch of cattle, flock of sheep, hogs, chickens, geese and ducks, and making a dollar or two in everything.9.

Forest fires were becoming an increasing problem as timbering expanded. Slash lay drying into inflammable cover on the openings hewed by the sawyers and axemen. In September forest fires in the vicinity of Noxon did serious damage and consumed the houses of Dan DeLong and John Erickson and the stable of Mr. Carlson. It raged through the timber that had become bone dry all summer long. Thousands of dollars worth were destroyed before it could be put out. Other ranches were in danger and cedar forests in the vicinity were feared to be wiped out. At times the fire leaped and bounded, covering a mile at a swoop as it roared through the canyons of Pilgrim Creek and Rock Creek. Fall rains were ardently hoped for but didn't come for three weeks. Before it ended $1,500 worth of cedar, enough for over a million posts, was destroyed, at a staggering loss to the timbering community. Harry H. Pringle lost 4,000 made up posts for which he'd paid the post-splitters 1-1/2 cents apiece.

In Washington, D. C., Gifford Pinchot was gaining momentum with his ambition to create vast tracts of land reserved from settlement on which his forestry management theories could be practiced despite strong opposition from western states. The Sanders County Ledger began favoring the government policy toward the national forests lands.
"Setting aside forest reserves is as wise a thing as was ever done. This was necessitated because of the greed of lumbermen, who indiscreetly, to call it by as mild a term as possible, indiscrimately (sic) ravished the forests and spared nothing from a sapling to a hoary age," the editor said, losing some subscribers for his position.
 "If in the beginning lumbermen had been obliged to cut timber under government rules there would now be forests where even stumps do not remain ...The timber and stone act, as extended to all the western states and territories, has been one thing that has aided us to open mines and build homes. We needed the timber and the government had it and was willing to supply it to us on reasonable terms and we bought and paid for it. Many a dollar for timber Montana has paid into the national treasury."10.
 A lot of timbermen burned the paper before finishing the article which concluded that the Timber and Stone Act was facing almost certain repeal.

A forester came to explain the Forest Reserve policy. The schoolhouse at Noxon was filled to standing room to hear him tell them a government agency would,
"see to it that the water, wood and forage of the reserves are conserved and wisely used for the benefit of the home builder first of all; upon whom depends the best permanent use of lands and resources alike. The continued prosperity of the agricultural, lumbering, mining and live stock interests is directly dependent on a good supply of water, wood and forage as well as upon the present and future use of these resources under business-like regulations enforced with promptness, effectiveness and common sense."
Typical of all such meetings where these strong minded settlers had a say, it was not a quiet nor orderly meeting. Words, not weapons, were hurled as these modern day gladiators struggled for supremacy.

To the sawmill men, the post and pole contractors and the businessmen, it sounded interfering and asinine. They felt Government had no business in the timber industry. Many of the homesteaders, dependent on part of their income from timber, thought they would get a better chance if they didn't have to compete for sales with the timber magnates. Arguments ensued. Political of course. How else would each have a chance, if not by influencing their elected representatives? A man's vote was considered one of his most valued assets. Letters went out to congressmen and senators promising votes, if ...

November saw Zin Coza and Del Courser begin a ranch on the north side of the river. Occasionally Zin took the ferry to Noxon to tend bar for Bill Finnigan when Bill's brother, Jim, was not around.

A large shipment of fruit trees arrived and was distributed among the ranchers.11. Noxon expected to be shipping apples east soon. It was the talk at the box social in the new schoolhouse.

  1. Mrs. A. F. Day (Thompson Falls) holds a receipt dated 1901 issued by the Belknap Town and Imp. Co., E. D. Baker, Sec. Treas., C. C. Howell, Pres. for, "Toll collector, Idaho side, for one team mules on Idaho side, made to me of Jacox Dube $5.00 signed by J. C. Dfuruser tax coll. Montana side."
  2. Clifford R. Weare tape-recorded oral history.
  3. Sandpoint News Bulletin -date?
  4. Sanders County Ledger, February 24, 1905.
  5. Sanders County Ledger, June 9, 1905.
  6. Sanders County Ledger, September 1, 1905.
  7. Sanders County Ledger, 1907.
  8. Sanders County Ledger, July 7, 1905.
  9. Sanders County Ledger, August 11, 1905.
  10. Sanders County Ledger, September 1, 1905.
  11. Sanders County Ledger, October 10, 1905.


  1. A funny story my mother used to tell about the drive, I thought you
    might enjoy:

    My Uncle Harry had gone to the camp. There was a freeze up, delaying
    the drive a few days. He showed up at home a couple of days later
    telling his wife there was lice in the camp and he took advantage of
    this freeze to come home and get her to boil his long johns.

    Aunt Pat, wanting to really please her often grumpy husband took the job
    a step further. She built a big fire in the back yard, brought out her
    large laundry tub, filled it with water she carried from the outdoor
    pump, and put his long johns in, adding a can of lye.

    That should take care of any lice, she decided, and left the whole
    thing to boil for the afternoon.
    Proud of her smart idea, Aunt Pat went back in the house to do her chores.
    When she returned later in the afternoon, she took her wooden paddle
    used for just such purposes and proceeded to 'fish' the underwear out of the tub.
    To her complete horror there was nothing left in the tub but slime. The
    lye had done its job, really well.
    Hubby was indeed not pleased when he had to head back to camp with a
    pair of long johns borrowed from my dad who was a good 6 inches shorter
    than his brother in law.

    June Gallant

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  3. After fetching Koka I drove through the Columbia Gorge and crossed into Washington, where the scenery changes dramatically, from evergreen forests to high desert, and farm land around Yakima. fence contractors nashville tn

    1. I'm delighted you're reading this trilogy of northwestern Montana history. The settlers were amazing people; there will never be a generation like them. I hope your trip took you up Hwy. 200, along the Pend Oreile River, and through the Clark Fork River valley when you entered Montana after enjoying the North Idaho Panhandle.

      Mona Leeson Vanek
      p.s. The books are available in Kindle editions. All three volumes are on a single DVD, in .pdf format. Available from mtscribbler (at) air-pipe (dot) com.