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An illustrated history of the state of Idaho, containing a history of the state of Idaho from the earliest period of its discovery to the present time, together with glimpses of its auspicious future; illustrations ... and biographical mention of many pioneers and prominent citizens of to-day .. online

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Online LibraryLewis Publishing Company. cnAn illustrated history of the state of Idaho, containing a history of the state of Idaho from the earliest period of its discovery to the present time, together with glimpses of its auspicious future; illustrations ... and biographical mention of many pioneers and prominent citizens of to-day .. → online text (page 3 of 136)
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to the glistening white crest of snow upon the
summits of the mountains.

A writer in the New West, apparently well
informed, declares that Idaho is not a Xez Perce
word, adding: "The ir.ountains that Joaquin Mil-
ler speaks of may be named with a somewhat
similar appellation, but most likely the whole
story grows out of the fertile imagination of the
poet. Idaho Springs, in Colorado, were known
long before Idaho territory was organized. The
various territories at their organization should
have been given appropriate local names. Colo-
rado was named after the river of that name,
though it is not within its boundaries. It should
have been called Idaho. It was the name first
placed in the bill organizing it, but was after-
ward changed."

Ex-Senator Nesmith of Oregon gives still
another account: "The bill first passed the house
of representatives designating the present terri-
tory of Idaho as "Montana." When it came up
for consideration in the senate, on the 3d of
March, 1863, Senator Wilson, of Massachusetts,
moved to strike out the word 'Montana' and in-
sert "Idaho.' Mr. Harding of Oregon, said: "I
think the name ""Idaho" is preferable to ""Mon-
tana." ' Idaho in English signifies the "Gem of
the Mountains.' I heard others suggest that it
meant in the Indian tongue "Sliming Mountains,'
all of which are synonymous. I do not know from
which of the Indian tongues the two words "Ida-


ho" come. I think, however, if you will pursue
the inquiry among those familiar with the Xez
Perce, Shoshone and Flathead tribes, that you
will find the origin of the two words as I have
given it above."

As to the application of the name Idaho to the
territory, from which Montana was subsequently
set off, the following account, which originally
appeared in the Owyhee Avalanche, seems to be
altogether reasonable in its claims, and with the
incorporation of the same we will proceed to the
consideration of other matters:

"A great deal of discussion and conjecture has
been published by the press of Idaho as to the
manner in which our young state was christened.
Hon. C. M. Hays this week handed us a per-
sonal letter, which he received some time since
from Hon. George B. Walker, of Seattle, a mem-
ber of the house of representatives of Washing-
ton, who was among the earliest settlers of the
territory now known as Idaho. We believe that
the following is authentic and will put to rest all
the theories advanced in the past, which were at
most but the product of a vivid imagination:

"In the fall of i860 the gold placer-mines were dis-
covered in what is now known as Shoshone county,
Idaho — then a portion of Washington. A man by the
name of Pierce was with the first party, and, I think,
the captain of it. Pierce City was named after him.
J. jMarion Moore, D. H. Fergus. Sargent Smith, David
H. Alderson and many others, whose names I have
forgotten, were among the first in the new El Dorado.
I was among the number and built comfortable quarters
in Pierce City.

"In 1861 three candidates were nominated for con-
gress— W. H. Wallace by the Republicans, Salucius
Garfielde by the Douglas Democrats, and Judge Ed-
ward Lander (brother of the General) by the Breckin-
ridge wing of the party. They traveled over the (then
known) eastern part of the territory in company with
your father, Hon. Gilmore Hays, making speeches
whenever they could get a crowd together. When they
arrived in Pierce City I invited them to camp at my
place (everyone carried his own blankets in those
days), I being personally acquainted with Wallace and
Garfielde. They accepted the invitation. While there
I proposed a division of the territory, as I thought we
were a long distance from Olympia. They agreed that
whoever was elected would favor a division. Then the
question of name came up, and I suggested the name
of Idaho. I had seen the name on a steamer built by
Colonel J. S. Rockwell to run between the Cascades
and the Dalles, in connection with the steamer Moun-
tain Buck, which ran from Portland to the Cascades
before the organization of the Oregon Steam Naviga-
tion Company. The old Idaho is now on Puget Sound
and owned by Captain Brownfield, and still makes a
good appearance. All the above named gentlemen
said that was the name.

"W. H. Wallace was elected. I voted for Garfielde,
and on the 3d of March, 1863. the new territory was
created and named Idaho. Lincoln appointed Wallace
the first governor and he was elected the first delegate
to congress.

"So I believe if there is any credit due for naming
the state I am entitled to it. A controversy came up
about it, I think, in 1875, and I caused an article to be
put in the Owyhee Avalanche, which was corroborated
by your father. I hear that Judge Lander is still liv-
ing, and if I knew where a letter would reach him I
would write, as I think he might remember this affair
on the frontier thirty-two years ago.

"West Seattle, King county, Washington."



IN GENERAL it may be said that the moun-
tain ranges of Idaho are volcanic upheavals,
— the mighty bending upward of the crust
of the earth's surface when its inborn fires were
lashed to unwonted fury in some stormy age of
old eternity. The valleys were doubtless formed
by this upheaval of its enclosing ranges, leaving
the floor of the surface here comparatively undis-
turbed. This really rests on a foundation of
aqueous rock of unmeasured thickness, on w'hich
the alluvial matter that forms its soils has been
deposited. With this there are, in many places,
deep deposits of water-worn pebbles and strati-
fied sand, which were made at an era much more
modern than that of the underlying sandstone.
It is useless to endeavor to identify these changes
chronologically, as creation in its being and in its
mutations writes its historic days in millennials
of age, and thus puts our conception of time,
drawn as it is from human experience and human
history, entirely at fault.

Of course, in indicating the forces that formed
the now verdant valleys, glacial action must not
be forgotten. Far extending moraines and wide
glaciated surfaces tell the story of the far-away
eras when these mighty ice-plows furrowed and
planed down the broken face of the earth's crust,
and smoothed it into its now beauteous vales.

Enough has already been said to indicate to
the reader that the mountains of Idaho are of
volcanic formation. The great snow peaks are
all volcanoes. They are called extinct, though
some of them still give distinct evidence of an
internal unrest born of pent-up fires. Buffalo
Hump has been in active eruption within the
memory of the present generation. The great
summit intervals between these peaks are gener-
ally granitic rock, covered with a deep vegetable
soil, intermixed with decayed granite. In fact,
there were many successive overflows, as on the
broken faces of the cliffs clearly defined lines of
stratification are presented more numerous as we

approach the great summits that were their foun-
tain. The molten iron sea rolled onward, over-
lying the whole country, drinking up the rivers,
shearing off the forests, and seizing a nightly
holocaust of animal life in its devouring maw.
For ages, how long no one can know, this great
lava plain, first red and hot and simmering, then
black and cold, and rending itself into deep
chasms in its slow cooling, lay out under the
stars without vegetable or animal life, almost
without springlet or dewdrop, to cool or soften
its black and rugged face. The fires of the vol-
canoes at length burned low. The mountain sum-
mits cooled. A few stray clouds floated over the
tortured earth. A few drops of rain touched its
iron surface with their imprisoned mieht. Show-
ers followed. The springs that fountain rivers
began to bubble from beneath the cloven
lava beds, searching out an open way seaward
through their broken chasms. And thus the
changes of the ages went on. The basalts were
ground to powder in the mills of the streams.
The old surfaces over which the lava had once
spread were cut into valleys, hundreds of feet
deep. Fecund soils were deposited. Vegetation
sprang forth again. Animal life found food and
drink and shelter, and still the changes went on.
Frost and snow and raindrop and stormy winds
and burning suns wrought the miracle of a new
genesis, leaving a field in which nature has writ-
ten the most legible and astonishing records of
her processes and her powers.

The mountain ranges present a wonderful con-
glomeration of basalts, granite, slate, sandstone,
with vast beds of stratified sand and water-worn
gravel. In places one formation predominates,
in other places some other formation, and then
again several of them appear intermixed, or over-
lying one another. It is evident that the heat
attending the volcanic action that lifted the vast
ridges to their present position was great enough
to cause perfect fusion in only a few ])laces ; while


yet the forces lielow were mighty enough to cause
the wonderful and weird displacements of the
primitive rocks so often arresting the observant
eye. One hour the traveler among these moun-
tains will be passing over scoriated basalt, or
along cliflfs of basaltic columns, the next among
great granite boulders or over gray granite pin-
nacles, then over miles of aqueous deposits in the
form of stratified sandstone or stratified beds of
sand and gravel intermixed ; or again slate slopes
and hillsides will arrest his eye, until he is lost in
the wilderment of his strange surroundings.

The Blue mountains margin on the west the
great lava plains of Snake river vallev. The vol-
canic conditions, so plainly marked in the Cas-
cade and Blue mountains, and the valley inter-
vening between them, continue and are intensi-
fied as we enter the great upper valley of Snake
river, which lies mostly in the state of Idaho,
which w^as once the mightiest scene of volcanic
action on the American continent, if not in the

We should not dismiss the whole subject of
the geolog}- of this most interesting region, with
these general statements for the lay reader with-
out some more distinctly scientific record for the
benefit of the more technical reader and student.
For him geology would w'rite about the follow-
ing histon.- of the conditions and changes of un-
told ages and marvelous processes through which
this wonderful Idaho world was being formed.

For an immense period before the existence of
the Coast and Cascade ranges of mountains, the
primeval ocean washed the western shores of the
great Rock mountain chain, and throuenout the
palaeozoic era and the whole Triassic and Juras-
sic periods of the Mesozoic era numerous rivers
kept bringing down debris until an enormously
thick mass of ofT-shore deposits had accumulated.
This marginal sea-bottom became the scene of in-
tense aqueous-igneous action in its deeply buried
strata, producing a line of wrackness, which,
yielding to the horizontal thrust produced by the
secular contraction of the interior of the earth,
was crushed together and swollen upward into
the Cascade and Sierra Nevada range at the close
of the Jurassic period. The range thus produced
was not of very great height. It existed for un-
known centuries, — the scene of erosion and plant
growth, roamed over by the now extinct fauna

of the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods. It was
combed by forests of conifers and oaks. Then
followed the great lava-flow and uplift of the
mountain range of the modern Cascades. Be-
neath the overlying lava, where the Columbia
breaks through the barriers of this great range,
there is found along the water's edsre, and for
nearly twenty feet upward, a coarse conglomerate
of rounded porphyritic pebbles and boulders of
all sizes up to six feet in diameter, held together
by an imperfectly lithified earthy paste. Above
the conglomerate is a very distinct, though ir-
regular ground surface bed, in which are found
silicified stumps with roots extending twenty
feet and penetrating into the boulder material
beneath evidently in situ. Resting directly on
this forest ground-surface, and therefore inclos-
ing the erect stumps, is a layer of stratified sand-
stone, two or three feet thick, filled with beautiful
and perfect impressions of leaves of several kinds
of forest trees, possibly of the very trees about
whose silicified bases they are found. Above this
leaf-bearing stratum rests a coarse conglomer-
ate similar to that beneath at the water level.
Scattered about in the lower part of this upper
conglomerate, and in the stratified sandstone, and
sometimes lying in the dirt beneath it, fragments
of silicified driftwood are found. Above this last
conglomerate, and resting upon it, rise the layers
of lava, mostly columnar basalt, one above an-
other to a height of three thousand feet. From
these facts the following order of events are de-

The region of the Columbia river was a forest,
probably a valley, overgrown by conifers and
oaks. The subsoil was a coarse boulder drift
produced by erosion of some older rocks. An
excess of water came on, either by floods or
changes of level, and the trees were killed, their
leaves shed and buried in mud, and their trunks
rotted to stumps. Then came on a tumultuous
and rapid deposit of coarse drift, containing drift-
wood, which covered up the ground and the still
remaining stumps to a depth of several hundred
feet. The surface thus formed was eroded into
hills and dales, and then followed the outburst
of lava in successive flows, and the silification of
the wood and fermentation of the drift by the
percolation of the hot alkaline waters containing
silica. Finally followed the process of erosion by


which the present streams, channels and valleys,
whether main or tributary, are cut to their enor-
mous depth. The great masses of sediment sent
down to the sea by the erosion of the primary
Cascade range, forming a thick offshore deposit,
gave rise in turn at the end of the ^Miocene to the
upheaval of the Coast range, the Cascade moun-
tains being at the same time rent along the axis
into enormous fissures from which outpoured
the grand lava floods, building the mountains
higher and covering the country for great dis-
tances. This is probably the grandest lava flow
known to geology, covering as it does an area of
not less than two hundred thousand square miles.
It covers the greater portion of northern Califor-
nia and northwestern Nevada, nearly the whole
of Oregon, Washington and Idaho, and runs far
into British Columbia on the north. Its average
thickness is two thousand feet, and the greatest
(shown where the Columbia, Des Chutes, Snake
and other rivers cut through it) four thousand
feet. To produce this, many successive flows took
place, and great periods of time elapsed during
which this volcanic action continued. During- the
period of these Cascade eruptions, the Coast
range was being slowly elevated, and became in
turn the scene of local volcanic action, though
not very severe.

At last the great fissure eruptions drew to a
close. The fissures became blocked up. The
\olcanic action became confined to a few locali-
ties. The period of crater eruptions followed.
This continued for a long time — almost to our
own day. These crater eruptions built up the
great snowy peaks.

By the formation of the Cascade a great in-
terior basin was made, the waters of which col-
lected into secondary reservoirs, some of very
large extent, and which were at length carried
ofif by the rivers which have cut their way from
the interior to the sea. The Columbia and its
tributaries drained the northern part of tins im-
mense basin, and at this period doubtless the
great Salt Lake of Utah found its outlet to the
sea by the Snake and Columbia rivers. Thence
came the lava floods, whose great flows have
since been worn away in. places, exposing the
tertiary and cretaceous beds, and revealing the
former conditions of the region by the fossils
found therein. At the end of the Miocene the
lava flows from the Cascade fissures commenced,
but it was long before they reached the entire
extent of the great basins, which continued to
exist and be endowed with life well into the



DURING the long period of time in which
the Pacific coast of Xorth America was
being slowly brought to the knowledge
of civilized man, the course of narrative shows
that the Frenchman and Spaniard were the pio-
neers of exploration in this region, both by sea
and land. Spain led the maritime nations in dis-
tant and successful voyages. The voyage of
Columbus, under the auspices of Ferdinand and
his noble queen, Isabella, whose reign over the
united kingdoms of Castile and Aragon gave
Spain so much glory in that adventurous and
chivalrous age, had kindled every maritime Span-
iard into a very knight of the seas, and inspired
the whole nation with a burning zeal for dis-
covery and conquest of distant lands. Her rulers
were among the greatest and most renowned of
all ages of the world. Ferdinand and Isabella
were succeeded by Charles ^■., one of the most
enlightened and powerful monarchs that ever sat
on any throne. He was succeeded by his son
Philip, who, though haughty and imperious, so
carried forward the ideas and purposes of his
great father that his kingdom reached the very
zenith of power and influence in the councils of
the European monarchs. The woe pronounced
upon a "land whose king is a child" could not
fall upon Spain during this period. Weak and
lusterless as may now be the condition of the
Spanish nation, and little as her power is felt or
feared in the world to-day, then soon the Saxon
asked privileges of the Castilian and measured
his own power by the standard of the other's

Under the impulse thus pervading the Spanish
nation, her banner was pushed into every sea and
her cavaliers led all armies of distant conquest, —
especiallx- in tlie Xcw World. While the great-
est historical interest attached to these early mari-
time explorations along the Pacific coast of Xorth
America and had a potent influence upon the ulti-
mate opening up of the far western country to civ-

ilization, the association with the specific history
of the great state of Idaho is so remote, and has
been so often and so ably considered, that it is
not necessary to more than refer thus incidentally
to the story of adventure in this connection. The
development of the Oregon country came as the
diametrical result of explorations by land, and
it is not less than fitting that a brief record touch-
ing the same be here entered.

While Spain led maritime discoveries, the facile
and plastic Frenchman led the land explorations
into the interior of the western continent. France
had a strong holding on the eastern shore of
America north of the St. Lawrence, — a point of
great advantage in intro-continental explorations.
In addition to this she had planted her colonies at
the mouth of the Mississippi, and stretched a cor-
don of posts southeastward from Quebec to the
Ohio, thus hemming the English into a compara-
tively narrow belt of country on the Atlantic sea-
board, and leaving free to her adventurous roam-
ers the vast, and as yet unknown regions that
stretched westward and northward, no one coul I
tell how far or how wude. The French pushed
their advantages by land as did Spain hers by
sea. and as early as 1743 their explorations had
reached the heart of the Rocky mountains. F>om
Canada and from Louisiana, up the lakes and up
the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the French-
man's pirogue kept movement with the voy-
ageurs' songs as these care-free men of France
pushed their trade and travel into the middle of
the continent. The French and English war of
1756, however, by giving England the opportu-
nity to wrest Canada from the weakened grasp of
France, put a sudden stop to her movements in
the line of explorations from that province, and
opened the same opportunity to England that
France had previously enjoyed. But though the
opportunity was before her Great Britain was so
fully occupied with her European difficulties and
the care of her American colonies, already grow-



ing restive under the grievances of her misrule,
demanded so much of the attention of her parUa-
ment and rulers that she could attempt nothing
further than to hold her "reign of vantage"
securely, for at least a quarter of a century.

During the progress of this quarter of a cen-
tury new conditions and combinations had arisen.
England lost all her colonies on the Atlantic
coast south of the St. Lawrence. France had sold
Louisiana to Spain. Thus England's opportuni-
ties were contracted, those of France were de-
stroyed, and the new republic of America was as
yet unable to enter the field of exploration and
colonization. At this period the continental po-
sition was this: Spain, after her purchase of Lou-
isiana from France, had proprietary claim to all
the country west of the Mississippi river to the
Pacific ocean, with no very clearly defined north-
ern limit to her claims. England held the country
northward of the great lakes and the St. Law-
rence river, extending indefinitely westward,
above the forty-ninth parallel of latitude. The
United States held actually the country east of
the summits of the Alleghany mountains, mclud-
ing the six New England states and New York,
and had ownership of all the country westward
of the Alleghanies which England had conquered
from France in the war of 1756. These were the
powers that, after the American Revolution,
stood lookmg to the yet unknown west as the
place for the future aggrandizement of their re-
spective fortunes, and this was the condition in
which they looked to the future and prepared
for its issues.

The advantages of the condition were with
Great Britain. She had grown to be the leading
power of Europe. Already the swing of conquest
was in the movement of her legislation and her
peoples. While the wars of the past twenty years
had taxed, they had not paupered her. She was
strong, consolidated, ambitious, courageous; and
she was Saxon, — the blood of endurance and

Spain held her position in the south and west
by a precarious tenure, and she so felt the feeble-
ness of that tenure that she neither made nor
cared to make any vigorous movements to extend
her possessions or to strengthen her holdings in
America. The L'^nited States, geographically,
held the center of opportunity, but the almost

chaos of the era that followed the close of the
Revolutionary war was over the face of her politi-
cal history, and she needed time in which to gird
herself for the strain of the future. But she had
the strength to wait, for she, too, was Saxon.
And so, with the parties in direct interest in the
movements that were so surely to follow prepar-
ing for the race of empire westward, we come to
the real opening of the era of discovery by land
westward of the great mountains.

These were begun solely by private enterprise
for individual gain. They early reached the Ath-
abasca and Saskatchewan. But the field was too
great for individual resources, and besides the
Hudson's Bay Company entered the field with a
competition which could only be met by combi-
nation. So the Northwest Company, of Montreal,
was formed in 1784 for the express purpose of
meeting and overcoming the competition of the
Hudson's Bay Company, which had proved so
ruinous to the individual traders who had ven-
tured into the country before. In a very few
years this became a most prosperous and power-
ful organization, and its traders and explorers
filled all the country east of the Rocky mountains
as far north as the Arctic and ,as far south as
the Missouri.

The great headquarters of this company was
at "Fort Chippewyan" on Lake Athabasca, and
were under the charge of Alexander Mackenzie,
a very resolute and able man, whose enterprise
in explorations stamped his name on the geog-
raphy of all the west and north. In 1791 he
organized a small party for a western explora-
tion, intending to prosecute his journey until he
reached the Pacific ocean. He had, two years
before, discovered the river that bears his own
name, and followed it from its source in Great
Slave lake to where it discharges its waters into
the Arctic ocean. Having thus ascertained the
character and extent of the country to the north-

Online LibraryLewis Publishing Company. cnAn illustrated history of the state of Idaho, containing a history of the state of Idaho from the earliest period of its discovery to the present time, together with glimpses of its auspicious future; illustrations ... and biographical mention of many pioneers and prominent citizens of to-day .. → online text (page 3 of 136)
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