Camas Prairie in the News 1880
The Case of W. H. Spencer
It will be remembered that we published an account sometime since of the death of W. H. Spencer, formerly of Rocky Bar, who was found dead in his cabin in the Wood River country. We are in receipt of a letter from Hon. S. B. Dilley, Probate Judge of Alturas county, who informs us that he has been applied to by Mr. Mat H. Williams to appoint some competent and suitable person to take chare of the property left by Spencer. Mr. Dilley complied by appointing Mr. Williams administrator of the estate of the deceased. In addition to what has already been published, Mr. Dilley writes us the following particulars:
The body of Mr. Spencer was found in his cabin on Willow Creek on the last day of March. He had not been before seen since the 7th of February. His death appeared to have resulted from an accidental gunshot wound. The remains were in a very advanced stage of decomposition but were carefully and decently buried on the 4th of April. The brother of the deceased is supposed to be living in the vicinity of Walla Walla.
W. H. Spencer was an old settler of Alturas County, having resided here most of the time since 1863. He was a blacksmith by trade but in the early times worked at placer mining some. A few years ago, he served as Assessor of the county, and at one time, acted as Deputy Sheriff. He was a member of Alturas Lodge No.12, A.F.& A.M.; was a very industrious man; a good neighbor; and a faithful friend; and an upright and honorable Mason and his loss will be deeply deplored by his many friends in the county.
From Our Traveling Correspondent Rocky Bar, I.T.
We arrived here at 6 o'clock Sunday evening, having left Mountain Home, on the Overland road, at 5 o'clock that morning. The distance is fifty-five miles over a route much more rugged, of course, than the section of the Overland between Boise City and Mountain Home; but the road though somewhat hilly, is in excellent condition, and everything connected with Tatro's stage line is in the best possible order. The journey was one of the most pleasant stage jaunts we have ever experienced.
Five miles out from Mountain Home we passed Mr. Porter's place where we were pleased to note many improvements made since last year. The travel on the road has more than doubled within a year owing to the grand rush to the Wood River country. At the old Dixie ranch we found a large party of emigrants encamped numbering some twenty families. These people had come into Idaho by the way of Soda Springs, crossing Snake river at Taylor's bridge and passing through the Wood River country and Big Camas Prairie. Three miles further on we passed the point of intersection of the stage road leading to Bellevue in the Wood River mines with the Rocky Bar road. The Bellevue stage runs twice a week leaving Mountain Home Mondays and Tuesdays. The distance is 100 miles requiring two days to go through.
The western bound stage which arrived at Mountain Home Saturday evening brought as passenger Prof. G. Kustel, the distinguished mining expert and metallurgist, who came up on the stage with us to this place where he met Mr. Miller, the superintendent of the Buffalo Company, and accompanied him to Atlanta this afternoon. The Professor has come in response to a call from the managers of the Buffalo Company to make some examination of the mine and mill. During the day's pleasant drive up the Professor told us that within the past two years he had visited various mines in Arizona, Mexico, and Central America, and gave us an interesting account of his experienced in those countries.
On arriving here yesterday we found very nearly all the Boise City lawyers and the resident attorney, Hon. V.S. Anderson, all in good health, and placidly enjoying their Sabbath evening's rest after the innocent labors of the week. All the business of the court was finished last week except one case, that of Reeser vs. Settle, concerning the right to a one-third interest in the Vishun mine. This case was commenced this morning and is now in progress. Judge Prickett, there as elsewhere in his District stands very high in the good opinion of all the people for the impartiality and strict justice of his decisions and rulings.
Soon after alighting from the stage on our arrival here we met Mr. T.W. Rollins, who very kindly gave us a formal introduction to the Hon. Wm. M. Tweed, of New York City. Looking reverently at the face of our new acquaintances we at once recognized the familiar features so often and so faithfully depleted by Nast in Harper's Weekly, but were somewhat taken aback when the "boss" exclaimed, "Graham, Graham sir; my name is Graham!" It was Mr. Matt Graham, the veteran pioneer miner, the originator of so many mining enterprises in the early days of Alturas, and who has done so much good work in bringing capital into the country. Unlike the dead chief he so strongly resembled in feature and form only, Mr. Graham is quite alive and in rigorous health.
Rocky Bar boasts of two good hotels, one kept by Mr. Sol. Newcomer and the other by Mr. C.H. Porter. Both houses are well patronized. There are four stores of general merchandise kept by the following named gentlemen: Henry Swanholm, Mel Campbell, W.P. Callahan and W.C. Tatro. These stores all seem to be doing a good business. John Windleback and Wm. Mulally keep the only two saloons in the place. The livery stable is kept by Messrs. Ethel and Porter. Jacob Reeser owns a ten stamp mill in the lower end of town which is kept busy crushing custom rock.
The purchasers of the old Ada Elmore property are engaged in pumping the water from the mine in order to examine the ledge in the lower levels which has not been seen for many years. The company means business and will expend about $60,000 in putting the mine in working order. The Alturas mine which as been sold by Mr. T.F. Johnson to a New York company will also be worked this season. The Idaho and Vishun veins which have heretofore been worked as separate and distinct mines are now said to have been worked to a point where the veins unite and will be henceforth worked under the name of the Idaho. The property is owned by Capt. G.F. Settle, except a one third interest in the Vishun which is the subject of the law suit, the trial of which is now going on.
The people whom I meet here from Atlanta, tell us that the camp is now on the eve of a grand boom, but as we shall visit the locality soon we will reserve what concerns it for a future letter.
Interesting Description of the Various Mineral Belts and of the Mines Discovered and Being Worked
The Effect Which the Mines Will Have Upon the Prosperity of Boise City and Boise Valley, Etc.
ED. STATESMAN Since my return to Boise City almost every one I have met had asked me the question "Is Wood river going to be a good camp?" How few there are even in our own Territory who realize the extent of territory embraced within the region throughout which the recent discoveries of silver ores have been made, and known by the general name of the Wood river country. It would require quite a volume to contain a minute description of that entire region, but with your permission I will give the following glance at the general outlines of that vast extent of country.
A personal observation of a great portion of the country embraced within its limits, leads me to believe that there are three distinct mineral belts, (perhaps four) running through the entire regions, which for the sake of convenience I will continue to the discoveries made within the last two years; beginning at the southeast corner. Here we find ourselves on the Blackfoot stage road, in what is known as the Dead Man's Flat about 35 miles east of the town of Bellevue and on the margin of the lava beds which lie between the Snake river and the mountains.
Turning our face to the northwest we find a mineral belt from 3 to 8 miles in width, extending through the mountains in a northwesterly direction and easily traced for a distance of 50 miles, with fine lodes of galena and carbonate ores located and being developed every few miles for the entire distance. This belt, at the northern end, terminates in the Kinnicklaick and Bay Horse districts of Upper Salmon river and contains many of the finest prospects in the country. From this main mother belt there are branches of either side running off toward Lost river on the east and Little Wood river on the west near each of which streams there are some fine locations.
West of this belt, and running parallel with it at a distance of about 20 miles you find another belt which crosses Little Wood river about ten miles above the stage road, and in its northern course it cuts the headwaters of the east fork of Big Wood river and crosses to the East Fork of Salmon river, some 20 miles east of Galena City and extending in the direction of Bonanza City. The Paymaster and some ten or twelve other lodes on the East Fork of Big Wood river are on this belt, besides a number of very fine locations on the head of the East Fork of Salmon river. Much of this belt is yet unexplored.
Some ten miles west of the last mentioned belt we find another mineral belt running parallel with those already mentioned, though not so well defined. There are several mines located on various portions of it near and a little east of Bellevue, also on the head of Indian Spring creek. The celebrated North Star mine, the Truant Boy, the Elk Horn, and a number of other fine mines are on this belt. I do not know that it has been explored to any considerable extent north of Ketchum.
Travel still westward 6 or 8 miles and we come to the group of mines around Jacob's City, where we find a mineral region several miles wide, extending through Bullion, Deer creek, Green Horn, Warm Spring creek, Galena City, and extending through the mountains in the direction of Bonanza City. Upon this belt are situated many of the best developed and richest mines in all this country: the Star, the Idahoan, the Bullion, the O.K. and many others are on the southern end of the bet, and the White Cloud, the Gladiator, the Eunice and others are near Galena City, on the northern end.
Again travel 8 or 10 miles west, and you find still another belt, which is several miles wide, running in the same direction from the foot hills north of Big Camas Prairie, through the headwaters of the Smokies and through the Saw Tooth district. This belt when thoroughly prospected may prove to be one of the richest yet discovered. A number of very fine lodes of galena ore were discovered late this fall on the head of the Smokies, and as we follow it in its northern course, we find the ore changes from galena and carbonates to sulphurets, bromides, and chlorides. The Smiley mine, the Vienna, the Pilgrim, the Lucky Boy and many others are on this belt, the ore of many of which will yield from $500 to $5,000 to the ton.
Thus it will be seen that Wood river, if only "a camp" is quite an extensive one, covering an area of country near 60 miles square. In describing these belts your correspondent would not be understood as saying that there are continuous lodes of ore to be seen in all places on the belts, but that the formation is mineral bearing and ledges are found in all of them at intervals of a few miles, and in many places many good locations have been made within a very short distance of each other for miles along the belt.
Some recent discoveries give reason to believe that there is still another belt west of those already discovered and running from Big Camas Prairie through the mountains to the north, and that when fully developed it will prove to be a continuation of the great Atlanta mineral belt. Mr. Al Thompson, while surveying in this region only a few days since, found a large vein of gold and silver bearing quartz similar to that of the Atlanta mine, and his party claim that there are many indications of a large mineral belt running in the direction of that place. If this proves true it will make an addition of some thirty miles to the width of our Wood river "camp." As to the richness and quantity of the ores it will suffice to refer to the smelters of Salt Lake City, which are now receiving hundreds of thousands of tons of lower grade ore on the dumps and in sight in the mines which will pay well for reducing when smelters are erected within a reasonable distance of the mines.
Now, Mr. Editor, the question is asked "What effect will the development of all these mines have on Boise City and Boise valley?" I answer: It will be the easy making of all this country. You must furnish all the fruit, all of the flour and all of the grain needed by the immense population engaged in working these mines or at least until Camas Prairie and other valleys in that portion of the country are settled up and prepared to furnish a portion of the supplies needed. At this writing there is a demand in the Wood river country for 50,000 lbs of flour and perhaps twice that amount of grain would find a ready market at good figures. There is at present perhaps about 1,200 persons in that country, and yet it has furnished a market for quite an amount of the surplus produce of Boise valley. Then only think what the demand will be when the population reaches 10,000, which it is nearly sure to reach next summer. Let the farmer stick to his farm and the miller to his mill, and let them prepare to furnish the supplies as demanded and you will see better times than you have seen since the palmy days of our placer mines of Boise Basin.