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OSL: A history of its impact on the Wood River Valley, Idaho_part01

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OSL: A history of its impact on the Wood River Valley, Idaho_part01

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History of the Oregon Short Line in the Wood River Valley, late 1800s, by John Lundin. Presentation given for the opening of "Railroad Ties," an exhibition at the Sun Valley Museum of History.

History of the Oregon Short Line in the Wood River Valley, late 1800s, by John Lundin. Presentation given for the opening of "Railroad Ties," an exhibition at the Sun Valley Museum of History.

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OSL: A history of its impact on the Wood River Valley, Idaho_part01

  1. 1. THE OREGON SHORT LINE RAILROAD: ITS HISTORY & IMPACT ON THE WOOD RIVER VALLEY IN THE LATE 1800s MINING ERA Presentation to the Community Library Part I, July 10, 2014 John W. Lundin (john@johnwlundin.com).
  2. 2. The author’s great- grandparents, Matt & Isabelle McFall & children, 1888. Matt & Isabelle moved to Bellevue in 1881. They built the International Hotel on Main Street, which became the premier place to stay in the WRV. It burned down in 1909. The McFalls moved to Shoshone in 1893, where they built the McFall Hotel. Photos from Lundin collection,, & the Community Library.
  3. 3. PART I: OREGON SHORT LINE IN THE 1800s – Mining Era I. BACKGROUND - OPENING OF THE WEST: 1804-1880 1869 – Transcontinental Railroad Completed II. 1881 – 1884: UP BUILDS OREGON SHORT LINE TO PORTLAND WRV Branch Stimulates Economy & Mining Booms III. 1888-1898: INTERNATIONAL SILVER DEPRESSION Mining Ends in WRV, OSL & UP go into Bankruptcy
  4. 4. PART II: OREGON SHORT LINE IN THE 20th CENTURY – Agricultural Era IV. 1890s: DECADE OF TRANSITION Agriculture Begins to Replace Mining as Economic Base 1897 - E.H. Harriman Buys UP & OSL out of Bankruptcy 1898 Klondike Gold Rush Ends Depression V. 1900 – 1920: CENTRAL IDAHO BENEFITS FROM IRRIGATION PROJECTS Reclamation Act of 1902 Funds Irrigation Projects in the West OSL builds Branch and Spur Lines UP/OSL Play Major Role in Immigration - Thousands Immigrate Agriculture is Basis for an Economic Boom through W.W. I Railroads Face New Challenges in 1920s & 1930s
  5. 5. VI. 1936: UNION PACIFIC BUILDS SUN VALLEY RESORT VII. 1950 – 1970: RAILROAD PASSENGER SERVICE DECLINES Amtrak is Formed Rail Traffic into WRV Ends Recreational Trail Replaces RR
  6. 6. I. 1804 – 1880 : Opening of the West 1803 - Louisiana Purchase, doubled the size of the U.S. to Rocky Mountains 1804 to 1806 - Lewis & Clark Expedition 1840s to 1860s - Oregon Trail brings 400,000 settlers west, Willamette Valley is settled 1846 – Oregon Treaty w/ England, US territory extends to 49th parallel 1848 – Oregon Territory is Created 1849 - California Gold Rush brings 300,000 prospectors to California 1850 - California becomes 31st state, increases demand for railroad 1859 – Oregon becomes 33rd state 1863 – Idaho Territory is Created 1869 - Transcontinental Railroad is Completed
  7. 7. From the 1840s to the 1860s, 400,000 people took 6 months to travel west on the Oregon Trail, through Idaho along the Snake River Valley, the route followed by the OSL. There were three routes to the 1849 California Gold Rush: a cutoff from the Oregon Trail; overland through Central America; and by ship around South America Map from Dary, The Oregon Trail
  8. 8. CONGRESSIONAL SUPPORT FOR SETTLEMENT OF THE WEST Move to Build a Transcontinental Railroad 1853 – surveys done of 8 possible rail routes railroads are eventually built on five lines Federal Laws Passed to Encourage Settlement of the West Pacific Telegraph Act of 1860 Homestead Act of 1862 Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 – funding for UP & Central Pacific RR, creating a transcontinental railroad Railroad Act of 1864 – funding for Northern Pacific, not completed until 1883 because of financial problems in the 1870s General Mining Acts of 1866 & 1872
  9. 9. PACIFIC RAILROAD ACT OF 1862 The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 provided land grants, subsidies and methods of assembling capital to fund an east-west transcontinental railroad line, and a telegraph line. Companies would get ½ the land in a 10 mile wide strip on both sides of the tracks. Subsidies were $16,000 per mile on the plains; $32,000 per mile on the plateau between the Rockies and the Sierras, and $48,000 per mile in the mountains. The Act imposed the use of “standard gauge” of 4’ 8 1/2 ” for railroad tracks, creating a national railroad system. Between 1862 & 1869, Union Pacific built tracks west from Omaha, and Central Pacific built east from Sacramento. The tough working conditions were portrayed in the recent TV series, Hell on Wheels, on AMC. The “Golden Spike” was driven on May 10, 1869, in Utah.
  10. 10. May 10, 1869. “Golden Spike,” Promontory Point, Utah. Union Pacific & Central Pacific engines meet at completion of the transcontinental railroad from Omaha to Sacramento. UP’s Grenville Dodge shakes the hand of CP’s Samuel Montague. Photo by A.J. Russell, UP Museum
  11. 11. Map of transcontinental Railroad from Omaha to San Francisco. UP had 1 M acres of land for sale along its tracks. Map from UP Museum
  12. 12. Native American looking at Union Pacific tracks in 1868, undoubtedly not understanding that the railroad will soon end his way of life forever.
  13. 13. RAILROAD LINKED THE COUNTRY TOGETHER The transcontinental railroad was called “the greatest, most daring engineering effort the country had yet seen.” It was “the work of giants,” and “the greatest achievement of the American people in the 19th century.” Freight rates dropped dramatically, the telegraph could move ideas across the country instantly, and the time and cost of travel was revolutionized. In 1849, it took many months to travel to the California Gold Rush and cost $1,000. After the railroad was completed, it took 7 days to get from NY to SF, and cost between $135 & $65. By 1880, the government spent $4.653 billion dollars subsidizing the railroad ($109 B in 2013 dollars), but it vastly increased the value of the land through which it passed, and “the whole outcome has been financially not less than brilliant.” Stephen Ambrose, Nothing Like it in the World: the Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863-1869.
  14. 14. FIVE RAILROADS ARE EVENTUALLY BUILT ON SURVEY ROUTES Showing the importance of the surveys done in 1853, five transcontinental railroads were eventually built on the routes that were discovered. The Northern Pacific was built along the 45th parallel, and the Great Northern was built just north of the parallel. The Union Pacific was built along the 42nd parallel. The Pacific, Denver & Rio Grand (Western Pacific) was built along the 37th parallel. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe was built along the 35th parallel. The Southern Pacific was built along the 32nd parallel.
  15. 15. CONTRARY VIEW OF THE RAILROADS Historian Richard White, in his book, Railroaded, the Transcontinentals and the Making of America, has a contrary view of the transcontinental railroads. White believes they were built at the wrong time, in the wrong places, for the personal profit of the railroad corporations, which led to financial and political problems for the country. The western railroads should not have been built where and when they were built. Their costs over the long run exceeded their benefit. They were not built in response to demand, but created demand. They flooded markets with wheat, silver, cattle and coal for which there was little of no need, causing great environmental and social harm. They were built ahead of demand, caused two depressions in the 1870s and 1890s, and created costly, dysfunctional corporations. They were not built for efficient transportation, but for financial manipulation and political networking. The corporations failed but the people behind them prospered greatly.
  16. 16. UNION PACIFIC PLANS A FOR NORTHWEST CONNECTION UP long desired a connection to the NW. In 1853, surveyors determined a route from Wyoming through Idaho to Portland and Puget Sound was feasible. In 1867, UP surveyors determined a rail route through Idaho along the Snake River was “ without serious engineering difficulties,” and UP believed its mission would not be fulfilled until it “builds this branch to the Pacific Ocean.” Idaho & Oregon Legislatures adopted railroad charters and subsidies to encourage construction, and residents were hopeful that a railroad would be built there. However, in 1869, UP said a NW connection could not be built without subsidies, causing great disappointment. Hope for a NW connection continued in the 1870s. In 1872, Congress authorized a CP branch from Utah to Portland, and Idaho & Oregon adopted subsidies for the line. The National Panic of 1873 halted these plans, and hopes for a NW rail connection lay dormant for nearly a decade.
  17. 17. John “Jay” Gould (1836 – 1892), a railroad developer and speculator, and the archetypical robber baron, obtained control of the UP in 1874. He promoted UP’s expansion into mineral regions, and favored building a NW connection. By 1881, he controlled 15% of the total railroad mileage in the U.S.
  18. 18. UTAH & NORTHERN. In 1878, Gould saw a market for copper for the upcoming electrical age. UP bought the Utah Northern out of bankruptcy, a narrow gauge Mormon line from Ogden to Franklin, Idaho. UP extended the tracks to Butte by Dec. 1881, to access the copper. The picture shows a U&N engine at Idaho Falls. In 1880, UP purchased the Kansas Pacific RR. Photo from Wikipedia.
  19. 19. GOULD DECIDES TO BUILD A NW CONNECTION In 1879, the Northern Pacific was being built toward Puget Sound under its 1864 charter. To prevent NP from having a monopoly on NW trade, Gould decided to build a rail connection from its main line to Portland through Idaho to access Willamette Valley products and the growing trade with the Orient. In 1879, Gould sent Robert & Carrie Adelle Strahorn to the NW to publicize the region’s economic potential and locate possible routes and towns for the railroad. Their writings were intended to create interest in the region and encourage settlement in anticipation of UP’s NW connection being built.
  20. 20. Robert Strahorn (1852-1944) & Carrie Adell Strahorn (1854- 1925). In 1881, Robert published the Resources & Attractions of Idaho, Topics Applicable to the Wants of the Homeseeker, Capitalist & Tourist. Dell wrote articles for women’s magazines, which in 1911, were published in a book , 15,000 Miles by Stage. Pictures from historylink.org
  21. 21. SILVER RUSH TO WRV BEGINS IN 1880 In the fall of 1879, silver was discovered in the WRV. A major silver rush began in spring of 1880, the year of the “Wood River Boom.” Tens of thousands hopefuls from all over the world poured into the WRV in 1880 and 1881, to seek their fortunes. The Idaho Spokesman ran a tongue-in-cheek ad in 1880, saying “Wanted, the man, woman or child who does not want to to to the Wood River country in the spring.” One writer said that the hunger for gold or silver “is a disease more contagious than measles, and once in the blood it is seldom, if ever, eradicated.” Claims were staked, mines were opened, and towns were formed in the WRV and surrounding areas. In 1881, Robert Strahorn wrote “Wood river is the center of one of the most extensive belts of heavy galena ores in the world.” Another publication said the WRV’s silver belt was “one of the richest as well as one of the most extensive in the world…The Bullion belt and district is the richest yet discovered.” 15,000 people were expected by 1882.
  22. 22. WRV WAS ISOLATED AND REMOTE The WRV was remote, isolated, and difficult to reach. Ore and goods had to be shipped by wagon to and from railheads at Blackfoot, Idaho, on the Utah & Northern line (135 miles from the WRV), and Kelton, Utah, on the transcontinental line (a 160 mile trip taking 7 days). In 1903, Idaho’s Mining Inspector said “in going over the remoter sections of the State today…one cannot help but marvel at the obstacles that had to be overcome in such a trackless wilderness of mountains, canyons and streams. So far removed from a base of supplies, one can not help but revere the memory of the early pioneers who blazed these trails, and the iron nerve they must have displayed in doing it.”
  23. 23. Map of Alturas County, early 1880s. The orange shows the WRV’s wagon road connections to railroad stops at Blackfoot, Idaho (135 miles away) & Kelton, Utah (160 miles away). Map from the Community Library
  24. 24. Stages & freight wagons transported passengers and goods in and out of the WRV before the arrival of the railroad. In 1881, John Hailey’s Stage Line began operations from Kelton Utah, to the WRV, & Alexander Topance’s stage line from Blackfoot ID to the WRV. Photos from ISHS, 73-221- 1040 & Larry Eldridge
  25. 25. Map of mining districts in and around the Wood River Valley in the 1880s.
  26. 26. Map of Bellevue showing the many mines around the town. Metsker Map
  27. 27. II. 1881 – 1884: OREGON SHORT LINE IS BUILT FROM UP’S MAIN LINE TO PORTLAND In 1880, Union Pacific selected a route from Granger, Wyoming, to Portland after Central Pacific refused to let UP begin its line at Kelton, Utah. Since the its original charter did not permit branch lines, in April 1881, UP incorporated a subsidiary called the Oregon Short Line, to build a standard gauge railroad on “the shortest line to Oregon.” The route would “follow the path of those who plodded westward along the historic Oregon Trail.” UP decided to have the OSL connect with a railroad being built from Portland along the Columbia River by Henry Villard’s Oregon Railroad & Navigation Company in eastern Oregon, rather than building its own line, as a result of a series of back-room negotiations.
  28. 28. IDAHO & OREGON LAND IMPROVEMENT CO. In 1881, investors associated with the Union Pacific formed a company to buy land in advance of the construction of the OSL, where railstops would occur. Its owners included Robert Strahorn, Kansas Senator Caldwell (who was president of the Kansas Pacific RR, a UP subsidiary), Andrew Mellon, and others, who knew the route of the OSL in advance. The company bought worthless desert land, platted and developed townsites, constructed irrigation and water systems, and sold lots, making huge profits. The company purchased and developed the towns of Shoshone, Hailey, Mountain Home, Caldwell, Weiser, and Ontario, Oregon. In June 1882, the company purchased the townsite of Hailey, the 2,500 acre Croy Ranch and the 8,000 Quigley Ranch for $100,000. The Wood River Journal said the company “takes the whole loaf.” Hailey was intended to be the terminus of the Wood River Branch of the OSL.
  29. 29. 1881 – 1883: OSL IS BUILT TO SHOSHONE In May 1881, work began on the Oregon Short Line at UP’s main transcontinental line at Granger, Wyoming. The Kilpatrick Brothers & Collins were the contractors for the OSL, although they hired subcontractors to work on portions of the new line. Construction was more difficult than anticipated because of the terrain the tracks followed. The OSL’s tracks were built through SE Idaho to Montpelier, then the OSL used the Utah & Northern narrow gauge tracks to Pocatello by installing a third rail for standard gauge trains. New tracks were built west from Pocatello along the Snake River following the Oregon Trail route. The tracks reached American Falls in summer 1882, where a large bridge was built across the Snake River, and American Falls served as the OSL terminus in the summer of 1882. Rail service reached Shoshone by February 1883.
  30. 30. BUILDING THE OSL. A survey crew of 14 men went first to lay out the line, followed by a construction crew using horses & scrapers to prepare the grade. Then came a crew laying the ties and rails, followed by an engine laying ballast. A good crew could lay a mile of track in one hour & 20 minutes. Photo from Idaho State Historical Society, 61-23.3, & Schwantes, Railroad Signatures.
  31. 31. OSL bridge over the Snake River at American Falls built in 1882. The bridge was elevated in the 1920s, when the American Falls dam was built and raised the level of the water. Photo from ISHS, 69-4- 2C
  32. 32. OSL IS COMPLETED IN NOV. 1884 In 1882 & 1883, the Wood River Branch was built from Shoshone to Hailey, as construction of the main line continued west. In November 1884, the OSL was completed to Huntington, Oregon, where it joined tracks built from Portland by the Oregon Railroad & Navigation Company. The OSL bypassed Boise, to the disappointment of its residents. Boise was connected to the OSL by stagecoach, and in 1887, by the Idaho Central Railroad. The OSL added 1,820 miles to the UP system. Trains left Omaha Monday evening and reached Portland by 8:00 am Friday. UP said connections to Puget Sound and San Francisco would be built as soon as possible. The OSL was the most important undertaking of the Union Pacific since the completion of its main line, and was so successful that by 1885, 9/10 of UP’s business was local haulage. The Utah & Northern was converted to standard gauge in 1887, and in 1889, was merged into the OSL with other branches to form the Oregon Short Line & Utah Northern Railway.
  33. 33. WAY OUT IN IDAHO After sheet music began being published in Chicago in 1864, a number of songs commemorating the west became popular. The Oregon Short Line Railroad was celebrated in a song, Way Out in Idaho. Several versions of the song are available. A version by Blaine Stubblefield is on the Library of Congress website, part of a collection Railroad Songs and Ballads. A version by Gary Eiler is on Idaho Songbook, produced by the Idaho Humanities Council. A third version by Rosalie Sorrels is on a CD produced by Smithsonian Folkways, Classic Railroad Songs. It was based on a previous song, Away Idaho, written in the 1860s, about coming to Idaho to look for gold, where “the largest chunks are top of ground, way out in Idaho.” The melody was used for other songs about the west, including Buffalo Skinners, about hunting for buffalo in the west, and Canada-I-O, about logging in Canada.
  34. 34. WAY OUT IN IDAHO, ca 1883 Way out in Idaho, way out in Idaho, Working on the narrow gauge, way out in Idaho Come, all you jolly railroad men, I’ll sing you if you can Of the trials and tribulations of a guileless railroad man Who started out from Denver, his fortune for to grow And struck the Oregon Short Line – way out in Idaho As I was walking around in Denver, one luckless rainy day A Kilpatrick’s man-catchers stepped up to me and did say The day is very gloomy, and times are very low Why don’t you go and make the money, way out in Idaho
  35. 35. You pay us down five dollars, as quickly as you can. And hurry to catch the train, its starting for Cheyenne. And when you get to Cheyenne, to Ogden you will go. And there you’ll take the narrow gauge, and go out to Idaho. I paid them down five dollars, like many another man. And started for the depot, as happy as a clam. But when I got to Pocatello, my troubles began to grow. For I had to sleep in the sagebrush, way out in Idaho. So cold and wet and hungry, with blankets on by back. I started for American Falls, and there I met “Fat Jack.” Says he, “you’re a stranger, and perhaps your funds are low. You better go to my hotel, it’s the best in Idaho.”
  36. 36. I followed my conductor into his hotel tent. And for a square and hearty meal, I paid him my last cent. Oh Fat Jack’s a jolly fellow, and you’ll always find him so. It was the only square meal I’ve had in Idaho I started out next morning, all for Kilpatrick’s camp. And thought myself quite lucky, like any other scamp. But when I finally got there, my heart was filled with woe. For it was the dirtiest, lousiest camp, I’ve seen in Idaho. My heart was filled with pity, as I walked along the track To see so many bummers with their blankets on their back They said the task was heavy and the grub they couldn’t go Around Kilpatrick’s table – way out in Idaho.
  37. 37. I started to work the next morning, for a cranky cur called “Bill.” He gave me a ten-pound hammer, to strike upon the drill. Says he “If you do not like it, you can take your shirts and go. For we keep your blankets for your board, way out in Idaho.” It filled my heart with pity, as I looked along the track. To see so many old bummers, with their turkeys on their back They said the task was hard, and the grub they could not go Around Kilpatrick’s dirty tables, way out in Idaho. But now I’m well and working, down at Frank George’s camp. And I think I will continue, till I make a few more stamps. Then it’s back to Denver City, to marry the girl I know. And I’ll bid farewell to the O.S.L. and the wilds of Idaho.
  38. 38. ANTI-MORMON ATTITUDES Articles about the OSL reflected anti-Mormon attitudes in Idaho. In June 1881, the Wood River Times said “the Mormon element has nearly monopolized the labor part of the new road being built from Granger. Over 800 followers of Joseph Smith are scattered along the survey line...This station of life is about as high as the average Mormon is able to attain, and this employment is a God send to them. The sight of a dollar is a rarity to them in Utah…These wages are “way up” for these carrot eaters, and they think they have at last struck the promised land flowing with milk and honey.” Many sought to impose a test oath to keep Mormons from voting. When an anti-Mormon candidate won an 1882 election, the paper said “it will show the outside world that the people of Idaho are most terribly earnest in their desire to curb the power of the polygamous Mormons…It will do the Territory more good by proving that it is not controlled by the Mormon priesthood to as great an extent as has been generally supposed.”
  39. 39. ANTI-CHINESE ATTITUDES In 1886, the Wood River Times endorsed a candidate saying although he was not a member of the Anti-Chinese League, he was “sound on the on the Test oath, anti-Chinese and anti-Mormon questions, and has done more to “rid the country of the presence of Mongolians by causing them to return to their native land…” If elected, he “will do more to rid the country of the hated heathen than all their revilers combined.” An apocryphal song, Old Judge Duffy, told of a blacksmith who was convicted of two murders in Idaho, but he was a good blacksmith, the only one the town had, and the town wanted to save his life, so Judge Duffy ruled: “I move we dismiss him – we need him in town And he spoke out the words that have gained him renown: We have two Chinese laundrymen, every knows, Why not save out poor blacksmith and hang one of those.”
  40. 40. 1882-1884: WOOD RIVER BRANCH IS BUILT In spring 1880, a preliminary survey was done by UP into the WRV. In 1881, Central Pacific surveyed a line from Utah into the WRV, for a line that would end at Galena. In August 1882, UP surveyed a 69.2 mile branch line from Shoshone to Hailey, and a right-of-way was acquired for the Wood River Branch of the OSL. The tracks went north from Shoshone to the future town of Richfield, than along the lava fields and desert to Picabo, to Gannett, then into the WRV to Hailey, its terminus. The Kilpatrick Brothers built the Wood River Branch with a workforce of 3,000 men and 1,000 mules, starting in Picabo and laying tracks both toward Shoshone and Hailey. This was “incredibly difficult work across lava fields, through parching desert, and across swamps. Supplies and dynamite had to be hauled overland by mules 130 miles from Kelton.” Crews battled smallpox coming through the desert, and the job came in well over budget. Near Picabo, willow bundles were used to go through a swamp.
  41. 41. JAMES KYNER, END OF TRACK James Kyner, a subcontractor on the WR Branch, said building a rail line through the “awful lava rock along Wood River” from Shoshone was the toughest work he ever did, requiring dynamite and huge rock cuts which had to be filled in with soil hauled in from great distances before the tracks could be laid. This with “Hell on wheels not far away as Shoshone.” “What difficult, unyielding stuff that lava rock turned out to be…A railroad track laid directly on such unyielding stuff would ruin the rolling stock in not time…We were forced to go a foot or so below grade and then fill in with earth…I learned then how meagre [sic] is the supply of sand and soil over that awful lava rock.” Getting supplies “was an expensive nightmare,” the weather consisted of scorching days and freezing nights, and freighting from the end of the track to the camps was slow and expensive. Water was scarce in “the waterless desert of lava rock and sagebrush.”
  42. 42. KYNER, END OF TRACK “The roughness of Idaho of the eighties can hardly be exaggerated, and the toughness of the men with whom we came in almost daily contact certainly can’t.” Workers Kyner called “ring-tailed roarers” were challenging. “This was the gun-toting west, where heavy fists and six-shooters were the order of the day, and where the commonest drink was whiskey straight and in large and potent quantities.” Fights were constant, “and what brutal fights they were.” Bob Kilpatrick never went anywhere w/o his bodyguard, a “swarthy Mexican who wore a heavy cartridge belt with two loaded pistols.” Kyner got rid of a whiskey merchant at his camp who refused to leave by throwing a lighted stick of dynamite near his tent, and said the next one would be thrown into his tent. “The merchant saddled his horses and galloped off, never to be seen again.”
  43. 43. KYNER, END OF TRACK Workers were paid in cash, which required a trip to Salt Lake to get $3 - 20,000 a month, which had to be brought back to the work camps. The country was filled with “bad men, robberies were common,” and every camp had informers for the gangs so payrolls could be held up. Kyner hid cash in his artificial leg, and his wife hid cash in her undergarments, during the 16 hour train ride from Salt Lake and the 8 hour trip by wagon to his camp. Kyner described the mess table at one of Kilpatrick’s camps, where the plates were nailed to the table “so’s we kin get more people at each table.” They were cleaned by a man with a bucket and a swab who gave each plate a “lick and a promise.”
  44. 44. KYNER, END OF TRACK Kyner’s work later from Mountain Home to Boise was easy compared to the tough conditions on the Wood River Branch. “I almost danced with delight. It had been that awful lava rock along Wood River that had made all the trouble – that lava rock and the bills for wagon freighting.” When he later worked in Colorado, he said “it was a relief to find myself at such a pleasant place after those awful plains of Idaho.” The OSL cost $3M more than UP paid its contractors, who made up the difference themselves. Many went bankrupt, and Kyner spent all his savings and borrowed $18,000 to buy supplies and pay his men. UP’s difficulty in raising funds to finance the OSL left its treasury empty. Another contractor said UP’s “fraud, imbecility, mismanagement, misrepresentation, and general rascality, finds no parallel in railroad history.”
  45. 45. WRV WAITS FOR THE RAILROAD There was a huge demand for wood ties, and 300 men in the WRV were hired to cut several hundred thousand ties and float them down the Wood River to the construction camps. WRV newspapers followed the progress of the tracks and expressed great optimism. The News-Miner said “come quickly ye who would participate in the grand boom surrounding the completion of the Oregon Short Line.” The UP was bringing in “men of capital” to invest in the WR mines and real estate, “a better class than usually pours into mining camps.” In March 1883, the OSL had 1,000 men and 500 teams building the branch into the WRV, and the “Iron Horse is Snorting and Cavorting within 8 miles” of Hailey. The yield of the Philadelphia Smelter was expected to increase from $1M to $3M in 1883 because of the railroad. 100 car loads of ore waited in the WRV to be shipped out as soon as the railroad arrived.
  46. 46. UNPLEASANT ASPECTS OF THE RAILROAD Local newspapers also warned of the unpleasant aspects of the arrival of the railroad. The Wood River Times said a car load of “opium fiends and prostitutes” riding to Shoshone threatened to capture the train. They were dumped off in the sage-brush where they consumed their opium and whiskey and started fighting among themselves. “Their yells could be heard for miles.” A construction train picked them up the next day to save them from starving or freezing to death. The paper also warned that “hundreds of gamblers and abandoned women” were following the railroad’s progress and would soon arrive in Hailey.
  47. 47. The WR Branch was completed on May 7, 1883, with rail and telegraph services beginning that day. The arrival of the first train was met “with a brass band and all the enthusiasm of a Fourth of July,” with “several kegs of beer emptied in succession.” Poster issued by Union Pacific
  48. 48. Ads in Ketchum Keystone, 5/4/1883. The Philadelphia Smelter had plans to expand so it could control the entire “Wood River country,” turning Ketchum into a great smelting center which would compete with the world and “leave little room for the various one-horse stacks about the country.”
  49. 49. KETCHUM HOPES FOR AN EXTENSION Even though Hailey was the terminus of the Wood River Branch Ketchum residents hoped that an extension would be built further north. The Philadelphia Company brought heavy pressure on UP to build an extension to access its smelter. However, in May 1883, a UP executive said rumors that a grading contract had been signed to Ketchum “were willful lies.” In spring 1884, the OSL did a preliminary survey of a Ketchum extension, but the UP Idaho manager said “the road is not going to be built to Ketchum.” UP did not want “any more road in the snowy country north of Shoshone” due to the high costs of keeping it open the winter. UP was in such financial difficulty because of the huge costs of building the OSL that its Board considered cutting its dividend, “which would be a sad calamity.” UP changed its mind in spring 1884, and began working on obtaining a right-of-way for a Ketchum extension.
  50. 50. The last portion of the Ketchum extension right-of- way was acquired from Dr. Johnson, the owner of the Cold Springs Ranch south of town. He had obtained an injunction on grading on his property, since the railroad would “take the heart of the Cold Springs Ranch.” He received $1,000, the largest sum paid for the extension. Photo from Community Library
  51. 51. 1884 – KETCHUM EXTENSION In 1884, OSL tracks were extended to the Philadelphia Smelter, north of Ketchum, the WRV’s largest employer, located where Warm Springs Creek entered the Big Wood River. Two bridges were built over the Wood River, one at Gimlet and one 1 ½ miles south of Ketchum. Photos from the Community Library
  52. 52. RHODES ADDITION, 1884, partial plat map showing the OSL tracks & depot, the Y tracks built in 1885 over the Big Wood River to the 241 acre Philadelphia Smelter, and platted land in the Warm Springs area where the company owned 988 acres. In 1903, the OSL bought land from the company surrounding its depot for sheep pens.
  53. 53. The arrival of the train at Ketchum on August 19, 1884, “called for a celebration to eclipse all former celebrations.” A grand ball was held, together with a Carnival featuring horse races, a baseball game, sporting events, speeches, a greased pig tournament, and fire-works. Ketchum Keystone, 8/16/1884
  54. 54. 1898 Oregon Short Line map showing the Wood River Branch. There were 8 stops between Shoshone and Ketchum on the Wood River Branch.
  55. 55. 1898 Schedule for Wood River Branch. One train a day left Shoshone at 7:20 am, arrived at Bellevue at 10:20 am, Hailey at 10:45, and Ketchum at 11:30. The return train left Ketchum at 3:00 pm and arrived in Shoshone at 7:00 pm.
  56. 56. Oregon Short Line train in the Wood River Valley. Photo from the Community Library
  57. 57. Shoshone was a major railroad town, and thrived as the “Junction” between the main east-west OSL line and the Wood River Branch. Shoshone had a roundhouse with 14 stalls, repair & machine shops, and a water tower and coal chute. Photos from Casey Kenaston
  58. 58. These pictures show the OSL machine shop used to repair trains, and the coal chute in Shoshone. OSL had a large workforce in Shoshone until it moved its repair operations to Pocatello in 1887. Photos from Casey Kenaston
  59. 59. OSL depot at Gannet. Photo from Union Pacific Museum
  60. 60. BELLEVUE DEPOT The picture on the right shows the inside of the depot, the station agent, and the telegraph operator. Photos from the Community Library & Union Pacific Museum.
  61. 61. HAILEY DEPOT, between Carbonate and Bullion on 5th Ave. Photos from Union Pacific Museum & the Community Library.
  62. 62. KETCHUM DEPOT Photos from Union Pacific Museum & the Community Library.
  63. 63. WINTER IN BLAINE COUNTY The picture on the left shows an OSL train with a snow plow clearing the tracks. The rotary snowplow was developed by UP for the OSL tracks, and began operating in March 1887. The picture on the right shows an engine in Shoshone. Photos from Casey Kenaston
  64. 64. THE OSL DRAMATICALLY CHANGED THE WRV The railroad transformed the WRV and provided a huge economic boost. Passengers and goods could travel rapidly and cheaply in and out of the Valley. Travelers could connect with UP’s transcontinental tracks in Utah, and with the NP’s transcontinental tracks in Montana. In 1881, it took the McFalls over 2 weeks to travel from Nevada to Bellevue by wagon. After 1883, residents could travel to Shoshone in 2 hours, Boise in 3 ½ hours, and be in Portland 8 hours later. They could reach Salt Lake in 9 hours, and New York a few days later. The OSL reduced the cost of transporting goods in and out of the WRV by over $20 a ton. The 1884 Idaho Territorial Report said the WRV had a 110 mile mineral belt, “easy communication by means or the Wood River branch of the OSL, and “may be truly regarded as an attractive country.” With the coming of the railroad, the WRV “passed from lusty infancy to a more orderly adolescence.” Spence, For Wood River or Bust.
  65. 65. THE WRV ECONOMY WAS TRANSFORMED The railroad transformed the WRV’S economy and expedited the flow of capital from Europe and all over the U.S. into the Valley, allowing exploitation of its “phenomenally rich ore deposits.” Idaho’s Territorial Governor said the WRV “is now generally conceded to be the richest silver- lead producing country in the world.” Ore production increased from $4 M in 1884, to over $9 M in 1887. The Minnie Moore and Queen of the Hills Mines produced between $10 - $15 M of ore during the heyday of the WRV. The railroad brought an end to “pick and shovel” mining, and introduced an era of industrialization and capital intensive exploitation of the WRV’s mines. Spence, Wood River or Bust.
  66. 66. “Pick & Shovel” mining that was typical in the WRV before the OSL arrived was simple and crude, and consisted of little more than a few men, shovels and dynamite. Photos from the ISHS, 63-194-10 & 63-194-11
  67. 67. Industrial mining required significant capital and a large work force. The upper picture shows the Nay Nay Mine north of Hailey. The lower picture shows the headframe of the Minnie Moore Mine with the Queen of the Hills Mine behind, located west of Bellevue. Photos from the Community Library & the ISHS, 63-194-10
  68. 68. Diagram of workings of Nay Nay Mine, Wood River Valley. From Evelyn Phillips
  69. 69. Diagram of Silver Star Mine in the Little Smoky Mining district, and connected mines. From the Lundin collection
  70. 70. OSL MINES MADE HUGE PROFITS AND SOLD FOR PREMIUM PRICES In 1883, the Mayflower Mine, initially acquired for $25,000, shipped $572,000 of ore, and sold for $375,000. The same year, the St. Patrick Mine sold to Baltimore investors who had $400,000 in capital. In 1884, British investors purchased the Idahoan Mine for $400,000, the Minnie Moore Mine for $500,000, and the Bullion Mine for over $1 M. Thus, in two years, $2,675,000 was invested in these five mines alone, which would be worth $64,200,000 in 2013 dollars. Large California investors invested in WRV mines, including George Hearst who made his fortunes in the Comstock Lode in Nevada and the Homestake Mine in South Dakota.
  71. 71. THE RAILROAD CAUSES NEARBY AREAS TO BOOM Areas around the WRV also boomed because of the OSL. The Philadelphia Company built a smelter in Muldoon, 20 miles east of the WRV, to handle ore from its mines there, after it bought the Muldoon Mine for $100,000. The Camas Gold Belt west of Hailey, and the Smoky Mining Districts, west of Ketchum over Dollarhide Summit, opened new mines, and their ores were brought to Ketchum to be smelted at the Philadelphia Smelter. The Wood River Times of 1886, said the Smoky Mining Districts “contain more promising mines” than any other area in the world “with the exception of the incomparable Comstock and Butte districts, and the Smoky districts even promise to surpass these in time.” Stagecoaches connected the WRV to the outlying mining areas.
  72. 72. The Philadelphia Smelter expanded in 1883, and installed two 50 ton smelters to process 180 tons of ore a day from all over the region. The company also bought a number of local mines. A new road was built out Warm Springs Creek over Dollarhide Summit to reach the Smoky Mining Districts & the Silver Star Mine where the Company built a $500,000 mill. Ketchum Keystone 5/4/1884 & pictures from Lundin collection. Twenty stamp mill at Silver Star Mine, 1980s.
  73. 73. In 1884, H.C. Lewis built a toll road over Trail Creek Summit, and his Lewis Fast Freight brought ore from mines around Challis to the Philadelphia Smelter for processing. He used large ore wagons that can be seen in Ketchum’s Labor Day parade. This picture shows Lewis Fast Freight in the foreground and the Philadelphia Smelter in the back. Photo from the Community Library.
  74. 74. Ore wagon owned by Lewis Fast Freight bringing ore to the Philadelphia Smelter in Ketchum for processing and shipment to national markets on the Oregon Short Line Railroad. These wagons carried up to 18,000 pounds of ore and covered 12 to 14 miles a day. Photo from the Community Library.
  75. 75. THE OSL MODERNIZED THE WRV With the expected arrival of the OSL, investors brought the most modern technology to the WRV. The Philadelphia Smelter had an electric light system by fall 1882, and by the winter of 1882—1883, Hailey had an electric power system designed by Thomas Edison, the first in the NW. By November 1883, a telephone system connected four WRV cities, Ketchum Bullion, Hailey and Bellevue. Ketchum had two telephones, one at the Post Office and the other at the Philadelphia Smelter. Subscribers paid 25 cents a call and non- subscribers paid 50 cents. The following year, service was extended to outlying areas (Elkhorn, Warm Springs & Boyle Mountain). By 1883, Hailey had a municipal water system, Bellevue had two daily newspapers and Hailey had three, and the National Bank of Ketchum was formed with $50,000 of capital. WRV residents had new mobility. In 1885, 300 people from Hailey accompanied its baseball team on the train to a tournament in Shoshone. A fist fight between fans had to be broken up by the Sheriff, but the trip was a success.
  76. 76. August 1884 – W.W. Cole’s Colossal Show, a three ring circus, came to Hailey by rail. Sampson the Elephant escaped, ran wild through downtown Hailey, terrorizing the town. Locals pulled out their guns and shot at the poor beast before he was finally returned to his cage. Bystanders said “Sampson seemed to enjoy the fun.” Ketchum Keystone , 7/30 & 8/6/1884.
  77. 77. Stagecoaches still were still important. They ran up and down the valley to supplement train service, to Kelton, and to outlying mining districts from Bellevue, Hailey and Ketchum. Ketchum stages ran west to the Smoky Districts, north over Galena Summit to the Sawtooth district, and east over Trail Creek to the Challis mines. Ketchum Keystone, 5/5/84
  78. 78. NEW BRANCH LINES PLANNED FROM HAILEY. The Gold Belt RR would go west out Croy Canyon to Bullion, Camas Prairie & Smoky Mining District. Other lines would go north over or under Galena Summit to Stanley, Challis and Salmon; up the East Fork of the Big Wood River to Muldoon; and out Deer Creek. None were built . Map from McGonical, Spring of Gladness
  79. 79. 1888: SILVER DEPRESSION ENDS WRV BOOM In 1888, there was a sharp decline in silver prices which precipitated a major, world-wide depression. 1893 marked the end of silver’s financial dominance, and the U.S. went off the silver standard. 15,000 businesses and 642 banks failed, and 20% of the work force was out of work. Most of the railroads in the U.S. went into bankruptcy, including the U.P. and O.S.L. The Panic of 1893 was a “painful end of the Gilded Age.” In the WRV, by 1888, most of the mines closed, bust replaced boom, “and many inhabitants left.” The Philadelphia Smelter closed in 1893. This was a “decade of turmoil” for Idaho, and the WRV Mining District was said to be “deader than a lime fossil.” Many WRV towns were abandoned, including Bolton, Bullion, Gilman, Broadford, Gimlet, Galena, Doniphan, Hays and Muldoon. By 1890, Hailey’s population had dropped from 4,000 to 1,073; Bellevue’s from 3,000 to 892; and Ketchum’s from 2,000 to 465.
  80. 80. CLARK SPENCE ON THE WRV’S MINING BOOM For mining communities, like mortals, there is a time to be born and a time to die. Most lived fleetingly, a brief and intense blaze of glory across the pages of history, either to perish completely or to survive with economic bases much altered or their province diminished. According to Idaho’s Mining Inspector in 1898, Wood River Valley’s moment of brilliance spanned the decade of the 1880s. Its production record has been phenomenal. Twenty nine of its mines had taken out $14 M in silver and $5 in lead. Even though not comparable in the long run to Leadville or the Coeur d’Alenes, Wood River has never been given its due, either in its heyday or by later historians. Spence, For Wood River or Bust: Idaho’s Silver Boom of the 1880s.
  81. 81. END OF THE FRONTIER In 1893, Fredrick Jackson Turner announced that settlement had ended the country’s frontier, closing the first period of U.S. history. By this, he meant the end of available free land. “Free lands and the consciousness of working out their social destiny did more than turn a Westerner to material interests and devote him to a restless existence. They promoted equality among the Western settlers and reacted to a check on the aristocratic influence of the East.” In 1893, the McFalls moved from Bellevue to Shoshone, which was thriving as a railroad town on the OSL line. Matt McFall built the Columbia Hotel in 1893, and the McFall Hotel in 1900. Shoshone, McFall, and his hotel thrived during the economic boom times of the early 1900s.
  82. 82. McFall Hotel, Shoshone, Idaho, built by Matt McFall in 1900. Photo from ISHS, #398J
  83. 83. TO BE CONTINUED FRIDAY JULY 11.

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