Near Bellevue in Blaine County, Idaho — The American West (Mountains)
Timmerman Junction Oregon Trail Kiosk
Westward-bound emigrants entered Idaho after crossing Thomas Fork Valley. They soon encountered the climb and descent of Big Hill, witnessed nature's curiosities at Soda Springs, and discovered willing traders at Fort Hall.
In 1843 wagons first rolled past Fort Hall to face the harshness and desolation of the Snake River Plain. Dust, sagebrush, lava rock, mosquitoes, a burning sun, cold nights, and a concerned Native American population made the journey an arduous one. Yet, these pioneers continued on and helped to establish an ocean-to-ocean nation.
Prior to the discovery of gold, California-bound emigrants followed the main Oregon Trail to Raft River before turning south on the California Trail. Gold seekers soon opened new routes in an attempt to reach their destinations sooner. Hudspeth's Cutoff (1849) directed traffic west from Soda Springs. The Salt Lake Alternative (Hensley's Cutoff) (1848) enabled travelers to obtain supplies in Salt Lake City before continuing
As their numbers increased, lands along the trail became barren of grass and wood, and water sources often became tainted. Consequently, alternative routes were explored and utilized. The South Alternative (1843); Northside Alternative (1850); Goodale's Cutoff (1852); Landers Road (1858); and Kelton Road (1869) all became heavily utilized by emigrants and early Idaho settlers.
Because of its advantages as a shorter route to important beaver streams and a major fur trade base at Fort Hall, the later Goodale's Cutoff became a regular Hudson's Bay Company supply route between Fort Boise and Fort Hall. British trappers used pack trains rather than supply wagons, so they had not trouble getting through rough stretches of lava flows that discouraged wheeled vehicle travel between Lost River and Wood River. When Oregon Trail emigrants brought wagons to Fort Hall, they were directed to travel along the Snake River in order to avoid the rough segments of lava flows deemed unsuitable for ox teams and wagons. But after a decade of heavy use by emigrants of Oregon Trail variants, new roads were needed. Too many horses, mules, and oxen had overgrazed a rather broad zone near existing Oregon Trail routes making southern Idaho's
"Started this morning, traveled through rocks from one to five feet high and had to make our road through as best we could. Some of the boys found in the rocks a trunk which had been lost or hid in 1853. It was full of clothing, dishes and other small articles." -- Nellie Slater, July 29, 1862
"The road winds around the foot of the mountain. Today's drive was over the worst roads I ever saw, heard of or read of; they were so rocky. Some places the road is next to impassable. Actually, one of our wagons got wedged in between some large rocks or stones." -- Eakin Family, July 20, 1866
Upon encountering the area now known as Craters of the Moon, emigrants soon realized why wagon traffic had been directed along the south bank of the Snake River by Fort Hall employees.
The panorama of buttes, sinks, and weird piles of stones in this unique area was overwhelming. The lava terrain was set aside as a national monument in 1924.
" Road all rocks in several places. Some so large as to scarcely pass under the wagon. At one place we were obliged to drive over a huge rock just a little wider than the wagon. Had we gone a foot to the right or to the left the wagon would have rolled over. The road was very
"About noon we came near to the Mountain Range & at the same time came to, & passed around the point of a vast field of Lava or Volcanic Rock which had been melted by some former eruption & cast out onto the plains some 10 to 15 feet deep leaving a narrow strip of clear ground new to the mountain on which is the road." -- Winfield Scott Ebey, August 7, 1854
In 1811, as a member of John Jacob Astor's Overland Astorians, Donald Mackenzie explored routes along the Snake River below Cauldron Linn that later came into use as emigrant roads. In 1820 he discovered a more direct route across the Wood River Valley and Camas Prairie. At that time he was leading an expedition of Canadian fur hunters employed by the North West Company based in Montreal. Searching for beaver, he found and old Indian trail that finally became an Oregon Trail alternate known as Goodale's Cutoff after 1862. Later, American fur brigades utilized portions of the route. In December 1832, Warren Ferris,
: We directed our course towards the lower or southwestern Butte, and halted on Gordiez River (Lost River) after a march of twelve miles. We saw during the day several herds of buffalo, but killed none until after we had encamped .... Next day we continued our course, and halted at a small spring on the N.E. side of the Butte, which is the only water found at this mountain and even it is lost in the sand before reaching the prairie. After leaving the spring, we passed east of south twenty-five miles without finding any water, and halted at a spring, five miles west of Snake River; and seven or eight mile above mouth of Porteneu (Portneuf). From this place we crossed Snake River, and encamped in the rich luxurious bottom, on the east side of this stream." -- Warren Ferris, December 1832
On July 20, 1852, John J. Jeffrey set out with an Oregon Trail wagon train to follow Mackenzie's 1820 route. His wagons managed to get past lava formations and other hazards that had intimidated earlier pioneers. In 1854, Jeffery and his associates met wagon trains and encouraged them to use the route and the new ferry situated near the mouth of the Blackfoot River. Proprietors of the ferry charged $5.00 per wagon
"All are very tired, & are "down" on "Jeffrey's Cutoff." The rough, rocky road has greatly injured our cattle." -- Winfield Scott Ebey, August 17, 1854
br> Some early maps identified the route as Jeffrey's Cutoff, but after 1862 the route became known as Goodale's Cutoff. During that year, Timothy Goodale, a former fur trapper familiar with the country, agreed to guide a large wagon train along the route in order to escape Indian problems along the main trail. Many were attempting to reach the newly discovered Salmon River gold mines by the shortest route. Goodale agreed to lead them as near as possible but warned them they could not get wagons all the way. The train created new wagon tracks after they diverted northwest from the main trail at Boise. Goodale guided them to near the vicinity of Cambridge. Some attempted to take their wagons on north toward the mines but abandoned them before reaching New Meadows. The rest met up with John Brownlee, who was building a ferry across the Snake River. He agreed to cross the train for free if in return they would construct a wagon route to the ferry and up out the canyon on the other side. The route later became well traveled by miners heading to Boise Basin,
Erected by Idaho Department of Transportation.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Oregon Trail marker series.
Location. 43° 19.867′ N, 114° 16.826′ W. Marker is near Bellevue, Idaho, in Blaine County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of U.S. 20 and State Highway 75, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bellevue ID 83313, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Magic Reservoir (approx. 7.8 miles away); Wood River Mines (approx. 10.3 miles away); Magic Dam (approx. 10.9 miles away); Rialto Hotel (approx. 13.1 miles away); J.C. Fox Building (approx. 13.1 miles away); J.J. Tracy Building (approx. 13.1 miles away); Bullion Block Site/Werthheimer Building (approx. 13.1 miles away); W.H. Watt Building (approx. 13.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bellevue.
More about this marker. The Oregon Trail Kiosk is located at Timmerman Junction Rest Area.
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Credits. This page was last revised on November 16, 2017. This page originally submitted on November 16, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 114 times since then and 32 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on November 16, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.