“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Leadore in Lemhi County, Idaho — The American West (Mountains)

Before the Roads

The Town at the Crossroads

Before the Roads panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 24, 2017
1. Before the Roads panel
Inscription.  This marker consists of three panels: one map and two historical.

Before the Roads

Shoshone Homeland
Native Americans were the first to travel over this rugged country. Most of the year they spent traveling from place to place to find the best salmon, camas and pine nuts. Winters were spent in a sheltered valley along a stream. Later, when they got horses they were able to travel much farther. They rode their horses over the mountains to hunt buffalo in what is now Montana.

Lewis and Clark
On August 12, 1805, when Capt. Meriwether Lewis crossed Lemhi Pass on his way west, he officially left behind lands claimed by the United States. He had determined it was critical to obtain horses from Sacajawea's people, the Shoshone, who she felt could be found near here. He followed a large and plain Indian road to the top of the dividing ridge where he "discovered immense ranges of high mountains still to the West", confirming he still had much difficult land to cross.

Fur Trade
Early fur
Leadore map image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 24, 2017
2. Leadore map
traders learned from the Indians how to live on the land and like the Indians spent most of the time traveling from place to place using the same trails. They traded iron tools, tobacco, cloth and trinkets for the furs that were so important to European fashion up until the 1840's when tastes began to change and furs were less in demand. At about this same time settlers began moving west bringing wagons that required roads to convey them.

The Town at the Crossroads

Aptly named for its location at the intersection of the road from Montana across Bannock Pass and the Birch Creek road to Salmon, Idaho, the town of Junction was once the center of activity for freight wagon and stagecoach traffic as well as for ranchers and miners. In 1910 commerce shifted to Leadore when the Gilmore & Pittsburg railroad bypassed Junction by two miles, leaving it to memories of earlier times.

1855 - The Mormon Road
In 1855 Brigham Young sent 27 missionaries north from Salt Lake City. After two difficult years of failed relations the the Indians they were given permission to abandon their mission leaving only the name of the road as their legacy.

1866 - Gold Discovered
The roads were full of miners once gold was discovered. A party of five men who worked their way from Montana across the Bitterroots,
The Town at the Crossroads panel image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 24, 2017
3. The Town at the Crossroads panel
down the Salmon River and across the mountains to a stream called Napais hit pay dirt on July 16, 1866. As this news spread, the population of Leesburg basin quickly grew to about 7,000.

1877 -Nez Perce Flight
The Nez Perce crossed west over the divid near Junction after the Battle of Big Hole on August 9-10, 1877. Continuing south over Gilmore Summit to Birch Creek, they came upon freight wagons bound for Salmon and Leesburg. The resulting encounter left 5 in the wagon party dead and the rest scattered as the Nez Perce continued east on their flight.

1879 - Utah and Northern Railroad
Prior to the Utah and Northern railroad building a narrow gauge into the Red Rock Valley of southwest Montana, in 1879, Junction was the only town connecting the isolated little community of Salmon City with growing settlements on the Snake River Plain in eastern Idaho.

1886 - 1920 - Beacons of Rest
Stage Stops proved a lifeline to weary, dust caked or ice-incrusted travelers. While exhausted horses were exchanged, a traveler might find a little comfort from a drink of water or a few minutes next to a pot bellied stove.
Between 1886 and 1920 the stage station connected Junction or Leadore with Montana to the east and Idaho Falls to the south.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic
Before the Roads Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 24, 2017
4. Before the Roads Marker
lists: Native AmericansRoads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Lewis & Clark Expedition series list.
Location. 44° 40.842′ N, 113° 21.498′ W. Marker is in Leadore, Idaho, in Lemhi County. Marker is at the intersection of South Railroad Street (State Highway 28) and Old Idaho 28 (State Highway 29), on the right when traveling east on South Railroad Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 115 South Railroad Street, Leadore ID 83464, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 1 other marker is within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Bannock Pass (approx. 10.1 miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on November 1, 2017. It was originally submitted on October 30, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 158 times since then and 26 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 30, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.
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Sep. 21, 2020