“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Riggins in Idaho County, Idaho — The American West (Mountains)

Gouge-Eye Legend

Quite a Time Before Riggins


— Salmon River Heritage Waking Tour —

Gouge-Eye Legend Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, May 4, 2018
1. Gouge-Eye Legend Marker
Captions: (lower left) John T, Riggins; Riggins' first hotel, Hotel Riggins built in 1894 by pioneering businessman Dick Riggins, was located in the center of town across from Berger Street. The hotel also served as the post office and in 1901, Dick Riggins was appointed the first postmaster.; (top right) View of downtown Gouge Eye (Riggins) including George Curtis' store and Ott's Saloon in the late 1800s.; (middle right) Chamberlain's new saloon was built in 1934, complete with Texaco gas pumps.; (lower right) Seven Devils as it appeared in 1963.
Inscription.  If trees could talk, the big locust standing guard near the corner of Salmon Street might tell us all the details of the famous Gouge-Eye fight. It seems that Homer Levander and Big Markham got into a fight over comely Daisy Trumbull. According to the old-timer legend, the vicious fight started in a nearby dance hall and ended up in the yard under the tree. Big Markham’s eye was nearly gouged out and the town became known as Gouge-Eye or Gouge-Eye Flat for several years.

The Naming of Riggins
In 1901, Dick Riggins applied to the U.S. Government for an official post office for the community, but the name of Gouge-Eye was rejected because of its violent nature.
Other names, such as Irwin and Clay, were turned down as too common. Finally, the name Riggins was suggested and approved by all to honor Dick Riggins’ father, pioneer John Riggins.

Early Watering Holes
Swift Justice in Gouge Eye!
Ott’s Saloon. In 1898, Ed Ott, who had bought the lot just north of Salmon Street from John Silvers, moved a building on it and opened the second saloon in town. Soon after, Ott hired
Gouge-Eye Legend Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, May 4, 2018
2. Gouge-Eye Legend Marker
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Bill Duncan to tend his bar. The story goes that Duncan became enamored with Ott’s wife, which resulted in a gunfight between the two men. Duncan killed Ott, in what was deemed to be a fair fight. Duncan was cleared of charges, and Ott was the first person to be buried on the bench overlooking town. Thus began the Riggins Cemetery.

The Seven Devils. In 1890, John Silvers built the first saloon in Riggins on his property just north of Salmon Street. In 1897, the building was leased to George Curtis, who opened the first general store in town.
The original structure burned in 1930 and the site was purchased by John Chamberlain and Dick Tipton who built a garage complete with gas pumps. The garage burned in 1934. Chamberlain then built a new saloon, which is still in use today.
In 1947, Walt and Vera Schleicher purchased the business and named it the “Seven Devils.” The property has had several owners since, and has housed a variety of businesses, but continues to operate as the Seven Devils today.
Erected by City of Riggins.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EntertainmentSettlements & Settlers.
Location. 45° 25.212′ N, 116° 18.96′ W. Marker is in Riggins, Idaho, in Idaho
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County. Marker is on Main Street near Salmon Road, on the right. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 318s Main Street, Riggins ID 83549, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. You’ve Got Mail (within shouting distance of this marker); The Forest Service (within shouting distance of this marker); Clay's Swinging Bridge (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Memorable Homes (about 300 feet away); Riggins' Early Hotels (about 400 feet away); Early Businesses (about 600 feet away); Riggins in the 1940s (about 600 feet away); The Evolution of a River Terrace (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Riggins.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 27, 2018. It was originally submitted on June 27, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 264 times since then and 90 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on June 27, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.

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Dec. 7, 2022