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 their journey. These routes joined in the City of Rocks area and headed west through Granite Pass.
As their numbers increased, lands along the trail became barren of grass and wood, and
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 desert lands an even more serious obstacle for emigrant travel.
"Started this morning, traveled through rocks from one to five feet high and had to make our road through as best
"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 crooked, as it followed along the edge of the hills most of the time, this being the only route possible on account of this black rock .... When some steep point of bluff would run out into
"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, employed by the American Fur Company, traveled the route from near Arco to the Snake River crossing.
: We directed our course towards the lower or southwestern Butte, and
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 and 25¢ per head of stock. Winfield Scot Ebey was a member of that party that used the route, and he complained about its suitability as an emigrant route.
"All are very
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, but wagon traffic took other routes.
Erected by Idaho Department of Transportation.
Marker series. 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.
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.
Categories. • Natural Features • Roads & Vehicles •
Credits. This page was last revised on November 16, 2017. This page originally submitted on November 16, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 77 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on November 16, 2017, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.