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

A Man and His Island Dream

 
 
A Man and His Island Dream Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 14, 2016
1. A Man and His Island Dream Marker
Inscription.
The Corps of Discovery reached the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers on October 10, 1805. In his map of the site, William Clark included a small island he observed “at the point of union” of the channels. The island appeared from time to time in early panoramic photographs of the valley and its rivers.

David Christian Hirzel claimed squatter’s rights to the island on August 27, 1904, and erected a house and outlying buildings to replace a small shack said to have been found there when he arrived. On June 21, 1911, Hirzel applied to the local General Land Office for a survey of the one-and-a-half acre property to validate a claim under the Homestead Act. His application was rejected in March 1912 on the grounds that the island was not a permanent feature. Hirzel appealed. Edson Briggs, who had worked as a local surveyor since May 1873, testified that “the island has existed until the memory of man runneth not to the contrary.” Again, the claim was rejected, and the Northern Pacific Railway entered the story.

The company sued Hirzel in the district court to obtain a quiet title to the island. The court ruled that “said sandbar is not of the class of land of which the United States takes recognition as agricultural land or an island within the river, for the purpose
A Man and His Island Dream Marker (<i>wide view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 14, 2016
2. A Man and His Island Dream Marker (wide view)
of having a survey made thereof.” The case was appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court in 1916, pitting the City of Lewiston, Hirzel and the railroad against one another. Again, the justices declared that the island “contained no land proper, nor anything other than river bed material.” Although victorious, Northern Pacific decided not to press the matter further, citing that Hirzel was “getting older.”

In June 1917, Hirzel was back in court. Idaho had gone “dry” in 1915. Nez Perce County officials contended that he was making “cider that contains a percentage of alcohol that makes the sale or possession of the same a violation of the prohibition law.” Hirzel had been brewing the hard cider on the island for four years and had developed quite a market in the city. He often spoke of converting the island into an amusement park.

For many years during the annual spring runoff, hundreds of residents lined the railing of the old interstate bridge, all of them predicting when the house and buildings would be swept away. In 1910 and 1918 water rose to the second floor of the home, but Hirzel made repairs and stayed until September 1932, when the old house burned. His health soon began to fail, and he died on January 4, 1933, in the county rest home.

In October 1959, the Bureau of Land Management
David C. Hirzel c1905 image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 14, 2016
3. David C. Hirzel c1905
ruled that the island was indeed public land, subject to survey and disposal by the federal government. “The man on the island” had been right all along. Hirzel Island was permanently inundated in 1975 when the Army Corps of Engineers filled the pool behind Lower Granite Dam.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Lewis & Clark Expedition marker series.
 
Location. 46° 25.01′ N, 117° 1.975′ W. Marker is in Lewiston, Idaho, in Nez Perce County. Marker is on Snake River Avenue 0.2 miles south of U.S. 12, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is located on pedestrian walkway, on the west side of Snake River Avenue, overlooking a pond and the Snake River Levee. Marker is in this post office area: Lewiston ID 83501, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Confluence of Rivers & Steam (here, next to this marker); Writings on the River (approx. 0.3 miles away); Traveling on the River (approx. 0.3 miles away); Fishing in the River (approx. 0.3 miles away); Exploring on the River (approx. 0.3 miles away); Dwellings by the River (approx. 0.4 miles away); Lewis and Clark (approx. half a mile away); John Silcott (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lewiston.
 
Also see . . .
Marker detail: Hirzel House c1915 image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 14, 2016
4. Marker detail: Hirzel House c1915
 Lewis and Clark Expedition of Discovery.
The Corps of Discovery made camp at the forks of the Snake (Lewis’s River) and Clearwater (Koos Koos Kee) on the right bank of the Snake (opposite side of Clarkston). There was “not one Stick of timber on the river near the Forks.” The water of the South Fork (Snake) was a greenish blue and the “north as clear as crystal.” A small island (Hirzel Island) was at the confluence and at a point of land on the nearby (Lewiston) shore was an Indian cabin. Mounted Nez Perce men, women and children came from all directions to “view” them. (Submitted on November 26, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. Man-Made FeaturesSettlements & SettlersWaterways & Vessels
 
Marker detail: House and buildings during high water, 1911 image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 14, 2016
5. Marker detail: House and buildings during high water, 1911
Marker detail: Hirzel Island c1910 image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 14, 2016
6. Marker detail: Hirzel Island c1910
Marker detail: Hirzel Family Gathering, c1914 image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 14, 2016
7. Marker detail: Hirzel Family Gathering, c1914
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 4, 2017. This page originally submitted on November 26, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 47 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on November 26, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   7. submitted on November 29, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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