Near Avery in Shoshone County, Idaho — The American West (Mountains)
Rough & Tumble Camps
Primitive construction camps dotted the Bitterroot Mountains between 1906 and 1912.
Hardy colorful gangs of workers from around the globe called these bleak and often ugly temporary settlements home.
The hard work and disagreeable conditions on the Milwaukee’s Western Extension led many men to quit at the first excuse or opportunity. Winter snow and damp, miserable working conditions in the big tunnel caused many to look for better work elsewhere.
To induce workers to stay on the job, contractors improved accommodations and served better food. Camps sprouted large domed European style bread ovens. East Portal even hosted a YMCA for off-hour play. Finally a bonus system of payment was established to keep workers on the job.
Location. 47° 22.867′ N, 115° 40.029′ W. Marker is near Avery, Idaho, in Shoshone County. Marker can be reached from Cliff Creek Road (Federal Road 506) 4 miles north of Loop Creek Road (Federal Road 326). Touch for map. Located along the Route of the Hiawatha Trail. Marker is in this post office area: Avery ID 83802, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Beast of the Bitterroots (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); “Wintering” Roland The Route of the Hiawatha (approx. 0.3 miles away); Water Does the Work! (approx. 1.4 miles away); Man’s Mark on the Land (approx. 1.4 miles away); A Changing Landscape (approx. 1.4 miles away); Temporary Trestles (approx. 1˝ miles away); Tunneling Toward Tacoma (approx. 1˝ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Avery.
More about this marker. On the upper left is a photo with the caption, "The “Main Street” of a Bitterroot section construction tent camp circa 1907."
On the upper right is is a photo with the caption, "The smaller circle of Milwaukee Road engineers and contractors could escape the rigors of work and enjoy civilized diversion with family and friends.
In late August, 1908, Mr. F. E. Sutton hosted a two day party with a Bald Mountain horse ride followed by an evening marshmallow toast. Pictured left to right: Mr. Sutton, M. J. Griffith, Anna Kurtz, Marcy McCullough, Isabelle Roman, Anabel Ross, Mr. Thompson and Howard Toole."
On the lower right is is a photo with the caption, "Young Master Harry Kurtz poses for H. English’s camera above the St. Paul Pass Tunnel’s west portal with the construction camp in the background circa 1908." Photographs courtesy Montana State Historical Society
On the right are "Artfully decorated period tin cans."
Also see . . . Route of the Hiawatha Rail Trail. (Submitted on August 4, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Categories. • Railroads & Streetcars •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 4, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 547 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on August 4, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.