Valley County, IDGenWeb Project
from "Scenic Idaho", Winter 1954
(note: "Scenic Idaho," published by Belcher Publishing Company, Boise, Idaho, has long been out publication)
VALLEY COUNTY . . . One of Idaho's larger counties, is also one of the wealthiest and most progressive. Created in 1917, Valley County has a population of 4,270 and an area of approximately 3,779 square miles. The County contains 2,014,000 acres of National Forest, traversed by 442 miles of Forest Service maintained auto roads and 2,662 miles of forest service trails. Among the largest industries found in this area are those of lumbering and mining. Along with cattle and sheep raising, the valley, known as Long Valley produces the heaviest oat crop in Idaho. Alsac(??) and white clover with grain and potatoes make up the county's principal source of income.
The dam at Cascade holds back Cascade Reservoir, which in addition to serving 14,000 acres of land for irrigation also provides excellent fishing and boating. The fall season finds ducks and geese aplenty and the area is widely populated with elk and deer. Over 30 high lakes such as Loon, Enos and Duck Lakes are heavily stocked with trout. The largest black bear on record, as pictured herewith, was killed in Valley County by Mr. D. C. Allen of Cascade. A section of the Idaho primitive area is located in the eastern part of the county. This wild country is accessible only by pack horse or airplane. Here, the middle fork of the Salmon River is wild and treacherous and few have thrilled to the excellent fishing one finds by floating down river by rubber boat. Summer and winter playground for many . . . Valley County is truly magnificent.
Valley County is not only rich in fertile fields, in luxuriant stands of timber and in majestic scenic grandeur, but it is the scene of one of the most perfect preservations of geologic history on the North American continent.
In ages gone by, millions of years ago, the northwestern United States were inundated by a vast lake, Lake Bonneville. During this time, the earth was inhabited by brontosaurus, oavpos and many other strange beasts. Some of these now extinct creatures roamed the land and others lived in its watery depths. Through the ages, erosion, earthquakes, lava flows, temperature changes, etc., changed the physical features of the earth. And today, one sees the last remains of this prehistoric time preserved in the geological structure of Valley County.
Here, high on towering mountains, can be found sea shells bedded in sand, leaves of prehistoric ferns pressed in layered sandstone and bony fossils of fishes cast in moulds of granite.
The broad farms in Long Valley tell a mute story of the fertility of an ancient lake bottom. The twisting jagged cliffs through which the Payette River flows constitute a huge crack opened by tremendous earthquakes that led to the draining away of most the water leaving a remnant, the beautiful Payette Lakes.
Periodically, from the almost bottomless depths of Payette Lakes emerges one of the strange creatures of a bygone age. A curious sea monster with a head as large as a horse, an elongated body and a great lashing tail rises to the surface of the lake and then disappears into its little known depths. This strange creature has made an appearance on the lake at indeterminate intervals and has been seen by dozens of reliable witnesses.
Outside of the unseen and unknown depths of the oceans, here perhaps may remain the last of the huge prehistoric water monsters which once filled the world's rivers and lakes. Today visitors to these picturesque lakes may well glimpse a view of this weird water serpent. Who knows what other unseen strange things may live in its lower depths!
First came the "gold" era with the thriving towns of Deadwood City, Lake City, Lardo, Logan, Thunder and Thunder City. Following the original "strike" in the Thunder Mountain district in 1899, this region appeared so wealthy that a bill was introduced into the state legislature to set it aside as a gold reserve to pay off the public debt.
Three of the oldest towns in Valley County were those of Vanwick, Crawford and Roseberry. Vanwick, now covered by Cascade Reservoir, has completely vanished. The town of Roseberry in 1911 was the largest in the Valley. The town supported a flour mill, a saw mill, a newspaper, a brick factory, one hotel, 2 blacksmith shops, 2 churches, 3 general stores, a creamery, a drugstore, a dance hall and last but not least the city jail. The townspeople, refusing to sell right-of-way to the railroad, lost possibly the best opportunity of the century.
The railroad by-passed the town and the present city of Donnelly was built. Many of the buildings in Roseberry were moved to Donnelly and some were later moved to Cascade. The old Roosevelt Mine located at Thunder Mountain was one of the bright spots of early day times. In 1909, a landslide covered the mining town of Roosevelt, dammed the creek and backed up water that is now called Roosevelt Lake. (Read the colorful story of Roosevelt, beginning on page 4 of this issue.)
Cascade . . . seat of Valley County is a microcosm of Idaho's past and present. All the industries, including lumbering, mining, agriculture and stock raising are apportioned to this town and its valley as perhaps in no other part of the State; and so in miniature a composite picture is afforded here of most of what Idaho has to offer. One of the BoisePayette Lumber Company's largest lumbering and sawmill operations is located in Cascade. A great recreation spot on Cascade Reservoir lending itself to genuine Idaho hospitality, is Cascade.
Donnelly . . . now incorporated, is a shipping center of oats, grain and livestock. Headquarters for supplies, this city is rapidly increasing in growth. Here the largest known yellow pine in the world is found, as shown on page 36. The tree belongs to Roger and Billy Edwards of Donnelly, given to them by their father, they have life- long ownership of the tree and have agreed never to sell the tree for timber.
Lakefork . . . Located here is one of the valley's largest lumbering and sawmill operations. Several businesses and the location of the upper Long Valley Grange make up the greater part of the village.
McCall. . . Largest city in the county, McCall's largest attraction is Payette Lakes. Timbered shoreline with white sand beaches, this large body of water is the center of tourist attraction. The lake is as blue as water can be, with shades varying from delicate pallor to an almost purple depth. In addition to numerous tourist courts near the shores of the lake, there is beautiful Shore Lodge. In summer the resort offers fishing, swimming, boat races, and other outdoor sports. During the winter months there are skating and skiing. Rates are reasonable.
Here is located the Brown's Tie & Lumber Company, one of Idaho's largest lumbering and sawmill operations. A progressive city, McCall will soon have an enlarged airport. Now under construction, this modern field will receive daily flights to and from McCall. A new 1800-foot T Bar ski lift is also being completed for the area. This will provide additional attraction for this great wintertime playground.
Valley County, on state highway 15, the shortest and the most scenic route between northern and southern Idaho, offers both summer and winter attraction to all. The rapid growth of the area makes Valley County worth investigating for home-seeker and vacationist alike.
Scientists, engineers, sportsmen and mining men visited dredges of the Baumhoff-Marshall and Idaho-Canadian companies at Cascade this past summer—interested in the experiments which are being tried there to clarify the north fork of the Payette River. The dredges mine monazite, a rare sand. Its elements are vital in the defense picture.
Dredges, plus any dredging operations of the future were the focal points of a storm in the 1953 legislature. Compromise legislation finally resulted by which dredge operators are required to level tailings.
But the dredge operators at Cascade are going further than that. They are attempting to settle the roily waters of the Payette's North Fork, in itself a job of major magnitude. Just how difficult a project they have tackled might best be explained by the small jar of roily water which rests on a shelf in the Boise office of Harry Marsh, Secretary of the Idaho Mining Association. The water in the jar was taken from a river in North Idaho. Since 1942, when it was placed there, the jar has not been disturbed. Yet, the matter in suspension has not settled. The water remains opaque.
Although the dredge runoff at Cascade does not constitute this same matter, the problem of settling the water is as great. Between Horseshoe Bend and Emmett, on the Payette River, stands the Black Canyon Dam. It has a reservoir eight miles long and the suspended matter in the river still does not settle.
It is this type of a problem which operators faced in 1952 when they first tried to precipitate the tiny colloids in the water.
Officials from the state department of public health made many trips to the area, sampling the water and conducting experiments on the ground. The U. S. Bureau of Mines and the University of Idaho also studied the problem. State Mine Inspector, George McDowell was an enthusiastic supporter of the project. The University of Idaho's research department even came up with an electrical method of precipitating the colloids, but this method, the department agreed, would be far too expensive. All hands agreed that some type of chemical would provide the solution. Lime appeared to be the cheapest of these.
Fall rains halted the experiments shortly after the construction and temporary use of a lime "feeder" for the dredge ponds in 1952. This consisted of a barrel-like apparatus on which was mounted a small electric motor. The motor operated an agitator in the barrel, which, when supplied with lime, mixed it with water and fed it to the settling pond.
However, amounts of lime fed to the ponds through the feeder were not sufficient to precipitate and settle the brown-colored waters.
This year, all hands returned to the attack on the tricky problem, and with a large measure of success. A new lime feeder and spreader was constructed, much more elaborate than the first. Waste lime was obtained through the Amalgamated Sugar Company at Nampa and Linde Air Products Company at Boise. Hauled by rail to Cascade, the lime was trucked to the dredging ponds along Big Creek.
Vast quantities of the lime were fed to the ponds. But at first the results were negligible. Then Fred Baumhoff of the Baumhoff-Marshall Company, and Miles Young of the Idaho-Canadian Company, decided they would have to extend the size of the settling ponds.
A huge bulldozer, which had been used to spread the tailings, now went to work creating new channels and connecting others. When this project was complete, water from the dredges negotiated a course variously estimated at from one to three miles in length. But even where only seepage occurred between water courses, the liquid maintained its discoloration.
At the lower end of these long water channels, the lime spreader had been placed. Now, the size of the settling ponds were broadened. "Take-off" chutes were built, where one pond's outlet was skimmed of the surface water, which now began to clarify itself.
Thus, the clearing water moved from one pond to another, and finally fed itself into Big Creek.
But hardly had clarification been obtained than another problem presented itself. The settling ponds began to fill up with the "fox" or settled colloids. This was a murky, muddy slime---so murky and so sensitive that the toss of a tiny stone into a settling pond would create watery clouds which billowed like the protective ink from an octopus.
Pumps were placed at the ponds, and large hoses now used to extract and move the slush to other locations.
And now came the reward, after long months of trial and error experimentation. The water in the Payette River Canyon began to clear up! White water again formed in the churning rapids of the deep and colorful canyon! Here, where once the rapids had been a yellow brown and more quiet stretches as dark as the batter of a chocolate cake, the river again ran blue and green.
On occasions, because of rain in the mountains, additional water being let out of the Cascade reservoir, or a break-down on the part of the equipment, the river again ran muddy-colored. As fall rains occurred, of course, the settling ponds no longer functioned efficiently. However, the result of the summer's work were gratifying.
Trout fishermen returned to fish the river. Several good catches were reported, although the stream had never been ranked as one of the better fishing waters.
The Union Pacific, whose trains run through the canyon, again began taking on water from tanks at Banks and Big Eddy—tanks that obtain water from the river itself. During the dirty-water stages trains had obtained their water only from a higher location, where they could obtain fresh water from a mountain stream.
But the lime had one drawback. It did not prove economical because of the huge amounts required, and the possible limitation of supply. However, there was a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
A settling reagent perfected by a large American Chemical concern may successfully supplant the limeó and can be used in small quantities as successfully as lime is used in large quantities. Or such is indicated by preliminary experiments.
Should this prove true, sportsmen and recreationists can be assured of continued clarification of the Payette, and Idaho's mining industry can attach a proud feather in its cap.
This story of Valley County is sponsored by and through the courtesy of:
The Valley County Commissioners
The City of Cascade The City of Donnelly The City of McCall
The Chamber of Commerce of Cascade
The Boise-Payette Lumber Company
The Brown's Tie and Lumber Company
Shore Lodge, McCall
The Baumhoff-Marshall Dredge Company
The Idaho Canadian Dredge Company
The J. R. Simplot Company
Copyright © 2009 - Sharon McConnel. All Rights Reserved.