Friday, July 28, 2017

RonnieAdventure #0266 - Mountain Home (Idaho) and vacinity, Idaho

We entered Idaho on State Highway 51 where it crosses the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, home to the Shoshone and Paiute Tribes. The reservation straddles the Idaho-Nevada border and contains 289,820 acres of land.

I wanted to stop and find some Indian Tacos, but everything was closed; so I had to settle for a turkey sandwich and a bag of chips from the Tribal general store.

In 1864 the junction of the Rocky Bar Road and the Oregon Trail was a major stage line stop and the town that was formed at the junction was called "Rattlesnake." The stage station owner did not like the name, so he changed the name to "Mountain Home." However, about 20 years later the Union Pacific Railroad bypassed Mountain Home, so the community of Mountain Home was moved down Rattlesnake Creek to the present location adjacent to the railroad line. All that remains at the original site is a historical marker and a M1A1 Arrams Main Battle Tank.

Behind the old hotel in Mountain Home (Jackson and 2nd East Streets) is an interesting alley that is decorated with hand prints and a "penny wall."  The wall was created by Randy Miller to "add more art to the world" and visitors are encouraged to make a wish and glue a penny on the wall. A sign on the wall states that "If someone else removes the penny, they will have to make your wish come true. And if they don't, they may just have bad luck for 3 days, who knows!" I didn't take any chances and left a penny.

A few miles out of town on Highway 20 is a historical marker indicating that in 1868 the road was constructed as a toll road to provide better access the early gold mines. The road climbs a steep grade and there are nice views of the Castle Rock area from the highest elevations.

Hill City is now considered to be a ghost town, but at one time more sheep were shipped from Hill City than anywhere else in the world. About the only things remaining in Hill City is an old phone booth, the closed general store, and several abandoned grain elevators.

A few miles down the road is the ghost town of Corral. A sign on the side of the old one-room school house indicates that it was used from 1908 to 1953.

Fairfield is the Camas County Seat, and the only city in the entire County. The 210 census indicated that the population of Fairfield was 416 people, which is about half of the entire county's population. Fairfield obtained national publicity when it was featured in a Season 2 episode of The X-Files, where an investigation at a fictitious zoo took place.

From a hill overlooking Fairfield there is a beautiful view of the Camas Prairie.

South of Fairfield, Highway 46 passes an area called Little City of Rocks that contains some really unusual rock outcroppings. It would be possible to spend an entire day just exploring all of the different formations.

The City of Gooding contains the world's largest factory for barrel Cheese, which has a capacity of 120,000 metric tons per year. The City is also home to the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind and has a really old abandoned grain elevator.

Three Island Crossing was one of the most famous and treacherous Snake River crossings on the Oregon Trail; then, in 1869 Gustavus "Gus" Glenn constructed a ferry about two miles upstream. The town of Glenns Ferry was established and became a stopping point for emigrants traveling westward. In 1883 the community of Glenns Ferry became a major railroad center.

There is now a nice visitor center and campground at Three Island Crossing State Park.

Photographer and date unknown

There are a number of historic  buildings in Glenns Ferry and information is available that tells the history of the various structures. The historic opera house is still used as a summer theater, but the railroad depot that was located directly across the street has been demolished.

Although Glenns Ferry only has a population of 1,319, it is home to the world famous Equine Gnathological Training Institute and the Academy of Equine Dentistry. Unfortunately, the Equine Gnathological Training Institute was closed when we were there, but I looked through the window and it appeared that it would be an interesting place to visit.

Bruneau Dunes State Park is located on the south side of the Snake River a few miles west of Glenns Ferry. For the more adventuresome, the visitor center rents "sandboards" (similar to a snowboard) that you can use to surf down the dunes. Unfortunately, they do not have a lift that will take you back to the top of the dunes. ( I did not rent a board because I tried sand surfing at White Sands National Monument and almost killed myself. My kids still like to recall the story.)

Mountain Home Air Force Base is located southwest of the City, but they were not offering base tours when we were there. Time to head for Boise!