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The Adams County Record
Council, Idaho
June 27, 2012     The Adams County Record
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June 27, 2012

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Page 6 Wednesda June 27, 2012 The Adams County Record The History Corner By Dale Fisk- 253-4582 I'm continuing with excerpts from the "Idaho Northern Railway" book, which is available at the Record office or by mail. As you drive north from Banks, about half way between highway mileposts 89 and 90, you come to Big Eddy:. I don't think there is a sign there, or even much of anything to indicate the history of the place, except for a suspension footbridge with signs ordering people to "keep off:' At one time, there were several railroad facilities next to the tracks - a 50,O00-gallon wooden water tank (24 feet in diameter and 16 feet deep) sitting on top of a steel tower, a 12' X 26' operator's house, a nice two-room bunk house and other lesser buildings. Almost all of these facilities were built in 1914, as the line was being completed to McCall. 2"he spot is evidently named for a large eddy in the river here, although I've not run onto any definite information on this. At the south end of the Big Eddy facilities there was (and still is) a footbridge across the river. In the days of steam power, trackwalkers and water pumpers often had to cross the river at Big Eddy, via a cable stretched across it. To get across, they used a board that had a long bolt on each end and hooks at the tops to hook over the cable. They would sit on the board and scoot it along. Everyone on the crews hated this unsafe, makeshift setup, but railroad officials didn't see fit to improve it until the winter of 1948-49. q-his was the heaviest snow winter in west central Idaho's recorded history. A section crewman from Banks usually traveled to Big Eddy to fill the water tank as needed, but during that winter a man stayed in the bunkhouse at Big Eddy to take care of the water tank and other equipment. When a particularly deep snowfall trapped several engines at Big Eddy, a railroad official had to cross the house foundation among the trees on the west side of the tracks. The Boise/Valley County Line runs north and south below Big Eddy, following the river. Just north of this point, it turns directly east. About five miles upriver from Big Eddy was the site of a .big Boise Payette Lumber Company splash dam. In 1903, Payette Lumber Company spent $100,000 blasting out rapids and building flumes along the Payette River in order to float logs to Emmett. They built a huge splash dam here below Smiths Ferry that flooded 36.5 acres. The splash dam accumulated water to flush logs down ~he river when the gates of the dam were opened. The difficulty of transporting logsto a sawmill before the Idaho Northern was river on the precarious built cable. Union Pacific bigwigs had a sturdy footbridge built the very next spring. During Boise Payette Lumber Company's heyday here, shay loggers stayed at a camp here at Big Eddy. Aside from the suspension bridge, all that remains at Big Eddy today is part of the pump illustrates just one example of why railroads were so badly needed. When the newly formed Payette Lumber and Manufacturing Company prepared to log their timberland in 1903, logs had already been harvested along the Payette's South Fork, and floated down the river to Emmett sawmills. The North Fork of the Payette, where company's timber was located, was an entirely different story. This more vertical part of the river between Banks and Smiths Ferry was This dramatic photo of a steam engine blowing smoke and cinders into the sky along hhe Payette River is a classic shot by H.R. Griffith - one of the best- known railroad photographers in the West. filled with vicious rapids that would prove to be a deadly .challenge. For some, it was fatal. The company hired Emmett sawmill pioneers, McNish and Allen, to make the first log drive in April of 1904. In spite of all the money spent on the splash dam and blasting out the river channel, only half the logs made it to the mill and four log drivers drowned. The last of these bodies was not recovered until 1906. Four crosses in After the railroad was remembrance of these built, a Boise Payette men stood along the Lumber shay track road near Banks until entered the main line the 1960s when they from the east just above were removed to widen the old splash dam. Highway 55. The rotting remains of old log chutes like these can be found at several locations along canyons coming down to the North Fork of the Payette River. These greased troughs carried logs down to the river, and/Qr the railroad. This is how the splash dam at i3ig Eddy looked in its hey day. I ""='y Cattle Sale [ I Butcher Cattle Sale io:ooAM II io:ooAM ?:~~ [ Pigs, sheep, and goats t -~s, 1901 K Chicago, Caldwell, Idaho ~,208-459-7475 Toll Free 1-800-788-4429 This is how the remains of the splash dam look today. This shot was taken from the railroad. The highway is on the other side of the riven " - Burial 8ervic -CrcmafionServi.ces 221 E, Court St Weiser, ID 83672 (208) 414-12M w~,w. ~p elt~.Tho mu~on.eom VALLEY REPAIRS & SERVICES Windshield Repairs & Replacements "We will come to you" Most Comprehensive Insurance pays 100% of Chip Repair Brian & Cyndi Ounham Bauer .Indian Valley, Idaho (208) 256-4315