Snow brought peril and play to old Idaho

The Idaho Statesman (Sunday) - - STAY CONNECTED - BY ARTHUR HART Spe­cial to the Idaho States­man

Win­ter came early to the moun­tain min­ing camps of Idaho Ter­ri­tory, and changed the life­style of their in­hab­i­tants.

Placer min­ers who had de­pended on fast-flow­ing moun­tain streams to sep­a­rate par­ti­cles of gold from gravel were out of busi­ness un­til spring when the streams started to flow again. If you were an un­der­ground quartz miner you could go on dig­ging all win­ter, but life on the sur­face changed dra­mat­i­cally with the com­ing of snow and cold.

The Idaho World of Idaho City re­ported on Dec. 31, 1864: “The house of Mr. Rich at Plac­erville was crushed in by snow on Wed­nes­day last, and en­tirely de­mol­ished — loss about $300.”

An­other story in the same is­sue told read­ers, “The heavy fall of snow on Sat­ur­day and Sun­day, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing upon that which had pre­vi­ously fallen, gave the oc­cu­piers of nearly ev­ery build­ing in town an op­por­tu­nity of ex­er­cis­ing their mus­cle, and per­form­ing all sorts of gym­nas­tic feats on the roofs, shov­el­ing snow. Sev­eral build­ings fail­ing to stand the pres­sure un­til day­light on Mon­day, in­glo­ri­ously caved in.”

A por­tion of the roof of Mag­no­lia Hall came down dur­ing the night of Dec. 30, 1864, “but un­der the en­er­getic ef­forts of the Ball Com­mit­tee soon went up again sounder than be­fore.” The New Year’s Eve Ball went on as planned.

In Jan­uary 1865, “The snow at Plac­erville is said to be about six feet deep. But lit­tle min­ing is go­ing on.”

When the roof of a large house on Wall Street in Idaho City col­lapsed from the weight of snow in Jan­uary 1867, the

World stated the ob­vi­ous: “Roofs ought to be reg­u­larly cleaned off these times.”

For the con­ve­nience of peo­ple with­out trans­porta­tion of their own, “Cap­tain Cody, of the Coast Line, is now run­ning two sleigh tracks — one down Wall Street hill and one down Com­mer­cial Street. He has a large num­ber of fine sleighs on these hills for per­sonal trans­porta­tion, manned reg­u­larly by li­censed pilots, and is do­ing a rush­ing busi­ness.”

For many in Boise Basin towns, win­ter was looked for­ward to as a time for sports. There were sev­eral places where you could skate, ei­ther man-made or nat­u­ral, and nu­mer­ous hills where you could slide.

Win­ter brought its dan­gers, as the World re­ported in March 1865: “The snow slides are be­com­ing some­what dan­ger­ous in lo­cal­i­ties sub­ject to them. Two min­ers’ cab­ins, two or three miles below town, were car­ried away in one of the drifts this week, the oc­cu­pants nar­rowly es­cap­ing. The cab­ins were swept away out of sight.”

Pro­vided by Arthur Hart

Though win­ter caused many hard­ships, many res­i­dents of Boise Basin towns looked for­ward to the ar­rival of snow, in­clud­ing these At­lanta skiers.

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