Third Pole in Silver City

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May 27, 2017

More trips with Europeans: Nick from Poland joins us for an exciting adventure to one of Idaho’s frontier towns.

Murphy Museum
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Murphy Museum
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“Is there anything new since last year?” I ask the lady sitting behind the counter at Murphy’s tiny museum.

“We have a new Chinese exhibit,” she answers. “It’s where the gun display was.”

“Neat, thank you.”

Kayla’s boyfriend Nick is back in Boise from his home in Poland for the summer. We figure if you’re visiting Idaho of all places from overseas, you’d better see some of the old frontier life.

Stop the presses
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Stop the presses
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So we all piled into the Jeep and headed south through the desert, across the Snake River to the mountains that rise up around historic Silver City. A walk around the Owyhee County museum is a pleasant break along the way.

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Brenna’s favorite museum feature may be the creepy, century-old dolls. “Look at these, mom!” she calls.

Sinker Creek
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Sinker Creek
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A southern Idaho outback experience wouldn’t be complete without an orange Owyhee canyon so we part from the road just before starting the climb into the mountains to drop in along Sinker Creek.

“Oh, god,” I hear Kayla murmur as the Jeep crawls down the canyon-side roadcut.

“I wonder if this was meant only for ATVs,” I muse, only half in jest.

Bumpy road
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Bumpy road
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We cross back and forth through the creek several times as we head downstream through the canyon. “See, I’m washing it too,” I reassure Jessica.

Rest stop
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Rest stop
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“I heard something rattle and saw a snake,” Brenna tells us as she returns from a little on-foot exploration.

“There are definitely rattlesnakes out here,” I say. I haven’t seen one but I often hear of them.

“I’m going to go back and look at it,” Brenna suggests.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

Narrow road
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Narrow road
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A sketchy creek crossing followed by what looks like a tight fit between trees persuades me to return the way we came rather than following the creek out. Getting stuck is something I only try to do with the younger kids.

“What is our chance of getting up that?” Nick asks as we face the canyon-side road again. Its last hundred yards was a bit steep. I would be wondering too if I hadn’t tested the Jeep’s limits before.

“One-hundred percent,” I answer.

Silver City 1895*
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Silver City 1895*
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We make it safely back to the gravel road and finish the winding mountain drive to what was once one of the most prominent cities in Idaho.

  1. starIdaho State Historical Society photo 60-139-1 (Sep. 24, 1895): idahohistory.cdmhost.com/…/47
Idaho Hotel 1867*
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Idaho Hotel 1867*
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The old hotel is one of the few business still open to the public 150 years later. It was closed for many of the intervening years, though. You can read all about it when you’re there.

  1. starIdaho State Historical Society photo 77-19-6 (July, 1867): idahohistory.cdmhost.com/…/105
Idaho Hotel 2017
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Idaho Hotel 2017
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Electricity is no longer supplied to the town so residents rely on generators or solar power. The hotel uses solar and cooks with propane. We’ve learned the hard way it means they only provide cooked food at particular times. Today we’re lucky.

Third Pole
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Third Pole
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We thumb through binders on the table filled with historical articles and anecdotes and a log of prominent visitors going back to the 1970s. We find only two from Poland. Nick is the third.

Solar power
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Solar power
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Explore more*
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Explore more*
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I thought we might drive up to War Eagle Mountain for the view but snow is still conspicuous not far above town.

  1. starPhoto by Mikolaj Wus
Shooting hummingbirds
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Shooting hummingbirds
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Cemetery road
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Cemetery road
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After lunch we visit Pat’s What-Not Shop, as usual, then continue along the town’s dirt streets toward the cemetery. Like many of Idaho’s waterways this spring, area creeks are running over their banks and flooding the road.

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Masons versus citizens
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Masons versus citizens
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Pioneer cemeteries are an interesting exhibit of early diversity. Almost every headstone notes a far-flung birthplace, east coast or overseas.

Sun still shines
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Sun still shines
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Oliver Purdy
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Oliver Purdy
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Here lies an honest man
Oliver Hazard Purdy
Born Barre, Orleans Co., New York
Sept 12, 1824
Killed Bannock Indian War
June 8, 1878
His Motto
Forewarned, forearmed
His Creed
He was always ready for the battle when the bugle sounded.
He never flinched from duty.

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Homeward
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Homeward
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Nick will be returning home in a couple months and Kayla with him to continue college over there. But for now they still belong to slot canyons, ghost towns and desert drives.