the earliest days of Idaho settlement, a trail up the Weiser
River through what is now Adams County became the principal
avenue of travel for pack trains carrying supplies from Boise
to the gold camps at Warren and Florence. This route was easier
to travel than the more direct but torturous terrain along
the Payette River. The Weiser River trail was also clear of
snow earlier in the spring.
non-native settlement began here, the area was inhabited
by small bands of Shoshoni Indians. Pioneers who frequented
the Council Valley in those early days told of huge groups
of Indians who gathered here from all over the Northwest.
Clark, a member of the Idaho Territorial Legislature and
later an Indian Valley school teacher, said that from on
top of the
little hill just north of present-day downtown Council, he
could see ". . . many hundreds of Indians and thousands
of head of Indian horses at one sight, literally covering the
valley as a blanket." Clark never actually lived here,
but he named the place "Council Valley" because of
these gatherings that he interpreted as being Indian "Council" meetings.
word "council" probably doesn't fit the principal
nature of the native gatherings. Their most important function
was probably trade, but it was
also a time to gamble and celebrate the beginning of the salmon runs up the
main, annual, Indian rendezvous was originally held in the
Snake River Valley between the mouth of the Boise River (near
Parma) and the mouth of
River (near Weiser). After the sky seemed to open up and rain white men
around the Boise Valley in 1862, the big native festival
that had been held along
the Snake River was relocated to the more remote Council Valley to avoid
contact with whites. It is hard to tell just how prominent the role was
that the Council
Valley played in this regard, or for how long such native gatherings had
been held here. The festivals here seem to have peaked about 1872 when
a total of
about 2,500 Indians gathered here.
Valley is so named because it was used as a wintering area
by the Shoshoni.
As settlement started along the Weiser River, the Council and Indian
Valley areas were referred to as the "Upper Weiser" or the "Upper country".
By 1868 non-native families were living along the Weiser River as far up as Indian
Valley. The only known occupant of the Council Valley was a bachelor named Henry
Childs who lived on Hornet Creek. That creek was named after a nasty encounter
Childs had with hornets near his home while clearing brush. Before it had any
other name, the Council area was called "Hornet Creek" or "Hornet
Valley" as it was the place where Hornet Creek entered the Weiser
and Elizabeth Moser and their children became the first white
family to settle in the Council Valley in 1876. Their homestead later
location of the town of Council. On November 19, 1878 the first post
office was established
at what now became officially known as "Council Valley".
Robert White was the postmaster. The office was nothing more than a
small box that he kept
under his bed in his home just north of the present town.
the Council Valley there were a few bachelors living in the
Meadows Valley, then known as "Salmon Meadows",
before Calvin and Lydia White and their children became the
first family to arrive in the fall of 1877. By 1883 Cal White
had established a post office at Meadows and generally become the
of the community.
arrival of the railroad in 1882 at the town of Weiser, near
the mouth of the Weiser River, spurred rapid growth of the
of the present town of Council began to form around a town square.
The first business was a hotel / saloon built east of the square.
Another hotel, several
stores and many homes soon followed. In 1896 the name "Council Valley" for
the town was shortened to "Council".
of the railroad up the Weiser River brought a boom to the
town beginning in 1898. For a couple of years Council was
a "wide open" town, with
about six saloons. The arrival of the tracks in March of 1901
shortened the trip to Weiser from a bone-jarring two- day trip
each way in a wagon to a matter of
two or three hours in the comfort of a passenger car. Copper
ore from the Seven Devils mines that had previously been hauled
over 100 miles to Weiser was now
loaded onto rail cars at Council.
the Thunder Mountain mining boom came in 1902, Council was
the nearest rail town to the gold strike and became the "jumping off point" for
that gold rush. Writer, Earl Wayland Bowman arrived in Council
that summer, and described
it as a bustling, dirty little town with money flowing like
soon became more civilized, and the town of officially
incorporated January 20, 1903. By about 1905 the town had
a population of about
area continued to boom throughout the first decade of the
twentieth century. Cattle, sheep, farming and mining
the core of the
economy. About 1907
the fruit industry began in the Council area on a large
scale. The most famous of the orchards in the area were those
the Mesa Orchards
miles south of Council. At its peak the company had 1,200
acres growing various fruit
trees (mostly apples) and was one of the biggest orchards
in the world.
1911 the railroad reached the Meadows Valley, and a new town
Meadows" was established where the tracks ended.
Until 1911 what is now Adams County was part of Washington
County. That year the upper part of Washington
County became Adams County with Council as the temporary
county seat. In the November election of 1912, Council
was voted the permanent county seat.
1913 Council's town square was used as a place to tie horses
and park wagons. That year the hitching
and appearance reasons". One can only imagine the "ambiance" of
the square during constant use by dozens of horses.
1915 the town suffered its worst fire, and lost many of the
buildings of its downtown core. An ordinance
to be made
brick. Most of the present brick structures in downtown
Council were built right after the 1915 fire. The
new buildings were
electricity which reached
the town that year.
1920s brought hard times to the Council area. The mining
boom had gone bust, and the area was hit
by the national
World War I.
By 1929 Council had a population of about 500.
economy of the area started to improve in 1939 when the Boise-Payette
lumber company built a sawmill
operations in the surrounding
mountains. The town experience a boom and a housing
shortage. A new high school was finished in 1941,
just about the
time the U.S.
World War II.
several decades after the War, life and the economy in the
Council area were stable, with
In the 1980s
jobs began to decline, and the Council sawmill
closed March 31, 1995. It looks like the economic
here will have
Early on, a number of separate, small communities were in
this area, including Goodrich, Mesa, Council, Fruitvale, Tamarack,
Bear, Cuprum, and others.. Most had a combination post office/store
and the school was the center of the community social life.
was often cumbersome and initially residents usually stayed
pretty close to home. Eventually, however, with the
arrival of cars and better roads, students from outlying areas
began being bussed to school in Council. Residents from outside
also started going to Council to do their buying and selling
and the smaller community stores, which couldn’t compete
any longer, began closing.
the 1920’s, live entertainment at the Council opera
house was replaced by silent movies. The building, which still
stands on the main street of town, is now called the “People’s
Theater.” The first radio in the area, called a “wireless
telephone,” was built by Mesa hobbyists in 1922.
1933 a Federal Civilian Conservation Corps program (the “CCC”)
had a main camp east of Highway 95, north of the Middle Fork
of the Weiser River. The CCC built a number of roads and lookouts
in the National Forest as well as other projects in the Council
area. New Forest Service buildings were built near the Corps’ camp
in Council and they are still used by the Forest Service today.
The fruit industry in the area was almost finished by the
end of the 1930s. The economic outlook, however, was improved
with the introduction of logging and the presence of the Boise-Payette
Lumber Company. So, in the 1940s a new prosperity came to town.
But many felt it was the beginning of the disappearance of
its settler heritage.
In the 1990s the economics of the area changed again. The
days of the railroad were numbered. The towns that had once
seen regular rail travel now saw the tracks that ran through
the area removed. A bigger blow came with the closure of the
Boise Cascade mill, the largest employer in the area. But time
marches on and Adams County residents remain faithful to the
determination and steadfastness that the early settlers brought
to their new home.
Information on Council, the County Seat, can be seen at http://www.councilidaho.net/ and www.adamscountyhistory.org.
Bear, at 4,365 feet, is located about 28 miles northwest of
Council. It boasted a post office from 1892 until 1966. The
first settlers found plenty of black bears in the Bear and
Bear Creek area.
Bear came into being with the Seven Devils mining boom. It
was inhabited with many mine workers. Its first businesses
included hotels and it soon had a post office which was housed
in the general merchandise store.
Although Bear has had at least three different school buildings,
the last Bear School also served as a public and church meeting
place, theater, and dance hall. When the school closed and
the Bear students were bussed down to Council, the old school
was still used occasionally for dances and social gatherings.
Bear is a gateway to the Seven Devils area and is still a
thriving community of private homes.
is a former copper mining town (cuprum is Latin for “copper”).
It is located northwest of Council and at the south end of
the Seven Devils mining district.
began with a teamsters’ campsite. The post office
was established in 1897, as was a copper smelter. Copper smelting
was a big reason that it became a booming town with general
stores, hotels, hospital/drug store, blacksmith shop, livery
stables, assay office, six saloons, liquor store, laundry,
barber shop, a newspaper, and several eating establishments.
However, the operators failed to make the smelter continue
and it was dismantled. When the mining boom ended, the population
Cuprum remains a thriving community and is a gateway to Black
Lake and the Six Lakes Basin.
is located just north of Council near where the West Fork
of the Weiser River enters the Main Weiser. Initially
the area was known as “West Fork.” The first residents
are believed to have settled in the area in 1883. The area
was along an active wagon train trail.
a post office was established in 1909, the name it was given
was “Lincoln.” It was soon renamed “Fruitvale.” Perhaps
because of the booming fruit industry in the Council area.
The first Fruitvale store, owned by the Lincoln Lumber Company,
was probably established in 1909 and probably housed the post
one time Fruitvale was home to lumber operations and the
P&IN (Pacific & Idaho Northern) railroad built a siding
at the mill. It also had a grange, stores, churches, blacksmith,
real estate agency, hotel, school, and a newspaper called the “Fruitvale
Fruitvale is now serviced by the Council post office and schools,
and the community is comprised of private residences.
is an area located southwest of Council. An 1890 petition
was presented to build a road from the Middle Fork
of the Weiser River to Salubria (near Cambridge) via Bacon
Valley (near Mesa). A post office was established in 1901 and
was known as “Milligan.” The name was changed to
Goodrich in 1912.
about 1910 a school was established. Soon the community had
team and its own “orchestra”. In
1956 the school closed and the students were bussed to Council.
The post office was closed in 1957.
Today the Goodrich area consists of private residences and
range and pasture lands.
Indian Valley (at 3,002 feet) is located in the southern part
of the County near the Washington County line.
large basin along the Little Weiser River was referred to
as “Indian Valley” because
of the Weiser Shoshoni that often wintered there, its climate
being milder than that
of others. Permanent settlement began in Indian Valley in 1868.
The Weiser Shoshonis showed these new settlers how to harvest
and preserve salmon.
1873 a post office was established, which is still in service
today. In 1874 a mail route was established that passed through
Indian Valley. It was also on the stage coach route, with the
stage company’s headquarters located at a ranch there.
Indian Valley remains a thriving community with a post office
and general store as well as citizens active in all areas of
community life, including church and public gatherings and
a rural fire department with emergency medical technicians.
located on Highway 95 south of Council. In 1908 the area
had a post office known as “Middle Fork.” In
1912 the name was changed to “Mesa.” (Although
there is no longer a Mesa post office, it continues with its
very own zip code). Also in 1912 a school was built which included
an assembly room for public gatherings.
In 1908 the idea for apple orchards in the Mesa area was born.
It is a dry area and the water problem had to be dealt with.
The solution ended up being the building of a seven-mile-long
wooden flume to convey water from the Middle Fork of the Weiser
River as well as the digging of several miles of ditches.
In 1909 the Mesa Orchards Company ordered 80,000 trees, built
a sawmill on the Middle Fork for lumber for the flume, and
hired 100 men to dig the ditches. Unfortunately the initial
irrigation solution was inadequate and most of the trees died.
Water had to be hauled in by wagon until the irrigation was
finally completed in 1911.
A $45,000 tramway was built in 1920 and was used to carry
fruit three and a half miles north to the railroad. It ceased
operation about 1934.
Five hundred workers were harvesting apples in 1933 but by
1936 the company was ordered to sell its property because of
its huge debts. The apple enterprise continued under new owners.
In 1947 the apple harvest was said to be 500,000 boxes. The
winter of 1949 brought 63 straight days of zero and below temperatures.
Many trees never produced well again. Eventually many of the
trees were felled to increase pasture.
The area is now comprised of private homes and range and pasture
New Meadows (3,865 feet) is named for the lovely meadows where
it is located. (There was already a Meadows community.) It
is located at the junction of Idaho highways 55 and 95. Settlement
began in 1864. In 1878 it was called Whites Mail Station.
1910 the north terminal for the P&IN (Pacific & Idaho
Northern) Railroad was to be located at Meadows. However, due
to a dispute between community officials and the president
of the company, Edgar M. Heigho, the line was built one and
a half miles east of Meadows and the place was named “New
Meadows.” Heigho was instrumental in designing the town’s
layout. Several streets are named after his wife and children.
The post office was established in 1911.
Today New Meadows continues to thrive. The town is home to
a US Forest Service Ranger Station, has a fire department,
ambulance and emergency medical technicians, airport services,
and several businesses which serve not only the local population,
but also travelers, tourists, and sportsmen as well.
Valley and Tamarack
and Tamarack. are located on Highway 95 between Council and
New Meadows. The earliest structure built in the
Price Valley area was a mail cabin which was built in the early
1870s. A favorite camping and fishing spot, by 1904 it also
sported a stage station and saloon. Before 1910 a sawmill was
established, followed by the arrival of a railroad depot, loading
platform, truck scale and siding. The first post office was
established in 1911 and was named “Tamarack.” More
residents arrived and a school was built.
By 1913 there were four sawmills in operation but many people
moved from the area during World War II and although a small
boom came to the area in 1945, a slowdown returned and the
post office was finally replaced by a mail route from New Meadows.
Today one remaining scaled-back mill processes some timber
and operates a power generating plant.
information from Landmarks – A
General History of The Council, Idaho Area by Dale
Fisk and information received from Patty Gross at the Council
Valley Free Library.]
Statistical Information about Adams County