Three Blaze Trail

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The Three Blaze Trail is an Historic Trail constructed in 1902 in Idaho, United States. [1] [2] The trail was located and constructed by William Stonebreaker, William Campbell, Harry Donohue, and August Hotzel as a "shortcut" route from Dixie, Idaho, to the Thunder Mountain mining area in central Idaho. [3] The Three Blaze Trail and the Thunder Mountain mining district lie within the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. While there were already at least four existing routes into Thunder Mountain, [4] the local miners and business men of the area raised $3,000 and contracted the four builders to locate and construct the shorter route.

Idaho State of the United States of America

Idaho is a state in the northwestern region of the United States. It borders the state of Montana to the east and northeast, Wyoming to the east, Nevada and Utah to the south, and Washington and Oregon to the west. To the north, it shares a small portion of the Canadian border with the province of British Columbia. With a population of approximately 1.7 million and an area of 83,569 square miles (216,440 km2), Idaho is the 14th largest, the 12th least populous and the 7th least densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. The state's capital and largest city is Boise.

Dixie, Idaho County, Idaho Unincorporated community in Idaho, United States

Dixie is an unincorporated community in Idaho County, Idaho, United States, located 43 miles (69 km) east-northeast of Riggins. Dixie was an important gateway to the Thunder Mountain Mines of Idaho during the early 1900s when Dixie was on the northern terminus of the Three Blaze Trail, a shortcut route to the mines via Campbell's Ferry, and what is now the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, Chamberlain Basin, and southward to the mining community of Roosevelt, located on Monumental Creek.

Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness

The Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness Area is a protected wilderness area in Idaho. It was created in 1980 by the United States Congress and renamed in 1984 as the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area in honor of U.S. Senator Frank Church.

Overview

The Three Blaze Trail has been studied and determined to be included as a "trail of historical significance" by the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, planning process. Environmental Impact Statements continue to list the trail as an object of concern that requires evaluation and consideration of its heritage and its historic value. [5] [6] [7] This trail, constructed in 1902 has historical, recreational, health, and scenic values which may qualify it for the designation of either a National Recreation Trail (NRT) or National Historic Trail as defined by the National Trail System Act.

United States Department of Agriculture department of United States government responsible policy on farming, agriculture, forestry, and food

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also known as the Agriculture Department, is the U.S. federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, and food. It aims to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, promote agricultural trade and production, work to assure food safety, protect natural resources, foster rural communities and end hunger in the United States and internationally.

United States Forest Service federal forest and grassland administrators

The United States Forest Service (USFS) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands, which encompass 193 million acres (780,000 km2). Major divisions of the agency include the National Forest System, State and Private Forestry, Business Operations, and the Research and Development branch. Managing approximately 25% of federal lands, it is the only major national land agency that is outside the U.S. Department of the Interior.

An environmental impact statement (EIS), under United States environmental law, is a document required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for certain actions "significantly affecting the quality of the human environment". An EIS is a tool for decision making. It describes the positive and negative environmental effects of a proposed action, and it usually also lists one or more alternative actions that may be chosen instead of the action described in the EIS. Several U.S. state governments require that a document similar to an EIS be submitted to the state for certain actions. For example, in California, an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) must be submitted to the state for certain actions, as described in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). One of the primary authors of the act is Lynton K. Caldwell.(American political scientist)

The route to the Thunder Mountain Mines began at Grangeville, Idaho, and progressed to Dixie, Idaho, on a previously established (by 1901) wagon route. [8] By 1894 the section of the route from Grangeville to Elk City was an improved wagon road. [9] From Dixie, the route followed an existing trail to the Salmon River, a distance of about 12 miles, and intersected the Salmon River at Campbell's Ferry, which was established near the mouth of Trout Creek. [10] This section of the trail is currently part of the Nez Perce National Forest Trail System, Trail Number 231, which begins near the Dillinger Mine Trail Head, down Rhett Creek, over the ridge near Rock Rabbit Point, and then down to the Salmon River.

Grangeville, Idaho City in Idaho, United States

Grangeville is the largest city in and the county seat of Idaho County, Idaho, United States, in the north central part of the state. Its population was 3,141 at the 2010 census, down from 3,228 in 2000.

Salmon River (Idaho) river in Idaho in the Northwestern United States

The Salmon River is located in Idaho in the northwestern United States. The Salmon is also known as "The River of No Return". It flows for 425 miles (685 km) through central Idaho, draining a rugged, thinly populated watershed of 14,000 square miles (36,000 km2) and dropping more than 7,000 feet (2,100 m) between its headwaters, near Galena Summit above the Sawtooth Valley in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, and its confluence with the Snake River. Measured at White Bird, its average discharge is 11,060 cubic feet per second. It is one of the largest rivers in the continental United States without a single dam on its mainstem.

Campbells Ferry

Campbell's Ferry was a ferry crossing on the Salmon River, located at Mile 148 of the river in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. The ferry was part of the Three Blaze Trail, which connected Grangeville to Dixie, Idaho, to the Monumental Creek Trail at Thunder Mountain. William Campbell established the trail and ferry in 1898, as well the Campbell's Ferry Ranch on the south bank of the river; Campbell was also the ferry's first operator. Campbell disappeared and was presumed dead in the winter of 1902-03, and the ranch and ferry passed through a succession of owners until Joe and Emma Zaunmiller acquired the property. Emma died in 1938 in a horseback riding accident, and Joe eventually married ranch hand Lydia Frances Coyle. Frances successfully promoted the construction of a bridge to replace the ferry crossing, which was completed in 1956; the couple ceremonially let the ferryboat float away downriver.

Photo of three-blazed tree, 2015 Three Blazes.jpg
Photo of three-blazed tree, 2015

The newly constructed (1902) Three Blaze "shortcut" Trail was located and marked with three distinctive blazes, or marks, cut on the trees, usually with and axe, to signify this specific route.

Three blazes were used, which was different than the common two blaze system used by the U.S. Forest Service. The two-blaze system consisted of a lower 8 inch-long dash with an upper short dot above as explained in "Trail Construction of the National Forests", U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington Government Printing Office, 1915. [11] The two blaze dot and dash was the more common method to blaze trees as used by the U.S. Forest Service to mark trails until discontinued in the 1980s. The Three Blaze Trail is now part of the National Forest Service Trail System, part of which are numbered Trails 017 and 006, on the Payette National Forest. The trail is no longer maintained as demonstrated by the photo showing the trail clogged with downed timber.

Payette National Forest U.S. national forest in Idaho

The Payette National Forest is a U.S. National Forest located in central western Idaho, in parts of Valley, Idaho, Adams, and Washington counties. The land area consists of approximately 2.3 million acres (9,300 km2) of federally managed lands. It is bordered by Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and the Hells Canyon to the west, Salmon-Challis National Forest to the east, Boise National Forest to the south, and the Nez Perce National Forest to the north. The Payette National Forest is a part of the Intermountain Region. It is under the jurisdiction of a forest supervisor in McCall and is divided into five ranger districts: McCall, Krassel, New Meadows, Council, and Weiser.

Trail showing downed trees 2015 Deadfall trees on the Three Blaze Trail.jpg
Trail showing downed trees 2015

The Three Blaze Trail began at Campbell's Ferry, near the mouth of Trout Creek, traversed up the ridge near Little Trout Creek to Wet Meadows, then follows the Highline Ridge to Upper Trout Creek Meadows. From Upper Trout Creek Meadows the trail dropped into Chamberlain Creek at the mouth of Moose Creek. From Moose Creek the Three Blaze Trail went to Moose Jaw Meadow, then climbed the slope towards the head of Lodgepole Creek and the top of Ramey Ridge. From near Hand Meadows, the trail followed Ramey Ridge southward, past Rock Rabbit Point, Dead Mule Peak, Ramey Spring, to Ramey Point. From Ramey Point, the trail followed the ridge-line and switched-backed down the steep slope to Copper Camp, on Big Creek, the southern terminus of the Three Blaze Trail (route taken from U.S. Forest Service maps and "CCC in Idaho Collection, Digital Initiatives, University of Idaho Library, William Allen Stonebreaker, Chamberlain Basin ranch". [12] The total distance of the Three Blaze Trail is 41 miles.

The route from Copper Camp on Big Creek to the Thunder Mountain Mining area continued to follow an existing trail down Big Creek, from near the mouth of Copper Creek, downstream about 4 miles to Monumental Creek, then up-stream on Monumental Creek about 20 miles to the Thunder Mountain Mining area, and Roosevelt, Idaho. [13] The total length of the route from Dixie, Idaho, to the Thunder Mountain Mining Area is 85 miles, as shown on Peter Preston's Three Blaze Trail vicinity map.

Three Blaze Trail Vicinity Map, Dixie, Idaho, to Thunder Mountain Mines TBT Vicinity Map.jpg
Three Blaze Trail Vicinity Map, Dixie, Idaho, to Thunder Mountain Mines

Idaho Centennial Trail:

The Idaho Centennial Trail, designated in 1990, traverses Idaho on a north/south route totaling about 900 miles. A very small portion of that designated trail, from Campbell's Ferry to Wet Meadows/Shake Cabin, follows the Three Blaze Trail. [14]

Trout Creek By-pass:

A Forest Service map (the date of which needs to be confirmed) shows a trail from Campbell's Ferry up Trout Creek to Shake Cabin. Shake Cabin, which was located at Wet Meadows, no longer exists (as of 2018).

Possible original Trout Creek Trail Location TBT Map Paint.jpg
Possible original Trout Creek Trail Location

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References

  1. Idaho State Historical Society. Reference Series. Number 649, December 1994. p.5
  2. Preston, Peter. Chamberlain Basin's Historic Three Blaze Trail. Heritage Program, Payette National Forest. October 1995. p.1.
  3. Fuller, Margaret. Trails of The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. 2006. Trail Guide Books, p.208
  4. State of Idaho. State Bureau of Mines. Bulletin No. 1, 1940. Copper Deposits of Seven Devils. by D.C. Livingston and F.B. Laney
  5. FS-ID-790133-B2. US Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service. River of No Return Wilderness, Environmental Impact Statement p. 88, 1980.
  6. FS-ID-030410-B2. US Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. January 1988
  7. United States Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service. Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Management Plan. December 2003
  8. Bailey,Robert. River of No Return. Bailey-Blake Printing Company, Lewiston, Idaho. 1935, p. 135
  9. A Guide to National Historic Place in Idaho County. Idaho County Historical Preservation Commission, 2012. p.11
  10. Tims, Doug. Merciless Eden, Published by Ferry Media, Boise, Idaho. 2013. p.9
  11. Trail Construction of the National Forests, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington Government Printing Office, 1915
  12. Preston, Peter, p.3.
  13. "Map". parksandrecreation.idaho.gov.