My novel, Marble Creek, is available on Amazon Kindle. For now, I want to write about historic Marble Creek, itself, in Shoshone County, Idaho, about 48 miles up the St. Joe River from St. Maries.
|Map of Marble Creek & St. Joe River circa 1917|
Before the Milwaukee Road RR was constructed through the St. Joe Valley in 1909, the only access to Marble Creek was up the St. Joe River. In the previous century Jesuit missionaries christened the river the Saint Joseph. Less godly men came along to call it the St. Joe, or just the Joe. The highest navigable river in the United States, steamboats came across Lake Coeur d'Alene to ply its gentle waters upstream to Saint Maries and to Ferrell, as far as these steamboats could go.
|The Georgie Oakes|
The river's large tributary, Marble Creek, converges with the St. Joe fifteen miles above the head of navigation, where the swift water runs. At the turn of the 20th century, this creek, rapid and perilous in spring, spilled out of a mountainous drainage of eighty thousand coveted acres of virgin white pine, about to be opened for homesteading under the Timber and Stone Act. Lumber companies, some freshly arrived from the upper Middle West, such at Rutledge in Coeur d'Alene, a subsidiary of Weyerhaeuser, and some home-grown, began harvesting the forests there.
|Marble Creek in spring|
"There was no law south of Wallace, the county seat, and the place was getting wild. . . . The killing in Marble Creek climaxed the last stand of some of the large lumber mill companies to get control of the cream of the white pine before the Forest Service cracked down on stone, timber and homesteading."
Oral histories collected in Hardships and Happy Times and Swiftwater People by Bert and Marie Russell of Harrison, Idaho, inspired me to set part of my novel in a logging camp up Marble Creek. The old lumberjacks' reminiscences described so well the dangers of logging in the early days on Marble Creek.
|Marble Creek in July|
Marble Creek looks peaceful now. It's a recreation area. Hard to imagine the logging of the teens and twenties of the 20th century. But men died above it felling timber and in its rushing waters driving logs down the Marble. Here's a not very good photo (taken behind glass at the Marble Creek museum) of one of the splash dams that held back the creek and logs until it got up a head of water.
And here are photos of its bones that you can see today.
When logging finally slowed on Marble Creek - it's never stopped - no one bothered to remove the steam donkey. You can see that, too, if you drive up the Forest Service access road. It's a beautiful place to visit.