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Friday, October 25, 2013

A Trip Over Moon Pass, Idaho

I'm writing a novel titled No Law South of Wallace and had wanted to experience the famous tote road that ran south out of Wallace, Idaho, across Moon Pass and into the St. Joe Valley to Avery, an area where much of my story takes place in the logging camps during World War I. The Indian summer has been perfect and off we went. We arrived in  Wallace, once a great mining town and still a fine town, and then  headed south on Forest Road 456. In earlier days pack mules carried supplies over the mountains. It had been especially crucial during the great forest fire of 1910 until Wallace itself partially burned. Along the road through a valley we saw remnants of what we thought had been great cedars that died during that conflagration, their hulks still standing. They're called the Silent Sentinels and the valley is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The tamaracks and foliage were glorious.
Jay's Brittany Pepper came along, as usual -- he insists on the car windows rolled down so he can poke out his snout -- but because we drove slowly and it was warm, I didn't complain.

There were sparkling streams, low at this time of year.

Over the mountains and down the other side, the Forest Service road enters the old Milwaukee Road railroad bed, now a part of the Hiawatha Rail-Trail for hikers, and cyclists (and autos). The Chicago, Milwaukee and Puget Sound Railroad was laid over The Bitterroots out of Montana, through the St. Joe Valley, and on to Puget Sound, completed  in 1909. Below is the Kyle Tunnel, one of the few totally rock-faced tunnel portals on the Milwaukee.

And so we came out at Avery and then followed the highway down the Shadowy St. Joe River, the highest navigable river in the U.S., to St. Maries and then home again.


  1. Gorgeous drive! Love the colors and miss them here in "Cactus-land!" When I drive through places like that, I wonder what it must have been like for the first tribes and settlers trying to bring their families and their "stuff" over the mountains. ALL those trees and streams getting in the way, no real trails except animal trails... Don't you wonder how you would have done if you had been here in those early days?

    I love a rare book, "A Pioneers' Search for an Ideal Home" by Phoebe Goodel Johnson, who founded the city of Lynden, WA/ There is a wonderful museum in Lynden with info about her family. Just bought some used copies of her book for a penny so maybe it is not so rare!

  2. Local trips can be great - still tiring, sometimes even if I'm not driving.

  3. That is such a great title! Gorgeous photos.

  4. I'm glad you took Pepper. He looks like he enjoyed the outing. The photos were amazing! I love the subject of your next book!