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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Marble Creek, Idaho: The Historic Site and the Novel


Marble Creek in spring

Historic Marble Creek lies in Shoshone County, Idaho, about 48 miles up the St. Joe River from St. Maries.

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, but 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 others home-grown, began harvesting the forests there.

 A place of conflict and danger, a timber war erupted in 1904.  Forest Guard (early forest ranger) O. O. Lansdale wrote: 
 

"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."

Marble Creek in July

Marble Creek is peaceful now as a recreation area.  Hard to imagine the logging of the teens and twenties of the 20th century.  But above it men died felling timber and died driving logs down in its rushing waters. Here's a not very good photo (taken behind glass at the Marble Creek museum) of one of its splash dams holding back the Marble and logs until it got up a head of water.


 And here are photos of its bones 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.


  My latest novel, Marble Creek, is FREE on Amazon Kindle today (it could use some reviews on Amazon). If you don't have a Kindle you can download the application and read it on your cellphone.   

After surviving the Everett, Washington, Massacre in November 1916, veteran Pinkerton detective Robert Jamieson joins the Army's fledgling Military Intelligence Division. Instead of being sent to France in 1917, he's assigned back to the Pacific Northwest, ordered to go undercover to track down Irish radical Malachi O'Neill, suspected in a scheme to transport guns from Irish-dominated Butte, Montana, to Ireland. Find O'Neill, find the guns and forestall unrest in Ireland that would weaken America's ally, Great Britain. Locating O'Neill, he partners him in a remote logging camp on Marble Creek in north Idaho. Likeable, but deadly, O'Neill has shifted his loyalty from the disintegrating Industrial Workers of the World, the "Wobblies," to an incipient Irish rebellion. A young prostitute helps one man to the other man's detriment. And the woman who saved Jamieson's life on a dark street in Seattle? Their paths are fated to cross again.

Also, my novel   A Devil Singing Small with local color, is FREE, and The Wolf's Sun is only 99 cents this week.