Founded in 1862, Idaho City began as “Bannock,” a prime location during the Civil War’s Boise Basin gold rush. During its heyday, 7,000 people called it ‘home’—more than Portland, Oregon at the time. Of course, the town also boasted three dozen saloons and a couple dozen law offices. Wild times, in the Wild West.
Of course, gold rushes do not last forever; by 1920, the population of Idaho City dipped to a low 104.
Nonetheless, once a year you have the chance to visit, and remember when . . .
As for me, I had plans. I was looking forward to setting foot inside St. Joseph’s—the first Catholic parish of the new Idaho Territory (1863) . . .
Or its neighbor, The Odd Fellows Hall; built in 1875, it is the oldest continuously used fraternal hall in the state of Idaho . . .
You’d never guess that from the back, it looks little more than an old brown barn.
That’s pretty much all I can tell you; for you see, we hiked up this hill (in flip-flops, no less) . . .
We risked life and limb climbing these stairs (they must have had tiny feet—even with a size 6, my heel hung off the edge of each step) . . .
All for naught—despite being advertised as such, neither building was open. Yet, I’m hard pressed to complain; I mean really, just look at this (somewhat blurry) view . . .
What I can complain about, however, is The Grand Lodge of Idaho (Masons), originally founded in Idaho City, 1867. The main reason I took to windy roads, I might add . . .
Oh wait, no picture—because no sooner had we begun to step foot over the threshold, this fellow steps in front of us and says, “I can’t let you in there.” He then proceeds to explain that he must accompany us, but he doesn’t want to for at least another hour, “Come back later,” he says. “Because I’ve been doing this since 1:00 and I’m tired,” he says.
Seeing how the hands of the clock inched toward 3:00, he must have been exhausted!
He did take the time to show us his sword (real sword, people), informing us that we were standing before an honest to goodness member of the Knights Templar. You’ll be glad to know I refrained from a snide, “So they’ve really had to lower their standards then? Pity . . .”
With that, we set off to pay our respects at the Pioneer Cemetery, the final resting place of some 3,000 pioneers. They lie amid towering pines, the wind whispering secrets—the known and the unknown, the young and the old, those who died of natural of causes and those who most certainly did not . . .
The cemetery, much like the trip to Frontiers Days, served a good reminder: life doesn’t always go as planned, but it’s always worth the ride . . .