Boise National Forest Place Names

Abstracted from "History of the Boise National Forest 1905-1976"

The first place names in the area of the Boise National Forest were given by fur hunters and explorers in the early 1800's: Boise River, Payette River, Salmon River. Settlement came with the discovery of gold, and miners brought more names to the area. Many of these names are related to mining and are similar to names in other mining regions: Placerville, Ophir Creek, Arrastra Creek, Powderhouse Gulch, Quartzburg. Indian names are few: Tohobit Peak ("black"); Bannock Creek; Hiyu Creek ("many"); Moolack Creek ("elk"); Pungo Creek ("horse"); Sacajawea Hot Springs (famous Shoshoni woman); and Shonip ("grass"). Most of these Indian names were given by the Forest Service.

Descriptive names, such as Packrat Creek, Trail Creek, Twin Springs, Willow Creek, Bad Bear Creek, and Huckleberry Creek, are common. Place names reflect the history of an area. Confederate Gulch is a reminder that the mining era coincided with the time of the Civil War, when many southerners came to the Boise Basin. Other names reflecting that time include Robert E. Lee Creek and Atlanta. Some places in the Boise National Forest have names transferred from other parts of the world, many of them where miners had previous experience, such as California Gulch, Boston Gulch, Illinois Gulch, Yuba River, Feather River, Jerusalem Valley. Ethnic place names include Basque Spring, China Creek, Irish Creek, German Creek, and Swede Creek.

Features named for early sheepmen who grazed sheep in the vicinity include Ayers Creek and Meadow, for W. A. Ayers; Bruce Meadows, for John C. Bruce; Cupp Creek and Corral, for Sam Cupp, who built a sheep corral in the area; Gabe's Peak, Trail, and Bathtub, for one of Andrew Little's Basque sheepherders, whose first name was Gabriel; Potter's Pond, for Arthur Potter, early assistant forest supervisor who earlier herded sheep in the area for his father, Joel Potter; Rammage Meadows, for Andrew Rammage; Renwyck Creek and Trail, for James R. Renwyck; Sam's Meadows and Creek, for T. B. Sams or possibly Sam Little, both sheepmen; Tyndall Meadows and Creek, for Emory W. Tyndall; Wilson Creek, Mountain, etc., for an early sheepman; Woody Creek, for Rueben Woody, an early sheepman. Three tributaries of the North Fork of the Boise River are named for early sheepmen: Ballentyne, McLeod, and McPhearson.

Other places are named for early settlers, such as Bayhouse Creek and Trail, for the Bayhouse brothers, who mined near the mouth of Silver Creek in the Graham area; Crawford, town and ranger station, for Hyrum Crawford; Crouch, for William Crouch; Gallagher Creek and station, for an early prospector; Hawley Mountain, for James H. Hawley, gold miner in Boise Basin and later governor of Idaho, 1911-1913; Smith's Ferry, for James Smith, who built the ferry; and Stolle Meadows, for an early packer who cut hay for sale in the area.

A few places bear the names of Forest Service personnel of earlier days: Grandjean Creek and Campground, for Emil Grandjean, Danish forest-er and supervisor of the Boise National Forest, 1907-1920; Gray's Peak and Creek, for Graham ("Gray") McConnel, early ranger; McNutt Creek,for an early trail foreman; Pinchot Creek and Mountain, for Gifford Pinchot, first chief of the Forest Service; Ross Creek, for Elmer Ross, early ranger; Robert Jackson Lake, for a smokejumper who jumped on a nearby fire and broke his leg; Shephard Peak, for E. C. Shephard, supervisor of the Boise National Forest, 1922-1925; Taylor Creek, for an early ranger; and Taylor Springs, for early trail boss John Taylor.

Other place names of interesting origin include:
—Cabarton, a settlement at south end of Long Valley, and the road from there to High Valley: the initials and name of C. A. Barton of the Boise-Payette Lumber Company.
—Cascade: for the cascades or falls on the North Fork of the Payette River, which were about where the dam was built.
—Deadhorse Rapids: received that name when Russell Elliott, carrying mail from Long Valley to Yellow Pine soon after 1910, attempted the Johnson Creek ford near Ice Hole during high water. The team, outfit, and mail were swept downstream and only the driver escaped. The horses and mail were caught in the canyon.
—Dime Creek: named by a timber survey party member for being near but smaller than Dollar Creek.
—Eagleson Summit: for Idaho Surveyor General Ern C. Eagleson,1908.
—Greylock Mountain: it is reported that this great gray mountain was called Grayrock by early residents of Atlanta, but the Chinese there had difficulty pronouncing the "r" in "rock" and it soon became"Greylock."
—Hangman Tree on West Mountain: according to Val Simpson, retired Cascade ranger, this was merely a tree that sheepherders used to hang their camp gear on.
—Ice Hole, near Yellow Pine: so named because early residents of Yellow Pine harvested blocks of ice in the winter time to store for summer use.
—Pen Basin: so named during the Thunder Mountain boom for corrals or sheep pens built in the area by early sheepherders.
—Poker Meadows and Creek: during the summer of 1909, Forest Supervisor Guy B. Mains arrived here on inspection trip and found approximately 6,000 sheep. Herders and camp tenders were having a big poker party.
—Railroad Pass: an early railroad survey was made by logging engineer Sam Swartz. It was never by a rail line.
—Swanholm Creek Peak and Lookout: named for a cadastral engineer employed by the U.S. Geological Survey office in Boise.
—Thoroughbred Mountain: for horses owned by a man named Breckinridge. The horses died in deep snow during the winter of 1882-83.
—Tripod Peak, Meadow, and Creek: named when a party of prospectors headed by H. K. Plowman found a surveyor's tripod in the area.
—Wash Creek: for Washington Kregis, hermit and graduate of Princeton University, who resided and died in a cabin on this creek.
—Whiskey Creek and Cabin: a freight stop for the Thunder Mountain area. Freight was brought and then loaded on mules to trail into the mine camps. There was a saloon here.
—Wyoming Creek: a sheep outfit from Wyoming used this area and hada minor range war with a local sheep outfit about 1908.

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