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University of Idaho Library Releases Digital Collection of Homesteading and Pack Train Operations


The UI Library's Digital Initiatives department has released a new collection of approximately 540 digitized photographs featuring photographs taken by William Allen Stonebraker, who was one of the original homesteaders in the Chamberlain Basin area. The photographs were taken in central Idaho's remote Salmon River and Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness at the turn of the 20th century.

The Stonebraker Photograph Collection contains negatives, photographs and scrapbooks created by Stonebraker between 1900 and 1931. Topics and themes include a focus on his homestead (Stonebraker Ranch, still in existence today); photographs of his businesses, including his dude ranch, pack train and dogsled operations; photographs rich in documenting wildlife, scenery, hunting, railroads near Kooskia and Stites, and early aircraft operation to the Chamberlain Basin.,?p>

The Stonebraker Collection was donated to the UI Library's Special Collections in 2003 by UI alumna Donna Henderson of Post Falls, who acquired the collection from a distant family member of Stonebraker. The collection was researched and described by Erin Passehl-Stoddart, digital projects manager, in fall 2014.

In 1902, Stonebraker helped build the Three Blaze Trail that ran from Grangeville, crossed the Salmon River at Campbell's Ferry and continued into the Thunder Mountain gold mine area, near the mining town of Roosevelt, which turned into a lake in 1909 as a result of a landslide. In 1932, the same year as Stonebraker's death, American author Zane Grey popularized Idaho's last gold rush in his book "Thunder Mountain," which was made into a film in 1935.

"The history of mining prospects indubitably remains a fascinating part of Idaho history," said Garth Reese, head of the library's Special Collections and Archives. "Thousands of men and women flooded into temporary camps in the state looking to prosper either through discovery or by offering their services to prospectors."

Stonebraker's photographs document his entrepreneurial spirit and his numerous businesses related to gold mining, including mail and supply pack strings, big-game hunting and ranching.

Questions and comments about the collection may be directed to Devin Becker, digital initiatives and web services librarian, at dbecker@uidaho.edu.

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