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Published on Oct 19, 2009
These photos were taken by Wm Allen Stonebraker during his life as a packer and guide 1900 - 1932 in Central Idaho's rugged and remote Salmon River area. Using primitive camera equipment in harsh conditions, he provided a rare record of mining history in Idaho's extreme backcountry. During Stonebraker's time, supplies were moved by mules, dogs, horses, pack bridges and ferrys. A well-known pioneering figure in Central Idaho, Al Stonebraker helped build the Three Blaze Trail from the north side of the Salmon River into the Thunder Mountain gold-mine area in about 1902. He then profited by packing in mail and supplies to the miners and residents from his home in Stites, ID, where the railroad ended. In his later years he operated a dude ranch from his homesite on Monumental Creek. He was on his way into the Wardenhoff mine in Sept. 1933 with a pack string when he died of a heart attack at a camp 12 miles from his ranch. He was 53. It took more than 12 hours to pack his body out by stock to his log-cabin home, where a landing strip allowed pilot Bob King transport it to Grangeville. Stonebraker's cabin still stands today in the very remote area of Idaho now federally designated as the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area. It is only accessible by horseback, foot or air. The Payette National Forest oversees the cabin's maintenance. I donated all of Al Stonebraker's more than 600 photos to the University of Idaho Library's Special Archives Northwest Collection. Copies may be ordered by contacting the UI Library.