Big Butte Area

"The ranchers from Howe depended on the wild horse herd ranging out around the Big Butte to help supply the  needed ranch horses. Also many  cattle and sheep ranged out there, so I felt like the history wouldn't be  complete without mention further of that area."  These excerpts were taken from the book, Shattered Dreams:, by Mike and Lynda Cummings of Shelley, Idaho. They did a write up about Powell and the Big Butte area for the Cultural Resources Department of the I.N.E.L./ D.O.E. in August, 1998

Thanks go to Gus's grandson, Neal Powell, for supplying me with the information on the Powell stage station.
Neal's great grandfather, George Washington Powell and his family moved by wagon from Missouri to Lovelock, Nevada to establish a freighter stopping station there. By 1879 use of horses was declining in that area so the family moved to the newly opened mines in Salmon, Mackay, etc. After spending a winter tending sheep in Lost River, the following year Ben Pearson subcontracted Powell to carry mail, freight and passengers from Blackfoot to Moore. Horses were changed and cared for, passengers rested, etc. at a stop near the Big Butte. Out of such, the first stage stop, then town of Powell developed. At the peak of it's production Powell was considered a junction for two six-horse stages. A post office was established in 1896, George Washington Powell as postmaster. It was discontinued in 1912 when the train took the mail through to Arco.

        The Homestead Act brought in many new settlers including some W.W. I vets who had been led to believe it was the land of milk and honey. The Carey Act brought many more, also. The bottom line was not nearly enough water for anyone to make a farm there and many people literally starved out. Much work was done by John Powell and other contractors to make ditches, canals and one small dam, only to find what little water from the river was allotted them sank quickly as it was turned into the ditches. At one time more that 60 families lived at Powell.  Later, after the Powells moved to Blackfoot the station was attempted again for a train stop and was named Pioneer to honor all of the stalwart families the settled there. Some excerpts for the Arco Advertiser gives us a small idea of life there. Received from, correspondence with Powell: Note: Root Hog Ford and Root Hog Stage Station are at very different locations.

        "March 26, 1909. C.F. Stroch, one of the enterprising farmers of Powell was in town Friday and Saturday of las week purchasing horses.
        June 11, 1909. Clarence Holland from Howe and Colburn Zetche were in the vacinity looking for their cattle.

        April 16, 1909. J. Feagins of Hemingsford, Nebraska came to Powell Friday to look after the work being done on his ranch. He expects to put in 160 bushels of oats and in the fall will put out 1,000 fruit trees.
        July 9, 1909. Mrs. C. F. Stroch fell down cellar about 2 weeks ago and sustained a severe cut just across the shinbone. She has been in Mackay several day for medical attention.
        Dec. 17, 1909. Powell's Growing. The station of Powell now has a box car depot and freight house, with a regular agent and telegrams are received and sent. There is quite a colony of tents and a building or two at the station quite a few people get off and on the train at this point.
        July 8, 1910. Citizens of Powell tract celebrated the Fourth of July with a big picnic at the old rock house. About 100 people gathered there and enjoyed a picnic dinner and their amusements."


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