Discovery of the Champagne Stage Station Site

To Irene Lawson,
You have my permission to use any parts of my new book "Discovery of the Champagne Stage Station Site," for publication on your Butte County, Idaho, Web Page. Comments and queries from Web Surfers and Visitors are appreciated, as well as any information on Big Butte Stage Station.

James W. McGill
305 Melba Drive
Nampa, Idaho 83686

At the time of the publication of a research article in the year 2000 on the Goodale Cutoff of the Oregon Trail system in Idaho, which information included mostly an area of western Butte County, the interest of the authors was heightened concerning part of the Trail area on the eastern approach to the passing of the Craters of the Moon basalt fields. That interest began with questions about the location of Champagne Stage Station, found on the Cutoff in the early 1880s and several times mentioned in the former research, and a question about the source for the naming of Champagne Creek.

Adding to the curiosity about these questions an unidentified ancient log structure still existed along the ruts of the Cutoff near the lower end of the Champagne Creek valley and drainage. The structure was and is in full view about 200 yards off the northern side of highway U.S. 20-26-93 about 12 miles SW of Arco, Idaho. No historian, BLM official (it sits on BLM land), or any other former researcher/writer on the Goodale seemed to know anything about the identification of the structure or the origin of the name Champagne Creek. One former writer, Fred Dykes of Pocatello Idaho, had been given a possible lead to the identity of the structure site, but this was later shown to be incorrect information. Local old-timers around Arco, including one man who for many years had owned the adjoining land on the north and east of the log structure, did not seem to know anything about the structure. This appeared to the authors to be a blank check of history waiting to be filled in with correct information!

Beginning at the structure research of its history soon led to the start of a story of mystery and human interest, which was still available in many forgotten and undiscovered documents found archived from Idaho to Canada and back to Minnesota. Exploring the records of Butte County at Arco and the former Alturas County records at Hailey, Idaho, which Alturas County had covered the area in the 1880s, only began the story. The leads led to people who once settled the area, one primary character who had eventually left Idaho, went back to Canada, and within a few years had then settled in the Duluth, Minnesota area.

The research also led to a conclusion that Butte County has very little written history, although the facts about early settlers and events of the area constitute a rich and interesting legacy for that County. In so many of the old documents and records, which have been stored away from most men's memory and interest/access, can be found stories of wonder and excitement. It may be that residents of that County will not necessarily follow the old adage that, 'people who do not know their history are condemned to relive their past,' but it could be that there are many things to be learned from their history that would make present living more interesting and meaningful.

To the pioneers that endured hardships and shaped the life of this area of Idaho, and who found the land and resources of this County to be so valuable, this book is dedicated. It is also dedicated to the distant descendent of the primary character mentioned above who first gave the authors some early leads to the discovery of much information that structured this story.

It is hoped that at least a bit of the excitement and pleasures, which that descendent experienced in her revelations of the information that went into this story, and the comparable emotions of the authors will be passed on to some who read and identify with the characters and history. It is also hoped that this might be a new beginning for the production of writings by others that will expose the valuable and worthwhile history of Butte County. Such is just waiting for those who are willing to give the time, relive the provocations and stimulations of the past, and dedicate themselves to finding all that is still hidden in the records!

The reading of this book can be greatly enhanced by the visiting of the reader to the sites and areas portrayed therein. One advantage found in the facts of the sparse population of this County and natural barriers in the geology of the land that have prevented change is that the primitive condition of the area is largely the same as 120 years ago. As the unchangeableness of the lava flow of the Craters of the Moon is evident, so much of the whole Goodale Cutoff of 140-150 years ago is also still the same as yesteryear. Many miles of the exact ruts made by iron rimmed wheels of covered wagons can still be examined and walked. And the other sites that are described in this book are still evident just as they were to the first men in the area. Thus also many of the important sites of history have not been covered by "progress!" Bricks and boards still lie exactly as they have fallen over the years from the shelters that were once built to protect some of the ancestors of men of the area today.

Since there were so few source books or other accumulated information sources in which historical research material could be found, and the Endnote information also includes all Bibliographical information, a Bibliography is not included with this printing. Most sources were original documents from historical archives, personal records of descendants, and written/verbal bits and pieces of scattered information included in emails and phone conversations.


The writers' research has been aided by many people who are only identified by an email address, and are found in many American States as well as Canada. The unselfish assistance of so many strangers and people who have communicated by mail, by way of the Internet, and by other electronic means has made possible the gathering of much information that would have taken years and much travel. They are too numerous to list here but can be found in the Endnote information as they contributed to this Book. There are others, however, who helped greatly in finding the real story that is herein written.

The writer's appreciation is extended to members of the Idaho State Historical Society, Librarians of several area Libraries, Court House workers in Canyon, Ada, Blaine, and Butte, Idaho Counties, archive and historical record workers in Quebec, Canada, and many genealogists and researchers in St Louis County, Minnesota. Especially significant was help obtained from keepers of the St. Louis County historical Interact Web pages, an unmatched and valuable site that stores a wealth if information on that area's history.

Bobbi Hoyt gave many hours of her time in Duluth, Minnesota obtaining obituaries and other records that were otherwise unreachable by the authors. Other names of significance who contribute via the Internet are Jackie Decker, Debbie Rychlak, Martha Costello, Irene Lawson, Lynn Goutouski, Jerry Callinan, Edith Bialecki (Smoky), and Renee Cummings. And there are others who are also thanked though not named.

We also acknowledge the contributions of the descendants of the Champagne and Noyes families who contributed from around the USA. Much information which was given could not be included in this volume on Champagne Station, but certainly enriched the whole story for the authors. This could be the beginning of a follow up sequel to the history. Picture contributions are acknowledged from Dick and Babe McClelland, Margaret Walthour, Mary Jeneson, and Timothy Gladwin. And to the other Champagne, DeRoche, Pritchard, and McClelland, descendants and extended family members as well as Pat Larsen, who shared family information of the two principal characters of the story, our thanks. The friendships and correspondence with several of these people have given encouragement and meaningful thanks to the authors for their work on this Book.

We also name Fred Dykes, early Goodale researcher and writer, Richard Hill, BLM Archeologist, Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Nancy Pippin, BLM research assistant, Boise, Idaho for support, encouragement, direct assistance and/or companionship in visiting the sites of the story.

Most of all we acknowledge the amount of assistance and the sharing of her family history by Lorry Champagne Durling of Cranston, Rhode Island, who at first heard doubtfully about our Idaho 'A. Champagne,' but then gave opportunity to eventually identify him as her Louis Adolphe Beaugrand dit Champagne! The volumes of email that have passed between our addresses are innumerable, and together carded a detailed correspondence that assisted so much in putting all the facts together.

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