Vigilante Days and Ways.  In these excerpts, Langford continues describing the gold mining camps being established in that part of Washington Territory that will soon become Idaho Territory, and some of the outlaws harassing them. In this installment, Langford sets the scene of the mines and towns established along the Clearwater River and in the Salmon River watershed, including Pierce, Oro Fino, and Florence. Outlaws were drawn to the brand-new towns and the miners congregating there like magnets. To get up to speed with Langford’s tale, read the Introduction and Second Installment.

The Cradle, by Henry Sandham; Library of Congress.

Chapter VI: Northern Mines   Prospecting (as it is called) for gold placers and quartz veins has grown into a profession. No man can engage in it successfully unless he understands it. There are certain indications in the face of the country, the character of the rocks, the presentation of the strata, the form of the gulch, the gravel in streams or on the bars, the cement formation below it, or the shape of the mountains, which are known only to experienced prospectors, that determine generally the presence of the precious metals. Guided by these unmistakable signs, the veteran gold searcher is sustained in his solitary explorations by the consciousness of possessing knowledge which must sooner or later lead to success. Impressed with the idea that as many rich gulches and productive veins have been found, so others remain to be discovered, –and that as those already developed have made their owners rich, so some fortunate discovery may do the same for him, he mounts his pony, and with pick, shovel, and pan, a magnifying glass, a few pounds of bacon, flour and coffee, his trusty rifle and revolver at hand, and his roll of blankets and not unfrequently a quart flask of whiskey, he plunges into the unexplored recesses of the mountains, and for weeks and months is lost to all the world of humanity beside himself. Alone, but encouraged by that hope which outlives every disappointment, he wanders hundreds of miles into the unvisited wilderness, the hero of countless adventures and the explorer of the world’s great solitudes.

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About the author

Rebecca Wallick

Rebecca is a freelance writer and publisher living near McCall, Idaho. A Seattle native and recovering attorney, she much prefers the quiet, slow pace, and distinct seasons of the West Central Mountains, enjoying the skiing, hiking and running opportunities provided by the nearby Payette National Forest. Rebecca is a Contributing Editor with Bark magazine, and the author of Growing Up Boeing: The Early Jet Age Through the Eyes of a Test Pilot’s Daughter (Feb 2014).

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