EPIC OVERLAND ADVENTURE – IDAHO, UTAH, AND WYOMING
Editor: Eric Bewley, Photo: Matt Verley, Sara Bewley, Eric Bewley
BEAR LAKE, ID – Over the course of several years we have been embarking on adventures where the quote unquote goal was to find the border convergence of three adjoining States. Emphasizing that this is really not the goal but a convenient excuse to get out to the wilderness and find whatever is interesting on our way to and from this specific location on a map, our first expedition was to connect California, Nevada, and Oregon and check out that border convergence. From there we followed the bottom border of Oregon and hit all of the spots along the way where the borders get together. At the time we completed this adventure, we have covered thousands of miles in California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming. We have seen some amazing and well hidden gems of the American west, worn out some tires, and shocks, and had a load of fun with great friends along the way.
We definitely set an aggressive schedule for this adventure. The distances were quite a bit less than previous ‘Over’ adventures and the roads & trails more improved so the thought was that we could spend more time at specific, out-of-your-vehicle attractions. We did just that but was still unable to squeeze everything in. There was enough left on the plate that a return trip is definitely in order.
|The adventure started with an initial group meeting at Promontory Point. This is the location where the ‘golden spike’ was driven into the rail road tracks where the west and east bound teams of rail builders met completing the first trans-continental railroad and changing travel across the continent forever.
Our travel was a bit slow and we were not able to make it there before it was too late.
Gil and Matt met up there and they were able to check out the area, the trains… and just a little ways from there is a rocket factory! Yes, next to this transportation milestone is a factory that is responsible for more rockets and missiles than you can shake a stick at. They’re on display too.
The First Transcontinental Railroad (known originally as the “Pacific Railroad” and later as the “Overland Route”) was a 1,912-mile (3,077 km) continuous railroad line constructed between 1863 and 1869 that connected the existing eastern U.S. rail network at Omaha, Nebraska/Council Bluffs, Iowa with the Pacific coast at the Oakland Long Wharf on San Francisco Bay. The rail line was built by three private companies over public lands provided by extensive US land grants. Construction was financed by both state and US government subsidy bonds as well as by company issued mortgage bonds. The Western Pacific Railroad Company built 132 mi (212 km) of track from Oakland/Alameda to Sacramento, California. The Central Pacific Railroad Company of California (CPRR) constructed 690 mi (1,110 km) eastward from Sacramento to Promontory Summit, Utah Territory (U.T.). And the Union Pacific built 1,085 mi (1,746 km) from the road’s eastern terminus at Council Bluffs near Omaha, Nebraska westward to Promontory Summit.
The railroad opened for through traffic on May 10, 1869 when CPRR President Leland Stanford ceremonially drove the gold “Last Spike” (later often referred to as the “Golden Spike”) with a silver hammer at Promontory Summit. The coast-to-coast railroad connection revolutionized the settlement and economy of the American West. It brought the western states and territories into alignment with the northern Union states and made transporting passengers and goods coast-to-coast considerably quicker and less expensive.
The first night’s camp spot was Curlew campground just north of the border in Idaho. It’s a great campground and very peaceful. On the way, Gil spotted an Zebra! We didn’t believe him and I know I didn’t see it so on the way back from the adventure a week later, Gil stopped by on his way home and took a photo… Yep, Zebra in Idaho!
OK, back on track. We woke and got underway about midday and headed in a general direction of East from there. Our first stops were more utilitarian as we got fuel, supplies and a meal at the Malad drive in. There must have been something going on in town as there was parade floats parked about and some kind of farmer’s market in the park under the ‘jet on a stick’. Oh yeah, it’s the 4th of July weekend. That would explain it. From Malad we headed North on I-15 for a short bit to get up to our first off-roading which was to get over the top of Oxford peak. Map research and Google Earth showed clear two track roads but getting over the top on trails proved to be impossible as they have been now designated quad and side-by-side routes and fitted with a trail filter. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that a ZUKIWORLD reader and forum participant magically found us on the trail. Richard T. from Texas, who was on an adventure of his own purchasing, building, and driving a Sidekick sport from Seattle to Texas, met us on the road way kind of smack dab in the middle of nowhere. Just minutes later or earlier and we may have missed him. Anyway, after introductions and a little tire kicking, he joined our small group and made a great addition to the team throughout the rest of the week.
The next day was a full one. David and his family broke off early to get some special cat food for their day’s old cat they were caring for and we went to explore two caves. First was the Paris ice cave, which is a small two chamber cave. The first is very easy with a board walking path down the middle and then the second is a bent over crawl into a space with a fair amount of clear ice. There was a substantial glacier between the two chambers that some climbed out of the cave on.
The day was getting short as we pressed on towards the convergence. Although not the end of the trip, this was our “goal” for the adventure. We began our trek through great open cow-laden-ed and gate riddled country arriving at the border marker late in the day. The marker is located on the side a mountain and a steep climb is needed to get there. (This was not evident on the Google Earth) Only two of the vehicle could make the climb and others resorted to foot or didn’t make it to the spot. Sunset as we took photos and planned for camp.
Onward to Soda Springs… Our hometown, Sara and I haven’t been back in awhile so it was great to see the town and share with our adventure friends some of the ol’ haunts and fun things there is to do here. Yes, there’s the Geyser, Dinky Engine, Galloping Goose, Slag Pour, 2nd Bridge, Indian Peter Rock, Rabbit Hill, “S” Hill, Soda Creek, Oregon Trail wagon ruts, Octagon Springs, Hooper Springs… but the highlight’s highlight is the fireworks. Everyone in the group was amazed at the wonderful, large, and impressive show. Rivaling almost anything seen before by this guy, I totally recommend this and will be returning for the festivities.
|On the 5th the group once again split as David’s family was driving on to Yellowstone, Richard had to catch a plane in SLC, and we were on for more back country adventure! We headed North from town towards Chesterfield and traveled along the original Oregon Trail for parts as we made our way.
A quaint settlement it is being revived by the LDS church and the family and church ties are well displayed in the Holbrook Store. After getting a Sarsaparilla and a couple lolly pops for the kids, we headed north again towards Bone, Idaho…
Bone is little more than a country store on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. Awesome, right? This is a must do location (mark it down, go there.) They have a full kitchen, bar, and pool table. The place is done up real nice and the Nachos are amazing. Just remember: they do not have ice cream, repeat: no ice cream… This was a shock and a bummer but we got over it pretty quick.
Loading up and an exhilarating drive down Wolverine canyon and the ‘W’ found us pressed for time as we took full advantage of the high speed limit to try and make it to EBR-1. This is a location that several wanted to get to and we pushed hard but alas, we did not make it. The place was all locked up and closed when we rolled in. So we did the next best thing and checked out the other ‘stuff’ around the site.
Chesterfield is a ghost town in Caribou County, Idaho, United States. It is located in Gem Valley at an elevation of 5,446 feet (1,660 m). The community includes a cemetery and former buildings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) such as a former meeting house, amusement hall and tithing house.
Located along a route of the Oregon Trail, Chesterfield was founded by Mormon settlers in 1881. After a railroad line was built through Bancroft to the south, the community lost some of its momentum, and agricultural difficulties led to its desertion by the end of the 1930s. Today, the community is operated as a tourist attraction, with guided tours and a museum.
In 1980, the community was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district and is also on the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation’s Mormon Historic Sites Registry. The historic district includes 41 buildings and eight sites, spread out over an area of 2,160 acres (870 ha). Some buildings in the district are examples of the Greek Revival and Queen Anne architectural styles.
That concluded our adventure and we broke off into separate directions. We headed to Blackfoot, Gil went to Hailey, and Matt took on his long-long drive to the Pacific coast which he did non-stop and arrived home in record time.
The ‘Over’ series of trips are now officially over and as we look back at all these great adventures we can’t help but feel nostalgic. Some we may do again, but there are sections and places we will probably never visit once more. There were some rough patches and difficult travel over the miles, miles, and miles we traveled but all in all we can say with the utmost certainty that this group of trips have been the most rewarding and one of the most wonderful experiences of our lives.
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