Stage Stop

Last week I’d made some plans with my dad to go out to the Owyhees Sunday and see if I could locate the old stage stop known as The Rocks. That was the original name of the place before it became Rockville. Some of the original names out here make you wonder. Caldwell, for example, used to be known as Bug Town. Anyway….

The Friday before we were to leave, I came across some interesting history about the area. I’d already known there was a boulder, a huge boulder, on the route the freight wagons used going from the Valley (Boise, Cladwell, Nampa, and the other towns in the area) up to Silver City. They’d stop there overnight on the way to Silver City and put the feed and other supplies for the return trip up on top of The Rock where the coyotes and other wildlife couldn’t get to it. On the way back, they’d stop there again, recover their supplies, feed their livestock and the next morning head back to the Valley. Eventually a family settled nearby and after a while they built a place where the freighters could stay, get a hot meal, and get feed for their animals. In time it became an official stage stop and even briefly a post office and precinct census center for the area.

Then Sunday I went up in the Owyhees with my dad, searching for the old stage station at The Rocks. We stopped at the drive-in in Marsing for burgers and milkshakes to go. When we got out where I had the co-ordinates for the old stage stop off my topo maps. Having verified the general location two weekends ago, I pulled over near where I thought the stage would be, about midway between the two dry creek beds. Once there I hooked up my GPS to the laptop and started running Visual GPS. Within a few minutes the Least Squares Average position had stabilized. I was surprised to see that as far as Latitude went, I was dead on where I was parked. Longitude was only off by 0.07 minutes, or about 100 yards, which meant I was within 100 yards due west of the old stage stop! Not bad for a guess, eh?

Unfortunately, this day I was having to re-learn trusting my instruments and think through my natural logic. It seems that every five or six years I encounter something and think it through so much that I don’t rely on my instruments and logic. This day, I knew I was within 100 yards, didn’t have my compass with me, and for the life of me I could not remember which way was North even though I’d been in that area hundreds of time, including doing astrophotography which meant I could easily visualize the night sky and so determine where North was. But no, I just could not think where North was.

Fortunately, there was a guy there that had just come back to his truck on his ATV. We talked to him and he knew where the old stage stop was and pointed it out: a clump of sage across the road hid the foundations! After chatting a bit more, he left and we walked over to the ruins. Once you were there, you could easily see the old foundation of the building, and of the porch. He had also pointed out where the old well should be. That was harder to find,  but eventually my dad did find it.

The old stage stop's well, which still has water in it.

The old stage stop’s well, which still has water in it, about 15 feet down. Eventually I want to go back with a rope and weight and see how deep the water is.

I'm standing on the "porch" of the old stage stop, about mid-way between the door and the first window on the right of the B&W picture.

I’m standing on the “porch” of the old stage stop, about mid-way between the door and the first window on the right of the B&W picture below.

The old The Rocks stage stop, as it used to look.

The old The Rocks stage stop, as it used to look. I’d give credit for the picture, but can’t seem to locate the photographer’s name anywhere.

When we were done with that, we drove up to where I usually do my astrophotography and I shot a spherical view of the site so I could get it into Stellarium. My last 360 panorama for this purpose was good, but failed on the ground in close. This time I wanted to use my phone’s capability to shoot a 360 degree spherical panorama.

That done, we headed back out the same way we came in as I’d seen a location on a hill that looked like it might work for astrophotography and was easier to get into. Driving up on that hill, we found the old grave site. The guy we’d talked to had also mentioned these graves were on the east side of the road but I hadn’t expected to find them like that. One of the graves was for Mrs. Ed Holmes, who had been killed by Indians in 1889. One was an unknown man who had been killed in the same attack. I had read about them before and was able to fill my dad in on their history. The third was a Mrs. Shirley Scott, born in 1935 and was a recent burial from 2008. 73 years old when she came home for the last time. All three graves were tended and had plastic flowers. Obviously, someone still remembered them fondly. One of the flower bunches had fallen over, so I stuck it back into the holder so it wouldn’t blow away. If you’ve seen my pictures of the area, you know they deserve a lot of respect just for living there.

Then I took another spherical panorama there to see how the horizon there would compare with the horizon at my usual astrophotography site. Looking at those pictures after I got home, it looks like both provide the same general angle to the horizon. I may just have to go out there and take a look at night to be sure, but I think it will work. There are some minor advantages to the other, usual, site, but I’ll just have to see to know for sure. I’ll go to my regular place next time and on the way back swing by this new possibility to see how it looks.

All in all, it was a fun and productive weekend exploring in southwest Idaho.

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20 Responses to “Stage Stop”

  1. Virgie Says:

    Landscape photography is definitely an art
    form which has been practised for generations and
    will take time to perfect. As you can imagine, this is simply not possible without some
    additional familiarity with photographic techniques along
    with the right equipment. In fact it may look that with this
    launch, your camera giant has tackled every minor criticism
    that previously came its way leaving no room for more.

    Like

  2. Jason Smith Says:

    Bill,

    My name is Jason Smith and I’ve been trying to find more info on the Rockville Stage Stop. I came across your site, but I’m having a hard time finding any other picture or any other information on that area. Other pictures… Location of the other buildings that were out there… Do you have any more information on the area? If you do I would love to talk.

    Thanks,
    Jason

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    • Bill Says:

      Hi Jason,

      What’s your interest in the Rockville Stage Stop? Mine was just piqued interest with a map years ago that intrigued me enough so I just kept searching for the site until I found it.

      I do have a little more background history but not a whole lot. For example, the location of the school I don’t know, but I have come across some mention that kind of gives some direction where it is. I’d have to try and find that information again, though…I didn’t log it. Some of that stuff is now on private land, or land leased from BLM while other bits and pieces is on BLM land open to the public.

      I’m planning to head out there again soon to take more photos of the site, graves, and well. Then pop over to the Poison Creek Stage Stop for photos.

      Bill

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      • Jason Smith Says:

        Was just looking for ghost towns / historical sites and just came across it and went out and checked out the site, and have been back many times. Just trying to find information about the area (old pictures / info on what building where out there and where) Just more info in general about the area. It’s just interesting to be able to see it all and know more about what was there. But there seems to be little to no info on the area. I also found a big chunk of metal/iron out by the riverbed, close to the second well that is out there. I would love to find out what the metal/iron piece goes to or what it even is. Maybe even find somewhere to donate it to, historical museum or something out in the area. It might not even be that old, who knows.

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      • Bill Says:

        Yeah, some of these places you have to really hunt for information. Others are decently written up. There’s a lot of ruins out in the Owyhees, which makes exploring that area a lot of fun.

        What’s the piece of metal like? I might be able to help identify it, or you could take it to the museum at Murphy and ask them. There’s no assurance it’s from the stage stop, it could well be from someone passing by in later years after Rockville moved to Oregon.

        Second well?!? Where’s that located, if you don’t mind sharing? If you can use the riverbed and the well or road as a reference, I’d love to go see it. As far as I knew, there was just the one well for the stage stop.

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      • Jason Smith Says:

        Bill,

        I tried to reply with some links to pictures to so you the areas, but it doesn’t seem to want to post it.

        Jason

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      • Bill Says:

        Jason,

        I’m not sure why that happened. I’ve approved you to post comments so it should have allowed you to do so. I do see the request for approval, so maybe it’s just that if it has links I still have to approve it. As you can see, I have done so.

        I’ve replied with some comments under that post as well.

        Like

  3. Helen Biggs Says:

    My Great-Grandad,Dow Dunning, had that built.He hired a mason for the rock. Him and his family lived in a dugout while it was being built. They raised 8 kids there and a school teacher lived with them. They had 100 acres which were irrigated by a natural spring.

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    • Bill Says:

      Honored to meet you, Helen. I had read up on the site and people, and really enjoyed some of the stories such as that when one of the girls stepped on a rattler barefoot and the kids didn’t go barefoot the rest of the summer. I love that country and the stories.

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  4. Jason Smith Says:

    Bill,

    Here’s a link to a picture that I just took of the area and made labels, The Rocks main foundation (center top) The second foundation is off to the left. (I would love to find out what that was) The 3rd foundation is just south of the Rocks and I think that was some sort of stables just by the looks of it, having 3 walls and one side that was open. It just looks like it would have been a stable. (but I could be wrong) The main well that is next to the road that is covered by the car hood. The second well is easy to find now if you go out there (because of the fires) It is down by the riverbed, it has metal posts and fencing around it so no one can fall in. It was not easily seen before. But now that the fires burned up the shrubs you can easily see it if you’re standing by the Rocks foundation and looking south. I’m not 100% the location but I circled the area where the other well is.

    I found a few other pictures I’ve uploaded as well.

    Here’s a picture of the 3rd foundation (What I think looks like a stable. It’s easier to see now that the fire burned up everything if you go out there now.

    Here is a picture of the metal poles that are in the ground. Almost look like bases for flag poles? I don’t know, they are both the same.

    And here is a picture of where the two wells are located:

    Here is a closer picture of the second well:

    Here are some pictures of that metal thing, almost looks like an old skid to get out of the mud:

    These pictures (links) will expire after 7 days, if you or anyone wants a copy of any of them I can send them via email (freebird29 at gmail dot com)

    I have been thinking about putting together a website to host all this info I have found and all the pictures of the area, I just haven’t had time just yet to make one.

    Jason

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    • Bill Says:

      Hi Jason,

      FIRST, please do put together a website with your adventures, and let me know when it’s up. The more data we can accumulate, discuss, and share, the better. I know at least one other person who would also be eager to see what you have to share and share what he has.

      Perhaps we could even get together sometime for an outing. There are lots of ruins out there to explore.

      It would be great if Helen Biggs could comment on all this and set me straight where I’m wrong.

      AFAIK, the metal poles had nothing to do with the Rocks, they were put in much later. I know someone has been digging in the area, and they may be prospect pipes, but happily admit I could be wrong.

      I’ve never noticed any outline of the other two foundations. Now I can’t wait to get back out there and look. Even from up on top of the hill to the north, I hadn’t noticed them.

      The guess as to a stable makes sense, as I’ve noticed from up on the hill what appeared to be a fence layout in the same area. It was a stage stop, after all, and often they had changes of horse. Plus, they obviously had their own horse and would need to keep them somewhere.

      The third building/foundation…I’m not sure what it might be. Thinking of other places I’ve explored, it could be a pantry, storage for grain and feed, cold storage (although that seems unlikely as that would probably be more underground), or workshop.

      The second well is the main well, based on all I’ve read, and is obviously the one I have in the picture with my posts. I know the one by the creek bed was the original well for the stage stop, not the one by the road. When I looked under the old car hood there wasn’t anything under it at the time, so someone must have moved it when I was there.

      As to the metal poles, I know someone had been digging in the area (tons of potholes left all over the place as if someone went in with metal detectors and made a mess) so they may be related to that. Another possibility is they might be prospect pipes that didn’t pan out.

      The metal piece you found, I don’t recognize it at all. I’m sending those three pictures to a couple other people to see if perhaps they might recognize it. I’ll let you know what I find, either by email or posting here.

      Now I’m antsy for weather dry enough to get back there!

      Bill

      Like

      • Jason Smith Says:

        Bill,

        I see it now, (the post) it just didn’t show up when I posted it.. Or didn’t refresh, or something… Odd… I don’t know… I don’t know how soon I’ll get to the website, but I will certainly get one up here as soon as I can. I just moved all my websites to a new hosting, so once that all gets finished I can put together something quick to just get some of the info up there to start with. I have a ton more pictures, and would love to find others that know about the area. That’s just what I’ve found and what I’ve come across. I’d love to head out there once it clears up / warms up, just let me know. Yeah now that everything has burnt up out there it is much easier to see everything. I found the ‘stables’ foundation a while back before the fires, but now that it’s all clear it’s much easier to see. I’ll get some more of the dirt knocked off that metal and get some more pictures of it and get that up there as well.
        Thanks
        Jason

        Like

      • Bill Says:

        Jason,

        I look forward to seeing your website when you get it up.

        After talking with two others, and having no scale to go by, the best we’ve been able to come up with for the piece of metal is that it might be a piece of mining or drilling equipment.

        Yeah, the burn is a mixed blessing. When I went out there before, it would take me a few minutes to find that well. Last time, I just drove up, parked, and walked straight to it. It was a mess in there, all oily and black from soot and ashes.

        Bill

        Like

      • Jason Smith Says:

        Bill,

        The metal is about a foot across. Once I clean it up a little, rinse it off anyway, I’ll take more pictures with a ruler and put them on the site that I get up.

        Like

  5. Jo Says:

    Hi my name is Jo Naramore. My uncle proud and great Grandfather built the rocks in 1903 or o5. We have several pictures and info. My uncle proud went on to built up poison creek. My grandfather was raised at the rocks. Love to tell ya more. Thanks Jo

    Like

  6. Jo Naramore Says:

    The picture of the rocks was taken by my ancestors the Prouds and Naramores. They built the rocks into a amazing place. Later my aunt and uncle Proud bought poison Creek they spent 18 months building it. We have several pictures and journals on they . Even like grandfather as an infant lives at the rocks

    Like

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