A trip across Idaho County can be a matter of a few hours, but more than a century ago, the routes were primitive and the rest stops were many.
Karen Merritt Sturgill recently shared with The Clearwater Progress some photos and narrative excerpts from her grandmother, Lizzie K. Merritt, on a 1907 stage trip she took on the Elk City Stage Road. Merritt was a school teacher from 1905-08, and the following was written in 1954:
“Took Northern Pacific R.R. to end of line, then stage to Stites ... arrived about 6 p.m. Spent night in upstairs rooms of saloon.... Stage left Stites at 6 a.m. for Elk City ... early August. Clearwater and four fresh horses by 9 a.m., ... switchbacks at 11:30 ... ate and got four more fresh horses. Mountain House Station about 4:30 p.m., ... then to Newsome Creek ... horses checked and prevented from running down hill.”
Newsome Station description: “Inside door on left ... post office. Table with mail sacks ... post office never closed. To right, another table with a drawer which was the Express Office. Wood stove for heat. Tables in back for everyone to eat (Freighters, businessmen, transients, mine owners, miners, stage passengers) ... food put in center of table and everyone helped themselves. Coffee served individually. $4 for those sitting in chairs, $1 if you sat on the benches. Large spikes on walls for hanging personal effects ... mostly robes used to cover legs when on stages and freighters. Swinging doors into saloon and shoe store.... Sleeping rooms ... small log cabin about a block away from the station house ... front room and two small bedrooms ... Immaculate ... small organ in front room along with several rocking chairs and a small table ... did have ‘to the wall’ carpet for warmth.”
“7 a.m. the next day, climb over another ridge, then into Elk City.”