Historically, homesteading was quite risky. It not only required steely determination, the most successful homesteader also held an arsenal of skills that were needed for his survival. One such man was William Campbell, the son of Scottish immigrants. He established his homestead in 1897 on the edge of the Salmon River in the mountains of Central Idaho.
A recent gold discovery at nearby Thunder Mountain brought an increase in travelers looking to strike it rich. Seeing the need to get men, supplies, and cattle across the river, he began a ferrying business which proved to be very lucrative. Successful homesteaders earned their living by various means and were not always farmers. Their prosperity was reliant on the needs and opportunities of the surroundings and the ability to recognize and respond to those conditions. William Campbell was able to provide a necessary service for his community while eking out a moderately comfortable lifestyle. Unfortunately, his dream was cut short, lasting only about five years. He disappeared in a
snowstorm and was never found. His name lives on in Campbell’s Ferry, a spot near the main fork of the Salmon River.
Bauer, Jennifer K. “Where wild still rules: New book on Campbell’s Ferry examines history of remote Salmon River Canyon ranch.” November 27, 2013. https://inland360.com/books/2013/11/where-wild-still-rules-new-book-on-campbells-ferry-examines-history-of-remote-salmon-river-canyon-ranch/
Scenic River of No Return Wilderness. http://www.selwaybitterroot.org/scenic-frank-church-river-of-no-return-wilderness-page
The Trust for Public Land. https://www.tpl.org/our-work/thunder-mountain#sm.00000bftx8qp7ddwvxt1s21s2tcb4
“William Campbell.” http://www.campbellsferry.org/william-campbell.html