Homesteaders were not always Farmers

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.

Campbells Homestead close up
William Campbell’s Homestead site

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. William Campbells FerrySuccessful 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

Scenic River of No Return
Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness

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.

Scenic River of No Return Wilderness.

The Trust for Public Land.

“William Campbell.”



Winter’s Tolling Bells


Winter’s arrival marks the end of a calendar year, but it does not mark the end of life.

In a way Winter is the real Spring – the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature.         -Edna O’Brien

The tools get cleaned and put away, the beds are all tucked in. It feels like the end of something. In actuality, Winter is a pause, a time of recollection, and a time of action. Before Spring can blossom, Winter prepares the plans and goals for the next three seasons. Winter is not idle. Winter is full of courage and hope for the homestead. We research new projects, gather seed catalogs, and journal new plots. No, Winter is not a finality, it is a time of rebirth.

What are your winter imaginings?

…the color of winter is in the imagination.  -Terri Guillemets