Monday June 14

We went with mom to Chesterfield, Idaho. I’m pretty sure I blogged about it the last time we went there, but it won’t hurt to repeat.

Chesterfield was settled in the late 1800s by Mormon farmers moving out of the overcrowded (!) Salt Lake City area. Chesterfield was never overcrowded, and less so now. To folks from the East like us it looks like the middle of nowhere, but the most beautiful nowhere you could ask for:

The town was on the route of the Oregon Trail, and the founders expected that a railroad or major road would eventually go through it. That didn’t happen. The railroad went through Bancroft, ten miles south, and the through road going east and west is another ten miles south of that. That means that to drive to Chesterfield you have to drive twenty miles out of your way, passing nothing but a couple of dozen farms and Bancroft. The town was just too isolated to be economically viable. By the end of the 1950s it wasn’t really a town any more. Sometime in the last ten years or so some descendents of residents decided to restore the old houses and other buildings, places they remembered from visiting their grandparents. It’s been slow, but a labor of love.

We got a tour of several old buildings from Jack Jensen, a great-grandson of Denmark Jensen, whose cabin is in the middle distance here:

Do you understand why I love to go out to Chesterfield when we’re in Idaho? I wouldn’t put it on a list of the top ten things to see in the state, but it’s too bad that more people can’t see it. As long as you’re not looking at the road, you can pretend it’s 100 years ago.

We saw the Ira Call cabin:

Drove past the Ruger dugout:

Looked at the notions department in the Mercantile:

and saw one of the few surviving original McCormack “Daisy” reapers:

— not to mention the blacksmith shop.

The nearest place to get lunch was in Soda Springs, fifteen miles down the main road (after driving those 20 miles back to the main road.) There’s a geyser in Soda Springs, a little strange because it’s capped; there’s a timer that lets it erupt on the hour. Arlene and I saw it erupt once several years ago. Spray from it, with minerals that dissolved in the superheated water, got on our rental car. The minerals wouldn’t dissolve in normal hot water. When we left our the Geyser View Restraurant this time, I asked the waitress, “Does everyone in this town park too close to the geyser once?” She laughed and said, “It’s terrible! The only thing that seems to wash it off is a good rain!”

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