Snowshoes
Diane Molter

So to continue the stories from my travels in Warren Idaho and the surrounding areas from 1980...

In late September most activity was shutting down and closing up for winter. Most summer and seasonal people left for warmer places leaving a few die hard locals to winter over. This was at the end of the era where winter sports were limited to sled hills, lots of downhill and wooden skinny ski Nordic/cross country skiing. I was between paying College tuition and keeping my little Courier PU alive.

So it was a real treat to stop and get lunch at the Warrens Tavern. I had seen several kinds of snowshoes before, long, skinny, short, fat, metal and mesh, birch and sinew but never the large pie pan shapes with the short buckled straps hung from the bar and on the walls at the tavern.

Turns out the story goes that the stagecoach line started in the 1870's from Yellow Pine and Meadows had the Postal Concession to carry mail to Warrens Camp and Marshall Mountain. Miners could be bribed in winter to carry the mail by Norwegian Snowshoe (long wooden skis) or Indian shoe (snowshoes) from Warren over Browns Mountain to the Marshall mines, but the mail and freight had to get into Warren first.

This was impossible the two weeks in October and three to four weeks in late April and early May due to the transitional mud between freeze and dirt. The Post Office would cancel the concession if the mail did not get through in any six week period. So the Warren Blacksmith fitted the stage horses with snowshoes, led them out onto the snow blindfolded with them hitched to the coach for about six miles over the first deep snow. Each horse had to be fitted to its own shoes. So the shoes had to be carried on the coach (which also had sled runners that could be fitted over the wheel hubs) for winter travel. Other than avalanches, blizzards and fallen trees the mail always got through. Once a horse made the six mile trip it never had trouble or balked at wearing the snowshoes and in fact would refuse to move it felt it should be wearing its snowshoes for the trip. This of course lasted as long as the horse drawn Post Office was in use.

On a side note, the Blacksmith outfitted the horses for the school sled and the enclosed box wagon used as an ambulance, too.

For a while between New Meadows and Yellow Pine and the Warrens Camp there were two stage stops run by an enterprising business woman for the miners, freighters and travelers "comfort". These were at trail/road junctions and about 30 miles apart with a mountain between. The original stops provided a change of horses, a quick meal and a chance to visit the outhouse and in case of storms and blizzards floor space to sleep.

Over time they became referred to as "Fannies Upper Hole and Fannies Lower Hole" after" Holler" in the Appalachian Hill Country. The Economics were not promising and eventually both became a different kind of "comfort" stop after the original Fanny moved on. The new management brought a different meaning to the stop names. The stage discovered a shorter route and bypassed the stops, the route faded away as did the stops. When I was there in 1980 both main buildings were still standing as were the horse sheds and corrals, The Upper Hole SS was in much better shape. I heard both collapsed into the melt in the spring of 1981. There were acres of reworked "Chinese Diggings" near both sites.

Often in winter Gold Shipments were made by stage as bandits could not travel as quickly as the sled and snowshoe equipped stage.

There was another set of snowshoes and a rifle hanging on the Warrens Camp bar - and that's another story.

Diane