Saturday, May 26, 2012

US Mail boat

We took the weekly US Mail boat that delivers the mail by boat to the handful of year round residents that reside in Hells Canyon. Hells Canyon is a 10-mile wide canyon. It is North America's deepest river gorge at 7,993 feet and part of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

In 1806, three members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition entered the Hells Canyon region along the Salmon River. They turned back without seeing the deep parts of the canyon. It was not until 1811 that the Wilson Price Hunt expedition explored Hells Canyon while seeking a shortcut to the Columbia River. Hunger and cold forced them to turn back, as did many explorers who were defeated by the canyon's inaccessibility. There remains no evidence in the canyon of their attempts; their expedition journals are the only documentation.

The early miners were next to follow. In the 1860s gold was discovered in river bars near present-day Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, and miners soon penetrated Hells Canyon. Gold mining was not profitable here. Evidence of their endeavors remains visible along the corridor of the Snake River. Later efforts concentrated on hard-rock mining, requiring complex facilities. Evidence of these developments is visible today, especially near the mouth of the Imnaha River.[6]

In the 1880s there was a short-lived homesteading boom, but the weather was unsuited to farming and ranching, and settlers soon gave up. However, some ranchers still operate within the boundaries of the National Recreation Area.

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