Fort Hall

Fort Hall

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Fort Hall was built by Nathaniel Wyeth, the famous mountain man, in 1834. At the time it was the only American outpost in the area. 1837, Wyeth sold the fort to the huge Hudson's Bay Company. For a time the new British owners discouraged the American pioneers from traveling on to Oregon. Later it became an important stop for the emigrants on the Oregon Trail.

Lansford Hastings visited Fort Hall in 1845: "Upon arriving at Fort Hall, we were received in the kindest manner, by Mr. Grant, who was in charge; and we received every aid and attention from the gentlemen of that fort, during our stay in their vicinity. We were here informed, by Mr. Grant, and other gentlemen of the company, that it would be impossible for us to take our wagons down to the Pacific, consequently, a meeting of the party was called, for the purpose of determining whether we should take them further, or leave them at this fort, from which place it appeared, that we could take them, about half way to the Pacific, without serious interruption. Some insisted that the great convenience of having wagons with us, would amply warrant taking them as far as we could; while others thought, as we would eventually be under the necessity of leaving them, it would be preferable to leave them at the fort, especially as we could there obtain tools, and all other means of manufacturing our packing equipage, which we could not do elsewhere."

Upon arriving at Fort Hall , we were received in the kindest manner, by Mr. Some insisted that the great convenience of having wagons with us, would amply warrant taking them as far as we could; while others thought, as we would eventually be under the necessity of leaving them, it would be preferable to leave them at the fort, especially as we could there obtain tools, and all other means of manufacturing our packing equipage, which we could not do elsewhere. Another reason which was urged in favor of leaving them was, that we could, perhaps, sell them for something at this place, which we could do, at no other point upon the route. The vote having been taken, it was found that a large majority was opposed to taking them any further, the consequence of which was, that there was no alternative for the minority, as our little government was purely democratic. Mr. Grant purchased a few of our wagons, for a mere trifle, which he paid in such provisions as he could dispose of, without injury to himself. He could not of course, afford to give much for them, as he did not need them, but bought them merely as an accommodation. Those who did not sell to Mr. Grant, got nothing for theirs; but left them there, to be destroyed by the Indians, as soon as we had commenced our march. This was a serious loss, as most of the wagons and harness, were very valuable. Eight or ten days were occupied, in consummating our arrangements for the residue of our cheerless journey. In the interim, those of our company, who left us at Green river, had accomplished their preliminary arrangements, and had gone on, several days in advance. We were enabled, at this fort, to exchange our poor and way-worn horses, for those which had not been injured by use; having done which, to considerable extent; having purchased many; having procured such additional provisions as could be obtained; and having convinced ourselves that we were invincible, we, once more, resumed our dangerous journey, over the burning sands, and through the trackless deserts of Oregon.

Fort Hall - History

Plentiful game and Fur bearing animals naturally drew white hunters and traders to the area. The earliest white men known to have visited the region were men of the Missouri Fur Company in 1810, and of John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company who, under Wilson Price Hunt, passed through in 1811. These were soon followed by trappers and traders operating independently, or as members of the "Horse Brigades" sent out y the North West Company, or Nor'westers, as they were commonly called. In 1821 the North West Company became part of the great Hudson's Bay Company, who continued to send out the snake county Expeditions until well in the 1830's. During the time of the HBC ("Here Before Christ") operations the "Mountain Men" of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, headquartered in St. Louis were also busy throughout most of the Intermountain Region including the upper reaches of the Snake River country.

In the early 1830's a young businessman of New England named Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth become interested in the trade possibilities of the Pacific Northwest. In 1832 he visited the annual get-together of trappers, traders, and Indians known as the Rendezvous. He participated in the battle of Pierre's Hole. There he made an agreement with representatives of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company to bring $3,000 worth of trade goods for them at the 1834 Rendezvous.

This he did, but the company, being in financial difficulties, refused to accept the goods. Wyeth, not seeing any other way open to him, moved on westward with the men and the goods until he reached "The Bottoms" of the Snake River on July 15, 1834. There on the 18th of July he started the construction of a trading post, which he named Fort Hall in honor of the oldest member of the New England company financing his enterprise. On August 4th he finished the log structure. The next morning, August 5, he raised a homemade United States flag, saluted it with a salvo of guns, and thus, as the result of a broken agreement, Fort Hall came into existence, an event whose historical significance can not be overrated.

Fort Hall, Bannock County, Idaho

There are many historical spots in the United States unmarked by a monument, but there are probably few cases on record of a monument searching for a vanished site. Such is the case of the stone pillar purchased by subscription to mark the original site of Fort Hall.

In 1906 Ezra Meeker traveled along the old Oregon Trail and raised money with which to mark the historical points along the route. One monument stands in the High School grounds at Pocatello. Another was purchased for erection on the Fort Hall site. A teamster was directed to carry it to its destination on the banks of the Snake river, twelve miles to the west of Pocatello, and this man deposited the monument at the dobies, that were once a stage station. Those in charge of placing the monument, being unable to certainly determine the original site of the fort decided to leave the pillar where it lay, until the old fort had been indisputably located. And there it still rests, and probably will remain for some time to come.

It is unfortunate that the most historical point in Bannock County and one of the most historical in the state of Idaho should have been lost sight of.

No effort will be made in this chapter to decide the question, because such an attempt would be little more than a guess. It seems not unlikely, indeed, that the original site has completely vanished.

Fort Hall was established in 1834 as a fur trading station by Captain Nathaniel Wyeth. The captain found himself unable to compete successfully with the Hudson Bay Company, which at that time operated in these parts, and in 1835 sold his interests to his rivals and returned to the east.

Here comes the first problem in locating the original site. The Hudson Bay Company is thought to have moved the fort. Who can tell whether the sites now pointed out were those of the first or second post? Some pioneers maintain that Fort Hall was moved three times before the sixties, while others maintain that some old ruins on the bank of the Snake, about one and a half miles above the Tilden bridge, are the first site. This spot is now overgrown with grass, but it is possible to detect the outlines of an old foundation, something over two hundred feet in length, and what appears to have been at one time rifle pits. Evidently it was the location of a large building, but whether or not of the first fort, who can tell? Joe Rainey, native interpreter at the present Fort Hall Indian reservation, maintains that this was the first site.

Other old-timers say that some dobies near the Snake River were a fort site, but Mr. J. N. Ireland of Pocatello, says that he built these himself and that they were a station on the old Overland stage road.

The old Oregon Trail, which extended for over two thousand miles, from St. Louis, Mo., to Portland, Oregon, divided at Soda Springs, in Bannock County, into two almost parallel courses, which met again at old Fort Boise. One of these followed the Portneuf River through the present sites of McCammon and Pocatello. The other followed a northwesterly direction from Soda Springs to old Fort Hall.

Many pioneers, in their description of the fort, as they first knew it, speak of a river that can be no longer found. Either its course has changed since the early days, or its name changed perhaps both, which last condition would make it very difficult to identify the present stream with that of seventy-five years ago.

During pioneer days Fort Hall was one of the most important posts alone: the Oregon trail. It was the first point west of Fort Laramie, where travelers could rest securely under the protection of the flag, and where there was a garrison of soldiers to relieve them of all fear of sudden attack from the Indians. Here the weary and travel-stained pioneers, pushing on for the far-famed Oregon territory, found respite from their toils and dangers, and enjoyed once more the companionship of their own kind. Here, too, preparatory for the last, long march of their transcontinental journey, they repaired their wagons, and discarded such baggage as it had seemed wise to bring when starting, but which later experience proved to be only an encumbrance. An area of several acres around Fort Hall is said to have been covered with this debris, which was ransacked by the Indians and shorn of such parts as the red men wanted. Prof. W. R. Siders, superintendent of the Pocatello public schools, who has been interested for several years in the effort to locate the site of the original fort, and to whom the writer is indebted for very generous and valuable information, maintains that it Might to be possible to identify the Hudson Bay company’s fort by the rummage in its vicinity. He has examined the banks of the Snake River for several miles and been unable to unearth any such remains. This failure adds probability to the statement of old “Doc” Yandell, a trapper in early days, who still resides in these parts. Mr. Yandell says that some years ago he and Pete Weaver lived on the site of old Fort Hall, which was then on the banks of the ‘Snake river, and three quarters of a mile distant from a spring. In later years Mr. Yandell maintained that he could walk directly to the site of his former camp, but when he attempted to do so, he found that the Snake was flowing within three hundred yards of the spring that used to be three-quarters of a mile from its bank. It is probable that since his departure some spring flood had washed out a new channel for the river, thereby changing its course, and placing the old fort site under water. This might account for Prof. Siders’ failure to find the debris of which he was in search.

The name “Fort Hall” has experienced numerous vicissitudes, since it was first coined eighty years ago. The Hudson Bay Company received it from Captain Wyeth. When the Hudson Bay company sold its American rights to the United States government in 1863, the latter used the name to designate the military post which stood about sixteen miles northeast of the present agency. Here the government maintained a garrison of three companies of soldiers until about 1884 when the troops were withdrawn and the fort buildings used for Indian school purposes. When the school was moved to its present quarters, which were first occupied in 1904, the name went with it. Some of the old fort buildings were moved to the new site, and the remainder given to the Indians. Traces of the fort may still be seen.

The Oregon Short Line station at the reservation, originally called Ross Fork, has recently been changed to Fort Hall and the name is also used to designate the whole reservation.

The name Ross Fork, according to Interpreter Joe Rainey, was derived from an old man named Ross, who operated a ferry across the Snake River forty years ago. One or two old posts still mark the ferry site.

The Fort Hall Indian reservation for the Bannock Indians was established in July, 1868. In July of the previous year the government appointed a commission consisting of N. G. Taylor, Lieutenant General Sherman, IT. S. A., William S. Harney, John R. Sanborn. S. F. Tappen, A. H. Terry, and Brevet Major General C. C. Augur, U. S. A., to negotiate treaties with all hostile and non-treaty Indians, and if possible to settle them on reservations. The treaty made with the Bannock Indians states that they were to have “reasonable portions of the Portneuf and Kansas prairies.” There is no doubt that not “Kansas” but “Camas” was meant, the latter being a favorite resort of the Indians, where they gathered the tuberous Camas root, which they prized highly as a food! The mistake in the name must have been made by an interpreter, clerk or typesetter, and Mr. John Hailey says that the government officials understood the mistake, but threw open the Camas prairie for settlement by the whites. The Indians who signed this treaty on behalf of the Bannocks were Taggee, Tay-Toba, We-Rat-Ze-Won-A-Gen, Coo-Sha-Gan, Pan-Sook-A-Motse, and A-Mite-Etse. To them, no doubt, “Kansas” and “Camas” meant the same, but the mistake caused much trouble in later years.

The treaty was made July 3, 1868, ratified by the United States senate, February 16, 1869, and proclaimed by President Andrew Johnson, February 24, 1869.

The governor of Idaho was instructed by the authorities at Washington to have the proposed reservation surveyed, probably in accordance with the clause which provided “reasonable portions of the Portneuf and Kansas prairies.” The governor is said to have visited the Portneuf valley, and with a wave of the hand to have instructed the surveyor to “survey out a good-sized reservation around here for these Indians.” He then returned to Boise. As the surveyor was paid by the mile for his work, he ran the survey out to as many miles as possible. Consequently the reservation included twice as much land as was needed, but its limits were later curtailed. No notice was taken of the provision for a portion of the ”Kansas” prairie, but the Indian agent allowed his charges to fish, hunt and dig camas on the Camas prairie whenever they wished. The country now included in the Fort Hall reservation was at one time the scene of many Indian battles. A hundred years ago, when buffalo still roamed these parts, the Blackfoot Indians ranged along the river that now bears their name. This tribe was the archenemy of the Bannocks and Shoshones, who used to make raids into the enemy’s territory for the purpose of stealing their horses and cattle, and in turn to patrol their own demesnes when the enemy invaded them. An old squaw, said to have been more than a hundred years old. died on the reservation last year, who used to tell of a battle fought in her childhood between the Bannocks and Blackfeet that lasted four days.

On some of the higher buttes toward the north of the reservation there still stand stone pillars, built by the Indians. These were lookout posts, and most of them stand where a view of the country may be had for miles around. Here the spies watched the movements of their enemies and made signals to their friends. Usually the lookout lay behind the pillar and peered around its base, but sometimes he stood flat against its front. As the enemy gradually circled in one direction or another, the spy moved slowly around the pillar, always keeping his face toward those he was watching lest in the distance they should detect his form standing out from the pillar and take alarm.

The following statistics were very kindly furnished by Mr. Cato Sells, U. S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs: The Fort Hall Indian reservation contains 454.239 acres, of which 38,000 acres were irrigated by 140.37 miles of ditch in June, 1913.

The value of the property and funds on the reservation of the Indians is $4,551,711, or $1,103.97 per capita.

The crop raised by the Indians in 1913 were valued at $73,591, and during the same year they sold $51,520 worth of stock. These items, added to the receipts from other industries, made their total income for the year amount to $169,262.42.

The Indian population of the reservation, June 30, 1913, was 1,819. Of these, 273 were operating farms for themselves, 222 children were enrolled at the reservation school, and thirty were enrolled at the Episcopal Mission School of the Good Shepherd.

The largest ranch operated by an Indian contains 160 acres.

Only three crimes were committed by Indians during the year. Two arrests were made for drunkenness.

The most prevalent diseases among the Bannock Indians are tuberculosis and trachoma.

There are no longer any soldiers on the reservation, but a patrol of Indian police guards the public safety. These men are splendid types of their race. The delight of their lives is to arrest a white man.

There is an atmosphere of contentment on the reservation and goodwill between the Indians and government agents employed there that is a credit alike to red men and white. While most of the full-blooded bucks on the reservation wear thick braids of hair, most of them appear to be clean-shaven. Yet they seldom, if ever, use a razor. When their beards begin to come in, they pluck out the hairs, thereby solving the barber problem for all time.

In the government school, too, the air is one of wholesome contentment. No more cheering sight could be wished for than that of the Indian boys and girls chatting cheerily as they eat their bountiful dinner in the large, well-lighted, dining room of the government school. It is a pleasure to acknowledge here the unfailing and uniform courtesy the writer has always experienced on his visits to Fort Hall.

Source: The History of Bannock County Idaho , By Arthur C. Saunders, Pocatello, Idaho. U. S. A., The Tribune Company. Limited, 1915

Economic impact

Tribes are permitted to participate in economic development in a corporate form and "create perpetual membership corporations encompassing all tribal members." Ώ] The secretary of the interior must approve any efforts to commit tribal income or enter into leases. Ώ]

In 1988, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed by the 100th Congress—stipulating that regulated gambling was permissible on tribal lands, provided that the state had some form of legalized gambling. Δ] The act led to an increase in tribal casinos, which also led to other ventures, such as resorts, hotels and golf courses. The Shoshone-Bannock tribes operate Bannock Peak Casino, the Fort Hall Casino, and the Sage Hill Travel Center and Casino. Ε] Ζ] Η]

The Shoshone-Bannock tribes, within the four counties they occupy, make up 5.7 percent of all jobs, 3.6 percent of all sales, and four percent of all wage and salary earnings. ⎖] In 2001, tribal gaming contributions to the Idaho economy totaled $84 million in wages and earnings, $250 million in sales, and $11 million in property and sales taxes. Ώ] In total contributions—including gaming—tribes contributed $159 million in wages and earnings, $478 million in sales, $17 million in property and sales taxes, and $6 million in state income tax payments. The tribes generated 7,400 jobs, 4,500 of which were in the gaming industry. Ώ]

The tribe also operates the Buffalo Meadows RV Park, gas stations, a hotel and event center, a trading post, farms, buffalo ranches, and gift shops. ⎗]

In December 2015, the tribes announced the expansion of the Fort Hall Casino. The new section will be around 70,000 square and have 1,000 slot machines along with a restaurant and lounge. ⎘]

Fort Hall Business Council.

Executive Director, Elese Teton (Shoshone-Bannock)

The Executive Director's Office is guided by the tribal mission statement: to promote economic development, education and health to ensure that the tribal membership receives the highest quality of life while maintaining traditional customs and beliefs.

The responsibilities of the Executive Director's Office include overseeing and helping achieve efficiencies in the tribes' governmental departments acting as liaison between tribal members and the government promoting the economic success of the tribes improving communication, resolving problems and issues within tribal government and, most importantly, to improve services to tribal members.

An important role of the Executive Director's Office is to assist tribal members in obtaining information, assistance, direction and answers to questions they might have about tribal government. Elese Teton (Shoshone-Bannock) serves as the Executive Director. Skye Marshall serves as the Executive Administrative Assistant

We are a sovereign nation, practicing our inherent and self-governing rights.

Fort Hall to Oregon City Oregon Trail

In the 1840s when emigrants on the Oregon Trail stood at South Pass, they knew their journey was half over.

Recalling the places they’d already seen—the Missouri River, Chimney Rock, Scotts Bluff, Fort Laramie and Independence Rock—the earliest travelers had no idea of the difficulties they had yet to face before reaching their destination.

By the time they got to Fort Hall
(in today’s Eastern Idaho), many be-lieved the hardest part was behind them. But soon after leaving the fort in their dust, they realized more obstacles stood in their path before they would see Oregon City and the Willamette Valley.

The Snake River

Today, the trail from Fort Hall, Idaho, to Oregon City, Oregon, is followed by traveling on Interstates 86 and 84, though at times you’ll need to exit the freeway to see trail sites. For the pioneers, it took about eight weeks to cover the same distance. By car, you can do it in less than eight days, depending on how many side trips you take. Across Idaho the route follows the Snake River.

Most of the country is a barren waste.

—Loren B. Hastings, September 22, 1847

Many other emigrants echoed Hastings’ sentiment as they paralleled the Snake River from Fort Hall to Farewell Bend. Certainly not all of Idaho—then or now—could be called a barren waste. Although in the summer when Oregon-bound emigrants crossed this land, it was often hot, dusty and dry, there were places where it was downright beautiful. Today, as you follow the Oregon Trail, you’ll be traveling through a fertile agricultural valley, made possible by widespread irrigation.

Civilization has brought about other changes, as well. The American Falls Reservoir flooded the drop after which it was named. But on July 5, 1849, James Pritchard noted:

We passed the great American falls. The fall must be 40 to 50 feet in about 70 or 80 yards. . . . The roaring of the waters can be heard for many miles. They rush with great velocity over and through the vast lumps that lay in massive piles in the channel.

A few miles farther west, the emigrants passed Massacre Rocks, where the trail was so narrow the wagons had to pass single-file. The area gained its name (The name was dreamed up in 1927 by local businessmen who wanted to boost tourism.) because of Indian attacks on two small wagon trains in 1862. Today, the site is a state park. At the Raft River, California-bound travelers departed from the combined Oregon-California Trails as they headed toward the Golden State. When you reach Twin Falls, leave the freeway to drive the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway (U.S. 30), where you’ll see waterfalls cascading out of the lava rocks, just as the pioneers did.

Near modern-day Glenns Ferry, most emigrants crossed to the north side of the Snake River, then pushed northwest toward the Boise River.

Three Island Crossing

To Snake River—crossed very deep to hind wheels—7 yoke to a wagon.

—August 14, 1845 Samuel Parker

There were two different crossings the emigrants used to traverse the Snake: Three Island Ford and Two Island Crossing a mile upstream.

The river is divided by two islands into three branches, and is fordable. . . . The last branch we rode as much as half a mile in crossing and against the current too, which made it hard for the horses, the water being up to their sides. Husband had considerable difficulty in crossing the cart. Both cart and mules were turned upside down in the river and entangled in the harness. The mules would have been drowned but for a desperate struggle to get them ashore. Then after putting two men swimming behind to steady it, they succeeded in getting [the cart] across.

—Narcissa Whitman, August 13, 1836

The crossing was no easier 15 years later.

We forded the Snake River, which runs so swift that the drivers (four to a team) had to hold on to the ox yokes to keep from being swept down by the current. The water came into the wagon boxes, and after making the island we raised the boxes on blocks, engaged an Indian pilot, doubled teams, and reached the opposite bank in safety.

—Elizabeth Wood, August 21, 1851

Each August you can see how challenging it was for travelers to ford the Snake when re-enactors hitch their wagons to oxen, horses or mules and plunge across. The Three Island Crossing celebration at Three Island State Park also includes blackpowder shoots, pioneer arts and crafts and musical entertainment.

While most pioneers accepted the risks of fording the Snake, some remained south of the river, following an alternate route. That trail was rough and dry, so the choice was not an easy one.

August 9: This day we traveled five or six miles to the river where we remained all day. Made several attempts to swim our cattle, but without success.

August 10: This morning we finally abandoned the idea of crossing the river gathered up our cattle, hitched up our teams and took the sand and sage for it.—Cornelia A. Sharp in 1852

From Three Island Crossing the main branch of the Oregon Trail headed north to the Boise River and Fort Boise, a trading post established in 1834 by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Built of wood and covered with adobe, Fort Boise was damaged by flooding in 1853. Ten years later the U.S. Army established a military garrison named Fort Boise 43 miles farther east near today’s Boise, Idaho.

In the waning years of trail travel across Idaho, emigrants and Indians occasionally shot at each other, but in the trail’s early years, the Native Americans provided assistance to the travelers. “Bought a salmon fish of an indian [sic] today weighing seven or eight pounds[] gave him an old shirt some bread and a sewing needle,” Lydia Allen Rudd noted in 1852.

As the Snake River turned north in what is now Eastern Oregon, the pioneers veered northwest, calling the place they left the river Farewell Bend. Ahead were mountains, the first mountains they had encountered in 350 miles I-84 crosses them too. The last 450 miles of their journey would test their endurance and persistence.

Flagstaff Hill

Though emigrants didn’t call the 3,684-foot summit they climbed near today’s Baker City, Oregon, Flagstaff Hill, they did leave behind deep ruts, both ascending and descending. Today, you can easily find the ruts and walk in the same pathways as the pioneers by visiting the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

Operated by the Bureau of Land Management, the center focuses on American Indians, mountain men, life on the Oregon Trail, natural history, mining and early settlement. Inside you’ll see life-size dioramas of pioneers, oxen, mules, wagons and campsites. Outside, a 4.2-mile trail takes you close to the wagon traces.

The Blue Mountains

After descending Flagstaff Hill, the emigrants crossed a flat valley before beginning the long pull up the Blue Mountains west of present-day LaGrande. Reaching the pass, known now as Deadman Pass, was a strain on themselves and their animals and was often made more difficult by the weather.

In passing across the mountains we were overtaken by a snow storm which made the prospect very dismal. I remember wading through mud and snow and suffering from the cold and wet.

Upon descending the pass, some emigrants continued west while others turned north for the Whitman Mission and much needed supplies.

Whitman (Waiilatpu) Mission

In 1835, when Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spalding rode horses across the route that became the Oregon Trail, they demonstrated that white women could make the journey to Oregon.

Narcissa and her Presbyterian, missionary-doctor husband, Marcus, established the Waiilatpu Mission on a bend of the Walla Walla River (in today’s Washington state) in 1836. By 1844 the mission’s farm and sawmill attracted many emigrants to visit and purchase supplies.

In the fall of 1847, a measles epidemic swept the mission. Over half of the Cayuse children who became ill died in spite of Dr. Whitman’s efforts to save them. When Indian children died in greater proportion than did white children, the Indians seethed. On November 29, 1847, the Indians attacked the mission, killing Marcus and Narcissa, among others.

The events at the Whitman Mission led to territorial status for Oregon. The mission was never re-established.

Once the mission had become defunct, travelers stopped at the Umatilla Indian Agency, and after 1855, they went to the Fort Henrietta Military Stockade for what limited stores and assistance they could find. Beyond here the dry and dusty trail led to the John Day and Deschutes Rivers, then crossed Echo Meadow where temperatures often reached 100 degrees. Today, you can still see the deep swales left in the sandy soil by pioneers.

Trail ruts mark the hills above the John Day River, and McDonald Ford is still visible. The trail now winds toward the Columbia River, topping out on a ridge high above the waterway, where travelers could see snow-capped Mount Hood. Following the wide Columbia, the pioneers headed toward The Dalles.

Methodist missionary Daniel Lee started his ministry at The Dalles in 1838. In May 1850, the U.S. Army opened a post there known as Camp Drum it became Fort Dalles in 1853.

Loaded up our boat and left. Paid $17 for freight and passage. . . . Came down about fifteen miles and landed. We buried a child which we found upon the bank of the river, drowned.

From The Dalles, emigrants could either float down the Columbia—perhaps using a hand-built raft or an Indian canoe—or they could take their wagons over the Cascade Mountains. The earliest travelers chose the river. After 1845 when Samuel K. Barlow and Joel Palmer blazed the Barlow Toll Road over the Cascades, travelers could continue overland with their wagons. In either case the way was difficult and often expensive. By comparison, today’s drive down I-84 with the Columbia flowing alongside is a breeze.

Oregon City

You can bet that just like kids today, pioneer children were whining, “Are we there yet?” before the journey’s end. Six months after they had loaded their wagons somewhere east of the Missouri River, the emigrants reached the “end of the trail” in Western Oregon at a place they soon named Oregon City. Many continued to other points in the Willamette Valley, or headed north into today’s Washington state.

The Willamette Valley wasn’t the utopia they had expected. As Marilla R. Washburn Bailey wrote of her arrival in 1852, “My most vivid recollection of that first winter in Oregon is of the weeping skies and of Mother and me also weeping.”

You’ll know you’ve reached the trail’s end when you see three oversized wagons in a semicircle. That is the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center where you can learn about the lives the pioneers forged for themselves in the Pacific Northwest. Park your car, release the rug rats from their back-seat prison, and view the center’s exhibits, which include information about fur traders as well as the Oregon Trail pioneers.

Candy Moulton is the co-author of Wagon Wheels: A Contemporary Journey on the Oregon Trail.

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Candy Moulton is a frequent contributor to the Renegade Roads column in True West Magazine. For 17 years, she edited the Western Writers of America’s Roundup Magazine in 2012, she became WWA’s executive director. The Wyoming native leading the organization has written 13 Western history books (including the Spur-winning biography Chief Joseph), co-edited a short fiction collection and written and produced several documentary films (including the Spur-winning Oregon Trails documentary In Pursuit of a Dream).

There were no fewer than four outposts named Fort Walla Walla, but the last and most enduring was established as a cavalry post on March 18, 1858. This military reservation housed soldiers who would fight in the Pacific Northwest Indian Wars and help to bring law and order to early communities of settlers, but the fort and the army were disgraced in April 1891 when soldiers stationed there shot and killed a local gambler in Walla Walla. During its first 40 years repeated efforts to close the fort were rebuffed, but in 1910 it finally was shut down. In the 1920s it became a veteran’s hospital. Since then its use has changed to meet new needs. The facility was renamed in 1996 as the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center to honor a famous World War II general and hero who was born at the fort in 1883.

Four Forts, One Name

On March 18, 1858, Lieutenant Colonel Edward J. Steptoe (1815-1865) and his men moved into Fort Walla Walla, just east of the town of that name. This was not the first Fort Walla Walla, however. In July 1818 the North West Company opened a fur-trading post at the confluence of the Columbia and Walla Walla rivers. Originally called Fort Nez Perces, it was renamed Fort Walla Walla when the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company merged in 1821. In October 1841, the wooden buildings at the post burned down and were rebuilt with adobe construction. Indian hostility forced the abandonment of this first Fort Walla Walla in 1855, and in 1862 the town of Wallula was built on the site and became an important steamboat landing for travelers to the Idaho and Montana gold fields. The construction of McNary Dam in the 1950s elevated Lake Wallula and submerged the town, which was relocated to higher ground.

In December 1855 the Ninth Regiment was ordered to the Pacific Northwest to protect settlers and bring law and order. Arriving in January 1856, the regiment was divided among various posts, with companies going to Fort Vancouver, Fort Steilacoom, Fort Walla Walla, and headquarters at Fort Dalles, Oregon, under the command of Colonel George Wright (1803-1865). Additional troops, dragoons (cavalry), arrived to bolster fighting capacity.

The second Fort Walla Walla, and the first military post of that name, was established by Lieutenant Colonel Steptoe in October 1856 at Mill Creek, seven miles east of what is today downtown Walla Walla. This post was active for barely one month and closed before the year was out. The army then built a third Fort Walla Walla, located in what later would become part of the city's downtown, near today's 1st and Main streets. This facility included barracks, officers' quarters, and stables. No trace of it survives.

The fourth Fort Walla Walla was built in 1857-1858 and opened as a cavalry post on March 18, 1858. Located about one-and-one-half miles from present-day downtown Walla Walla, it would growto become a 640-acre reservation, which, by the end of the nineteenth century, held 60 buildings. Despite multiple attempts over the years to close the facility, it survives today as the Jonathan Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center.

The Battle of Tohotonimme (Pine Creek)

On May 6, 1858, Colonel Steptoe left Fort Walla Walla with a force of 159 troops and Indian scouts on a mission into the Indian lands of the Columbia Plateau. The force included Company C, First Dragoons, and Company E, Ninth Infantry. They headed to the area around Fort Colvile (a Hudson's Bay Company post), where two miners had been killed and settlers were worried about their security. Steptoe, a West Point graduate, was an experienced combat officer who had fought the Seminole Indians and served in the Mexican-American War. He had carefully organized his forces for the foray and had brought along two mountain howitzers, but he did not expect any trouble.

On May 15 Steptoe and his troops camped near the present-day town of Rosalia. The next day, as they moved forward, Indians questioned their intentions, noting that the soldiers were traveling east of their normal route and were equipped with artillery. They refused Steptoe's request for boats to cross the Spokane River and began to harass his troops. Steptoe turned around to return to Walla Walla, but on May 17 at Pine Creek a battle began, and 800 to 1,000 Coeur D’Alene, Palouse, Spokane, Cayuse, and Yakama Indians attacked. Colonel Steptoe and his men put up a good fight but were badly outnumbered. That night the soldiers escaped (or were allowed to escape) and made their way back to Fort Walla Walla, reaching the post on May 22. They had lost seven killed -- two officers, four enlisted men, and one Indian scout. The number of Indian warriors who died in the battle is unknown.

Army Colonel George Wright responded to this defeat by launching a punitive expedition from his base at Fort Dalles, Oregon. In August and September 1858, Wright and 600 troops fought the Indians who had routed Steptoe's force. During these battles, Wright's troops rounded up 800 to 900 Palouse horses and killed most of them to deny the tribes the hunting capability that horses provided. This infamous animal slaughter demoralized the Indians, who surrendered shortly thereafter. Colonel Wright ordered some Native leaders hanged, including the Yakama tribal chief, Qaulchan, who went to the gallows on September 24, 1858.

A Narrow Escape

In 1861 the Ninth Regiment and First Cavalry Troops (as the dragoons were now renamed) went east to fight in the Civil War, leaving Fort Walla Walla temporarily vacant. In June 1862 components of a volunteer force, companies A to F of the Ninth Oregon Cavalry, arrived at the fort. The volunteers had three-year enlistments and upon completion of their service were to receive a $100 bonus and 160 acres of land.

The following year, in July 1862, the Ninth Washington Territory Volunteers arrived at Fort Walla Walla and its companies A and B would serve there until the spring of 1865. Once the Oregon volunteer cavalry departed in 1866, the fort served as a depot and was used for wintering animals. Its closure was considered in Washington, D.C., and in February 1871 a congressional bill called for it to be closed and the property sold off as 40-acre lots. However, the bill incorrectly identified the fort as being located in Oregon, and this mistake rendered the law void.

A Fort Reborn

Fort Walla Walla won a new lease on life in 1873 when four First Cavalry Troops and two companies of the 21st Infantry arrived at the fort after serving in the Modoc War in Oregon and Northern California. Their first duties at the fort were to repair buildings and clean up the post. With nearly 300 soldiers, Fort Walla Walla went from near oblivion to become the largest post in Washington Territory by 1880. These garrison troops would depart for Nebraska in 1884.

The Fort Walla Walla cemetery was established in 1856 and interred there, among others, were many soldiers killed in the Indian Wars. These included men from Fort Lapwei in Idaho who died during the battle at White Bird Canyon in June 1877. Michael McCarthy (1845-1914), who joined the Washington Territorial Militia (later Washington National Guard), was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry at that battle. He later reached the rank of colonel and settled in Walla Walla, where he headed an effort to raise money to erect a monument to members of the First Cavalry killed in action at White Bird Canyon. Another monument at the cemetery honors First Cavalry troops killed in action at Cottonwood Canyon, Idaho, on July 3, 1877.

Fort Walla Walla always lacked sufficient space to be an effective cavalry or infantry post, and only limited new construction occurred over its history. In 1877 the commanding officer’s house was built, and barracks were constructed in 1883, 1888, 1894, and from 1904-1906. Elements of the Fourth Cavalry, which had captured Geronimo in 1886, came to the fort in 1890, and its Troops D and H were based there until being sent to the Philippines in June 1898. The Fourth had the longest stay of any unit at the post. The Second Cavalry, which replaced it, stayed for only one year, to be followed by the Sixth Cavalry for a short tour. These troops succeeded in controlling the area and protecting the local populace.

Soldiers Slay a Local Citizen

On April 22, 1891, Private Emit L. Miller (1866-1891) of the Fourth Cavalry spent the evening playing cards at Rose’s Saloon in Walla Walla. A local gambler at the same table, A. J. Hunt (1836-1891), ridiculed the First Cavalry. Miller took offense and may have hit Hunt, who pulled out a gun and shot him. Miller was taken to the post hospital in critical condition, while Hunt was quickly arrested and jailed.

The following day, Sheriff J. M. McFarland (1844-1899) took Hunt to Miller’s bedside to be identified as the shooter. His carriage driver waited outside and heard soldiers making plans to attack Hunt. The driver warned the sheriff, who appealed to the post commander, Colonel Charles E. Compton (1836-1909), for an escort. Colonel Compton ordered the officer of the day, Captain Theodore J. Wint (1845-1907) to take five guards to protect the sheriff’s party. When the escorts arrived at the gate, a group of about 75 soldiers threatened them and ignored Captain Wint’s orders to disperse. Realizing they were outnumbered, Wint's party dashed back to the guard house to get a larger force of 25 soldiers, which then escorted the sheriff and his prisoner safely to the town jail.

The next day soldiers were seen hanging around the jail, and the sheriff heard rumors that they planned to attack. That evening McFarland went to Colonel Compton’s quarters and requested that he restrict all soldiers to the fort. Colonel Compton replied he could do nothing and that he did not expect any trouble. Sheriff McFarland returned to the jail and added five or six armed deputies as extra guards. At about nine p.m., 50 soldiers (25 taking positions around the jail and 25 storming the building) overpowered the deputies and removed Hunt from his cell. The soldiers took him outside, where he was beaten and fatally shot. An off-duty captain in town rode back to the fort to report the events. No action was taken until 11:00 p.m., at which time beds were checked and all soldiers accounted for.

Private Miller died on April 27 and was buried in the post cemetery the next day with full military honors. Hunt was buried in the City Cemetery (now Mountain View Cemetery), with other gamblers paying his burial costs and providing a headstone. The county attorney protested Colonel Compton’s failure to control his troops or do anything about the slaying. Word of the murder reached President Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901), who directed the Secretary of War, Redfield Proctor (1831-1908), to investigate.

Meanwhile, a Walla Walla court considered the case against six soldiers, but failed to convict when Sheriff McFarland could not identify the wrongdoers. However, in June 1891 an army court martial gave three soldiers dishonorable discharges and time in Alcatraz Penitentiary for the killing. Colonel Compton was suspended from service at half pay for three years, suspended in rank, and removed from duty for his failure to control his troops and to investigate the slaying. President Benjamin J. Harrison later reduced his sentence to two years at half pay, then lifted the punishment entirely in January 1893, remitting the remaining eight months of suspension. Colonel Compton, who had a distinguished record before the 1891 events, returned to his regiment and went on to serve in the Spanish-American War. He earned promotion to brigadier general shortly before retiring.

Last Years of the Fort

Fort Walla Walla became an underused installation in the 1890s, and recreation and sports assumed a more important role in the life of the troops stationed there. Polo became popular in the 1890s, with players from the fort going up against teams from as far south as San Francisco. The Sixth Cavalry served at the fort during this time, and despite War Department threats to close the post in 1897-1898, it remained open.

In 1902, four Ninth Cavalry Troops came to the fort from duty in the Philippines. The Ninth Cavalry, a famous unit of Buffalo Soldiers, had 16 white officers commanding 375 blacks. During its stay of more than two years, the unit dwindled in size, leaving only a small force. In January 1904 the War Department again proposed closing Fort Walla Walla, once more without success. The Ninth Cavalry disbanded in 1905 and the Fourteenth Cavalry, also a black unit, replaced it and served at Fort Walla Walla until 1908, with its main responsibility being the maintenance of law and order.

The fort finally closed on September 28, 1910. It was temporarily used as an emergency replacement for Saint Mary’s Hospital after that facility was destroyed in a fire on January 27, 1915. When Saint Mary’s moved to their new hospital in September 1916, a caretaker force took over the fort. In 1918 two batteries of the 146th Field Artillery (National Guard) trained there under the command of Major Paul H. Weyrauch (1874-1937). Interestingly, Weyrauch had served at the fort in 1904 as a second lieutenant. In 1908 he had retired to Walla Walla, but was recalled to active duty in 1917. About 260 men trained at Fort Walla Walla for duty in World War I, then departed for Camp Greene, North Carolina in October 1918 before being sent to France.

From Fort to Hospital

After brief use by the public health service in 1920, the decision was made to convert Fort Walla Walla to a tuberculosis hospital serving veterans in the Pacific Northwest. In August 1921 buildings not needed for the hospital were demolished and 14 buildings rehabilitated for hospital use. Work started in November of that year on a new ambulant ward. Contracts were issued for additional facilities, such as a heating plant and a laundry, but severe winter weather delayed construction until February 1922.

The medical facility was completed by May of 1922 and formally opened on June 4. Buildings that had once been barracks became hospital wards personnel working at the hospital lived in the former officer and NCO quarters.

A Hero Returns

Jonathan M. Wainwright (1883-1951) was born at Fort Walla Walla, where his father, Lieutenant Robert Powell Page Wainwright (1852-1902), served. The younger Wainwright would attain the rank of general and become a hero during World War II for his actions in defending the Philippines. In November 1945, just months after his release from a Japanese prison camp, General Wainwright made a dramatic visit to Walla Walla and the place of his birth. The city honored its native son with ceremonies, speeches, and a parade.

The Fort Walla Walla medical facility was expanded to become a general medical hospital in 1959, and outpatient services were started in 1990. In 1996 the Veterans Administration renamed the facility the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center. It continues (2011) to provide medical care to area veterans, having survived over the years additional attempts at closure.

Historic Fort Walla Walla Today

A number of original fort buildings survive and effectively recall the cavalry era, taking visitors back to an earlier time. The Fort Walla Walla district has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with 17 of its buildings. Fifteen are on Medical Center property and two on city property. They are best seen on a walking tour beginning near the visitors' parking area.

On the south side of the parade ground, the first stop is Building 7, an NCO quarters built in 1858 that today serves as the medical center's police headquarters. Next are two officer's houses (48 and 49), built in 1888. Continuing along this side are four duplex officers' quarters dating from 1858. At the east end of the parade field is Building 1, the commanding officer’s residence, which was built in 1877. These officer’s quarters have been used for medical-staff housing, but were vacant in 2010.

In the center of the parade field stands a statue of General Wainwright. To the north are Buildings 68 and 69, two large former enlisted barracks dating from 1906 that have been rehabilitated into medical facilities.

Additional fort structures are located away from the parade field. Building 40 near the chapel was originally a magazine, built in 1883. Buildings 63 and 65 house shops, and are north of the former enlisted-men's barracks. At the entrance to the medical center are Building 31, which housed stables and was built in 1859, and Building 41, a granary dating to 1888.

Fort Walla Walla, 1841

Sketch by Joseph Drayton, Courtesy Fuller, A History of the Pacific Northwest

Old Fort Walla Walla, site of future Wallula, November 1853

Lithograph by John Mix Stanley, Courtesy Washington State Historical Society (Image 2005.0.21.36)

"Scene of the Abandonment of Fort Walla Walla, September 28, 1910," Up-to-the-Times Magazine, November 1910

Courtesy Whitman College and Northwest Archives

Gravestones of United States soldiers killed in the treaty wars of 1856-1858, Fort Walla Walla Cemetery, April 19, 2006 Photo by Paula Becker

General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright (1883-1953), ca. 1946

Fort Hall Mine

The Fort Hall Mine is a copper mine located in Bannock county, Idaho at an elevation of 5,449 feet.

About the MRDS Data:

All mine locations were obtained from the USGS Mineral Resources Data System. The locations and other information in this database have not been verified for accuracy. It should be assumed that all mines are on private property.

Mine Info

Elevation: 5,449 Feet (1,661 Meters)

Primary Mineral: Copper

Lat, Long: 42.7769, -112.35110

Fort Hall Mine MRDS details

Site Name

Primary: Fort Hall Mine
Secondary: Frontier Group
Secondary: Pocatello Group


Primary: Copper
Tertiary: Lead
Tertiary: Gold
Tertiary: Silver


State: Idaho
County: Bannock
District: Fort Hall Dist.

Land Status

Land ownership: BLM Administrative Area



Type: Surface/Underground


Owner Name: Shoshone Copper And Exploration Co.



Record Type: Site
Operation Category: Past Producer
Deposit Type: Replacement
Operation Type: Underground
Discovery Method: Unknown
Years of Production:
Significant: N
Deposit Size: S


Mineral Deposit Model





Name: Shale
Role: Host
Age Type: Host Rock
Age Young: Late Ordovician

Name: Shale
Role: Host
Age Type: Host Rock Unit
Age Young: Late Ordovician

Analytical Data



Ore: Chalcopyrite
Ore: Malachite
Ore: Galena
Gangue: Pyrite
Gangue: Quartz


Comment (Development): 11 Unpatented Claims Drifts And Winzes On The Mineralized Zone

Comment (Workings): Cross Cut 4200 Ft Long, Winze 100 Ft Deep At 3850 Ft From Portal


Reference (Deposit): Dotson, J. C., 1957: Idaho Bureau Of Mines And Geology Open - File Report.

Reference (Deposit): Merritt, P., 1930, The Origin And Occurrence Of The Metallic Ore Deposits Of Idaho: New York, New York, Columbia University, M. A. Thesis, P. 51 - 52.

Reference (Deposit): 1957 Recon Id. Bureau Of Mines & Geol. Open File Rept.

Reference (Deposit): 1966 Recon Id. Bureau Of Mines & Geol. Open File Rept.

Reference (Production): Dotson, J. C., 1957: Idaho Bureau Of Mines & Geology Open - File Report

Reference (Deposit): Green, W. R., 1966, Idaho Bureau Of Mines And Geology Open - File Report, 1 P.

The Fort Hall Replica & Museum

A trip to the Fort Hall Replica takes you back to the 19th Century world of explorers, trappers, fur traders, Native Americans, pioneers, gold seekers, and common folk. It is a wonderful display of period lifestyle and replicates one of the northwest’s earliest fur trading forts. History Of The Fort Hall Replica.

At Frontier Town you will be astonished as you step into the past wooden board walks, viewing twelve historic replica buildings of the early days of Pocatello. You will find a saloon, bank, court house, church, a school house where all grades were taught in one room, and at Dr. Beans office it is posted that you can have a broken arm set for a mere seventy five cents.

On the same location as the fort is a wonderful park area with shelter and stage for Dutch oven dinners, mountain men presentations and dances. Adjacent to the fort complex is our zoo comprising of animals native to the area including grizzly bear and buffalo. Nearby you will also find the Bannock County Historical Museum.

The Fort Hall Replica and Frontier Town, Zoo Idaho, and Aquatic Center are just a few of the adventures you can find located at the Ross Park Complex for your entertainment.

Summer Fees *

Winter Fees

* includes entrance to the Ft. Hall Replica and Pocatello Junction

Fort Valley State University History

Since 1895, Fort Valley State University has empowered people to use education as a pathway to maximize their potential through invention, intellectual fulfillment, civic leadership, and meaningful careers. It was founded 122 years ago as a bridge to prosperity for the first generations of free black men and women in America and has a continuing legacy of producing leaders in a broad range of fields critical to human advancement. FVSU’s legacy is built on the belief that every human being is entitled to limitless learning, regardless of the circumstances of its birth. As expressed in its first academic catalog as a college, the institution exists to give students “a better chance in life” and help uplift people, “wherever the college can, through its graduates.”

The chains of physical slavery were broken in the United States by the Civil War, but the chains of mental slavery could only be broken through education. On November 6, 1895, an interracial group of 15 black men— at least half of whom were former slaves— and three white men, petitioned the Superior Court of Houston County, GA to legalize the creation of a school to “promote the cause of mental and manual education in the state of Georgia,” and the Fort Valley High and Industrial School was born. The group’s leader, John Wesley Davison, himself a child slave, was hired as its first principal after its incorporation on January 6, 1896. The school’s popularity was overwhelming, and enrollment pushed the boundaries of its capacity. FVSU is one of few colleges founded by former slaves, including founders Davison, Virgil Gideon Barnett, Peter Fann, Henry Lowman, Thomas McAfee, James Isaac Miller, Charlie H. Nixon, and Thomas W. Williams, who bonded with founders Stephen Elisha Bassett, Allen Cooper, Francis W. Gano, John Howard Hale, David Jones, J.R. Jones, D.L. Lawrence, Alonzo L. Nixon, and Lee O’Neal to create an enduring testament to the power of knowledge to overcome fear and mistrust.

The two original instructors, Principal Davison and his wife Hattie, were undaunted, however, as were the students, who built many of the campus’s original buildings with their own hands, including Founders, Carnegie, Peabody, Patton, and Ohio Halls, as well as infirmary. Much of the funding for the school came from its neighbors, uneducated African Americans who sacrificed their own meager finances to make possible the education of others. The institution’s first goal was to enable the proliferation of education to the masses, and set about training teachers who could then spread knowledge. Teachers were not the only professionals the institution produced, however. One of the first graduates of the young school was Austin Thomas Walden, who graduated in 1902 and became Georgia’s first black judge since Reconstruction.

Fort Hall - History

History of Swimming in Fort Lauderdale

and the International Swimming Hall of Fame

Fort Lauderdale’s Early Swimming History

Fort Lauderdale’s swimming heritage dates back to the Civitan raft off Las Olas beach and the monumental Olympic-sized Casino Pool, which opened in 1928. Within a few short years, Fort Lauderdale gained national attention by producing two young swimming stars that won Olympic Fame, Elbert Root and Katherine Rawls. Rawls was the greatest women swimmer of her time. The Associated Press named Rawls national female athlete of the year, in 1936. That same year, the College Swimming Coaches Association of America discovered Fort Lauderdale and organized the first annual Coaches Forum in the City. In 1937, the Women’s National Aquatic Forum joined the coaches Forum. By 1960, the Forum was attracting 44 colleges and universities, 28 prep schools, 28 clubs and over 600 swimmers for Christmas training.

Fort Lauderdale is Awarded the Swimming Hall of Fame

The idea for a Swimming Hall of Fame began with the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States, by a committee headed by the then president of FINA , R. Max Ritter. The College Coaches Swim Forum first kindled Fort Lauderdale’s interest in the Hall of Fame. Fort Lauderdale’s Mayor Burry, the entire city commission, and even Florida’s Governor Farris Bryant expressed support for the establishment the Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale. To pursue the idea, Fort Lauderdale’s City Commission created “Mayor’s Swimmers’ Hall of Fame Citizen’s Committee,” early in 1962. Members of this committee included the entire commission and 30 civic leaders.

On November 9, 1962, the City Commission unanimously approved: A RESOLUTION INDICATING THAT THE CITY OF FORT LAUDERDALE IS INTERESTED IN ESTABLISHING THE FACILITY KNOWN AS “THE SWIMMING HALL OF FAME” IN THE CITY OF FORT LAUDERDALE AND IS IN A POSITION TO PRESENT ITS PLANS THEREFOR . At the same meeting, the commission approved an allocation of $250,000, the expected proceeds from the sale of the Casino Pool land, for the initial cost of a plan to build the shrine and an Olympic size pool. The plan called for the Hall of Fame to be situated on a man-made pier that would extend 400 feet into the intracoastal and be built by the Florida Inland Navigation District. It was noted by the commission that although the city has pledged the money, the project was contingent upon winning the bid for the shrine. “If another city takes the bid the whole project will be cancelled.”

On November 27, 1962, a five-man team – four from Fort Lauderdale and Ted Groves from the Florida Development Commission – presented the plan, along with letters of support from various organizations, to the general assembly of the 75th Amateur Athletic Union convention in Detroit. The AAU unanimously selected Fort Lauderdale’s bid over the bids of Houston and Louisville. “We are grateful to them for bringing this new project to Ft. Lauderdale,” said Mayor Burry.

Among the letters of support presented to the AAU’s committee was one from Mayor Burry, which read in part: “The municipal government of Fort Lauderdale extends a warm and cordial invitation to you and the members of your selection committee to take advantage of our hospitality and to favor us with this national shrine, for which we are more than willing to contribute our financial assistance and continuing zeal and affection.”

In another, Robert Culliver, president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, wrote: “This community needs the cultural asset of a museum that marks one of the traditions of our city. Our organization has set aside a considerable sum of money for such a purpose. We heartily welcome the Swimming Hall of Fame and will continue our support in years to come”.

Upon winning the bid, the “Mayor’s Swimmers’ Hall of Fame Citizen’s Committee” became the “Hall of Fame Administration Committee,” chaired by Mayor Burry.

The Swimming Hall of Fame Pool

Work began almost immediately on the man-made pier where the Swimming Hall of Fame was to be built. Upon completion the Trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund of the State of Florida dedicated the peninsula to the City of Fort Lauderdale on May 13, 1963, “for public municipal purposes only,” subject to the following provisions:

In the event the said CITY OF FORT LAUDERDALE shall (1) use said land for other than a site for the Swimming Hall of Fame or (2) for a period of three consecutive years shall fail and neglect to maintain and use the same for said purposes, the dedication hereby made shall, at the option of said Trustees, be subject to termination upon sixty days notice in writing by the Trustees to said City.

On November 23rd, 1964, the “Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc.” was incorporated as a non-profit educational corporation chartered under Florida law with a board of 19 directors. Eminent swimming coach, Dr. James E. Counsilman was the organization’s first president and William “Buck” Dawson was selected and approved by the Hall of Fame Administration Committee to be the first Executive Director. Correspondence shows that the Hall of Fame Administration Committee and the Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc. worked together amicably to resolve issues involving the pool designs, financing and the mutual understanding of jurisdiction and usage of the facilities before executing a formal agreement. On January 18th, 1965, the City of Fort Lauderdale and the Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc. executed a lease/operating agreement that remains in effect today, as amended in March of 1991. It expires in 2015 and is renewable at the option of the parties for another fifty years.

The 50-meter pool, 25-yard diving well warm-up pool and all the appointments thereof, including the landfill seawall and landscaping for the peninsula were completed in August, 1965, at a cost of $986,000. Additional land at the end of the peninsula and $195,000 were placed in escrow by the City for construction of the Hall of Fame building, contingent upon the Swimming Hall of Fame Corporation demonstrating its reliability in collecting the memorabilia, funding the exhibits to go into the building, and demonstrating the financial wherewithal to operate the shrine once built.

On December 27th, 1965, 4,500 spectators and swimmers from all fifty states and eleven foreign countries participated in and witnessed the dedication of the Swimming Hall of Fame complex and an international swimming meet organized by the Swimming Hall of Fame. The events were televised nationally on the CBS Sports Spectacular.


The Hall of Fame Shrine Building

Before construction on the Hall of Fame Shrine building began, both the City Commissioners and the Hall of Fame, Inc. agreed that the Hall of Fame should raise the sum of $195,000, matching the projected outside building cost. This was estimated to cover the cost of furnishing the interior of the building with world-class exhibits. By contract, it was the responsibility of the City to erect the building and the SHOF to build exhibits and operate the museum, but when it was learned that the $195,000 pledged by the City would not cover the cost of the Shrine building, the Hall of Fame, Inc. contributed to the City-owned building from its own fundraising efforts. “The remarkable thing about these gifts,” said Robert Culliver, of the Hall of Fame Administration Committee, “is that more than $100,000 has gone directly into the City-owned building – not into the exhibits, but right into the bricks and mortar of the building itself.”

Official “international” status and recognition of the Swimming Hall of Fame came at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, when the 105-nation FINA Congress met and endorsed it as an “International Swimming Hall of Fame” – the first world recognized hall of fame in any sport. That this institution is in the USA is particularly appropriate because the Hall of Fame idea originated in the United States with Baseball in the 1930’s, and because the United States’ greatest achievements in a widely international sport are in swimming.

The organization’s Articles of Incorporation were amended to reflect that the name was changed to “International Swimming Hall of Fame” on June 16, 1969. ISHOF also copyrighted its’ name and trademark.

The Buck Dawson Era: 1965 - 1985

In 1965 Broward County had the Casino Pool and three 25-yard competitive pools. Not only did the Hall of Fame Pool become the finest swimming stadium on the east coast and one of the finest in the world, but it satisfied the demands of the local competitive swimming community.

Under the operating agreement of 1965 and mutual understandings of that agreement, the City Parks and Recreation staffed and maintain the pools and ran programs for the local community. The role of the Hall of Fame was to promote tourism through the operation of the museum and to use its contacts within the aquatic community to bring in conferences, conventions and aquatic events to the city. From the time of the opening of the Hall of Fame Complex through the mid 1980’s, Buck Dawson, the Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc., the American Swim Coaches Association and the College Swimming Coaches Association (which operated through the SHOF/ISHOF) were solely responsible for bidding on and/or bringing swimming events for the city, including the Annual International Swim meet, International Diving meet (now the ATT FINA Grand Prix), the World High Diving Championships, the Aquafollies, National Championships in Swimming, Diving, Synchronized Swimming and Water Polo, the Galt Ocean Mile Swim (Now Ft. Lauderdale Rough Water Swim), the YMCA National Championships and National Masters Swimming Championships. In addition, Dawson was a tireless promoter who brought many national and international conventions to the city.

After the initial fundraising drive that helped build the Shrine building, the Hall of Fame struggled financially, until Dawson came upon the idea of “Swim-A-Thon.” The SAT stabilized ISHOF’s finances and by the time Dawson retired in 1985, ISHOF had accumulated a $1.4 million reserve fund.

The economic impact that the Hall of Fame brought to Fort Lauderdale, estimated to be $20 million dollars per year by 1985, encouraged other cities to build world-class aquatic venues to compete with Fort Lauderdale for events. In many cases, the new facilities conformed to modern safety and competition standards, while the Hall of Fame did not.

In 1986, both the City of Fort Lauderdale and the International Swimming Hall of Fame recognized the need for improvements and the two entities collaborated on a fundraising plan that targeted both public and private sources. The City initiated a $1.18 million dollar Government Obligation Bond and a $600K allocation from Broward County. With support of local politicians, Olympians and local business leaders, the Hall of Fame initiated a lobbying effort in Tallahassee that resulted in two grants of $2 million dollars each and $500K from corporate and private sources. Funded projects included building a second 50-meter pool, bringing the stadium pool and diving pool to national and international standards, building a teaching pool, renovating the bath and locker rooms, resurfacing the deck, renovating the bleachers, replacing filtration and pumping systems and expanding the Hall of Fame museum.

The contract with the design consultant, Arquitectonica International, was a three party agreement, naming the City of Fort Lauderdale, International Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc. and the design firm. Correspondence shows that the International Swimming Hall of Fame was present at every meeting, participated in all decisions related to the renovations and was copied on all correspondence.

The first meet to be conducted in the new facility was the USA Swimming National Championship in August of 1991. Two world records were set in the newly renovated pool.

Watch the video: Fort Hall Indian Day Horse Races 2019 (May 2022).


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