Yellow Pine History

"Step back in time in Yellow Pine"
This page will be a collection from many sources.  While you wait for the photos to load, scroll down to read the stories.  More to come...
NEW 03-25-04
Thanks go to all the authors whose works are presented here for the sake of history.

"If you steal from
one author, it's
plagiarism;
if you steal from many, it's research."
Wilson Mizner
(1876-1933)

Photo from "The Middle Fork and the Sheepeater War"
by Johnny Carrey and Cort Conley - copyright 1977

"Yellow Pine is a 247-acre community on the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River, surrounded by national forest and 70 miles from the nearest town.  This community, which just received telephone service in November of 1996, is truly one of the last remnants of the western wilderness.  Its history is as rich as the nearby Stibnite and Thunder Mountain mining districts. 

"Yellow Pine began as a settlement on the Johnson Creek flat, about 1/4 mile upstream from the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River.  In 1906, Albert Behne established the first Yellow Pine post office and mail service.  Behne had a dream   A grower of roses who loved classical music and opera, he envisioned a thriving city complete with street cars.  In 1924, he received the patent on the 47 1/2 acres where the village presently exists, joining the Absteins and the Calls as property owners.  In 1930, at the age of 76, he platted the present day Yellow Pine town site.

Henry Abstein received the patent on the 160 acres north and east of the original town site in 1922.  Although Abstein's primary interest was mining, he was also an active horticulturist and may of the apple trees that he planted are still living today.  His original ranch has since been subdivided.  Several members of his family remain in the area to this day."

[From
"Yellow Pine Cooks!" Community cook book organized by Y.E.S. [Yellow Pine Enhancement Society]

These postcards are from the early 1980's ???  - the back of the top one says…
Yellow Pine, Idaho 83677  Located 63 Miles North & West of Cascade

The bottom one says….
Park's Yellow Pine Merc. Yellow Pine, Idaho 83677 Owned and operated by Gene & Bernice Parks.  Everything for the Sportsman & Vacationer, including, Groceries, Gas & Oil, Hunting and Fishing License, Post Office & State Liquor Store. Open Winter & Summer to serve those who enjoy Idaho's Beautiful back country.  Accessible in Winter by Snowmobile and Air only.

Pub. By Robert Fries, 1312 Brooklawn, Boise, Idaho 83706 Made by Dexter Press, West Nyack, New York

Yellow Pine [driving in from McCall c. 1982 - disclaimer - I would not try this route in a Cadillac!]

"This is one of our favorite trips - breathtaking mountains, tumbling streams, idyllic campsites, yet on the fringe of civilization where you can still buy a roast beef dinner with cherry pie and get there in a Cadillac.

"From McCall take the Lick Creek road and follow the signs at Yellow Pine Junction 3 miles from City center.  Leave the pavement here for a good gravel road.  (The road to Yellow Pine is usually open in June but don't count on driving to Big Creek until after July 4.  Check locally.) …

"The drive along this creek
[Lake Fork Creek] takes you through forested country, past small meadows, beaver damns and usually a few deer.  Climb the summit (elev. 6,910) and you drop down on a canyon where the scenery is carved of granite peaks that rival Yosemite.  Across the canyon, ribbons of waterfall cascade down the hillsides in silvery streamlets, and at Hum Creek a crash of water pours off the mountain generating enough energy to power the county.

"Heading out for Yellow Pine you pass the Zena Creek Ranch (meals and lodgings) on a road that winds along the Secesh and later the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon  River.  Here you're in a rock garden world where trees and shrubs and flowers vie for growth on slabs of gray rock that form the canyon wall.  We watched kayakers here, ecstatic with this stretch of white water.  "First time Idaho," they yelled, "But not the last."

"At Yellow Pine you find a bit of the old west in the dusty street and frame buildings, board sidewalks or none at all.  You get the local news off the bulleting board in front of the general store and cowboys have the right of way.  We met an obliging one named Don, riding down the dusty main street, left leg in a cast and crutches slung across the horse's neck.  He said it was a dependable kid's horse not likely to throw him.  However, we still felt relieved when only one of them went into the bar that morning.

"We liked Buck and Faye's too, a bar and grill where they serve giant hamburgers and where the mustached bartender sports a cowboy hat and smokes cigars.  Live music on Saturday nights and you can bet the place reels with boots and skirts, whiskey and tall tales.  They make their own entertainment here.  Big community barbecues are featured annually on July 4 and Labor Day.  When someone suggested a TV installation on one of the mountaintops, the town spoke as one voice, "No, we don't want the damn thing."  They don't want phones either.  They like Yellow Pine the way it is and so do we.

"The town has just about come full circle in the last 90 years.  It began as a stop-over for miners on their way to Thunder Mountain and today it has a small boom on because of new mining activity in the area.  Today the business of recreation also is important, both summer and winter.  Larry Marks, owner of the Yellow Pine Lodge says, "I've seen 150 or 200 snowmobiles sitting on Main Street on a Saturday night.

"All Services available here.  Meals, lodging, gas and groceries.

"There are three campground below Yellow Pine.  The first one, Yellow Pine is 1 mile from town, Golden Gate is 2 miles beyond that and another 4 miles brings you to Ice Hole.  All are attractive, wooded sites along Johnson Creek. 
Tables, grills, firepits, toilets.

Excerpted from "The Idaho Rambler" Copyright March, 1982 by Betty Derig and Flo Sharp
ISBN 0-9609754 Printed in the USA by Lithocraft Inc. Boise, Idaho

Above:  present day Yellow Pine School
Below:  1st dog team for Cox's in 1928.
Lafe drove this team to school.

Photos from "Idaho Mountains Our Home" by Lafe and Emma Cox - Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books

"That fall Lafe stayed with Mr. Behne (pronounced Bee-nee), the founder of Yellow Pine, so he could attend school.  Lafe developed great respect for this gentleman.  Mr. Behne was a well educated man who had been a telegraph operator.  He said he came from the East, but otherwise rarely talked of his past.  He did a great deal of reading, especially the New York Times, to which he subscribed.  He looked forward to the papers coming each week on the dog team mail deliveries."
"At night, Mr. Behne would go down to Homer and Sadie Levander's place to listen to the "Amos and Andy" show on the only radio in Yellow Pine.  He always asked Lafe to go with him to guide him back to his shack, as his eyesight was poor.  He wore really thick glasses."
"Lafe's first teacher was Mrs. Dixie Hopkins.  The student body was made up of Lafe and the Reed children from the South Fork of the Salmon.  The Reed children and their mother stayed at the Abstein place east of town that winter.  Each day the children walked over a mile and a half to school.  Lafe says he can still see those girls walking through the snow, their long dresses dragging with the buildup of ice and snow on the hems of their skirts.
"The teacher's cottage was next to the store and the school house south of that.  All the buildings were of logs until later years.
"The Yellow Pine School has a colorful history.  When Lafe began attending in 1928, there had been a school in the community for eight years.  The first Yellow Pine school was in a tent in 1920.  Eight students were in attendance.  In 1922 a log school house and a teacherage were built in the town proper.  This was the school Lafe attended.  It has since been torn down, but the teacherage remains as a private residence.
"In 1936 a new one-room school was built with a woodshed adjoining.  In  a later year when the wood stove heater was abolished and oil heat installed, the woodshed was improved and became a recreation room.  Our daughters both attended this school."
Ibid. Pgs 31-33 "Idaho Mountains Our Home" by Lafe and Emma Cox - Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books

"We had a good time that winter
[1943], meeting all the folks from Yellow Pine and Stibnite.  There were more people in this community, with more women and a school.  Yellow Pine had 3 bars, a store, post office and liquor store, and a hotel."
"Most settlers in Yellow Pine were associated with the mines, or had a business there.  The folks played an important role in establishing Yellow Pine, and people remained in the area for many years.
"People have asked us why so many lived a long life (up into the 90's) in Yellow Pine.  The best answer we could give was the clean fresh air.  Surely not the home brew!
"Some of the earliest settlers were:
  -  Albert C. Behne (1854-1945), who homesteaded in the basin in 1902.  Established the village.
  - Henry T. Abstein, a well-known prospector and mining engineer -- also homesteaded there.
"Mr. Behne and Mrs. Abstein were instrumental in getting a post office by writing letters -- to prove the need for a post office.  Mr. Behne established the post office in 1905.
-  Theordore Van Meter, who built the first store, which is still standing today.
- Homer and Sadie Levander, who purchased the store from Van Meter in 1926.
- The Bert McCoy family, who built the first café.
- Fay and Iva Kissinger, who built the first large hotel in Yellow Pine.  Fay also established the water system for the village, or basin as it was called.
- Ray Call and Bill Lotspitch, who built the first sawmill, which was eventually sold to Bill Newell and Fay Kissinger.
- Al Hennessy, who was a prospector and the locator of the mine at Stibnite.  He built several houses in the village and on Johnson Creek. 
- The John Oberbillig family, who located claims on Johnson Creek and later bought the Stibnite Mine from Al Hennessy.
- H. H. Bryant, who came from Boise in the early 1920's and bought one of the homesteads on Johnson Creek that Al Hennessy had proved up on.  The Bryants built a fox farm on their land.
- Clem and Ida Hanson, who homesteaded the 260 acres 8-1/2 miles south of Yellow Pine.  This is our retirement place now.
- Alec Forstrum, who homesteaded the 160 acres in the early 1900's just a little over a mile from the Hanson ranch. In 1927 Alec sold this place to Clark and Beulah
[Cox].  They built up the ranch as a recreational paradise.
- Harry Withers, an early resident of Yellow Pine, who was a jack of all trades.  Harry delivered mail by dog team, had a pack string, owned and operated a diamond drill at the mines, was a cook, a storekeeper and played music for dances.  Harry died November 16th, 1994 at the age of 96.
"Along with the ones mentioned, many others followed, who also helped to make Yellow Pine and the ranches so famous today.  Much could be written of each settler, for they all contributed hard work and encouragement to this back country village.  Mr. Behne envisioned Yellow Pine to be a large city come day, in its own beautiful mountain setting, but his dreams were never completely realized."
Ibid. pgs. 117-121

"In 1945 Mr. Behne, the founder of Yellow Pine ..., passed away at the age of 91.  The funeral was held in the school, on a day in August.
"A lady evangelist named Edna Abstein Lister, who formerly lived in the basin, returned to deliver the service to the crowded room.
"It was a very warm day and her service was quite lengthy.  It was not the type of sermon the miners, bar operators, pioneers and other natives were accustomed to hearing.
"During the service one individual, with perspiration flowing from his forehead, became very perturbed.  The evangelist had just told the mourners to look out the window as she waved her silk scarf in the air.  She said, 'Watch Mr. Behne's spirit drifting in the air!'
"At this point the disturbed fellow jumped up and shouted, 'I can't see a ___ thing!' he stormed out of the room.
"The evangelist cut the sermon short, finishing with sweet words of praise and respect for our dear friend.
"Mr. Behne's body was laid to rest near his home, which was against his wishes.  Lafe and many others collected money, a task that took about three years, and got permission to move his body to the proper Yellow Pine Cemetery, next to his friends."
Ibid pg. 132

(right) Albert C. Behne the founder of Yellow Pine in the late 1800's.  Mr. Behne lived 91 years.
(above) Harry J. Withers, an early resident of Yellow Pine, who lived to see 96 years.

Photos from "Idaho Mountains Our Home" by Lafe and Emma Cox - Copyright 1977 by V.O. Ranch Books

Stories from Harry Withers coming next winter!!!