Saturday, January 3, 2009

More on the Town of Steunenberg or Steunenburg, Idaho

Since that last post, I have done some map searching and Mark Metkin has provided more information on the town of Steunenberg, Idaho. I have looked at maps of Idaho online before, own several, but never thought about looking for a town of Steunenberg. The two or three old maps I have predate the town so it wasn't right under my nose but pretty close to it. Steunenberg appears on maps between approximately 1911 to 1913. We can actually widen that range a bit as I just heard back from two map dealers this morning that have 1910 and 1914 maps showing the town. So Steunenberg remained on maps for three or four years beyond its actual existence.

Steunenberg, ID was only a click away on Historical Maps of Idaho once I knew to look for it. To explore further, I would really recommend using that site and their map viewing tools. Thanks to those of you that are out there skowering the countryside for more information.

Above Steunen-burg on the railroad with Ferdinand just to the east. 1911 Cram, George F. (Courtesy of Mark Metkin)

Above Steunenburg and Ferdinand practically touching on the railroad. 1911 The Kenyon Company from Historical Maps of Idaho.

Steunenberg (got it spelled right!) still on the railroad with Ferdinand now to the west. 1912 Rand McNally & Company from Historical Maps of Idaho.

Steunenberg still on the railroad with Ferdinand now to the north. 1913 Rand McNally & Company from Historical Maps of Idaho.

"Steunenberg was one of a number of promotions by Lewiston banker and capitalist John P. Vollmer. Vollmer was, among other things, a director of the Northern Pacific Railroad, which co-owned the Camas Prairie Railroad. As such, Vollmer had advance information on the railroad alignment and depot locations and, armed with that information prior to construction of the railroad, he quietly went about purchasing land at a number of those locations. The idea was of course to eventually resell the land at a profit as town lots.
I mentioned before that Steunenberg was near the present-day town of Ferdinand. Ferdinand dates from 1895 when the Nez Perce Indian Reservation was opened for settlement by non-Indians. So much for treaties, but that is another story. In the next century, Ferdinand found itself bypassed by the Camas Prairie Railroad by about a quarter of a mile, so the town relocated itself to the tracks across from Vollmer's Steunenberg. Accounts vary on the negotiations that went on between the good citizens of Ferdinand and the opportunistic Vollmer, but there evidently was a rivalry between the adjacent towns for a brief time. Vollmer built a hotel and saloon at Steunenberg, which burned down shortly after it opened, and also a store and bank, which the good citizens of Ferdinand refused to patronize. Vollmer ended up selling his property at Steunenberg to no great advantage. And so it is just Ferdinand that they call the place by today." --Courtesy Mark Metkin
Thanks again Mark. Hmm...seems the town of Ferdinand didn't know if it was coming or going. Maybe John Vollmer should have kept the town of Steunenberg but no doubt it boiled down to which was the most profitable. Click here for a satellite map view of the area. Perhaps I can search the old land deeds and survey records and pinpoint the exact location--not that anyone but me would be too too worried about it most likely. Might find a few old remnants or a dig site where the saloon and hotel burned down. I wonder if the 143 folks living in Ferdinand are up for a name change? Probably not.

Finding the town on maps and Mark sharing his Steunenberg postmark has been quite a treat. Now an old photograph or picture postcard that might have been taken and survived the town's demise would be really cool. The chance of that may be a slim but the search goes on....
Below are a couple pictures from our friend Jan Boles, Archivist at the College of Idaho and an established photographer to boot. BTW, we spotted a Boles, Idaho that existed for awhile too and there might be a connection. Thanks for the pictures Jan.
1922 Cram courtesy Mark Metkin. Steunenberg is gone, Ferdinand remains and a Boles has appeared down toward the bottom center under Keuterville.
Coincidentally, Jan had recently been on assignment with the Idaho Heritage Trust to document the Camas Prairie Railroad since segments of it are beginning to disappear. In this picture near Ferdinand (and Steunenberg, ID!), you can see the railroad ties being piled up from where the track once ran through.
Wide shot near Reuben, Idaho.

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