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The Canyon Creek Station: A True Story of Heritage Heroes

On October 22, 2015, the Stanley and Mildred Norstebon Family Trust donated a 1 acre parcel holding the Canyon Creek Station to the Bureau of Land Management to manage the site in perpetuity for its historic values. In a ceremony on site on October 29, state director Timothy Murphy received the title from the Norstebon family. Many partners were involved in making the donation possible, including the Norstebon Family, BLM, Idaho Heritage Trust (IHT) the Idaho Oregon-California Trails Association (IOCTA) and the National Park Service (NPS). It is through this unique partnership of family, NGOs and federal agencies that this important piece of our cultural heritage is being preserved for present and future generations.

The historic Canyon Creek Station, located in Elmore County, was built by the Archibald Daniel family in 1874. In 1873, the Daniel family migrated west to Idaho and homesteaded a 160-acre parcel at Canyon Creek. In 1874, the Daniel family arranged to have the stage station built. The structure sits in a lava rock canyon and is constructed from hand forged 13-18” thick basalt lava rock walls with horse hair mortar. The stage stop itself provided shelter and meals for the last travelers of the Oregon Trail, but before that Canyon Creek was an important stopping point along the trail for weary travelers needing water and feed.

Canyon Creek Station provided valuable services to travelers on the Oregon Trail, Kelton Freight Road and the Overland Stage Route. It provided fresh horses for the mail and stage lines and fresh fruit, vegetables, meats and cool water in the sparse desert along with sweet grass for traveler livestock. The Daniels family operated the stage stop until the stage line ceased with the completion of the Oregon Shortline Railroad in 1884. The station was a working farm and home until December of 1976 at which time a fire heavily damaged the structure, leaving only the rock walls in place.

Current Stabilization and Restoration Efforts at Canyon Creek

In recent years, the family had undertaken efforts preserve the station to eliminate brush and weeds in the vicinity of the stage station and two IHT grants were secured in 2012 and 2014 to begin initial planning, stabilization and restoration at the site. These funds were significantly enhanced by funding from IOCTA. The family’s goal was to restore the stage stop to its original state, but they soon recognized that community involvement would be necessary to realize this dream. To that end, and through commitment and vision, the family in cooperation with the IHT reached out to the BLM in 2013 on the possibility of gifting the site to the BLM for management in perpetuity. Even though no BLM lands lie adjacent to the property, recognizing the significance of the site and the potential for a long-term partnership with the Norstebon family, IHT, IOCTA, NPS and the community the BLM determined to pursue acquisition of the parcel containing the Canyon Creek Station. BLM partnered with the NPS to develop a long-term management and interpretive plan for the site. The BLM will continue stabilization and restoration efforts based on plans and drawings created by IHT historical architect Frederick Walters. Initial work has been accomplished by mason Budd Landon to stabilize and reconstruct the gable ends and the north wall of the structure was completed in 2016. The South wall will be completed in 2017 and we hope to have a roof completed in 2018.

Canyon Creek Station is enjoyed and valued as being only one of two remaining stage stops on the Oregon Trail, Kelton Road and Overland Stage system. It remains a valuable piece of the fabric of Idaho’s history of early travelers, freighters and stage service. The Station is recognized in the NPS comprehensive plan for the Oregon Trail as a high potential site for its importance to convey and interpret early historic travel in the region and along the Oregon Trail. The site is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Being located on a County road access is conducive for interpretation and public use.

Please join IAS in congratulating the Stanley and Mildred Norstebon Family Trust; The Idaho Heritage Trust (Katherine Kirk, Executive Director); Oregon-California Trails Association, Idaho Chapter (Jerry Eichhorst, President); The National Park Service, National Trails Intermountain Region Office, Santa Fe, NM; Bureau of Land Management, Four Rivers Field Office (Tate Fisher, Manager); Bureau of Land Management, Idaho State Office (Timothy Murphy, State Director) - winners of the BLM 2017 Heritage Heroes award!


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