CannonTrek.ID - Big Bikes in the Idaho Backcountry

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, Jul 16, 2015.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Soda Springs, Conda

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    Soda Springs started up as a stop along the Oregon and California Trails. People would stop by to take in the sparkling waters found here. Some travelers would sit by the bubbling springs with their tin cups and drink and party like they were drinking beer. Some people would add sugar or lemon syrup to make some tasty fizzy drinks.
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    In 1937 some people were drilling for hot water to supply the town swimming pool when they hit a pocket of CO2 and water that gushed up in a geyser. Water was running through the downtown so they eventually capped the geyser. Now it is on a timer that lets it erupt on the hour with a 150' plume of 72 degree water.
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    Soda Springs back in the day.
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    The US used to run a Ground Observer Corps program during WWII. This was a Civil Defense program that was intended to protect us from air attack. During WWII there were 1.5M observers at 14,000 coastal observation posts. That program ended in 1944.
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    During the Cold War, we had a lousy air defense radar system for a while so they restarted the program to augment that system. The program grew from 200K participants to over 750K. The program ended in 1958 when we got some decent radar installed.
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    Read more if you like.
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    At first the Indians didn't mind people migrating west. Eventually, when the line went from a trickle to a steady stream, they got a little pissed off about it since the emigrants were overgrazing traditional Indian lands along the way and generally becoming an imposition on the tribes. To combat the intrusion, Indians sometimes preyed on stragglers and plundered their goods in what could be considered terrorist attacks. In 1861, a family of seven was killed near Soda Springs. Follow on travelers found their bodies, held a funeral for them, and put all seven family members in their wagon box as a grave. Today, the site of the wagon box grave is marked by a stone.
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    We went looking for the ghost town of Conda which once had been a thriving community and mine. Not much left now.
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    What was left was behind the wire.
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    Conda once even had commuter rail (of sorts) between there and Soda Springs.
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    Now there is a pipeline boosting station there.
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    There are five major companies operating phosphate mines or processing plants around Soda Springs.
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    45% of US phosphate reserves are in this area. Mining is now done using open pits. Restoring the land is begun immediately after mining in an area is complete.
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    Phosphate is used in a wide variety of products including fertilizer, plastic, toothpaste, enamels, soda pop and fire retardant.
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    Hooper Spring is just outside town. There are some other big springs around as well.
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    I think it has a little of that famous fizz to it.
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    Back in the day.
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    What is in that water you ask?
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    With bandits and Indians posing a threat to travelers, the Army was called to provide security and patrol the emigrant trails. In 1863 some troops were stationed here for a while. Camp Connor had about 300 troops here but after a few years Soda Springs was able to take care of itself so they were stationed elsewhere.
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    #41
  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Hey buddy! :wave

    Thanks for the look inside the place. Pretty elegant.

    Thanks, the history can make for a much richer ride experience for many people. Why go someplace and not understand the depth of what you are seeing?

    Thanks for joining in. Sounds like you had quite a ride!

    Thanks for joining in. Hope you make it up there this season!
    #42
  3. Piston

    Piston Long timer

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    Been dreaming about doing something out west for a while now, something like this on the the big bike. I just came across your report and the awesome pics and history your posting, and it's definitely giving me the "push" to get off my ass and "head west" one of these days!

    Thanks for the great report, look forward to more. :lurker
    #43
  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Thanks Matt. We probably agree that there is a lot to explore in about any area if one looks into it a bit. Idaho is like a lot of places in the west that offer spectacular scenery because of the mountains and relatively undeveloped areas. We really enjoyed the time we spent exploring there. I hope you get the chance to experience it yourself! A great place to ride on the highway or in the backcountry.
    #44
  5. kpinvt

    kpinvt OLDnSLO

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    It's not the bike, it's the rider.
    #45
  6. MacG

    MacG Been here awhile Supporter

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    Another Cannonshot ride AND it's out West! I'm in
    Thanks for the great reports
    #46
  7. DockingPilot

    DockingPilot Hooked Up and Hard Over

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    The last time I was reading a Cannonshot report mentioning the emigrant trail, or Oregon/Cali Trail, Bryan honed in on a little known spot called "The Parting of the Ways".
    The "real one".
    I immediately incorporated it into our trip that year, and it was one of the highlights. The man has a knack for unearthing cool history of this great nation.
    That being said, please, continue ! :lurker
    #47
  8. davesupreme

    davesupreme grand poobah

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    Dude, you're livin' the life... your reports are the best!....

    i'm totally in!..... :super
    #48
  9. OnTheWay

    OnTheWay Rock Liu Supporter

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    Nice trees and Great story.

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    #49
  10. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Lava Hot Springs to Pocatello

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    Retaining water for irrigation is a huge priority in this desert region. Back in the day some private companies built dams and a canal system to sell water for irrigation. Now it is all carefully managed. Alexander Dam.
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    These volcanic formations changed the course of the Bear River in this area. It used to flow northwest and now flows southwest.
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    Sheep Rock was a navaid for those running the emigrant trails.
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    When you passed this point, you had to make a choice of which trail to take.
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    We rode a little side loop that ran on some of the original Oregon and California Trails. Not as dramatic as the two track remnants I ran in the past, but the gravel road gave some appreciation of the terrain these folks had to deal with. Another view of the land mass navaid at Sheep Rock.
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    Lava Hot Springs was once considered sacred and neutral ground by warring Indian tribes. Now it is a resort town. The flowing odorless and colorless 104-110 degree water is a huge attraction.
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    It was very hot. Seeing people tubing down a cool stream through town looked pretty inviting.
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    On our way to Pocatello we swung through a choke point along the Portneuf River where there was a stage coach robbery back in 1865. Before the railroads took hold, travel by stage was common. Gold was often shipped by stagecoach as well. Four outlaws planned to rob the stage to get some gold. One of the robbers was sent to the town of origin for the stage to find out when gold would be on it. He was then to ride the stage as an inside man. In the meantime, the other three gathered boulders to block the road at a choke point to stop the stage. Things went as planned. When the stage came through, the robbers blocked the road. When the stage tried to go around through the bushes, they shot the lead horses. A professional gambler inside the coach opened fire shooting the index finger off one of the robbers. This enraged one of the robbers who emptied his rifle into the coach killing five of the seven passengers. He shattered the arm of his inside man who was still in the coach. One wounded passenger played dead as the robbers looted the passengers, coach, and gold. The driver, wounded when the lead horses were shot, managed to hide in the bushes.
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    The robbers scored about $86K in gold. As they were caught, they were pretty much broke so many believe that the now $1.6M in gold is buried somewhere near the robbery site. The guy that shot the passengers was on a drinking binge in Arizona when he was shot and killed by a lawman. A week later, another was caught and hanged by vigilantes in Colorado. A third robber had been elected as Sheriff so vigilantes that were after him had to be a little more cool. The vigilantes had him arrested for some other matters. After making bail, the Sheriff/robber decided to leave town. Vigilantes tracked him and 30 miles outside town they hanged him (and another outlaw he was traveling with) and left a note on his body. The fourth robber disappeared without a trace.
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    Pocatello started up as a railroad town. The railroads got rights-of-way from Chief Pocatello to have the railroads cross Indian land. As a side note, as Pocatello and the area developed, the Indians lost more and more land. President William Howard Taft came here in 1914 for the dedication of a railroad facility. A year later, this hotel opened.
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    Old town Pocatello.
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    Railroad depot. At one time Pocatello was the largest railroad center west of the Mississippi River.
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    Some transportation hub.
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    Local model railroad club.
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    Even though Pocatello is a big rail town, much of their operations have been distributed elsewhere as the railroad reorganized to gain efficiencies.
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    Their locomotive repair facility is now elsewhere.
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    Fort Hall was actually some miles outside of Pocatello, but they have a replica in town.
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    A Boston businessman came west with $3K worth of goods contracted for a Wyoming rendezvous. When he arrived at the appointed time and place, the trappers backed out on the contract. Now in a bad position, the businessman continued west with his goods and set up shop near here. Once here, he had to build the fort for security. It all worked out.
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    We saw some elk tracks along the way, but these were the only live elk we encountered.
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    While Zed was at the dentist, Druid and I looked around town and stopped at a couple of dealers to chat a bit. As a side note, when I publish tracks to share like these I waypoint dealers by brand, and hospitals, to make it a little bit easier if a repair is needed.
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    It is also nice to visit to see what kind of inventory they have in the event we need something.
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    Eventually we all met up at Zed's brother's place for an overnight. An important priority for the trip was to make this visit.
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    It was very hot that day. I left my helmet in the sun at a rest stop. I noticed that the camera mount was separating from the helmet in the heat. This is bad because the lanyard that retains the camera if it comes loose is connected to the base and it was the base that was coming off the helmet. Not wanting to lose the camera, I used one of my fishing leader lanyards to connect the whole mount and camera to my helmet. Now that I've looked at this simple solution, I think I will do it with any helmet I mount the camera on.
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    About 170 miles today.
    #50
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  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Thanks! Glad you find it entertaining.

    Thanks Frank! History really adds to the richness of a trip for me.

    Thanks! I'm glad you find it interesting.

    There is so much loss and sadness associated with some of the emigrants that struggled to make a better life in the west. Incredible people to even begin to undertake the journey.
    #51
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  12. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Another awesome Cannontrek! Thanks for the work you put into your wonderful reports.
    #52
  13. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Thanks Dave! I've always appreciated your excellent photography.

    Speaking of photography, I brought a DSLR and a waterproof point and shoot on a retractable lanyard on this trip. I used the DSLR a lot early in the trip, but over time I ended up using the point and shoot almost exclusively. In fact, I could have left the DSLR at home. Most of the pictures I took on the BDR portion were taken one-handed while on the fly. Worked out fine. A limitation to the point and shoot is the battery life. I would use about a battery a day. I had a charger in the tank bag but that wasn't so handy with the rugged paths. The charger failed along the way as well. I was able to overcome that but decided that in the future I would carry about ten camera batteries and a small wall charger instead. In a pinch I could plug the wall charger into a current bush along the trail to refresh some batteries.
    #53
  14. Bultaco206

    Bultaco206 Back-to-back motos suck Supporter

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    That only works on a BlackBerry. :lol3
    #54
  15. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Cleaned up the Tenere and stripped off some bags today so I could go over the bike and do some maintenance. I like that bike much better when it doesn't have a traveling load on it. The bash plate is pretty banged up (again) on this trip. The heavy rear bracket for it is bent enough that it is impeding my kickstand. I'll have to take the plate and bracket off and work to restore their shape on a hydraulic press (again). I wouldn't recommend making this trip without a sturdy bash plate.

    I also took my 500 EXC for a spin today. So light an agile after wrestling that loaded Tenere around for a couple of weeks. I can see where this trip would be a bit different on a lighter and more agile bike. Not that there was anything bad about riding it on big bikes - that was fabulous. I'm giving some thought to working out a trip like this on small/medium dual sports without carrying much gear. I'll have to dig into that a bit.
    #55
  16. N-Id-Jim

    N-Id-Jim Long timer

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    What do you mean you just cleaned up your big bike? You are still in Pocatello! !!
    #56
  17. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    American Falls to Burley

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    A nice cool morning start.
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    The anti-icing truck seemed frozen in place for the summer. With the intense heat and sun we had been experiencing, it was difficult to think about deicing bridges at the American Falls Dam.
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    This shows a little of the American Falls Reservoir on the Snake River. There used to be a roaring falls here but the dam they put in in 1927 killed that off. When they put in the dam, the entire town had to be relocated to higher ground. Everything was moved except for a single grain elevator that sticks out of the water in the reservoir. Part of it is visible in the picture. The reservoir is the largest lake on the Snake and is 23 miles long.
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    This version of the dam was built in 1976 for a cool $46M.
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    Before the dams, there was a 50' falls here. I would guess that this old powerhouse had something to do with that.
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    There is a visitor center and a hatchery here.
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    Pelicans aren't the only creatures fishing here. The waters are excellent trout habitat.
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    Swarms of insects. As a side note, we were very happy about the general lack of mosquitoes out this way as compared to what we are forced to endure in Wisconsin.
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    Irrigation is critical to agriculture here. We saw a lot of water being redirected to farmlands via canals.
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    It was amazing how a little water would transform the desert into hearty green crops that even smelled lush.
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    Massacre Rocks was a choke point on an emigrant trail that posed a risk to travelers.
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    Bandits and Indians had the cover and concealment they needed to execute an ambush.
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    As it turned out, not much actually happened at Massacre Rocks itself, but there was some problem nearby. The Indians attacked two wagon trains here and killed a few people. About 30 settlers pursued the Indians resulting in a few more deaths. Eventually five wagon trains regrouped here, buried their dead, and then continued on.
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    There is a rock with the engravings of passing settlers at a former campsite at a creek along the Oregon Trail.
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    In 1866, a 7 year old engraved an Indian head and his initials in this rock. later in life, he became a noted sculptor. In 1913 the 54 year old came back and dated his engraving.
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    It was interesting to look around and wonder about all the people that camped here as they made their way along the Oregon Trail.
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    Burley is big in the agriculture business. Some big companies like Amalgamated Sugar, Del Monte, J.R. Simplot, Kraft, and Ore-Ida operate here. Adolph Coors has a big malted barley operation here. This is some kind of big spud operation.
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    The town started up when irrigation came into being in the area.
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    J.R. Simplot was the potato king back in the day. He did more than anyone for the potato bidness. I think by 1950 Idaho overtook Maine as the top potato producing state.
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    Simplot came to Idaho in 1909. He discovered a load of seed potatoes that had been inadvertently dumped by a farm truck. He used them to put in a potato crop on rented land. He really took off after that. He furnished dehydrated potatoes for the troops during WWII. After the war he created frozen potatoes. He also got into phosphate fertilizers, ranching, mining, and wood. When he kicked in 2008 he was worth about $3B.
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    Even though the river is narrow around Burley, they host boat races here every year.
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    They run from dam to dam.
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    #57
  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    :lol3
    #58
  19. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Minidoka War Relocation Center

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    Lots of water gushing through the irrigation canals today.
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    More than 9,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned here during WWII.
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    President Frankie Roosevelt issued an executive order that put Japanese Americans behind the wire at ten camps around the country. And some think the Patriot Act was tough . . .
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    The front gate.
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    Today.
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    Looking at the admin and front gate area of the complex.
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    Guards patrolled the perimeter fences. There probably was really nowhere to go anyway.
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    Not much left of what was Idaho's 7th largest city (at the time) today.
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    A contractor was called to build the place for a cool $4.6M.
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    When the first detainees arrived they had to help complete the place.
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    Detainees were used to ease a farm labor shortage. Some helped build the Anderson Ranch Dam (that we'll visit on the BDR). Detainees also had to develop self-sustaining agriculture for the camp.
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    There were 36 blocks of housing here. Each block had 12 tar paper covered barracks. Each barracks was split into six separate living sections.
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    Each block had laundry facilities, bathrooms, and a mess hall.
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    There were also multi-purpose recreation halls. They had a high school, a junior high, and two elementary schools. They also had two dry cleaners, four general stores, a beauty shop, two barber shops, radio and watch repair shops, and two fire stations. There was also a hospital complex.
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    They also taught carpentry, auto mechanics, and a few other trades.
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    In 1943 the US allowed Japanese Americans to join the service. Minidoka produced 25% of the volunteers for the military. They also suffered more casualties than any other camp.
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    Private First Class Bill Nakamura was a detainee here until he joined the Army and later became a recipient of the Medal of Honor.
    Private First Class William K. Nakamura distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 4 July 1944, near Castellina, Italy. During a fierce firefight, Private First Class Nakamura's platoon became pinned down by enemy machine gun fire from a concealed position. On his own initiative, Private First Class Nakamura crawled 20 yards toward the hostile nest with fire from the enemy machine gun barely missing him. Reaching a point 15 yards from the position, he quickly raised himself to a kneeling position and threw four hand grenades, killing or wounding at least three of the enemy soldiers. The enemy weapon silenced, Private First Class Nakamura crawled back to his platoon, which was able to continue its advance as a result of his courageous action. Later, his company was ordered to withdraw from the crest of a hill so that a mortar barrage could be placed on the ridge. On his own initiative, Private First Class Nakamura remained in position to cover his comrades' withdrawal. While moving toward the safety of a wooded draw, his platoon became pinned down by deadly machine gun fire. Crawling to a point from which he could fire on the enemy position, Private First Class Nakamura quickly and accurately fired his weapon to pin down the enemy machine gunners. His platoon was then able to withdraw to safety without further casualties. Private First Class Nakamura was killed during this heroic stand. Private First Class Nakamura's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.
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    Detainees would be shipped via train and finally by bus to the camps.
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    People that answered "no, no" to questions about being willing to serve in the armed forces of the US and swearing allegiance to only the US were called The No-No Boys and were shipped off to a segregation camp in California. Those that could answer "yes, "yes" (97% on the Minidoka internees which had the highest loyalty rate of all the camps) could join the armed forces or be sponsored to leave the relocation center. Some companies out east that were short on labor sponsored some internees.
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    It was quite a chore to transform the rugged desert into the farm fields they needed to sustain the camp.
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    Eventually the Supreme Court put a stop to this detainment BS and the camp was closed. For a while the camp was used to house soldiers returning from the war.
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    #59
  20. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

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    Nice to have another cannon report. Thanks.
    #60