CannonTrek.ID - Big Bikes in the Idaho Backcountry

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

  1. DruiD

    DruiD riding too fast

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    The Mosquito Pass atv section out of Big Creek was one of my favorite portions of the ride. There were so many challenging portions of this ride. This ride report clearly highlights them. Thank-you Cannon for putting so much effort into it. We'll be able to relive the the whole trip, at will, any time in the future. Simply, Awesome!
  2. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    an excellent sunday morning read!

    thanks cs.
  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Elk Summit to Warren Ghost Town and beyond. We'll follow the route up to the bus on this map segment, but for this post we'll stop at Warren and look around.
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    Bike in this picture at a switchback.
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    A lot of drop off along here.
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    Actually there is a lot of drop off all over the place. This is the first time we saw it signed.
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    South Fork Salmon River
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    Nice climb out after this crossing.
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    Warren started up with gold in 1862.
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    There were initially two colonies. One started by confederates was named Richmond. This pissed off the yankees that named their colony Washington. Eventually Richmond consumed itself with placer mining and Washington became Warren.
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    There might be about a dozen year-round residents here.
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    There are a lot of old buildings here. A good portion of the town was lost when they undertook significant dredging here in the 1930s.
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    After the big strike, things settled down to about 500 residents back in the day. In 1870 they let the Chinese in. The census for 1870 revealed 213 white men, 12 white women, 16 white children, 343 Chinese men, and one Chinese woman.
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    There are a few notable figures associated with the town. Judge Jimmy Poe started out fighting in the Mexican War. He took his family across the plains from Missouri to Oregon. Eventually he trained as a lawyer and went into business with a guy that discovered gold here. He fought Indians to drive them back into Montana, he was a leading member of the state constitutional convention, and he got involved in a variety of important issues involving public service.
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    Cougar Dave Lewis is associated with the area as well. He handled mules as part of the ammunition train for the Sheepeater War. Eventually Dave supported himself by shooting cougars. He harvested about 600 of the big cats. He also earned money packing for miners and for the forest service during fire season. During the Civil War, he fought at Vicksburg. He was a scout for Captain Benteen and arrived at the Little Big Horn just after the Custer Massacre. He was so notable as a mountain man that when he kicked Idaho named a mountain after him. He is also associated with what became the nearby Frank Church Wilderness.
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    Dredge workers stayed in this luxury hotel during the dredging years in the 1930s.
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    If you want to dig deeper in Warren history you can check out about 100 pages of this historical paper.
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    Polly Bemis was a Chinese woman who had a hard life. She was born in rural northern China. Her family had to take her and flee their village because of raiding bandits. She had bound feet as a child (Chinese tradition). Polly was sold by her father for two bags of badly needed seed. Polly was smuggled into the US in 1872 and sold as a slave (or perhaps a concubine) for $2,500. There was a demand for concubines since Chinese men coming to the US traditionally left their wives in China to care for their parents. Eventually she ended up in Warrens where a saloon keeper won her in a high stakes poker game. The saloon owner later got into an argument with a gambler and was shot in the face. They sent for a doctor in Grangeville. Polly took over right away as the guy wasn't expected to live. She fished bone fragments out of the wound with her crochet hook and nursed him back to recovery. Eventually they got married. They moved to a cabin north of town and Polly again saved his life when the cabin burned down. He died shortly afterward. She lived to age 80 and died in 1933.
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    This place has been threatened by forest fires many times. Recent fires have made the place a morel mushroom hunting haven.
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    The place has a post office.
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    The airstrip runs right next to the road.
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    There is still some active mining in the area.
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    This is an aerial of Warren Meadows. You can see that it has been extensively dredged.
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    Dredging started up in the 1930s and was cut off in 1942 by the government. As I mentioned, a good portion of the town was lost when the land was dredged.
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    Seems like dredging covered a lot of area in several directions.
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    The Chinese lived in communities outside the town. There were some Chinese gang problems from time to time. A few Chinese built some terraced gardens in the mountains (like is done in Asia) to grow vegetables to market in Warren.
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    This dredge worked the area.
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    Now it is rotting away in Warren Meadows.
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    We didn't visit, but here is a picture from the web and I way pointed it in my GPS file to share so others can visit if they choose to.
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  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Glad you are enjoying the mining history. One has to consider that there wouldn't be much development in some of these areas without it. There was an incredible amount of gold and silver taken out of Idaho but we generally don't hear much about it.

    Thanks. I took a ton of pictures on the fly with my point and shoot. Hope the history stuff is adding even more to the trip.

    Thanks. Glad you are enjoying it!
  5. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Burgdorf Hot Springs

    Burgdorf Hot Springs lies along the old Warren Wagon Road.
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    Freddy Burgdorf came to Warren for gold in 1864. A year later a Chinese guy told him about these springs. Freddy checked them out and immediately staked a claim for 160 acres. He quit the gold business and stocked the meadows here with cattle. He made a living selling steaks and hot baths to miners.
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    They still rent cabins here. A couple of these may be a discount model.
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    This place was a comfortable haven on the edge of the wilderness.
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    The old hotel.
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    Hot spring pool at just the right temperature.
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    Gas was $7/gal for premium.
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    Continuing north.
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    Troyba likes this.
  6. hatchetdan

    hatchetdan Don't Look in the Freezer

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    greencountry ok
    Anyone else having problems seeing these images?
    one
  7. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    See them fine.

    Grangeville, Id = Lewis and Clark Exp. was desperate for food and sent Sgt Ordway and Private Weiser from Kamiah, idaha south to the South Fork of the Lewis River (now called South Fork of the Snake) north of Grangeville, Id to buy or fish for large Salmon to feed their troops. They made it across the mountains north of Grangeville on horseback and bought 17 salmon from local Nez Perce Indians...but half of the fish were spoiled by the time they got back....to Kamiah, ID. Those boys did get around....If you ever go back here, i have the Sgt Ordway route tracks hidden away somewhere.

    I know this RR is a lot of work...so thanks for keeping it up.
  8. Questor

    Questor More Undestructable

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    Ooops.
    I got to this Ride Report a little late. (Silly job takes up too much time.)
    Looks great and brings back memories.
    As stated before, thanks for including the history lesson.

    When I have more free time I'd love to follow this route.
    Thanks Cannonshot!

    Q~
  9. mathdl

    mathdl Been here awhile

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    I'm really enjoying your RR while I tend my Postal sorter. Since I found how easy it is to change the air filter on my NC700, I don't want to get it dirty, much less wet.
    Thank you
  10. AZ Mark

    AZ Mark Long timer Supporter

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    Great Report... Wonderful Read... Spectacular Images... :clap :clap :clap Awesome just Awesome !
    Thanks for taking us along :D
  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Burgdorf to Grangeville - Part I

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    Nice long set of switchbacks as you approach the Salmon River and French Creek. The Civilian Conservation Corps built them in the 1930s. They did a nice job.
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    Video down the switches.


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    French Creek
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    Bridge across the gorge.
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    This guy couldn't make the corner with his rig. He had to back out and try it again.
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    The CCC built this beautiful bridge in the 1930s. Two USFS engineers designed the bridge and the CCC built it. It has a span of 240 feet. There is 327 feet between anchorages. Eight 1 1/2 inch cables hold it up and it can handle 16 tons. The guard rails act as stiffening trusses. A bulldozer was used to hoist the timbers because the winches couldn't handle them. The bridge before this one blew down in a windstorm.
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    This historic bridge is going to be dismantled and replaced this fall. It looks like they are putting in a replacement this season and pulling the old bridge out next riding season. In fact, they might be working on it now. Personally, I'd like to be there when they bring in the big crane (down that switchback) for the lift on the south side of the bridge.
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  12. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Thanks! Lots of L/C history in this area. Grangeville seems out of place from what we had been riding. More like a farm town.

    Thanks and I'm glad it rekindled some pleasant memories from when you were living and riding in the area. What a wonderful place to ride!

    Thanks and I'm glad you are enjoying our ride and report. I wondered about bringing an extra air filter because I knew it would be dusty. I didn't and I didn't really need to change it until I got home. In retrospect, it might be an idea to bring with water crossings and excessive dust to deal with.

    Thanks Mark. I'm glad you are enjoying the report. We sure had a nice time riding all this stuff.
  13. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Burgdorf to Grangeville - Part II

    Back up into the mountains to Florence and beyond.
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    Some nice riding on the climb out.
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    We arrived at the center of what once was Florence. Some folks found some rich gold deposits in this remote spot in 1861. A town of 5,000 people evolved. The gold played out quickly and the town quickly wound down. It went from county seat to nothing.
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    The bar from the saloon here went to White Bird (further up the road).
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    This is what the "you are here" spot looks like. Not much left. Things are pretty much grown in.
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    Even today there is some mining going on here. After it was played out, the Chinese worked it pretty hard - slow but steady.
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    The cemetery is still intact.
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    I carried a folding saw to take care of any deadfalls on those contour roads where there was no opportunity to go around without going over the edge. Never had to use it. This was a little big for a handsaw and the go-around was easy.
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    I looked just a second too long at the GPS and got caught in some soft stuff on the side of the road that pulled me into the ditch. Couldn't pull it out quick enough so I rode off a waist deep drop into a culvert well. Looks worse than it was. Seeing I was going to "jump" I took that riding position. When I landed the bike tipped between my legs and I ended up standing over the bike until I quickly hopped back up on the road. I never hit the ground.
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    Zed demonstrating the depth of the culvert well. Out of all the rugged miles that the three of us rode, this was the only riding mishap we had in our group. We pulled some gear off the bike, wrestled it back on its feet, and powered it back up onto the road. The ditch/well is deeper and steeper than it looks in the picture.
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    I was in a crouch when I hopped over the edge. I think my helmet hit the oversized windshield and cracked the plastic windshield mount. We took the windshield off so it wouldn't stress the mount anymore. Druid had some super glue and safety wire. At camp he melted holes into the mount using a nail he heated with a camp stove. Then he stitched and glued things together. Held that big windshield just fine. When I got home I ordered the $67 plastic part and replaced the cracked one. Thanks for the handy field expedient repair Druid!
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    Heading into Grangeville. The terrain converted to a farming valley.
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    We had a nice site at a USFS campground.
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    Earlier in the day, someone noticed that my primary headlights were out. The marker lights were working but both headlights were out. Once at camp we went after that problem. Turns out that one headlamp bulb burned out but as it did so the metal soldered itself across the terminals inside the bulb causing a dead short that would take out the fuse. Disconnecting the shorted bulb and replacing the fuse brought the remaining headlight back to life. Got a replacement at the auto parts store the next morning which brought the bike back to full mission capable status. Thanks to all that helped with that problem as well! It was unusual that a burned out bulb would be shorted like it was. I should mention that on some of the climbs on gravel roads there are some significant stutter bumps that hammer the heck out of the bikes. Shifting around the road to a more favorable path, using traction control, and other variations don't do much to relieve the violent rattling the bikes got. Hard to get speed to "get on top" when the road winds. That was probably the biggest stress on the bikes - apart from jumping culverts. :D
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    About 215 miles for the day with a 31 mph moving average.
    Comrade Art, Troyba, no and 2 others like this.
  14. Shaggie

    Shaggie Unseen University Supporter

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    Gidday B!

    Just found this!

    Yippee! Subscribed!

    Shane
  15. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

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    Love the clothesline! Thanks for the look back into the mining days.
  16. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Grangeville to Elk City via the historic wagon road. Again, the grey line is the standard IDBDR.
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    A nice cool morning for riding. We headed into Grangeville for breakfast. Crowded little place so we ended up at a table with a bunch of others. Retired road maintenance guy from the USFS was great to talk to. Got to pick his brain about some things.
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    The Elk City Wagon Road is another modification that is not on the standard IDBDR. I put it on this ride because it looked like a good ride and there was a lot of historic information associated with the road. We pick it up in Harpster.
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    The road surface varies from gravel to native soils.
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    We pull out of farming country and head into the mountains.
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    Narrow path back in the day.
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    A very nice ride on the wagon road.
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    This meadow . . .
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    . . . used to have the Switchback Station where freighters could get a bed and a meal. There were barns on the site.
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    Corral Hill
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    Mountain House
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    This road was built for the purpose of hauling supplies to the mining town of Elk City. Freighters would drop their loads and then come back over the road to pick up another load.
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    The story on these mining ditches is that in the spring, the run-off from the melting snows brought too much water for mining. After that, there wasn't enough. To make things work about 200-300 miners dug ditches in 1862-1863 to carry water to their claims. These were cooperative efforts. Six conduits were from 3-9 miles long. One was 17 miles long. Dig that.
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    The road along here had these wooden drainage troughs built across them. Better than the erosion that they replaced and continue to prevent.
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    Newsome operated from 1892 to 1924. It had a great hotel, restaurant. bar, post office, and even a morgue. Dredging ate it up.
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    Elk City started up with gold in 1861.
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    Chinese moved in to work some of the claims in the 1870s but they were eventually driven out by mistreatment. A postman was carrying a bag of mail overland. It had a hard spot that was bothering his back. He stopped and hammered the hard spot with a piece of wood so he could carry the bag without pain. When the locked mailbag was opened, he found that a tin of opium that was being shipped to the chinese (legal then) had been hammered open. The sticky goo glued the mail together.
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    A deputy sheriff came here from Grangeville to investigate a murder. He quickly figured out that the powder burns associated with the wound did not support the claim of suicide. Nonetheless, he determined that the dead man was a "real son-of-a-bitch that needed killing anyway" so with the approval of the town he moved on.
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    About 200 people live here now.
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    Gas station.
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    Small restaurant inside.
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    I took a few reference shots so people would have an idea of what hardware or supplies they might get here.
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    Unincorporated but has a post office.
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    Dredging started up in 1935. The aerials show evidence of a lot of dredging.
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    Interesting airport with a curved runway, a slope, and trees along the narrow path.
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    Plane making a landing at Elk City.
    Comrade Art likes this.
  17. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter

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    Awesome Bryan---------you have outdone yourself again my friend.
    Thanks so much .

    I was in Idaho last month also-------I've been going back to Idaho every year since me and Gaspipe went there about 10 years ago.
    Breaks my heart to hear the Banning Swinging Bridge is coming down--------at least I got to ride over it a couple times in my travels up there.
    That thing looks like "It would hold till the cows come home"------as my dad use to say.

    The most awesome place I've been in Idaho is the "Chinese Wall"---Southeast of Stanley.

    Everytime I here the word "Jarbidge"--------------I laugh and remember that old store you went in and the old man tried to sell me and Gaspipe a can of these.
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    Thanks again !!!!!!

    Mark
  18. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    West of the Illinois, heart of the state!
    Bryan, I have a question for you. Did you see any locals that were Chinese? There were multi thousands of Chinese doing labor across the west in the 1800's. I can't remember ever being in small towns or remote areas with larger Chinese population; other than major cities on the west coast.
  19. scarysharkface

    scarysharkface Truffle

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    Nice curve in that runway. That'll keep you on your toes!

    John
  20. andy29847

    andy29847 Dirt Road Rider

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    Another great ride report. I love the documentation on the dredge.

    We rode some of the same tracks on our recent "Six Days of Idaho" ride. One good road you almost got to was the Custer Toll Rd. We went west out of Challis on Main St. and landed on the Custer Toll Rd, for a 16 mile roller coaster ride into Custer.