On April 3, 1880, the Isaac Ives Lewis ( banker) party consisting of John H. Lewis, Charles Awan and Isaac I. Lewis, left Helena, Montana, headed for the Wood River Country in Idaho.
They were joined at Horse Prairie Montana (currently Dillan) by Al Griffith (Mining engineer) and his two horses which were added to the Lewis wagon, making a four-horse team with Al Griffith as a driver. At the Lava Beds, they were joined by Jim Kellog and A.R. French. William H. Greenhow, who was also at Lava Beds, followed a day or so later. On the evening of April 29, this grouped camped below where Bellevue now stands, where James Hart had a covered wagon and a tent, some merchandise and a barrel of whiskey with a tin cup and a sigh which read “Only 25c a drink; draw and drink all you want.” Hart wanted the group to locate there and help him lay a town, but the group wanted to go on to the headwaters. Later, Hart moved farther north and started the town of Bellevue.
On the night of April 30th, the group camped in the snow at the foot of Quigley’s Gulch opposite where Hailey now stands. Here was a newly built cabin but no people around and this was the house seen on the river. Later they learned that C.P. Croy and his family were living about 1 ½ miles Croy’s Gulch. The night of May 1 they camped where the hamlet of Gimlet was afterword’s built, and next morning they “wallowed through belly deep snow” towards the valley where Trail Creek, Warm Springs Creek, and Wood River came together.
I.I.Lewis and Al Griffith having both been through the country before knew where they want to settle. At various places along the river William Erwin, Jim Fort, E.H Moffat and William Thomson camped as far up as Worm Springs Creek. Moffat and Thomson were given the choice of picking the town site, and on the morning of May 3, 1880, the first tent was pitched on the present townsite by Isaac Ives Lewis. A town plat was immediately drawn up, and the settlement was named “Leadville”. The first lots in “Leadville” were sold on May 3rd for $2.00 a lot, and the persons camped on the townsite that day were E.H.Moffat,William Erwin, William Thomson, James Fort, Sterling (appointed Secretary and Town Recorder), John F Boyle and others. William Greenhow started the first building after arriving on May 4, 1880. Lewis started the second building and Jim Ford the third. Jim Kellog occupied the Fort building and set up a saloon.
Among the early prospectors was David Ketchum, who operated a pack train for prospectors and merchants, and built a cabin along the banks of the Wood River in 1879 together with Al Griffith.
In the late 1860s, not long after gold was discovered, John Hailey brought the first sheep into the Wood River Valley and Idaho recorded a sheep population of 14,000. By 1890, there were approximately 614,000. Following the silver market collapse, sheep became the area leading industry.
By 1918, the sheep population reached 2.65 million. During that time, thousands of lambs were shipped by rail to markets in the West, and the Idaho market was second only to Sydney, Australia.
During 1880 – 1885 :
• Newspaper “The Ketchum Keystone, ” was established.
• Philadelphia Mining and Smelting company were open.
• Ketchum Fast Freight Line was developed.
• The Oregon Short line (Now Union Pacific) opened.
• First ore shipped from Ketchum from Elkhorn Mine (August 1880)
• More than 2,000 residents
• 13 saloons, four restaurants, two hotels, several bordellos, two banks and a drug store were operating.
• Bookstore and brewery, lumberyard and three blacksmiths.
• Six liveries and seven stages per day.
Ketchum Fast Freight Line
The Ketchum Fast Freight Line was established in 1884 by the son of Isaac I. Lewis Horace C. Lewis; he was born in 1858. At the age of 14, Horace formed rewarding dreams about mules. Fascinated by wagons and mules, he begged his father to let him go with the wagons passing through Montana. When he joined his father in Ketchum, hew started a small freight line on his own and in 1884 established the Ketchum Fast Freight Line. It consisted of large warehouses and shops situated near the present Union Pacific depot and had a rolling stock of large wagons drawn by mules and horses.
The first load of ore was taken from the Elkhorn mine to the railroad at Kelton, Utah. These wagons with six-foot wheels known as “The Big Hitch” made the round trip in about two weeks covering 160 miles, returning to Ketchum with merchandise and freight for local businesses. Horace Lewis was a thorough individual he located camps for overnight stops for his 30 teams and 200 mules. His line was covering the area between Ketchum, Clayton, Bayhorse, Challis, Custer and Bonanza.
When 1884 the Oregon Shortline Railroad reached Ketchum the wagons adopted a function of distributing freight to mines and returning with ore to the Philadelphia Smelter. They carried as much as 18,000 pounds of ore and covered 12 to 14 miles per day. To serve the mines, Horace Lewis built the first wagon road over Trail Creek Summit, known as Ketchum-Challis Toll Road. The long steep grade over which his teams had to be driven, it had many hairpin turns and dangerous curves. It was a 12% grade at that time and has since been lowered and straightened twice and is now 7% grade.
The first load of ore was taken from the Elkhorn mine to the railroad at Kelton, Utah. These wagons with six-foot wheels known as "The Big Hitch" made the round trip in about two weeks covering 160 miles, returning to Ketchum with merchandise and freight for local businesses. Horace Lewis was a thorough individual he located camps for overnight stops for his 30 teams and 200 mules. His line was covering the area between Ketchum, Clayton, Bayhorse, Challis, Custer and Bonanza.