I was fourteen in 1959 when my folks rented the trailer we used for camping to someone who was heading up the Boise River. I have no idea where he was headed, perhaps Twin Springs or Atlanta. Perhaps some mining claim between the two.
All went well until he was returning the trailer to Boise, when a tire blew out. Having no spare he unhitched the trailer and left it beside the road while returning to let us know where it was.
Now let’s take a gander at the meaning of “beside the road” on the Middle Fork Boise River Road. The road is eighty miles of unpaved surface, some of it dusting over dirt and some of it jolting over solid rock. It is not too difficult to pass oncoming traffic on most of those eighty miles but all of the bridges and most of the many blind corners are one lane and one lane only. Most of the road meanders along the beautiful waters of the Middle Fork but fourteen miles of it is tucked on a narrow ledge snaking some thirty feet up a steep bank that plunges into the waters of Arrowrock Reservoir. Blind one-lane corners are plentiful on those perilous fourteen miles.
It was right at one of the narrowest of the one-lane bottlenecks that was on one of the blindest of the blind corners and at one of the highest points of the steep bank plunging into the reservoir that our delightful camping trailer had been left “beside the road.”
Dad and I showed up with a spare tire and, not finding the trailer where the customer said he had left it, Dad looked over the side of the road.
It seems having that trailer perched on the edge of that steep bank was just too tempting for some jackass who had come along. It had been pushed off the road and came to a stop half way to the reservoir.
Now, it could have been a large truck came upon that trailer and getting it out of the way was necessary. But we stuck with the jackass theory, assuming the deed was done just to watch the trailer take the spectacular journey to a watery grave. We presumed that was the motive since we always did exactly that with some large rock sitting beside a road perched high up a hillside just waiting to go for a roll.
Dad quickly came up with Plan B and we returned to Boise for supplies.
First, we needed the implement trailer. This heavy trailer with a flat bed that tilted and with a winch and steel cable on one end was used when our tractor customers needed more than one tool for their job. So a plow, a disk and a leveler might be loaded on the implement trailer, tied down with the cable that had been used to winch them on the trailer, and the customer would haul all the implements to their job in one trip.
Second, we brought along my two sisters, Mother, Aunt Eva and Grandfather for extra hands and traffic control.
Dad also loaded up some chains just in case the steel cable was not long enough to reach the trailer. Good thing, too, since by the time we got back to that fateful corner someone’s sense of fun had made them shimmy down to the trailer and push it the rest of the way into the reservoir. Now, it might have been the weight of the trailer on that steep and slippery slope that had pulled the trailer to the water. But we stuck with it being some …
With Eva around one end of that blind corner and Mom around the other, both waving traffic to a stop (it turned out there wasn’t any), Dad parked the trailer across the narrow road. Carrying a long chain looped over his shoulder he hung onto the hook on the end of the cable while Granddad let out the winch, letting Dad keep his footing down the loose slope that slid away under his weight. The extra chain came in handy for reaching and then securing the trailer before it was time for Grandpa to slip the ratchet into the gear of the winch and start cranking the cable up to the road.
Dad held on to the trailer, partly to keep the trailer from flipping but mostly, he admitted, to let the winch pull him up that steep climb.
It was all a great success. We loaded the camping trailer onto the implement trailer for the drive home, where Dad could properly check out and repair any damage as well as change the tire.
The trailer survived to carry many more of our camping trips. And everyone added another “do you remember when” to an occasional Thanksgiving chat.
Wow what a story! Some scary times to be had for sure.
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Says the guy who was raised in Alaska!
That is AMAZING! I’ve been on that road and can picture it all so well, but for the lack of traffic while you guys were implementing the trailer rescue. Wow.
I’m sure there is more traffic on that road in 1959 than now, Rangewriter. Like I expressed in my stories about horse camping in the ’50s, we used to be on the trails for five to seven days at a time and not see anyone else. Glad you enjoyed the drowning trailer story, indeed!
I thought you would use a boat to toe it to warm springs.