Saturday, October 19, 2013
Uncle Reed Wardle, and William Haston: Freighting to Jackson Hole
I.F. resident recalls days of Jackson freight hauling
July 30, 1974 Idaho Post Register Kaylene Dial staff writer
"I think I drove the last six (six horses pulling a wagon) over the hill," said Reed Wardle speaking of Jackson Pass; and although he isn't sure who was the first, he refuted a story published in the July 15 issue of the Post-Register that said Stan Boyle of Idaho Falls was the first in 1916.
"I remember when my father took the mail over the hill in 1913 and 1914 when that was the only road to Jackson," Wardle , now 70-years-old, said. "There were others before him."
Wardle's father William took over the mail contract in 1913 from Owen Curtis, who gave it up when his son was killed in a snow slide on one of the runs over the hill. The Wardle family lost the contract in 1914 when they were underbid.
Wardle recalls the way over the mountain at that time was "straight up and straight down" and travel was difficult at best.
In 1917 a road crew with William Wardle as foreman began work on the first real road over the mountain. He and 13 area men, including two of his sons and a son-in-law, cut out of the mountain the road that served its purpose until two years ago when a new highway was built.
Settle with wives
The Wardle family first came to the Teton Valley area in 1904 when Isaac John Wardle, a Utah polygamist, was looking for a place to settle his two wives away from the contention against their kind in Utah. William Wardle, his son, settled in the valley while he went on to the Egin Bench area.
William Wardle brought his family to the area and went into the freighting business. For several years he contracted with a grocery and a hardware and implement store to haul goods over the mountain. Pictures now in the possession Reed show him making the trip as early as 1914.
Wardle says he remembers making some of the trips with his father as a young man, going into the city of Jackson and staying in the old hotel.
In 1912-14, his father was involved in freighting cement, gate lifts and other goods necessary for rebuilding the two-year-old log Jackson dam, Wardle recalls.
He was also involved in grain shipment from the Swan Valley area to Victor.
The trips over the pass were also made in winter which was no easy task, Wardle said. "We used to pay lots of money out for what they use to call snow horses," he said, "and they were good horses." The horses could feel their way up the road, testing for the hard parts that meant they were on the right path.
Sometimes it was necessary to unhitch the team let them break a trail and then rehitch the sleigh before proceeding up the slope, he commented.
A trip over the pass oftentimes meant a three-day trip. Supplies would be loaded in Victor, then a booming town, early in the morning and driven to a roadhouse at the foot of the mountain where the drivers ate dinner. Two other roadhouses on the Jackson side, Crandall's and Wilson's, served the same purpose.
A cabin built near the top of the pass often served as a resting place for the travelers. Wardle lived in this cabin for several winters and when he married his first wife June in December of 1930, He took her up to weather out the winter with him. "She thought it was lots of fun," he recalls.
The man living in the cabin during the winter had the job of breaking a trail down the mountain for the mail and freight sleighs. Sometimes the drivers would bring the mail to the crest and let the cabin resident take it down into Jackson.
Wardle was also involved in the freight business for a time For three years 1922-24, and later in the 1930s he drove for Scott and James CO. In 1938, with the improved automobiles and trucks, the business of horse-hauled freight died out.
"We have quite a family, and we're proud of the heritage we have," Wardle remarked as he talked about his pioneer grandfather who crossed the plains to the West in a handcart company. He also talks with prided of his father was instrumental in getting a railroad to extend past Driggs to Victor which greatly aided the freight business.
Wardle also said his father was the first to hoist a wheat thrasher over the mountain in 1912.
Wardle has attained a first for himself as well He put in the first concrete lined ditches in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming including those in Idaho Falls. Now at 70, he still owns the business his second wife, Lucille, has helped him run for 17 years.
The business is located at their home two and one-half miles north of Idaho Falls on the Lewisville Highway.
Wardle say he sometimes misses the Teton Valley and loves to visit with his friends there.