History lovers celebrate Canyon Creek Stage Station dedication

The stage stop was a substantial two-story building with thick walls and wood floors.
The stage stop was a substantial two-story building with thick walls and wood floors. Antonia Hedrick

Members of The Idaho Heritage Trust, the Idaho Chapter of the Oregon-California Trail Association and the Bureau of Land Management celebrated the dedication of the Canyon Creek Stage Station near Mountain Home on Oct. 29. Stanley and Mildred Norstebon and their family recently gifted the historic site to the Bureau of Land Management.

The station, constructed in 1874, is one of just four remaining stage stations along the Oregon Trail, said Katherine Kirk, executive director of the Idaho Heritage Trust.

The Idaho Heritage Trust has led restoration efforts at the site. It provided restoration grants to the Canyon Creek Stage Station in 2011 and 2014.

“We are grateful there has been such a great response from our federal agencies like the BLM to accept the donation of this historic site from the Norstebon family with the efforts and enthusiasm to continue with the project,” said Kirk.

The Canyon Creek Stage Station is located on the main Oregon Trail. It served travelers on the Overland and Kelton Roads and stages to Featherville, Rocky Bar, and Atlanta. According to the Idaho Heritage Trust, the station was built with lava rocks cut from the surrounding canyon. It had wooden floors and a wooden roof. The station included a living room and a bedroom on the main floor and three bedrooms for guests on the second floor. A second building used as a kitchen created a breezeway between the two buildings. The station operated until 1921. A fire reduced it to stone walls in 1976.

The other three remaining stations along the Oregon Trail are Stricker Ranch in Twin Falls County and two stations on private property that are not open to the public, said Kirk.

Kirk said the Bureau of Land Management will take responsibility for the Canyon Creek site, but the Trust and other agencies will continue to be involved with its preservation. The National Park Service will install interpretive panels and lead other programs at the site. Restoration plans include rebuilding rock walls, installing windows and a roof to protect the structure from the weather. Landscaping with cottonwoods and grasses will restore the site to how it might have looked during its Oregon Trail heyday.

“Canyon Creek is important as a physical relic, that there’s something remaining of the Oregon Trail besides wagon ruts to help people connect to that time,” said Kirk.

Pioneer Archibald Daniel built the station well, Kirk added, with thick walls that are still square and level, and details like an elegant front door and wooden details. The site includes a cemetery where members of the Daniel family are buried. Descendants of Archibald Daniel were among those who attended the ceremony on the 29th, said Kirk.

If you go:

To reach the Canyon Creek Station from Boise: Head East on I-84, take Simco Exit 74, turn left on Simco Road, over the interstate 0.7 miles, turn right onto Desert Wind Road for 5.3 miles. Desert Wind road turns left and becomes Tilli Road for 2.3miles. Tilli Road will merge right onto Ditto Creek Road for 0.9 miles. Turn left on to Martha Avenue, go 6.2 miles (this will turn into gravel). At the end of Martha Avenue merge right onto Mayfield Road which will drop down into the canyon in less than a mile. The stage station is on the left. Park on the side of the road.