Butte Road

This is my dad’s farm on Butte Road ~1983 — taken from my plane on a trip up home.  Dad had finally sold all his cows, and had retired, then died in 79.  Most of the small outbuildings, i.e. chicken coup, granary, corrals,orchard, etc. are gone attesting to retirement.

The roads were not named until late 50s when civil defense issues were top priority, so it is still difficult for me to describe any place by the road designation — anywhere in the county.  I suppose the name designations will always feel “alien” to me.

Some roads will forever be called familiar names by locals. SW1st will never be called that by locals used to calling it Co-op road–at least until my generation is gone.

We always directed folks via someone’s farm. “You know out just past Schmidts…”  If they did not know that, then just dig up someone else’s name close by.  It worked in Gem, Washington, as well as Payette Counties and Ontario.  If for any reason, like being from far side of the county, then you got directed to some major landmark (ie  “cross the river, then….”), then simply asked someone closer for final directions.  Sometimes it might be go across Falk bridge and a mile up the bench road.  I don’t remember ever having difficulty in finding my way to anywhere–and my dad and I worked all over the counties.

To me, my old home address will always be route #1.  Routes are simple if you know the parameters.  Usually the town is divided with meridians — usually centered on the mid-town — so route one is usually the west of town — New Plymouth only had two routes at first,  so east or west of town meridian. Then as Black Canyon canal land was settled that became route 3, etc.  Postmen knew every home by name, as everyone else did, so they did not need more than that.  Townspeople did not have home delivery and had to have a box at post office.  You actually still see a lot of old “routes” — only not called routes today — they are hidden within today’s address — NW, 222 Sunrise, or similar — the NW is the old route #1.

Butte road was designated a major truck road ~1947 when the county began paving county roads in earnest.  It served for New Plymouth as a bypass to avoid (and save) Fruitland congestion as well as major haulage road for other road construction. The county was intent upon building good roads, and the major road west of town for that purpose was Butte.  The shortcut went out Butte to NW 2nd, then west to Elmore Rd, then north around sweeping curve becoming NE 16th, then Hyw 30 at Gayway junction.  This road curved around the edge of the bench and aimed you directly at Gayway corner, so was a shortcut to both Ontario and Payette.

Payette also improved their hwy — it used to curve coming in from south and go thru the Main Street — then turn at the old County court house/sheriff’s office to east, then join up with 95 going north to Weiser.  The bypass simply made 95 take over the city street and direct to 95 north of town.

This also happened in Weiser with 95 taking over city streets so as to bypass downtown, shortening the route and speeding traffic thru the town. (Everyone was happy with that except those living on the changed streets!)  These were implemented more by nat’l defense planning than by locals.

Because Butte would be a major road and one used to haul heavy rock and gravel (too heavy for other roads) it was built up three full feet with big rock base, then several “lifts” of smaller and smaller rock and heavy cap of asphalt.  This height was a problem at first to get out of our driveway and onto — hard to see over the hood of the car, and hard to see oncoming traffic.  Surprisingly, now the road has sunk into the ground and back to the level of the 30s!  The whole area is fairly heavy clay with shallow ground water so most anything eventually sinks. Seeing a road subside three feet right in front of your eyes is kind of staggering!

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