Page 50
Section 3, Chapter 7 -The Gold Road & the Coming of the Railroads
Chapter 7:
The Idaho Gold Road
Eagle Rock
Port Neuf Toll Bridge
Stage Robbery
The Coming of the Railroads
   The Utah & Northern Railroad Company
   Railroad Timetables
   The Utah & Northern Railway & the Fort Hall Indian Reservation
   The Planning of the Oregon Short Line
   The Founding of Pocatello
   Chief Pocatello
   Construction of the Oregon Short Line
Realignment of Right of Way in the Portneuf Canyon
The Ramsey Transfer and the Widening of the Narrow Gauge
Demise of Eagle Rock
Enlargement of the Pocatello Townsite
Merger of the Two Railroads
Establishment of Eastern Idaho Counties
Population Trends
Click here for a larger view
South half of the Idaho Gold Road from Malad Valley north to Oneida station (arimo). Map shows many features of Malad and Marsh Valley in the period 1865-1885. From Gittins (1976). Used by permission. Click on image for a larger view.

The Idaho Gold Road
Before railroads were built there were stage lines and freight wagons. As trade increased between the Mormon settlements in Utah and the mines in Montana to the north, Ben Holladay, opened in 1864, a stagecoach service along the "Idaho Gold Road" from Corinne, Utah (on the transcontinental railroad) to Virginia City, Montana, via Eagle Rock. South of the Snake River two stage routes existed, the Bannock Road, which went northwest from Malad into Hawkins Basin and Arbon Valley, and the Portneuf Road followed by Holladay's stages, which went north, following present-day Interstate 15. The success of these stage lines plus the decision by the Mormon Church to build rails northward from Salt Lake City to Montana opened Idaho to the railroad era of the turn of the century.

Eagle Rock
In the early 1860s the Snake River was a major barrier on the trip north to the gold fields of Montana. In May, 1863, a ferry was constructed near the ford used by Indians to cross the Snake about nine miles upstream from what was then Eagle Rock. Matthew Taylor built the first bridge across the Snake River at Eagle Rock, using poles from Beaver Canyon, 80 miles to the north. The abutments were set in place on a frozen river in January, 1865. The bridge opened in May and stood a block south of present day Broadway Street bridge in Idaho Falls. The bridge was flooded and gave way in June, 1867. The bridge was rebuilt and lasted until 1889 when it was declared a public highway and replaced by an iron bridge. The name of Eagle Rock was changed to Idaho Falls in a referendum in January 1890.

Port Neuf Toll Bridge
In 1864 William Murphy built a cabin and a toll bridge on the Portneuf River in Marsh Valley (at present-day McCammon, then called Port Neuf), mainly to service the stage business of Ben Holladay and the growing freight wagon business. In 1865, Murphy's wife Catherine became the first Anglo-American woman to live in Marsh Valley. Murphy acquired the Port Neuf toll road in 1866. He was a passionate and hot headed Irishman who died from the bullet of an Oneida County Sheriff during an argument outside a bar in Malad City in April, 1870.

After Murphy's death, Henry O. Harkness, a Civil War veteran who had been employed by Murphy to operate the toll store and gate in Beaver Canyon, south of Monida Pass, was requested by widow Catherine Murphy to take over operation of the stage line. A year later, in August, 1871 Henry Harkness and Catherine Murphy were married. In the next 40 years he built a farming and ranching empire, a power generation facility, a flour mill, and a hotel to serve the new railroad.