Sunday, September 14, 2008

Roseberry, Idaho

Roseberry, Idaho, is a town that used to be a town but isn’t any more because the railroad went a different direction. Roseberry used to be the biggest town in the Long Valley region of Idaho. Now it's mostly a memory … and a major project of Frank and Kathy Eld. Frank has been working for 39 years to rebuild, restore, and revitalize Roseberry, ever since he graduated from college. Kathy operates the Roseberry General Store and Museum while Frank rebuilds.

Frank’s current project is moving a barn from a few miles away, piece by piece, and rebuilding it to be a major feature of Roseberry.

Each piece is individually numbered and put back in the same position at the new site. The barn, when completed, with be a cultural center for Roseberry, for musical presentations, maybe dances, certainly for community activities. Frank is being as authentic as he can, including fashioning wooden pegs (used instead of nails) with an ancient spoke shave tool.

Right now the store / museum is the center-
piece, complete with antique items of grocery and general purpose nature, old washing machines and waffle irons, as well as novelty items and old-time candies for sale.

Kathy will tell you all about the store and its history, but she’d rather let Mr. McDougall do it.
After all, it was he that bought the store in 1911 and operated it until his retirement in 1938.

Today Mr. McDougall is a manikin who talks, turns his head, and moves his lips and eyes while he tells you a story. There is a choice of three stories you can access by pushing a choice of three buttons.

Across the street from the store is the actual museum building, displaying an excellent history, old photos, old records, old everything. Next door to that is the Methodist Church where Frank (honorary Mayor of Roseberry and an Internet-ordained minister) officiates at the occasional marriage ceremony.

In the general neighbor-
hood of the intersection of Roseberry Avenue and Farm to Market Road are a number of old buildings, some restored, some still in a state of arrested decay.
There’s a school awaiting restoration on one corner, while up the street is the Arling House, built in 1905 and restored in 1995 as the Eld’s home.

next-door is the Johnson Cabin, which Frank had planned to turn into a workshop until too many friends protested. Instead, the Johnson Cabin is part of the Elds’ home and their daily life.

Kathy and Frank retire to the cabin at the end of the day for port and chocolate and maybe a fire in the old woodstove, and, as likely as not, friends will be invited to share the quiet hours, as well as some storytelling.

We were invited to the Johnson cabin for port and chocolate, as well as to park our motorhome in the lot between the store and the barn. County ordinances (Frank is a county commissioner) prohibit overnight RV stays in parking lots, but the Elds’ grant from the Idaho Travel Commission requires they offer it. So they did, and we accepted the offer, actually staying two nights.

There are other buildings currently on display, most of them open with displays inside depicting the lives of the Finn pioneers who came here for homesteading.

Close by are the Carriage House (which Frank has made into a workshop as well as part of the museum), the Finn House, and a replica of the town bandstand. Frank told us they have a total of 19 buildings as part of his project, although it appears a number of them have yet to be moved to the site in Roseberry.

If you want to take a close look into the pioneer history of this country, you’d not find a better place and better hosts than Roseberry and Frank and Kathy Eld. Come north from Boise on Idaho 55, the Payette River Scenic Byway, which is a treat in itself. When you get to the town of Donnelly, take a right at the Stinker gas station, and drive a mile and a half to Roseberry. Be careful, the intersection is all country road, no stop signs either way. When you get there, tell the Elds that Jerry and Suzy sent you.

What a wonderful stop along … Our Life on Wheels.


  1. Hey!!! I was happy to see your blog! Looks like you are having fun and making friends along the way. Are you still making your way down to Arizona?

  2. Very definitely working our way to Arizona. We have just a month to get back to Benson, and a pretty long (for us) journey, so we won't do a lot of sightseeing along the way.

  3. You sure do give a person itchy feet!!!!

  4. Jerry and Suzy,
    Thanks for stopping by our blog. I have been checking yours regularly for quite a while and really enjoyed the story about Roseberry ID. Good job!
    We are heading to AZ also but will stay in Yuma for a few months before heading east.
    I write weekly so check back in when you can.
    Joy and Phil

  5. Thank you for sharing. You have created a wonderful look at Roseberry.

    My mother attended school in Roseberry until the Donnelly High school was built.

    Jessica Passi-Vance
    (Long Valley daughter)


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