BEARS NAME OF PIONEERS
The majestic cliffs of Blodgett Canyon are an everyday
scene for people who live in the Bitter Root valley. But now and then a visitor
is so captivated by this bit of mountain grandeur, that he is bound to take
it home in the only possible way, by camera.
Such was the reaction of a retired forester, Phillip
Johnson, of Missoula this past summer. Presenting this writer with this splendid
photograph, Johnson asked me where the name of the rock-walled vale and its
creek came from.
The name Blodgett was unknown in the Bitter Root's new
country until Lyman J. and Mary A. Blodgett moved into the valley's Woodside
area north and west of Hamilton. They had traveled by covered wagon with other
wagon train emigrant families from the Salt Lake area of Utah in 1867. Lyman
Blodgett "took up" homestead land, built a log house and plowed virgin land
to become one of the early farmers.
The family history I had heard through my newspaper years
here was brought to mine and refreshed for me by a granddaughter, Mrs. Charles
Buhler. Her mother, Mrs. Victor Shults, youngest and last to die (February
15 this year) was born on the Blodgett homestead. "It was named Blodgett Canyon
by grandfather Lyman Blodgett," she said. Lyman Blodgett died in 1908 and
his wife Mary died five years earlier in 1903.
The trek from Utah knew sadness, for a little daughter,
Polly, sickened and died and her little grave was made by the wagon trail.
In 1872, a 14-year-old daughter, Mary Catherine, died and hers was the first
grave in the acre burial ground the father and mother set aside on their homestead.
Fenced, the Blodgett Cemetery now has many graves, for the parents and all
the 10 sons and daughters and some of their mates are at rest there.
There are still third and fourth generation members of
the Lyman Blodgett families living in the valley and in neighboring localities
and states. Mrs. Buhler, who was formerly Clara Shults, her brothers and sisters
all lived in the valley through childhood. Mrs. Ed (Louise) Oertli, Hamilton,
and Mrs. Harold (Mary) Nichol of Missoula are her sisters, and brothers are
Ed and Glenn of Missoula, Eldon of Arch Cape, Oregon; Delbert of Ithaca;
Michigan. There are children of the McKillop family and other Blodgett descendants
who live in Hamilton and other nearby communities.
So, Blodgett Canyon stands as a monument to the hardy
courage of the two Utah emigrants, Lyman and Mary Blodgett. Aside from its
scenic beauty, Blogett Canyon also has been noted for years, for its contribution
to scientific research. Valley people feared the area during the scourge of
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in the early days, but now the canyon provides
ticks for further research during the spring and summer months.
It has become a favorite picnic spot for Hamilton people
since a road to the mouth was constructed three years ago and a campground
installed by the Trapper Creek Job Corps Center. One of its least known features
is a large natural arch of rock several miles into the canyon. The arch is
located on the south side of the canyon and reaches upslope for a distance
of several hundred yards.
The area also serves as one of the favorite jumping-off
spots in the Selway-Bitter Root Wilderness area. The wilderness boundary is
located about four miles from the mouth and another four miles westward is
Blodgett Pass leading over the divide into Idaho.
The Western News, July 28, 1965