There’s a sign along Highway 20, just northwest of Mountain Home, Idaho, that has caught my attention many times. “Jackson School,” it reads, “1898-1925.” There’s no other explanation, and there’s not much else around aside from fields.
After my last trip past the sign, I finally did some research. Jackson School was part of Rattlesnake Station, a stagecoach station along Rattlesnake Creek that was the original site of Mountain Home. Established by Ben Holladay in 1864, Rattlesnake Station was a major stopover on the Overland Stage Line, the stagecoach route between Salt Lake City and Walla Walla. There are no photos of the station, or of Fort Rattlesnake, built in 1878 during the Shoshone-Bannock War, but as one of the few stations in an otherwise dangerous stretch of the Oregon Trail, it had to have played a central role in many pioneers’ lives and travels. In 1883, however, the Oregon Short Line Railroad was built further down the valley, at the site of present day Mountain Home, and Rattlesnake Station’s post office, called “Mountain Home,” was dragged by mules from the old location to the new. Rattlesnake Station continued to serve as a stagecoach stop until 1914, when the stage line was abandoned, leaving Rattlesnake Station and the Jackson School to slowly join the ranks of Idaho ghost towns.[i]
Luckily, I’m not the only one to have been intrigued by Rattlesnake Station. Thanks to local artists and amateur historians, we have an idea of what the station would have looked like back when Jackson School was thriving and have identified a mound of rocks that could well be the remains of Fort Rattlesnake.
I’m looking forward to driving past the Jackson School sign again, now that I know the rich, western history that it commemorates, and imagining the lessons taught there, not to mention the lives of its students and teachers.
– Naomi Heindel
From time to time, SHRA comes across fun, interesting and notable items that we think would be of interest to our readers but that don’t warrant a longer blog post. This piece is one of a series of vignettes that we hope will bring some of these discoveries to life. If you’re looking for one of our longer pieces, click on “Features” under “Categories” in the left navigation column.