Skinner's Toll Road

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Skinner's Toll Road

The discovery of gold in May 1863 along Jordan Creek began operations that yielded some $40 million in gold and silver over fifty years. In 1865, Silas Skinner built a toll road to supply the miners in Oregon and Idaho and to transport their gold and silver to the West Coast.

Skinner's road began a mile from Silver City in Ruby City, Idaho. It continued on to Trout Creek and through the town of Jordan Valley to Ruby Ranch (Innskip Station) and terminating at Duncan’s Ferry at the Owyhee River. The road was constructed by hand and in several places blasted through lava beds that are common in the area. Parts of the old road are now under Highway 95.

The Skinner's Toll Road opened on 19 May 1866, connecting to a road to Chico, California that went on to San Francisco. The connection between Silver City and Chico could be traveled in a week. Way stations were located 10-15 miles apart generally representing a day of travel. Skinner and his partner also finished the Reynolds Creek Road, a toll road that extended from Ruby City north toward the Snake River, and onto the Columbia River.

Indian uprisings in 1867 and 1877 terrorized the area and the way stations along the road were pressed into service as refuges for travelers, settlers, and miners. Military posts were established at Camp Lyon (1) and Camp Henderson to regulate the area but it took General Crook to prevail in the Snake War and remove the tribes to reservations. That brought a 10-year peace until the short-lived Nez Perce War in 1877.

The toll roads remained in service until they were bought out by government entities and later replaced with state/county road systems. Highway 95 was completed in 1944 providing today's replacement for Skinner's Toll Road. Silas Skinner died in 1886.

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