Packer John’s Cabin

Taken from the Meadows Eagle – December 23, 1911

Near the town of Meadows stands the famous log cabin in which two of the ‘early territorial conventions were held during the formative period of the state’s organizations as a body politic. In it first met the Republican convention of 1863 when Gov. Wallace was nominated for delegate in congress, and in it also met the state convention of 1864.

It is a small one-roomed log building, erected in 1862 by John Welsh (known to fame as Packer John) and used by him to store merchandise in transit on pack horses from Lewiston, in northern Idaho, to Boise Basin, at that time celebrated as West Bannock, the richest mining region in southern Idaho. It was the popular stopping place for travelers and highly in favor with the early Argonauts as the Mountain House.

That it was well constructed is attested by the fact that it has stood in stress of sun and storm for almost fifty years. In fact it had been long overlooked and neglected until some two years ago, when the Women’s Club of Meadows initiated a movement for its preservation. It then showed signs of decay and seemed in danger of falling into oblivion. The Women’s Club rallied to its rescue and by interesting the legislature and secretary of the State Historical Society in its preservation have restored it to its pristine glory and insured its history from forgetfulness.

Through the effort of the club and with the assistance of some of the men of the community, an appropriation was secured and the land whereon it stands purchased as a state park. The cabin was taken down, all decayed logs removed and replaced, with roof logs and a new covering of tamarack shakes put on. The floor was re-laid-two half windows put in, a quaint old door of pioneer architecture hung at the entrance with the peculiar long handmade wooden hinges of the first settlers who executed carpenter work with the ax and draw-shave. The proverbial latchstring provides the means of opening and locking the door and the whole made as near as way be a replica of the original. The stones of which the old fireplace was built were used in restoring the heating plant and the cabin made good for another fifty years. To suitably mark the structure, a bronze memorial tablet has been selected and in due course will be attached to the building with appropriate ceremonies.

There is probably no more interesting historic building in the state than this, quaint, old Cabin located as it is at the foot of the picturesque range of mountains separating Meadows Valley from Long Valley and immediately on the first and oldest trail between the early mining camps of the territory. Now that the state owns it and the State Historical Society is caring for it, there is no doubt but it will be preserved for many years for the sons and daughters of the Commonwealth to enjoy.


Built in 1862
Close beside the bubbling Goose Creek
In the Meadows Valley fair,
Leans low an ancient cabin,
Crumbling, half-forgotten, there,
Yet so rich in early history
Is this quiet, lonely spot,
That the future generations
Must reclaim it; loose it not.

There, the trader, Packer John,
Spent the winter days alone,
Trapped for muskrat, mink, and beaver,
Built this tiny cabin home.
In it met a group of brave men–
Democrats -the first convention,
In the year of ’63,
Building good laws, its intention,

Later on, a gallant mother,
Brave, unfaltering pioneer,
Sought protection of this cabin-
Kept her family sheltered here.
Now this ancient cabin dozes
In the golden summer sun,
Living with a host of memories,
Dreams them over, one by one.

- Bessie Baker

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