Memories of an Unpolluted Creek

Kellogg High School in the late 50's

Kellogg High School is probably one of the only high schools that has a creek running under it. The high school is located in a beautiful setting. It is up Jacob's Gulch. (I think Jacob's Gulch is named after the Jacob's family who owned the land up there and ran a dairy.)

The creek running down Jacob's Gulch is Jackass Creek. In the photo below, you can see how the creek runs under the school.

Today, after dropping off The Princess at school, I noticed a culvert by Shoshone Medical Center, which is at the entrance to Jacob's Gulch, and the culvert had a big grate over it so you couldn't get into the culvert. This reminded me of playing in Jackass Creek in my youth.

Up behind the high school was a trail that took you along the creek, and there was a reservoir that, at one time provided water for the high school. (I'm not sure if it still does or not.) Below the reservoir were little dams, and it was fun to play in the creek because the water was clean. This water hadn't been affected by the mining pollution, at least not directly.

Jackass Creek was very unique to me as a child growing up in Kellogg, because you could see little fish in the creek. Things grew in this little stream. The water was clear.

Most of the local water I was used to seeing wasn't that way. "Lead Creek", or the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River that runs through Kellogg, had been a bit murky, then got clearer, but still nothing lived in those waters in my childhood. And I don't remember being told I couldn't play in that water....it was just understood.

The other creek that I would frequently see is the water running by Silver King School, which came from the Zinc Plant up above. It was another polluted stream that you stayed away from.

(The North Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River was not polluted, but I don't remember going up there much until I was a bit older.)

Exploring Jackass Creek was a treat. I could splash in the water, which got a little deep where there were the little man-made dams, and it was cool, and you could splash your way down toward the high school. In those days, there were no grates. I remember playing in the culverts and walking in the creek all the way to "Lead Creek", and wondering what happened to those pour little fish once they got to the river?

Now it is all gated up. In fact, I think most of the culverts were closed up by the time I graduated from high school.

But some things remain the same. The creek still flows through the high school. The walk up behind the high school is still beautiful. Actually, the area is even more beautiful because there is much more vegetation. Wild turkeys are seen in the KHS parking lot. PKR and The Princess saw about five deer in the KHS parking lot last night.

I don't ever remember seeing much wildlife around Kellogg when I was little, or even hearing about it unless people went places to hunt.

As I look back, it seems odd how normal "Lead Creek" seemed. And the Smelter Smoke, that created that burning sensation in my throat as I played on the playground at recess.

It shouldn't have been. But it was part of my life, even though I wasn't always a willing participant.

A human being is part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole [of] nature in its beauty.

~Albert Einstein, 1950


seenthatbefore said...

The KHS building and Lead Creek. Wow, talk about memory overload. SVG, great post.

Inland Empire Girl said...

I have more memories about walking up there before high school and playing in the breezeway water and throwing in pennies. Great post.

Silver Valley Girl said...

Thanks, STB. Lead Creek was even a bit worse up your way if I recall, but, of course, it was such a big trip to Wallace when I was growing up, that I didn't see Lead Creek to the east that often.