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Saturday, December 29, 2012

#1867 - Summerville's Cafe and Bar, Riggins, ID - 8/25/2011

The small town of Riggins, Idaho lies deep in a canyon, just west of the deepest gorge in north America (the Snake River Canyon) and in the shadows of the Seven Devils Mountains, which the Nez Perce once said were seven giant, child-eating monsters.  It is also at the confluence of the Little Salmon and the Salmon Rivers, the latter the longest free flowing river in the contiguous 48 states, with it's portion to the north long known as the "River of No Return." It is the Salmon that makes this old gold miner's town double in population in the summer months, and claim title to the whitewater capitol of Idaho, or of the "universe," depending upon who you talk to.  It is a far cry from the days when the town was originally named "Gouge Eye," after a tussle between two gold miners at odds over the affections of a local woman.

Despite the tourists, the town of 500 or so residents is happily free of chain restaurants, and the few local watering holes might have an expansive area for hosting large numbers of visiting bikers and rafters, fronted by a cozy area attended regularly by the locals and peppered with photos of various citizens with their hunting and fishing trophies.  This is the case with Summerville's Cafe, and it was in the small bar area that we met old John, a throwback to the times when gold miners first settled in the area in the 1850s.  John looked the perfect example of a mountain man, with his bushy beard and missing ring finger he'd lost when his ring caught in some large machinery.

And indeed John actually moved into the area to pan for gold, and lived there with a fat, diabetic mutt he named "Dog," which he was nursing through various infirmities.  Despite John's gentle nature and our pleasant conversation ranging from highway routes to cell phone carriers, we could barely have imagined a more perfect bar stool companion for evoking the days of old Gouge Eye.











106 S Main St, Riggins, ID - (208) 628-3311                      

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