Before the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area became a backcountry paradise for outdoor adventures, families up and down the Snake River called it home.
Plucky families, including Lem and Doris Wilson, made a go of sheep ranching in a very primitive environment that had no electricity, no refrigerators and no modern conveniences. In 1951 the family of four moved onto a 4,000 acre ranch in the canyon, several miles away from Grangeville, with 1,200 sheep for company.
Their story is told in a new book titled “Tough Enough: Twenty-Five Years In Hells Canyon.” Author Virginia Woods Meyer knew the family and describes what it was like to tough it out in the canyon as one of the pioneering ranch families. The book covers sheep ranching and the home life of the Wilsons, and looks at big-picture issues in Hells Canyon, too, like changing views of land use, dam building and the effect of the environmental movement.
Meyer started her second career as a writer when she retired at age 60. Now she’s 94 years old and lives in Boise. Her book: Tough Enough: Twenty-Five Years In Hells Canyon can be found on Amazon.
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