Parrot tried a little prospecting in the Klondike for a bit, but by 1900 he was in Idaho. Exactly when he established his nest on the rim of Impassable Canyon overlooking the Middle Fork of the Salmon River is anyone’s guess, but he was there by 1917 and remained there for most of his remaining 28 years.
The best researched sketch of Earl Parrot’s life can be found in Cort Conley’s entertaining book, Idaho Loners. I got the bulk of this post from that book and encourage you to read it to find out more about Parrot as well as other Idaho loners from Sylvan Hart to Claude Dallas.
Conley quoted Francis Wood who was working on a Forest Service survey crew when he bumped into Parrot. Wood said, “One day we spotted a small cabin and noticed smoke coming from the chimney. We decided to stop and have lunch with the occupant. He was busy at a stove cooking some kind of berries. The mixture had not come to a boil. Above the stove, lying on a shelf, was a big cat. When he saw us he made a pass at the cat, knocking it into the fruit. Reaching into the pot, he pulled the cat out and ran his hand over it, draining the berries back into the pot. He then threw the cat out the door. Needless to say, we did not stay for lunch.”
It seemed that everyone who encountered him came away with a good story about the recluse.
Parrot panned a little gold for his annual trips to civilization (often Shoup) to purchase a few supplies. He raised a garden, had a menagerie of animals worthy of a petting zoo, trapped, and hunted. He lived off the land and wasn’t particularly thrilled when visitors dropped by. Your standard hermit stuff.
Conley’s book has some great photos of Parrot, who is said to have thought getting his picture taken was “a peck of foolishness.” The photo included in this post is courtesy of the Idaho State Historical Society’s physical photo files. It shows Parrot, on the left, with Frank Swain at Parrot’s cabin.
Earl Parrot passed away in 1945 at age 76 in a Salmon nursing home after a couple of strokes and a lengthy illness.