We are meant to learn from history, so here’s the cautionary tale of C.E. Bell
In February 1907, Bell and two companions were walking in the Owyhees near the head of the Bruneau River. What they were doing out there goes unsaid in the reports about Bell’s fate, but they were part-time miners, so let’s assume searching for some precious metal was their goal.
The three were trudging across a snowy mountain when Bell got ahead of his companions. Breathless, the companions got to the top of the ridge and saw that it was a volcanic crater. Bell, maybe a hundred yards ahead of them, seemed determined to peek into the crater. From their vantage point they saw that Bell had walked out onto an ice bridge covered with several feet of snow. They yelled to Bell to warn him of his precarious position, but whipping wind took their words away.
While the two watched helplessly, C.E. Bell reached the edge of the cornice and leaned over to peer into the crater. It will not be a shock to you a century and more away to learn that the cornice gave way, sending Bell windmilling into the crater bowl.
Bell’s companions, never named in newspaper reports, trekked back to Jarbidge to stir up a rescue effort. A large party responded. One would-be rescuer dropped over the edge of the crater on a rope to see what he could see. When he reached a depth of 200 feet he saw an empty ledge another 400 feet below him, then a drop-off into the dark.
Determining that rescue was impossible, the men returned to Jarbidge.
On May 28, two other prospectors found the body of C.E. Bell 800 feet below the rim of the crater.
Bell had been a member of the Oddfellows Lodge of Twin Falls. That group paid a reward of $300 to bring his body back.