A reader asked me where the name Frozen Dog Road came from. I’m not sure which came first, the road or Frozen Dog Ranch, but the ranch was the source of a lot of interesting stories. Frozen Dog Ranch was named after Frozen Dog, Idaho, which doesn't exist.
Colonel William C. Hunter invented Frozen Dog, Idaho, as the setting for a series of stories he told about its residents, Grizzly Pete, Jim the Stage-Driver, Mormon Ed, Half-Hung Simon, and others.
Commissioned a colonel and given a job by Governor Frank W. Hunt, Hunter also served Idaho governors, John A. Morrison and Frank R. Gooding. How he served them and why he deserved the appellation "colonel" is a little unclear. He seemed to be an Idaho booster, even though he lived mainly in Chicago, serving on the Idaho delegation to this and that conference.
His real job was that of a writer and publisher. He wrote about how to succeed in business and self-help books. His columns appeared in a scattering of papers across the country. PEP, billed as "A book of how's not why's for physical and mental efficiency," was published in 1914 and went through several editions. PEP was an acronym for Poise, Efficiency, Peace.
In 1905 Hunter gathered some of his humorous columns and many pages of doggerel into a book called Frozen Dog Tales and Other Things. The tales took place in Frozen Dog, Idaho, which, he claimed, had taken a different name when the town got a post office. However, he would not tell readers the "real" name. Frozen Dog, despite the ranch and road's location in Gem County, was said to be in Idaho County along the Clearwater River. He wrote:
"The town is full of life. There are few laws to govern. Horse thieves are promptly lynched, and the Golden Rule is the unwritten law of the country. No stranger is asked where he came from; no one is asked his back history. Everyone tends to his own business. Men are judged by their individual worth, and a man's word is as good as his bond, and the man who doesn't 'make good' is run out of the country."
Several stories involved quirks in what little law there was. For instance, a local man drowned while crossing a swollen stream. He was swept off his mule, which survived. When authorities found the body, they also found a six-shooter in one of his pockets. Concealing a weapon was a violation of the law. Hence, the sheriff, who was also the coroner, fined the corpse $50 and confiscated the mule and gun in payment.
The newspaper in Frozen Dog was called the "Howling Wolf." It ran frequent aphorisms such as "There are two times in a man's life when he discovers he cannot understand a woman: the first is before he is married, and the second is after he is married." That passed for humor in 1905.
One more example from the book will give you the gist: "The Horse Show at Frozen Dog, Idaho, was a great success. Grizzly Pete's mustang got first prize in the cayuse class, and Joe Kip got first prize in the driving class. He owned the only horse in Idaho County that could be hitched to a rig. The gate receipts of $12 for the week were divided equally between the two prominent citizens above referred to. Grizzly Pete was judge for the cayuse class and Joe Kip for the driving class."
Most of Col. William Crosbie Hunter's books are still available in online archives and as cheap reprints. Frozen Dog and Other Things was lavishly illustrated for its time, featuring woodcut graphics on every page.
On March 18, 1917, Hunter died in Emmett at age 50, leaving behind a legacy of books and a road called Frozen Dog.