Joseph Sherwood built a store on the north shore of Henrys Lake. We don’t know a lot about the structure, except that it burned and was subsequently replaced in about 1899. As a community focal point, the store became the post office of Lake, Idaho. Sherwood was named the postmaster.
Along with his wife Susan, Sherwood built a going enterprise. They raised cattle and in something of a precursor to Idaho’s famous Magic Valley trout farms, Sherwood packaged fish caught by locals and shipped them off to customers in Montana and California. This was no small operation. Sherwood once wrote in a letter that “The amount of fish usually caught in winter here varies from 50 to 90,000 pounds.”
Sherwood also ran a sawmill that was powered by gravity-fed water running in a canvas flume from a series of ponds he had developed above his place. He sold lumber commercially and used the sawmill to build his store.
And what a building it was—and is. It has since been modified, but the structure built in 1899 was 55 feet wide, 37 feet deep, and 46 feet high. It contained 27 rooms. The general store and post office was on the first floor, along with a family living area. The second floor had four bedrooms for rental to overnight stagecoach guests, a display room for Sherwood’s taxidermy, a photographic darkroom, and a photo gallery. A half-story attic was used for storage.
The store and museum was the home base for Sherwood’s boats. He rented them and often took visitors out on the lake from his launch.
About that taxidermy… Sherwood took a correspondence course to learn how to do it. He shared his knowledge with his second wife, Ann, after Susan’s death. Together they set out to mount at least once specimen of every critter native to Island Park. That room full of taxidermy mounts was why the store was often called the Sherwood Museum.
To say that Joseph Sherwood was self-sufficient would be like saying there were a few fish in Henrys Lake. One story, told in the National Register of Historic Places application for his building, was about his medical skills. He delivered he and Ann’s children himself, including Clarence Sherwood, who told this story. One day his father was thrown from a wagon some distance from their home. Joseph Sherwood fashioned a splint for his leg, got back into his wagon, and drove home. When he got home, with Ann’s help he set his leg. Then he hopped back in the wagon and headed for St. Anthony to attend a board meeting of the local bank, where he served as president.
Tomorrow I’ll conclude the Joseph Sherwood story with a little bit about his inventions.