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Hudspeth Cutoff
West from Marsh Valley the Hudspeth Cutoff crossed the Bannock Range, Blue Spring Hills, Deep Creek Range, and Sublett Range before reaching the Raft River Valley and joining with the California Trail near present-day Malta. Twin Springs, between present-day Rockland and Holbrook was one of the few reliable water supplies.

Malad Valley and Samaria Mountain, looking west from Interstate 15, south of Malad City, (November, 1984).
Jensen Pass over the Deep Creek Range from southern Arbon Valley, (June, 1990). This is where the Hudspeth Cutoff crossed into the Holbrook area. Lorenzo Sawyer wrote about the country along the Hudspeth Cutoff thusly: "The mountains in this region seem piled up in the most wild and romantic confusion."

Pioneers chose the Hudspeth Cutoff in the great rush of 1849, when, sheeplike, they sought a more direct route to California. It is estimated that from June 20 to August 31, 1849, 250 wagons a day (an estimated16,000 to 25,000 people) traveled this route, even though it was unproven, more difficult, and as it turned out, did not save any time. The Pioneers were desperate to get to California first. About 45,000 traveled it in 1850 and 50,000 in 1852. The cutoff had a life of perhaps 10 years since few went that way after 1859, as the California gold fields played out. Arthur Hope's book "The Hudspeth Cutoff, Idaho's Legacy of Wheels" is a detailed account of the route. 

Empty Country
The vast area from Malad City west to the Raft River Valley is mainly empty. There are few paved roads, and no gas stations. This is dry, sparsely settled country. Although much of it was homesteaded near the turn of the century, most of the farm houses were abandoned in the 1930s and the land is now divided into thousand-acre dry farms. The mountains are not high enough to catch significant winter snows and the streams in the valleys are small and unreliable. Extensive irrigation systems are not feasible. However, if most of these hardy farmers, who remain here, were given the choice, they would live nowhere else.

Geology of the Malad Area
The Wasatch fault runs along the east side of Malad Valley, and there are several active faults in the area to the south and west. Malad Valley is thus a half-graben, with the sedimentary valley fill generally tilted east.

The Name "Malad"
Osborne Russell, fur trapper, wrote of his movements in March, 1842, in his last spring before he left Idaho for the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

"The next day we traveled south about fifteen miles through a low defile and the day following we crossed the divide (malad Summit) and fell onto a stream called "Malade" or sick river, which empties into Bear River about ten miles from the mouth. This stream takes its name from the beaver which inhabit it living on poison roots. Those who eat their meat in a few hours become sick at the stomach and the whole system is filled with cramps and severe pains. I have never known or heard of a person dying with this disease." (Haines, 1965, p. 124)

The original name of the Big Wood River in south-central Idaho also was Malade, for the same reason.

The Bannock, Deep Creek, and Sublett Ranges as well as the Samaria and North Hansel Mountains are underlain by Paleozoic rocks, mainly limestones. These mountains are generally good fossil hunting country, with horn corals, brachiopods and gastropods easy to find if one knows the right place and is prepared to walk. There are several areas of limestone caverns. Air escaping from these caves on northern Samaria Mountain sometimes causes the mountain to "moan" in early spring.

Lake Bonneville extended north into the southern parts of Malad, Curlew and Juniper Valleys. Its shorelines can be seen if one looks closely, usually near the top of the level of plowed fields. They are generally more prominent in the southern parts of the valleys, closer to the Utah border.

Settlement and Brigham Young's Placement of the Utah Border
The first colonization of the Malad Valley, by Mormon cattlemen, was in the early 1850s. The settlers were recalled to Salt Lake City with the coming of the federal army of occupation (Johnston's army) to Utah in 1857-58. The first permanent settlement was in 1863. Malad City was settled mainly by Mormon converts from Wales.

Brigham Young came through the Malad Valley in 1855. Acting on the basis of astronomical observations by Orson Pratt, he marked the boundary line between Oregon and Utah territories as 108 miles from Salt Lake City, near the present town of Woodruff, Idaho. Although this placement was very close to correct, many Mormon settlers in Malad, Cache, and Bear Lake Valleys claimed that they were actually in Utah. The matter was not settled until the U.S. Government survey of 1872.

Early Malad City and Oneida County
Malad City grew up as a composite community in which Mormons, Gentiles, and Mormon apostates (the Josephites) dwelt without much friction. Soda Springs was the first county seat of Oneida County, which in the early 1860s included all of southeastern Idaho. Transportation from the Malad Valley to Soda Springs was difficult and the county seat was moved to Malad City in 1866. This move quieted hostilities between Malad Valley Mormons, who thought (or hoped) they were actually in Utah, and Gentiles. Oxford (in Cache Valley), served as the Federal Land Office until 1885, and many Oneida County officials lived there.

The Gold Road
In the early 1860s, two overland stage routes operated from Utah to the Snake River Plain and the mines in Montana. Both came north to Malad City. The Bannock Road split off up the Malad River and crossed into Arbon Valley to the mouth of Bannock Creek, and then north and east along the south bank of the Snake River. The more-used Portneuf Road, operated by stages owned by Ben Holladay, went over Malad Summit and to Marsh Valley, along the road followed by Interstate Highway 15 today. Holladay sold the Portneuf Road to William Murphy. In April 1870 Murphy was fatally shot in Malad City, by a deputy sheriff, after a dispute with county commissioners about how much he could charge. Leigh Gittins' book "Idaho's Gold Road" is a rich source of this history.