Updated August, 2022
Chapter Seven ~Not much law, not much order until Winn
Sheriff Zane Gunther is a fictional character based on two historical individuals who did serve as sheriff in the vicinity of Eagle Rock around the time I’ve portrayed. According to the book Images of America, Idaho Falls by William Hathaway (see bibliography), on May 24, 1863, Sheriff Henry Plummer was elected sheriff for a large area that included Eagle Rock and the Snake River plains. During the brief period in which he was sheriff, more than 100 people were murdered in eastern Idaho and western Montana in less than a year. Prior to his selection, Plummer had been the secret ringleader of San Francisco’s infamous gang of stagecoach robbers known as The Innocents. He was advised he would be commissioned as the new Idaho Territory U.S. Marshal, but locals, disgusted with the violence, hanged him and several of his gang members shortly before the official commission letter arrived.
Ed F. Winn became the first Eagle Rock resident sheriff in 1880 and later became a deputy U.S. Marshal. According to Hathaway’s Idaho Falls, Winn wore pearl-handled .44-caliber six-shooters mounted on swivel holsters and was involved with several deadly gunfights. It is said he was recognized for his ability to regulate cattle thieves in the area, a prominent member of Eagle Rock most of his life, and became a partner with Dick Chamberlain in several business ventures.
The back cover of Hathaway’s Idaho Falls states, “Taylor’s Crossing began as a wooden toll bridge over a narrow spot on the Snake River for travelers along the Old Montana Trail. By 1883, it was known as Eagle Rock, a dusty outpost for railroad workers, bullwhackers, and miners…‘We cannot claim an orderly town,’ the newspaper reported. The reckless firing of firearms at all hours of the day and night is a nuisance that should be stopped.”