The Hermit of Impassable Canyon

Watch a clip from the show on Earl Parrott.

vintage footage of Earl Parrott smiling at cameraMile 88

Occasionally, the early boaters would catch a glimpse of the "Hermit of Impassable Canyon." Earl Parrott lived along the Middle Fork for about twenty five years, starting in perhaps 1917.

Parrott lived high above the Middle Fork at about 3500-3800 feet in elevation, in a hanging valley above Impassable Canyon. He built a series of wooden ladders that allowed him to scramble up and down the steep cliffs to the river.

vintage footage of Earl Parrott going down a ladder leaning against a cliffIn the summers he would pan for gold. "But most of the time he would have been up at his own place," explains historian Cort Conley, "tucked away out of sight and certainly encountered sometimes not for years at a time."

Conley called Parrott "the archetypal hermit, the genuine thing... And after the initial encounter people always remarked on his cordiality and his willingness to share the few things that he had. He would run up all those ladders a thousand feet to his vintage footage of Earl Parrott panning for goldplace just to get something -- fresh vegetables -- to give to the people who stopped and gave him in return something like salt."

Our program features the only known film of Parrott, shot in 1939. Earl Parrott died in the town of Salmon, Idaho, in 1944.

Not much remains of Parrot's stay on the river, but there is a beautiful veil falls in a grotto a quarter mile above the river.

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