Salmon River Legends

Oldtimer Many of the legendary characters of the Salmon River country were still alive when outfitter and amateur photographer Omer Drury began floating the River of No Return. "I got the impression that most of them were uncomfortable with too close of neighbors," Drury says. "They were very personal about their time, so you didn’t want to infringe. If you infringed too much, you wouldn’t be welcome."

Hank Hermit Drury was always welcome, and, over the years, was lucky enough to film many of the oldtimers. "Hank the Hermit" died a few months after Drury met him in 1963. Hank showed Drury his cellar – a shaft he was digging to find gold. "He had an idea that there’d be an underground stream and if he got to that underground stream it would be full of gold," Drury says.

Frank Lantz Drury also met Frank Lantz, who owned a cabin at what is now called Lantz Bar. Frank told Drury he had built most of the trails in the area. "I thought, ‘well, you’re getting old Frank and maybe you’re exaggerating a little,’" Drury recalls. "But he had built most of the trails," Drury says.

Frances Zaunmiller Wisner Over the years, Drury and his family became well acquainted with Frances Zaunmiller Wisner. They almost always stopped at Campbell’s Ferry to visit. "If she liked you, which she did us, she was offended if you didn’t stop and come up," Drury says. "And she always told us ‘you bring your friends on up.’"

Bucksin Bill Buckskin Bill was probably the most famous Salmon River resident. His handmade guns and knives were legendary. "It was real craftsmen work," Drury recalls. Buckskin also had a playful side. "If there were kids along, he liked to ask them if they liked kittens and bring out a jar of cougar kittens he had preserved," Drury says.


Buckskin Bill