The Good, the Bad and the Savage
Of all of the Seven Devils Mountains, one stands grander and mightier than the others; The Devil’s Throne. A nine thousand foot, three peaked colossus, the mountain gets its name from the horned shadow it casts on the Hells Canyon river basin as the sun sets. Dubbed “Old Scratch” by the locals, the mountain is home to perhaps the largest known ghost rock deposit in history. Nestled on the banks of the Snake River between two of Old Scatch’s arms is New Canaan.
A rather large boomtown, New Canaan was founded in February of 1877 (the 3rd to be exact) by Nicholas Goosebury, a former Anglican preacher who emigrated to the States from England only the month before. If you’ll recall a brief interview given to me in May of that year, Goosebury stated he was “drawn” to Hells Canyon the moment his expedition into the West started. Despite a minor legal hiccup with the Hawthorne family (the very same that made the wipes) at the onset, Goosebury’s claim has been uncontested, a fact I’m sure he’s relieved for.
Several months after it’s founding, few people had ventured West into the Seven Devils to claim their fortune and New Canaan was in jeopardy of being just another forgotten boomtown. Miraculously, Goosebury and his associates happened upon a legal loophole that gave him sovereignty over the Hells Canyon area. While this certainly upset the Union (and gave most everyone in the CSA a good laugh), Goosebury seized the opportunity and offered everyone who would come into his borders amnesty and sanctuary from their past. As it happened, a lot of people’s slates needed cleaning and overnight, New Canaan came to life.
Over the next year, Goosebury found himself in a long, taxing legal battle with Union officials and the affair had become too public too fast for it to have been “nipped in the bud”. The ghost rock mine had opened and money was flowing in faster than the Snake river could carry it. Goosebury could afford to fight the law and fight the law he did.
In time, the two sides settled. Goosebury agreed to “return” sovereignty to the Union, although the land was still his legal property, and in return, all of the criminal types and settlers who had come to New Canaan would get the amnesty and sanctuary they had been promised from that day backward. It was a moral victory for the Union, they could save face and not have to deal with another case of insurrection and avoid another South Carolina incident and the Confederacy didn’t gain a wealthy ally but the real victory was Goosebury’s and everyone knew it.
Nowadays, New Canaan is a bustling town of a few hundred citizens. While it can no longer offer amnesty to new citizens, not a month goes by that someone doesn’t wander through the towns wrought iron arches searching for a new beginning and an escape from the past.
(An excerpt from “Boomtowns! A Tombstone Epitaph Special Report, December 1878 Edition”. Article by Truman Cash.)
The Town Proper
The first thing one notices upon entering New Canaan is exactly how modern it is. Most of the town is built around a single, nameless main road often called The Strip or The Drag. The sound of horse hooves on cobble stone echoes down the long side roads and at night, the Drag comes to life in the electric street lamps. While most of the town runs on electricity, only the main road and about half a block away from it down any side road are cobbled.
The only building on the East side of Avon St. the docks are where most river boats and small crafts dock. On the west side of the river is a large promenade for river boats to put in, as well as a cafe that serves breakfast most days. A ferry takes travellers to the East side where there is space for most smaller crafts.
The Scratchin’ Post
The local saloon. The owner/operator, Old Zeke, named it for for the mountain the town sits in the shadow of, such is his sense of humor. The drinks are cheap and the glasses are (relatively) clean.
The Golden Idol Hotel and Casino
Taking up an entire block on both sides of the main road, the Golden Idol is both the towns premiere casino and only hotel, save for the few rooms available at The Post and a night in the local pokey. While each building is a separate entity, they are connected by a bridge three stories up. Both buildings are owned by Peter Duke, a Virginian.
Sweetwater Bank and Trust
The local branch of the Sweetwater Bank. Run by Ron Swanson.
The Appollonia Dance Hall
A beautiful antebellum style hall, with a bar, back rooms, and a ton of beautiful girls. The prices of the rooms here are more expensive than the Idol and the Post but they come with much better “amenities”. The most beautiful of girls are the owner/operators Bella and Fiona Evans, a mother and her daughter. Bella (33) is one of the most in demand clients while Fiona (16) is a smart, savvy young girl that handles most of the accounting. Despite the demand, Fiona is allegedly chaste, as no man has been able to pay the high price her mother wants for her virginity.
The local barber/doctor is a young man who moved north from New Mexico. Douglas Howser is a kind, good spirited man who always seems to be singing. After hours, he usually keeps to himself.
The local trading post and general store. Managed by Levi Garrett, a kindly out gent who tends to ramble, typically about his ailments.
St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church
A rather grand (for the West) church. Goosebury himself paid to have the thing built and brought over the preacher, an old friend from England, Brother John Miles.
HQ of Marshal Talbot, the local law. Talbot himself is a former CSA Lt. Colonel who was one of the first to arrive in New Canaan with about twenty of his troops. The Marshal owns a nice chunk of the land that he has used to build his office and a barracks for his men.
New Canaan Public Library
A rare sight in the West, Goosebury funded the building of the Library out of pocket, feeling that education was important. While more than half of the bookshelves are empty, anyone can borrow the books for three days at a rate of 1 cent a book. The libraries massive size could account for why so many of it’s shelves are empty but it conveniently doubles as the school house, court house, and town hall. When he’s not at his ranch, Goosebury can be found in his offices here.
Among the other buildings in town are an apothecary, livery, and smithy.
New Canaan in the News
Strange Star Appears In Sky Over Boomtown
As recently as January 5th, residents and travelers of the New Canaan region have reported an odd occurrence in the skies above the Oregon boomtown. Over night, a strange star seems to have appeared in the sky, hovering just over the peak of the Devil’s Throne. The appearance of the star in the night sky is strange enough as it is but adding to its curious nature is the fact that it seems to be invisible to folks as near as 50 miles from the area. Professional stargazers seem so far stumped as to the nature of this strange celestial appearance but this reporter is chalking it up to just another of the weird things going on out West.