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Bob Dunsmore - Locating the Mullan Road ....

posted Feb 21, 2013, 7:16 AM by Ron Hall
If you have  been to a Mullan Road conference (or many other events that have provide info on the Silver Valley of Idaho) you might have seen/spoken with Bob Dunsmore. He is hard to miss - he usually has a large 4 panel display with detailed maps and related content on the Mullan Military Road. I first saw the exhibit at the original conference I attended in Fort Benton, MT. After last year's conference in Walla Walla, WA - I made myself a promise to reach out to many of the people at the conference who had been doing excellent location work on the road for years. My intent was to talk with them about their work and see if there was any interest in migrating it to tools like Google Earth for sharing.

The name at the top of that list was Robert Dunsmore.

Yesterday (Feb 20) I drove over to Osborn, Idaho, in the heart of the "Silver Valley" to meet with Bob and talk about his work on locating the Mullan Road ... and his passion for sharing it.

We met at Bob's home - a house his father built over 60 years ago, just a stone's throw from I90 .... which is fitting for a man that spent his career working as an engineer for the Idaho State Highway department. Much of his work dealt with the building of the I90 interstate across the panhandle, roughly paralleling Mullan's route. He retired right after the Wallace bypass was completed (the last piece of i90 to be "twinned").

The home is neat and cozy, and you can tell as soon as you walk in the door it is the house of someone who is a passionate reader - lots of good reading lights, spots to sit, lined with books, with a big picture window.

We sat and chatted. Bob's work on the Mullan Road started earlier in his life and he has had a lifelong interest and involvement in the history of the Silver Valley. This includes a long association with the Shoshone County Mining & Smelting Museum in nearby Kellogg.

Bob walked me through the various stages/processes he had used over the years in his trail location work. It was fascinating to me because it is also a story of how we have all moved from a paper to a digital environment on computers .... then on to the "cloud"/the internet.

His work bears all the methodology and forethought a man who has been an engineer. Translation - he is organized. We ended up "down in the basement," sitting in front of his computer ... everything was within "hands reach". Bob had already burned me a copy of some of the most pertinent pieces of his work - material behind the panel exhibit - some of his images.

Then we did some trail locate work in Google Earth - using Bobs prolific knowledge, flying into various locations, placing a location marker .... then emailing it to me for my work. 4 hours flew by. I learned a lot. Before I left I thanked Bob and asked him for one more favor.

Would it be ok if I came back again.