Roseberry General Store a Time Warp to 1905

Road Journals Blog—Bushy-browed and tight-lipped—as in not the slightest twitch of a grin—Mr. McDougal welcomed me to the Roseberry General Store—but only after I pushed a button that said “History.”

Mr. McDougal, once the proprietor of this turn-of-the-century store, is now commemorated as an animatronic mannequin, tells stories of the store’s early days in Roseberry, Idaho.

A rainbow of color emanated from the products, both vintage and modern, lining the store’s shelves from floor to ceiling. Roseberry General immediately struck me as a place worth exploring simply for the step back in time it offers.


Roseberry General Store | Jennifer Eld

A rainbow of color emanated from the products, both vintage and modern, lining the store’s shelves from floor to ceiling. Roseberry General immediately struck me as a place worth exploring simply for the step back in time it offers.


Mr. McDougal keeps a close eye on his wares. | Jennifer Eld

In 1911, Roseberry was the largest town in Long Valley, and thrived until 1914 when the railroad opted to run tracks through nearby Donnelly instead of Roseberry. That effectively ended the town’s prosperity. Still, it could have been worse; some neighboring towns ended up underwater when Lake Cascade was dammed in 1948.

While the store is fun to explore for gifts and souvenirs, the upstairs takes on a museum quality, harking back to when pioneers homesteaded the area. A display of bygone guns—a French 1763 Musket with bayonet, a light cavalry sword and sabre, and fast-draw guns (think six-shooters)—fill a glass case.

There’s a vintage collection of horse and cattle apparatuses once used by a rancher or veterinarian. Some of the large, sharp items made me cringe, like the fetotome used to dismember calves that were too big inside their mothers. C-section anyone?

Out back, renovated, and staged cabins provide a peephole into the lives of the Finnish pioneers who settled the area. These include a blacksmith shop, a one-room schoolhouse and, of all things, a bachelor pad. (It was sparse and smacked with minimalism; all the living took place in one room, where both dining and sleep happened within feet of each other. A few tools, dishes, and some long-handled underwear (long underwear with a flap in back) were the only “clutter.” A far cry from the bachelor pads of today.

I watched a handful of a Lycra-skinned cyclists whiz by the open fields along the outstretched roads. Renovation was happening on the town’s original white-steeple church across the street; next to it was a small museum with the likes of old photographs, a typical pioneer kitchen, an old printing press, among other artifacts.

Down the block was an antique store. Roseberry might not be the thriving town it once was, but it’s a great place to turn for a reminder of simpler and more difficult times.

Dina Mishev wrote about the Roseberry General Store for the May/June issue of VIA.

This blog post was first published in June 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.