Roseberry General Store: A Vintage Collection

Roseberry General Store in Idaho

Roseberry General Store stands tall near Donnelley, Idaho. | Jennifer Eld

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—after I pushed a button that said “History.”

Mr. McDougal, once the proprietor of this turn-of-the-century store and now commemorated as an animatronic manequin, 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 Store immediately struck me as a place worth exploring simply for the step back in time it offers.

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.

The store is fun to explore for gifts and souvenirs, but 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.

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 were the only “clutter.”

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 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.

Do you have a favorite old-fashioned general store?

Dina Mishev wrote about Idaho's Roseberry General Store for VIA in the May/June 2011 issue.

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