Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bring your cash to Kilgore

Published in August, 2009 in the Post Register.

KILGORE – The Kilgore Store (Est. 1911), is the sort of place where they post a hand-drawn map tracking the latest sightings of grizzly bears and wolves.

It’s the sort of place where a neighbor pops in for a chat wearing a fancy sidearm snugly ensconced in a leather holster on his hip.

It’s the sort of place where the sign pointing the way to the store is hanging from the ceiling … inside the store.

It’s also pretty much the only place on the road between Island Park and Dubois where you can pick up supplies, get caught up on the local gossip and feel like part of the family after a 30-minute chat. If you want to stick around for a night or a month, cabins behind the store rent for 30 bucks a night – 40 if you want a bathroom.

Proprietor Veva Horne keeps the place open from the beginning of fishing season to the end of hunting season. Once the snow flies, pretty much everyone packs up and heads elsewhere for the winter, only to return the following spring.

On our visit, the easy conversation turns quickly from politics to local history to the spectacular wildflowers between Kilgore and Island Park. Among the folks hanging out at the store (and, frankly, not buying very much) are a university professor, a retired government employee, a mysterious fellow who declines to be photographed, a local rancher, a visitor from California and Horne. It’s an amiable and relaxed gathering.

A dusty local pulls in, grabs a 12-pack of beer, pays for it with cash and heads back out to where he came from. Horne doesn’t take checks or credit cards – cash only, please.

Kilgore is on the route between Dubois and Island Park on State Road A2, parts of which are also known as the Yale-Kilgore Road. Mostly paved but with sections of well-maintained gravel, the road of 41 miles is easily navigable by any motorized vehicle.

If you’re traveling west to east as we did, the first third of the drive is through sage desert, with the Centennials looming to the north. Kilgore, which is a mile north of the main road, is the spot where the road gradually begins gaining elevation and becomes far more scenic all the way to Island Park. The good people of Kilgore are right – the wildflowers are spectacular.

There are many options to choose from if Kilgore is part of your day-trip itinerary. From Idaho Falls, you can make it a loop up I-15 to either Dubois or Spencer (you can get to A2 from either place), across the base of the Centennials to Island Park, then back home on U.S. 20. You can even throw in a side trip to Mesa Falls on your way home.

Or, just hang out with Kilgore gang – Veva probably won’t mind. Just buy something every once in a while. Bring your cash.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to have seen this article that's my half sister Veva that run Kilgore! I've not seen her since the 70's and lost track of the rest of the family Thanks to you all
    John England