local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 previous edition

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Friday — March 26, 2004


A ‘town’ that won’t die

Picabo’s on brink of new surge of life

Picabo is an old settlement with a frontier history. Nick Purdy’s forbears—five Scottish Kilpatrick brothers—settled here in the 1880s after helping build railroads into Idaho.

Express Staff Writer

PICABO—To travelers slowing down while passing through this scattering of dwellings sitting astride U.S. Highway 20 in southern Blaine County, they might believe they’re seeing the remnants of a forgotten town on its last legs.

Not true.

In fact, Picabo is on the brink of a new surge of life.

After several years of complicated replatting, Blaine County is in the process of rezoning tiny unincorporated Picabo to allow a sliver of commercial land and 25 residential lots to be developed.

For Nick Purdy, 64, the rezoning is not merely good business. Making lots available for sale will mean an annuity for his children and grandchildren.

Sharon and Nick Purdy relax at the Silver Creek Convenience Store, a favorite stopping spot for Blaine County residents, ranchers, tourists, anglers and U.S. Highway 20 travelers passing through the tiny town of Picabo. Express photo by David N. Seelig

Purdy, a leathery rancher and businessman and highly regarded civic figure throughout Idaho, has acted as guardian of Picabo’s character for years. The replatting and rezoning is designed to modernize a plat laid out in the late 1800s. It was requested to prepare for a future he believes will attract homebuyers escaping from the more hectic pace farther north in the Wood River Valley.

Picabo, about a 45-minute drive from Ketchum, is an old settlement with a frontier history. Purdy’s forbears—five Scottish Kilpatrick brothers—settled here in the 1880s after helping build railroads into Idaho.

Thus began the civilizing of raw flatlands that would become Picabo and provide growing business opportunities for a succession of generations: cutting blocks of ice for sale to the railroad, ranching, farming, and now the Silver Creek Convenience Store and fuel stop and Rancher’s Supply across the highway.

Purdy also founded two Boise-based firms that specialize in computerized farm irrigation and cattle cooling and dust control.

The social center of Picabo is the convenience store, managed by Purdy’s wife of 45 years, Sharon, who also oversees a deli, the local post office and in one corner what passes for a family museum of artifacts and memorabilia from more than 100 years of boom-and-bust life in Picabo.

The Purdy family might well have given up all their land in 1917 when it advertised 2,300 acres for sale: "Splendidly located and will make a good town and is building fast (with) two blocks of cement sidewalk."

But buyers defaulted and the Purdys regained possession.

The most striking image of the area is the pastoral tranquility for miles in all directions, largely the result of the Purdy family emphasis on preserving the environment, especially along Silver Creek, a world renowned trout stream.

Several thousand acres have been dedicated as a conservation easement, and this is off limits to development.

This high regard for proper land use was influenced in the 1970s, when Purdy is credited with implementing Blaine County’s first comprehensive plan as a member of its Planning and Zoning Commission.

Some prospective buyers of lots that Purdy estimates may sell for $50,00 each will be attracted by the 3,000-foot grass runway for aircraft, plus hangar space and residential lots adjoining the field.

Purdy is a pilot of 40 years whose two aircraft include a turbine powered Cessna 210 high-altitude Centurion he flies 300 hours a year.

And if questions come up about whether Picabo’s lifestyle is healthful, Purdy can point to his father, Bud, now 86, who everyday leaves deskwork to his son and grandsons and is out among cattle and crops on horseback or on a tractor.


City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.