Thursday, January 11, 2007

Stalker, or Stocker?

Above: Installation of bio-logs to improve habitat conditions along along St__ker Creek .

What's in a name? Is it Stocker Creek or Stalker Creek? If you are a frequent visitor to Silver Creek Preserve, you know the creek we mean. This tributary stream meets up with Grove Creek on the preserve to form Silver Creek. It is known for its large trout and difficult fishing conditions--and no one can seem to agree on its name.

It's not only the stream: the access road, a Nature Conservancy cabin and a ranch adjacent to the preserve all bear the name Stalker/Stocker. The road--with its sign (Stocker Creek Road)--would seem to solve the issue, but maps and plaques often carry the "Stalker" name.

Over the years, there have been some creative explanations for the name. "Stocker" seems to fit a fishing stream, although all the fish in Silver Creek and its tributaries are wild, not stocked. Some have suggested that "stalker" alludes to the fact that a successful angler on the creek must stalk fish quietly and patiently to be successful. Even a careful angler will put many fish down here.

Alas, a recent look through historical archives has revealed the real source of the name (and the real spelling): The creek was named after an early settler of the area, James Tanch Stalker (1859-1940) who moved to Blaine County sometime in the late 1940's.

So Stalker it is, the road sign nothwithstanding. The names we give places are often full of meaning, and full of memories. Whatever you have called it, make sure you visit Stalker Creek again soon. The improbably huge trout sipping improbably tiny mayflies, the mink darting along the bank, the great blue heron flying to roost at sunset--all are still there, in one of Idaho's most special natural areas.

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