Mountain Man of Idaho
Pat Cary Peek
The state of Idaho named a mountain for him when he died in 1936. Cougar Dave Lewis, miner, guide and bounty hunter, was as wild and free as the mountain, as independent and solitary, as unfathomable and some would say as stubborn and immovable as the peak that bears his name. He lived alone in the center of what is now the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and played a part in establishing the original Idaho Primitive Area.
During the 1920's and '30's, David Lewis guided hunts for some of the most influential men in Idaho and across the country, including Governor H. C. Baldridge, Frederick Weyerhaeuser and Claude Fordyce, editor for Outdoor Life.
The Idaho Statesman called him "one of Idaho's most colorful characters" and numerous articles in newspapers and magazines featured him, but he never told anyone where he was born and raised. In the 1910 census he claimed to have been born in Arkansas, in 1920 he said Wales, and in 1930 it was Illinois. Why did he refuse to let the word "Oregon" pass his lips?
Pat Cary Peek, author of
One Winter in the Wilderness, the Idaho Library Association's book of the year for
1998, unravels the mystery of his early life through personal interviews and painstaking research. She follows his life from Oregon to Idaho where he worked as a miner, civilian packer during the Sheepeater War, professional hunter and guide. He maintained his silence about his origins until his life's journey came to a surprising end.