What’s in a name? From Black Cat to Frozen Dog, area roads provide history, mystery

By Kristin Rodine Idaho Statesman staff
September 11, 2018 04:02 PM, Updated July 09, 2019 05:35 PM

Cold names in Gem County

"For curiosity, Emmett’s Frozen Dog Road ranks right up there with Chicken Dinner.

Some say the name hearkens back to, well, a very cold canine. But a more widely accepted version gives the credit to William Hunter, who planted orchards in the Emmett area in the late 1800s, then went to Kansas City, where he wrote tongue-in-cheek newspaper columns about a fictional Idaho town called Frozen Dog. In 1905 he published a collection of those columns as “Frozen Dog Tales and Other Things.” The “other things” included various poems he dubbed “frozen dog-gerel.”

The freezing theme continues in Gem County with Freezeout Road, a name tied to the daunting Freezeout Hill.

According to the Gem County Web site, the hill got its name because early travelers entering the Emmett Valley from the southeast had to lock, or “freeze,” their wagon wheels and skid down the steep hill.

Lalia Boone’s “Idaho Place Names” book gives a more dramatic, but related, reason for the name: Early freighters approaching that incline in 1864 decided to spend the night atop the hill after watching one of their number tip his wagon in the attempt. They reportedly nearly froze to death before they could make it down the hill the next day."

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