The Flying U Ranch is nestled in Cottonwood Idaho along the majestic Snake and Salmon Rivers and spans for an impressive 40,000 acres where its roots trace back to former owners, David and Sarah Van Pool. The Flying U Ranch, previously known as the Van Pool Ranch, dates back to 1911 when the ranch was first settled. Improved upon for the next eight years, David met requirements for the original land grant and began acquiring more homestead properties. His hard work paid off as he gained capitol and eventually bought out local neighbors until his retirement in 1934. One of David’s most notable transactions was in his acquisition and consolidations of the Quarter Circle V Ranch as this led to the formation of one of the largest ranches in northern Idaho.
The ranch then transferred operations to the next generation in Harold Van Pool and his wife Alta. Harold was able to bring his skilled trades to significantly improve the ranch as he was both a skilled blacksmith and self-educated veterinarian. He learned these skills while working as a horse packer for the U.S. forest service where he packed supplies to stations in the mountains behind Avery and St. Maries. His wife Alta attended the University of Idaho, Moscow, earning degrees in science and physical education. As a student, Mrs. Van Pool was an active participant in many types of sports and was captain of the University’s girls rifle team. Alta even managed to received an expert marksman award from a representative of Gen. John J. Pershing.
During the summer months, Harold and Alta could be found living at Spring Creek on Joseph Plains. In the winter, they chose to live on the river near Dry Creek landing. The Van Pool’s ran their final cattle drive in 1968; Alta at the age of 62 and Harold at age 67. The two managed the ranch for 43 years before selling it to White Swan Lumber in 1969. The Van Pool’s willingness to aid others in the remote area of the now, Flying U Ranch, did not go unnoticed as their heroism was later published in Len Jordan’s book “Life Below Hells Canyon.”