The Hemingway Legacy

by Matt Miller, The Nature Conservancy in Idaho
The Nature Conservancy has installed a new memorial at its Silver Creek Preserve near Picabo celebrating the Hemingway family's conservation legacy in Idaho. Averell Fisk, a friend and fishing partner of Jack Hemingway, generously donated the funding for the memorial.

The memorial is located on the Kilpatrick Pond area of the preserve, located east and over the hill from the visitor’s center. The memorial is designed to be a quiet place of reflection, with a stone seating area overlooking the preserve. The epigraph from Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is etched on the stone. A trail leads from a parking area to the memorial; an interpretive sign on the Hemingway legacy at Silver Creek is planned.

“The Hemingway family is extraordinarily important to the conservation story at Silver Creek,” says Dayna Gross, Silver Creek Preserve manager. “Thanks to the generosity of Averill Fisk, we can now celebrate that legacy on the preserve and provide a place of reflection for the many Hemingway fans and friends who visit Silver Creek each year.

"You'll Love it Here, Schatz"
Ernest Hemingway began fishing and hunting at Silver Creek in 1939 when he visited the area as a guest of the Sun Valley Company, who owned the property at that time. 

When he first saw the preserve, Ernest wrote to his son Jack, “You’ll love it here, Schatz…There’s a stream called Silver Creek where we shoot ducks from canoe…Saw more big trout rising than have ever seen…Just like English chalk streams…We’ll fish it together next year.”

They did fish it together, and Jack was enthralled by the experience. Like many anglers, he was skunked on that first outing, despite rising trout everywhere. But he vowed to return—and he did, many times. Ernest was also a frequent visitor, and especially enjoyed hunting and shooting with local rancher Bud Purdy.

Jack eventually became a commissioner with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and was very involved with Idaho conservation issues.

The Hemingway Legacy

When Silver Creek came up for sale, Jack convinced The Nature Conservancy to buy the property. This year, thousands of anglers, photographers, naturalists and birders visited the preserve from all 50 states and 14 countries.

“Ernest Hemingway took the time to share the beauty of the outdoors with his sons, and that led directly to an extraordinary conservation success story at Silver Creek,” says Gross. “Just think if he had not introduced Jack to fishing. Today, with outdoor participation levels among youth at all-time lows, it’s time to recognize that tomorrow’s conservationists are not born in the classroom. They’re born in places like Silver Creek.”

Silver Creek Preserve is open to the public year round; visitors should sign in at the visitor center.

The Nature Conservancy also owns Ernest Hemingway’s last home in Ketchum, but because the property is in a residential neighborhood, it is not open to the public.

“The Silver Creek Valley remains much the same as it was when Ernest first visited here,” says Gross. “A visitor to our preserve can literally walk in Hemingway’s footsteps. You can experience the Hemingway legacy everywhere you look—with the flocks of ducks overhead, the rising trout, the mule deer walking along the water’s edge. Silver Creek was an important place for Hemingway, and we hope the many Hemingway fans who visit Ketchum each year include a visit to the memorial in their plans.”


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