Lost River Field Station

The Lost River Field Station (LRFS), north of Mackay, is an ISU teaching and research facility that many do not now about.

Lost River Field Station
Dr. Ben Crosby lecturing to students in the wind in the Pahsimeroi Mountains. The Lemhi Range forms the background. June 2016

LRFS is home to the ISU Geology Field Camp.  Field Geology is a 6-credit capstone course taken by about 10 ISU B.S. Geology students and about 20 out-of-state students each year.  In fact, the ISU Field Geology course is one of the best in the country, and has been taken recently by students from Harvard, Virginia Tech, Whitman, Pomona, and Pacific Lutheran colleges, as well as BSU, WSU, UI, and USU geology students.  For more details see the website http://geology.isu.edu/FieldCamp/

The facility is built on ten acres near Chilly Idaho, on the Big Lost River and directly in front of Borah Peak.  The barn contains a work room, kitchen, three full bathrooms and computer loft.  It was built in 2002 and donated to the ISU Geosciences Department in 2011 by Paul and Katie Link.

During the 5-week field geology course, students work six days a week.  Mapping exercises in the Pioneer, Boulder, and Lost River Mountains within an hour of LRFS.  This includes an incredible diversity of geology. Mapping areas include near Darlington, Borah Peak, Carlson Lake, Boulder Creek and Copper Basin. During the course, students make eight geologic maps, and are introduced to Geotechnology via mapping tablets and ARC GIS. 

The cook for the field camp for the last 14 years is Cathy Loupy, an ISU alumnus with a master’s degree in sociology.  Cathy operates the “best restaurant in three counties” and regularly makes vegan and gluten-free options, all while feeding 35 to 40 hungry young people every day.  In 2016 Loupy and her staff hosted up to 49 people for dinner, and twice cooked Alaskan salmon.  She is, in addition, a source of wisdom and stability for often-chaotic field geology situations.  She leads yoga every morning at 7 a.m.  She and camp director Paul Link have overseen the growth of the facility and the field course, from Memorial Day to the 4th of July, for 15 years. 

The building was designed and built by volunteer geology department labor, motivated by Link, Scott S. Hughes, former chair of the geosciences department and the last dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Allan Priddy, one of whose goals in life, after 10 seasons in Antarctica, was to build a field station.    

Ian Lauer was one of the students at the 2016 ISU Geology Field Camp.  Ian graduated from Century High in Pocatello, and his mother, Christie Lauer, is also an ISU alumnus, and worked for ISU in Accounting and Records, and Institutional research, retiring in 2011.  Ian’s wife Brandi, is also an ISU grad, with an A.A. in Massage Therapy.  After an internship in summer 2016 with UNAVCO , a consortium that furthers geoscience research and education using Geodesy, Ian will start a geosciences master’s degree program at  ISU, working with Dr. Ben Crosby.

The field geology class is the last one in Ian’s bachelor’s degree curriculum.  He thinks it is “a wonderful experience.  It is the most integrative and encompassing class of the curriculum.  It also is the most exciting, since we can go out and use what we have learned in classroom experiences.”  The field course is also useful because it “demonstrates that we have the skills necessary for a job”.  Ian calls the geology of central Idaho near Mackay “world class.  We could not ask for much better.”  Ian appreciates the diverse students from across the country, and learning about different people and their educational background .  “It is cool to see where everybody is in their geologic career, and how many different employment options are available to someone with a B.S. in Geology”.  He feels he is “more prepared than students from most other schools because ISU focuses on field experiences and using different skills.”  He sees the field geology course as an ‘ideal transition to graduate school”. 

The field station has been rented by the Central Washington University and University of South Florida geology field camps and a drone-flying team from the USGS in Salt Lake City.  People are welcomed to make donations to the ISU Lost River Field Station via the David Fortsch Endowment.  Please contact Frank Stewart, stewartf@isu.edu

IDAHO STATE UNIVERSITY

921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, Idaho, 83209

Discover opportunity at Idaho State University