In 1897 William Campbell, the son of Scottish immigrants, came into the Salmon River canyon looking for a warmer, lower elevation location to raise crops to sell to miners in the cold, high country. The following year the last major gold strike in Idaho occurred forty miles south in the depths of the Idaho wilderness. Campbell seized the opportunity and built a ferry crossing and the Three Blaze Trail to the mine. In the winter of 1902-03 he went to the mine to collect for his trail building efforts. He disappeared on his way home. The check was never cashed. Other pioneers took up the challenge of taming this Merciless Eden.
Today Campbell's Ferry is surrounded by the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness and the canyon of the Wild and Scenic Main Salmon River. The property is 85 acres of deeded land surrounded by millions of acres of wild land. Access is via hiking trail, float or jet boat on the river, or a short 800' long private landing strip open only by permission. Campbell's Ferry is on the National Register of Historic Places because it made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history and is associated with the lives of persons significant in our past. Campbell’s Ferry is significant due to its association
with the Thunder Mountain gold rush, one of the last gold rushes in the American West. The site also represents ferry transportation, a mode of travel that was crucial to the settlement of the entire country in general and Idaho in particular. The ranch at Campbell’s Ferry illustrates the lives and lifestyles of backcountry settlers who dealt with the hardships created by the isolation and ruggedness of the Salmon River country. Campbell’s Ferry is significant as the home of Frances Zaunmiller Wisner, who chronicled day-to-day life there, and by doing so left a record that allows readers to understand the realities of life in the wilderness in the mid-twentieth century.