branding iron ©Author Adventures
ERB’s snake-shaped branding iron ©Author Adventures

Edgar Rice Burroughs

As a young man, Edgar Rice Burroughs (“ERB”), best known as the prolific writer of Tarzan, worked on his older brother’s ranch in the Snake River area of Idaho. This required new survival skills of the urban teen, and the experience impacted his life and writings for many years to come.

The author (1875-1950) began writing serials that evolved into books, comic books, movies, television, games, and more. He was an entrepreneurial pioneer who took full advantage of the new media opportunities of his day. In his later years, he became the oldest war correspondent covering World War II after witnessing the bombing of Pearl Harbor from his home in Hawaii.

Snake River

An excellent article about Snake River can be found at https://www.americanrivers.org, and a summary of Burroughs’s Snake River days is at https://offbeatoregon.com. According to the offbeatoregon.com article:

“Edgar was the younger brother of George and Harry Burroughs, prominent ranchers in the Pocatello area of southern Idaho and partners in the Sweetser-Burroughs Mining Company. And Edgar was there to manage the company’s newest venture: a gold dredge that would work the Snake River on the border between the two states. Edgar was a bit different from his two older brothers, who were sober and successful Yale graduates. Edgar was the baby of the family, and over the years since he’d left home, he’d been a bit flighty, never seeming to be able to settle down and commit to anything. Chances are that had a lot to do with something that had happened to him when he was just 16 years old: He’d spent the summer of 1891 working as a cowboy. With boots, chaps, spurs and cuffs. Riding and roping, driving cattle, sleeping under the stars — the whole bit.”

Recently, a branding iron shaped like a snake and bearing ERB’s initials was found in the vicinity of his former ranch in Tarzana, California. It is on display at the Tarzana Community & Cultural Center in California (mytarzana.org) and pictured on this page. (Tarzana is in the western part of the San Fernando Valley of Greater Los Angeles and has a population of approximately 40,000.)

Bring your hiking boots, a magnifying glass, a camera, and river-rafting clothes and jump on 101 things to do in this outdoor wonderland! Swing into the adventures of Tarzan (available free on booksshouldbefree.com) while you take in the scenery.

Read more about Burroughs landmarks through our California and Michigan pages.

This is the fourth stop on our Idaho Author Adventures Trail!

Patricia Smart