Dugout Dick an Idaho legend

The COVID-19 pandemic has many people saying they feel like hermits. Months of staying home, avoiding others, going incognito with even the most stylish of masks, shopping online, and watching much less of the world go by outside the front door. That’s nothing.

Richard Zimmerman, best known Dugout Dick, had the hermit lifestyle figured out before we retreated into our cocoons. Shunning a picked a gorgeous site along the Salmon River and carved his home out of the mountainside. He created a series of dugouts, cabins and an orchard, and charged visitors to tour the property and stay awhile. He grew his own food and lived off the land before “off the grid” became the stuff of TV shows. He was a squatter until the Bureau of Land Management granted him a lifetime lease. One of his cabins has been preserved and was a fun discovery on a Sunday where-does-this-road-go drive.

Dugout Dick died in 2010. Watch this NBC news story to hear him sing as perhaps only he could, and learn more about the “Salmon River caveman.”


I am a photojournalist and photo editor in eastern Idaho.

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