Within a short drive of Pocatello, Idaho, lies a trail head leading to Slate Mountain. Three trails offer views of Pocatello and the mountains further east toward Wyoming. On a sparkling day in late December of 2017, we trekked up the newly completed Sterling Justice Trail. Without Pocatello’s notorious and frequent chilling winds, we couldn’t have asked for a better time to venture out.
Although the trails were perfect for our fitness level, it wasn’t just the trail or the spectacular views that intrigued me. It was the name of the trail and the legend that followed the man with such a fantastic name – Sterling Righteous Justice. What writer of western fiction could resist building a story around such a name?
His fame seems to be due to his dedicated efforts as a ranger to care for the forests and wilderness areas around the Portneuf River Ranger District. Born in 1884 on an cattle ranch near Hagerman, Idaho, he had a legitimate heritage to protect. All these simple facts aside, there must be more to the name. What dreams did Mr. and Mrs. Justice have for their baby boy to name him thus? The next thought that comes to my mind is how does such a name frame the character of a child? For not only is he Sterling Justice, he is Righteous Justice.
I am researching further, because I feel there is a story here. We are all stories, with or without the name. But names have impact. One of my names means two-faced, after the Greek god. That was a heavy burden to carry throughout my youth. Often and with concern, I wondered if it applied. Then, when I was an adult, a woman presented a talk in our school and gave a different meaning. Hers was ‘beloved of God’ or ‘gift of God’. It was a revelatory moment and I recall breaking down in tears feeling as though I had been anointed with new life.
It makes me ponder how much this man’s life and character were shaped by the weight of his name. He is credited as leaving a living legacy. I’d say he made his parents proud.
Do you have a similar story? I’d like to hear it.