Sometime in 2007 or 2008, Snake River Pottery between Bliss and Hagerman Idaho faded into history. No new pottery studio appears to be emerging in Hagerman. The site of Snake River Pottery is now a private residence.
The owner and builder Aldrich “Drich” Bowler passed away January 16, 2007 at the age of 91 after running Snake River Pottery for 60 years. He built his former home and site of the Snake River Pottery with his long time friend and architect, Arthur Troutner, who he met at the University of Idaho. Art and Drich built the house by hand with very little money back in 1947. It was probably Troutner’s first residence. Troutner went on to design and build homes in the Ketchum-Boise region often using trademark stone that was quarried at a quarry owned by Troutner and his brother Paul in Oakley. That is the same stone used in the Teater house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and within view of the former Snake River Pottery. Troutner also designed the Kibbie Dome at the University of Idaho and the circular Boise Little Theater.
W. Mark Felt, “Deep Throat” of the Nixon-Watergate Era, was another long-time friend of Drich Browler. They had attended the University of Idaho together, as well. Drich Bowler had dated Felt’s future wife while attending high school in Gooding.
Drich Bowler was a co-founder and lead actor in the Antique Festival Theatre, which brought theater to small towns in the 60’s and 70’s. Drich had studied acting in New York City where he lived in a tiny apartment with Marlon Brando.
I remember my first visit to the Snake River Pottery in the late 90’s. No one was home, but a note was left on the door to help yourself and leave a check for whatever you decide to take. The vase we selected still has a prominent place in our home. On a subsequent visit, we were shown an old VW bug Drich had engineered that was powered by a dozen or so batteries and was used nearly two decades before our visit. At more than 25 years ago, it would have been Idaho’s first electric car.
It seems a shame that the Snake River Pottery has not continued as a tribute to Drich Bowler, an icon and integral part of the fabric that makes Idaho history.