Friday, January 29, 2010

When Winter Was Winter

There was a time when almost every winter in North Idaho was winter.  Winter as in cold and snowy.  

It wasn't unusual to have lake families and students cross the ice to go shopping or to school.  It was a lot shorter than driving around the lake.  [And if you think Idaho roads are bad now, imagine them in the first two thirds of the 1900's.]  Remember that the lake was a main transportation route for decades, summer and winter.  Steamboats were constructed specifically to serve as icebreakers to keep the lake open in the winter.

The above photo was taken by Kyle Walker in the early 1950's.  Take a good look before you read the next line and see if you can tell where it was taken.  Got it?  Yup, right off City Beach in Coeur d'Alene.  The trees in City Park are the background and a couple of the great old classic homes on West Lakeshore Drive are clearly visible on the left.  

What a nice guy this was, taking his tractor out on frozen lake Coeur d'Alene to clear an ice skating area.  He had to be Mr. Popular by the looks of all the skaters.  This looks to be perhaps 100 feet from the shoreline.  No telling how much that John Deere weighed but we must assume the ice was thick enough to hold it.

When was the last time you remember lake Coeur d'Alene freezing over to this degree?  In my 54 years, I can only recall a few times it froze at all, let alone getting ice this thick.  Fernan freezing is one thing, but it has to be cold for a long time to close in Coeur d'Alene.

After two record breaking snow winters, this year is a cakewalk.  While I do worry about snow pack up high, I for one don't miss shoveling my driveway this year.  But, winter ain't over yet!


Monday, January 25, 2010

This Day in Idaho History

January 26, 1931    Mountain Bluebird adopted as Idaho State Bird

The Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) is a medium-sized bird weighing about an ounce, with a length from 6–8 inches. They have light underbellies and black eyes. Adult males have thin bills. They are bright blue and somewhat lighter beneath. Adult females have duller blue wings and tail, fake grey breast, grey crown, throat and back.

The Mountain Bluebird is migratory. Their range varies from Mexico in the winter to as far north as Alaska, throughout the western U.S. and Canada. Northern birds migrate to the southern parts of the range; southern birds are often permanent residents

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Huddy and a Beer?

Once upon a time you could get a Hudson Hamburger and a beer.  Or a cocktail.  Seriously.

In the 1960's and into the 1970's there was a place caled the Pub Lounge located at 205 1/2 Sherman, right next to Hudson's at 207 Sherman.  There was a little door about 8"x8" between the two and if you were in the bar and got hungry for a burger you could ask the bartender to order you one, or two.

As a kid I remember sitting at the counter, eating my Huddy burger and seeing the little door open and an order passed to Roger Hudson,  The order was filled, passed back through the little door and cash handed back.  About the time I came of age The Pub closed and things changed forever.

You'll have to get a to-go order and take it to wherever your brew is nowadays, but rest assured, it's the same great burger cooked on that very same grill.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Native American Connection to the Past

In case you missed the first session last week, here's a brief recap.  There is a wonderful series on local history that started last week and continues through April.  These 2 hour presentations by historian Robert Singletary are held at the CdA Library and are free of charge and open to the public.  For more information check out

Last week was the opener and focused on the Native American connection.  Here's a very brief overview of some of the things discussed that night.

The term reservation comes from a proclamation made in 1763 where a line was drawn "reserving" land for the Indians.  Of course, over the decades these lines were moved, changed and even eliminated as the United States expanded.  Many of these changes were made to exploit natural resources.  As an example, when gold was discovered at what is now known as Orofino (Spanish for "fine gold") the size of the Nez Perce Reservation was dramatically reduced.

The fur trade was one of the most valuable businesses in America and it was trappers and traders who first made their way through this area.  Many of these men were Christians and bore a cross.  Indians were curious and wanted to know more about the religion of the white man.  Flatheads made four trips to St. Louis in the 1930's to ask for a "Blackrobe" to come and teach Christianity.  But it was the Protestant missionaries Spaulding and Whitman who beat the Catholics into Idaho in 1835-36.

The advent of horses allowed the tribes to travel to hunt and trade.  It wasn't unusual to have these missions last 2-3 years.  The Coeur d'Alene, Nez Perce and Kootenai tribes were known to travel as far as the plains to hunt buffalo.

After Custer's defeat at Bighorn the government made efforts to move the Nez Perce to a reservation.  The story of how Chief Joseph led the Nez Perce on a sojourn to Canada, only to be captured short of their goal in north central Montana and moved to Oklahoma is worthy of any interested in this history.

Army Col. George Wright was assigned to solve the "Indian problem" in these territories.  One notable act was the systematic slaughter of Spokan Tribe horses at the present location of the Washington Port of Entry is at the Idaho Washington state line.  A stone monument still stands adjacent to the rest area.

The name Qualchan (Golf Course in Spokane) refers to from Qualchan (son of Yakama Chief Owhi) who had carried out raid on settlers and prospectors.  Hangman Creek is named from where Col. George Wright had Qualchan hung within 15 minutes of arriving at his camp.

This is just a small taste of what Mr. Singletary presented in this first of 12 evenings.  Don't miss the next Connections session this Thursday night.  The topic is Lewis & Clark.

Monday, January 18, 2010

On This Day in Idaho History, 18 Jan

1848 Cornerstone laid, Cataldo Mission

The Mission of the Sacred heart was originally located on the banks of the St. Joe River in 1843.  Continued floods caused a move to the current location in Cataldo in 1846.  Father Antonio Ravalli designed and constructed the new mission with the help of two Brothers and members of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.  The main structure of the church building was up and in use by 1853 and was finally completed in 1865 when Father Caruaba had the inside and outside walls covered with clapboard.

Interesting to note was there wasn't a single nail used in the original building.  Wooden pegs were used to hold it together.  Prior to the clapboard siding, the walls were made of grass and straw were woven on a framework of sticks between the uprights and covered with mud.  The only tools used were a broad axe, auger, saw, rope and pulleys.  The molding on the ceilings and statues were hand carved with a pen knife.

The Mission was declared a Registered National Historic Landmark in August, 1963.

Monday, January 11, 2010

This Day in North Idaho History, Jan 12

1907 Act drafted to create Bonner County from the northern part of Kootenai County

Kootenai was a very large county (see Jan 9) and it led to discussion of dividing it up to manage jurisdiction and cut the time and expense of court cases due to the distances people had to travel.  On January 12, 1907, an act to create and organize Bonner County from the northern part of Kootenai County was drafted and introduced by State Representative Taylor.  The bill passed the House and Senate without opposition.

Friday, January 8, 2010

This Day in North Idaho History, January 9

1867, Idaho Territorial Legislature extends Kootenai County's souther border to what is now Latah County.

This created an area of 8,300 square miles, as big as Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware and gave county commissioners the authority to locate the county seat.  But it would be 14 years before the county was fully organized.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

This Day in Idaho History, 5 January

January 5, 1908, citizens meet to discuss the incorporation of Spirit Lake as a town.

Prior to the white man's arrival, Native Americans named the lake Tesemini meaning Lake of Spirits.  Legend has it that the daughter of a Chief eloped with a brave against her father's wishes.  Rather than risk being taken and separated, the young lovers jumped from a high cliff into the lake.  The legend says their bodies were never found because the lake spirit had carried them away.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Learn About Idaho History

Regional historian, Robert Singletary, will offer a free 12-part regional history series at the Coeur d'Alene Library beginning in January. Topics will range from Native American history through the creation of Farragut Naval Station. This series will be held in the Community Room at 7 p.m.

Jan. 14th:The Native American Connection
Jan. 21st: The Lewis & Clark Connection
Jan. 28th: The Fur Trade Connection
Feb. 3rd: The Missionary Connection
Feb. 10th: The Mullan Road Connection
Feb. 18th: The U.S. Army Connection
March 3rd: The Gold & Silver Connection
March 10th: The Railroad Connection
March 18th: The Steamboat Connection
April 8th: The Timber Connection
April 15th: The Tourism Connection
April 29th: The Farragut Naval Connection

Listed as History 505, this series is also good for 3 credits from the University of Idaho.  To register for credit call 208/667-2588.

What St. Vincent did in 2009

It's more than just a Thrift Store.  St. Vincent de Paul helps people in crisis.

DOCUMENTED FACT: In 2009, St Vincent de Paul North Idaho’s Homeless Prevention & Rapid Re-Housing has kept has prevented 332 Families from becoming homeless at a cost of $91,054.67

DOCUMENTED FACT: Between the Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls Thrift Stores $317,084 was donated to help other in our community.

DOCUMENTED FACT: The St Vincent de Paul H.E.L.P. Center has had 4,695 people come through its doors from July 10, 2009-December 30, 2009 to receive help of the 17 governmental and nonprofit agencies who provide service.

DOCUMENTED FACT: In 16 days SVDP has had 94 beds filled in the new St Vincent de Paul Warming Center.

A tip 'o the hat to St. Vinny!