Friday, March 19, 2010

Born in the Iron Horse Parking Lot

Seriously.  There are lots of people who where born in the Iron Horse Parking lot at 4th & Lakeside in Coeur d'Alene.  Of course it wasn't a parking lot then, it was Lake City General Hospital.

Lake City General was a three story building with 36 beds and was at one time was considered on the cutting edge of medicine.  It wasn't unusual to have North Idaho's inured loggers sent there for treatment.  And countless babies were born at Lake City General.

Lake City was closed November 1966 when Kootenai Memorial Hospital (Kootenai medical Center, Kootenai Health) was opened at the I-90 and Hwy 95 junction.  And that's why there was an era when every kid in Coeur d'Alene who had a bicycle knew where Hospital Hills were.  But that's anther story for another blog.

After it ceased being a hospital a man named Francis Schuckhardt acquired the use of, and perhaps ownership of, the LCGH building.  Schuckhardt had risen to a top administrative position with the Blue Army a mainstream Catholic Marian organization but was dismissed in 1966 for condemning a Vatican Council.  The following year he founded a militarily traditionalist community in Coeur d'Alene called the Fatima Crusade which was housed in the old hospital.  Later the name was changed to the Tridentine Latin Rite Church.  

Locals still referred to the group as the Blue Army due to the blue habits the nuns wore.  And there a lot of them.  They traveled around in big white vans full of praying nuns.  A local inside joke was they were praying they wouldn't get in a wreck because it looked like even the driver was praying instead of driving.

Followers of Schuckhardt came to the area and started a community, The City of Mary, near Rathdrum.  By the mid 1970's the whole operation was moved to Mount St. Michael's outside of Spokane.

The hospital then became the home of a new company called Action Printers.  As it grew, Action Printers moved out and the building was acquired by Tom Robb of the Iron Horse, leveled and turned into the current parking lot.

So next time you hear someone say "I was born in the Iron Horse parking lot" you better believe them.

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