Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Last Log Drive in America

Once upon a time, most young men who grew up in this area worked at least once for a sawmill, logger, farmer, rancher or in the mines. I did some time at the Potlatch Rutledge mill which is now the CdA Resort Gold Course (see previous entry for photos). I went to school with a number of guys who were 2nd and 3rd generation loggers. Fellow CHS Class of 73 twins, Bart and Mark Turnbull, were both killed logging. Anyone who's ever cut firewood in the forest can identify with the work, and peril, that goes into falling and removing timber.

Logging has been big business in North Idaho since the late 1800's. While modern equipment has improved safety and efficiency, olden times saw very dangerous and difficult work. Timber was often felled in the winter and logs run down flumes to a river where they would be floated toward sawmills. High waters of spring were when most of these log drives were run. But with a wild river ran and receding waters, lots of logs were hung up along the river.

To free these logs, river rats worked from the head of the drive, down river. Using boats to move workers, these hearty men stood in ice cold waters and worked peevees and pike poles (see photo) to roll logs back into the flow. Often jams were so tight they had to blast them with dynamite.

The men lived on Wanigans, 2-3 connected barges that had a kitchen/mess hall, sleeping quarters and equipment. The Wanigan was moved down river along with the drive, drives lasting anywhere from a week or two to a month or more.

Dad was contracted by Potlatch to make a 16mm film called From Forest to Home which started with felling and ended with lumber ready for construction. This was 1966 and Dad filmed what would be the last log drive in America, on the Clearwater River. By that time, flumes were out and trucks were used. The above photo is from that excursion and shows men trying break free a jam.

I was maybe 11 and got to go with Dad on this trip and I will always cherish the memories of this long gone operation. We got to tour and have lunch on the Wanigan (good cooks were highly valued and the fresh banana cream pie was the best I ever had).

Also filming during this drive was Walt Disney Studios for the movie Charlie the Lonesome Cougar that was released in 1967. It was the tale of a cougar raised by loggers and the misadventures of this combination. The filming was complete and while I didn't see any Hollywood activity, I did get to visit Charlie who was in a big cage on the back of the Wanigan. The movie was narrated by cowboy singer Rex Allen who did a number of similar films for Disney. Rex was a friend of my dad's and I remember him as a very warm and funny man. He'd always stop by when he was in the area and he always clowned around to my delight.

Anyways, I've been reading local history books and about the lives of loggers, and of the many lives lost. Looking back I am blessed to have had a father with whom I got to experience so many wonderful things. I ran across this photo recently and felt compelled to write this blog. If you find this interesting I urge you to read the books Hardships & Happy Times, Caulked Boots, Swiftwater People and North Fork of the CdA River by Bert Russell (buy at the Museum of North Idaho) and/or White Pine: King of Many Waters by Clarence Strong and Clyde Webb.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Dancewana

Hello girls!

It's 1957 and the Dancewana is pulling out, or should I say is being pulled out, with a load of young ladies ready for a day on beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene.

I say pulled out because the Dancewana was really just a barge. On the left you can see part of the Sea-we-wana (correct spelling?) that was the power sister to the Dancewana.

Steamboats may have plied the waters of Lake Coeur d'Alene in the early half of the 1900's but in the middle of the century this was about all that was left of the lake's tourism business. The Dancewana was then what the CdA Resort's fleet is today. Other photos I've seen show the decks loaded with sailors from Faragut NTS, all no doubt hoping to snag one of the local lovelies like seen here.

Now here's where I'm asking for help with info. Did the Dancewana end up as the Mish-a-Nock? Wasn't the Sea-we-wana purposefully sunk about 20 years ago to provide divers a piece of history to explore?

Correct or confirm please.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dr. Hamilton Greenwood

Here's another photo Dad took, this one of Dr. H.H. (Ham) Greenwood and his 26 pound Kamloop taken in 1954. He also caught a premie from my Mother on May 8 of the next year at Lake City General Hospital (yup, can you believe I was an incubator baby? fooled all of them!). Ham and his wife, Mary, lived in a beautiful house on Government Way and I loved to visit when I was a little kid. He had the biggest, most comfortable leather chair in a room just off from the front door. He looked sort of like Captain Kangaroo and he had this wonderful deep voice with a great laugh and a great sense of humor. Just another wonderful local who I got to know as a kid growing up in CdA.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Before the Coeur d'Alene Resort

The top photo is of the "new" North Shore Motor Inn. I'd guess mid to late 60's. Looking around it you can see the outdoor pool at center rear and convention center on the east end. Above the North Shore is Templin's, the Desert Hotel across the street and Playland Pier closer to the park. Just east of the convention center is Inland Marine and you can clearly see that boat docks were aplenty.
Where Independence Point parking is now was then just a dirt lot. The Milwaukee Road building is gone by the time this was taken. On Northwest Blvd what is now the Museum of North Idaho was then the Co-op Supply, the west end turn around for Sherman's cruisers.
At the corner of 2nd & Sherman is the Telephone/Johnston Building prior to being covered with the black facade that still covers it. The then new JC Penny store sits center of the block where the CdA Resort Plaza is today (having been moved from it's previous location which is now Brix).
The North Idaho Junior College campus is visable, well at least the one main building that it was at the time. The recently closed DeArmond stud mill is showing smoke from the burner and you can see where Hwy 95 crosses the Spokane River between it and NIJC. Yup, go straight to cross to Blackwell Island and head south or turn left onto the Dike Road.
The lower photo of the expanded North Shore would have been taken in 1972. I know that as I worked as a dishwasher in the brand new Cloud 9 resturant that summer (a job that sucked so bad when I quit after 8 days I was the longest employed dishwaher).
Of course all this is now the world famous CdA Resort. Things change and how many of us have watched Coeur d'Alene go through these changes in our lifetime.
As usual, stay tuned for more historic photos. And please pass The Old Koot on to anyone you know who would enjoy seeing CdA the way it was.

Friday, August 7, 2009

North Idaho Land Rush

Lake lots for $2,000? Yup, just get in a time machine and go back 40 years.

Ozzie Walch was an interesting guy. He was a yell leader at the U of Idaho, I wish I had a copy of the photo of him with the megaphone. He was known as The Wizard of Oz and had a CdA Lake resort with the Land of Oz theme. And he was a real estate pioneer of sorts for lake property as this ad shows.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More CdA City Beach Scenes

Here are two more recent photos of City Beach. These were taken after the changing rooms were taken out from under Playland Pier. The lower photo clearly shows where the steps went from the seawall down to the water. That's where the walkway to the dock is visible in my previous blog photos.
Both photos clearly show how the docks were situated and where the swim meets would have been in between. The lower photo also has the island dock and beyond it, the Union 76 Ball (sign) for the gas dock. It also shows the North Shore in the background so it would be the mid to late 60's. The upper photo I'm guessing is a few years later.
Thanks to all who make comments and add to the memories or clarify things I may have missed or are mistaken about. Stay tuned, I still have more to come.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Great Place to Cool Down

Ah yes, City Beach and the Park. It's been a popular place for decades. I'm guessing the first photo was taken in the late 1940's. Note where the steps go from the park, a ramp crosses the beach and goes out to the docks. Fully dressed people, including a sailor, are on the dock.

The lower photo was probably taken in the late 1950's. You can see more docks and Playland Pier in the background. The porthole windows were the doors on changing rooms. Those were removed in later years, I don't remember them. Also visible are the carousel, rockoplane, ferris wheel and swings. The swings were a favorite because you literally swung out over the water on the ride. The buildings behind housed the bumper cars, the arcade and snack bar.

There were 3 docks at City Beach, the one the sailor is on in the top photo, an L shaped dock that faced it and an island dock out farther. You can see them better in the 2nd photo. Lane ropes were strung between the main docks and swim meets were held there.
Log booms and docks were not always in the same place. It seemed like every couple years the configuration was tweaked. Now the only thing left is the swim area perimiter boom. I suppose docks were removed to lessen the liability. I miss the days when people were actually responsible for their own actions.
More pics to come, stay tuned.