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.


  1. It's Seeweewana according to several sources.

    According to one source I found, John Finney and his brother built the boats in 1946 and sold them to Hagadone in 1986. There is no mention of their fate. Perhaps a call to John's nephew Fred (he's one of the current cruise captains) would clear up the mystery.

    The Finney's lived down the block on Park Drive from my grandparents.

    Hagadone's website (cdaresort.com) states that the Mish-an-Nock was built in 1968, so it is not the Dancewana.

    The google search I did also revealed that John got in trouble with the Coast Guard after the boats were launched and he started taking passengers on the lake. He failed to get proper licenses, failed to have someone on deck watching for potential danger, and the many decorative lights atop the dance floor part of the ship violated navigation lighting regulations. He was fined, but on appeal, he was assessed a three month suspension in 1951.

  2. "the many decorative lights atop the dance floor part of the ship violated navigation lighting regulations"
    They must have changed those since. ;-)

    Good info. Seeweewana, thank you! I know there was one of the tour boats that was sunk out there in the mid/late 80's. I somewhere have a VHS of the sinking that I taped off the local news. A couple local divers went down with the ship, so to speak.

  3. I found more...the following webpage includes an article from the Spokesman-Review archive that reveals that the Seeweewana was sunk twice. Once by accident (some pulled a plug causing it to sink) at the Finney summer home and boat works in Squaw Bay, and the other on purpose by Tom Michalski who purchased the sunken craft from the Finney family and raised the boat from the bottem using floats. The article states that Michalski then sank the boat in 80 ft. of water near where some of the sternwheelers were sunk (between Three Mile Point and Kidd Island - Dad and I used to fish there for bluebacks). It was his intention to use the ship as a location for his dive school. I believe Michalski was a classmate of my brother Mike in the CHS class of '69. The article also talks about saving the old Jr. High from the wrecking ball...didn't happen of course.


  4. A-ha, it was the Seeweewana I remembered in that.

    Oh, don't even get me started on how the CdA City Council was swept one election on a one issue campaign and then had no foresight in regards to the Jr. High. Damn shame.

  5. Junior High on 7th and Montana... the building with the indoor banked track above the gym... what a shame indeed! both the North and South buildings.
    Remember the White Pine and the Viking for lunch!?

  6. Oh yeah, that was the only place in the world I ever actually enjoyed running. The banked track was a blast. I was a brown bagger but knew the candy counters well.

  7. Those buildings could have been put to some good use as a community center or something. I have memories of thick black coal smoke coming out of the chinmney during the winter when the boilers were cranking.

  8. I could be a historian on this subject having worked for the cruise boats back when they were owned by John Finney and managed by Fred Finney.

    In a nutshell.....The Dancewana you see in this picture had the hull replaced by an all steel hull around 1960. (tells you how old that picture is) What you see in this picture are pontoons lashed together. In 1980 the hull was extended to accomodate 2 diesel engines. At that time the Seeweewana was placed into retirement. The very next year the wood cabin was replaced with an all new steel superstructure. It sailed as the Dancewana up through the late 80.s Its name was changed to the Coeur D' Alene a few years after Finney Transportation was sold to Hagadone.

    My guess is this picture was taken with a crowd of girls headed to either Camp Sweyolokan or Niewalu for a week or two summer camp.

  9. The Mish-A-Nock was built at Dolph Boat Works in Post Falls in 1968. Howard Dolph, now deceased, was the original owner/builder. His boat works was located right next to the river on Greensferry on the north side of the river. There was, at one time a bridge that connected south and north Greensferry right next to the boat works. As one of Mr. Dolph`s nephews,and at an early age of 10, I remember stories of uncle Howard setting dynamite to that bridge because his boat works needed more space.