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Shoshone County and Its Courthouses

Shoshone Co. courthouse in Wallace, Oct. 1985

If you take the Friday tour to the Silver Valley (The Big Burn and Idaho's Silver Valley, led by Nancy Richardson and Keith Petersen, a 2012 National Preservation Conference Field Session), you'll probably see the Shoshone County Courthouse on Bank Street. It's a handsome Neo-Classical Revival building designed in 1905 by two Spokane architects, Lewis R. Stritesky and Robert C. Sweatt. The walls use concrete blocks made from recycled mine tailings. This the third official courthouse for Shoshone County and Wallace is the third county seat. Yes, there have been a few changes in Shoshone County in more than 150 years. Read more »

Camas Prairie Railroad

I love railroad trestles. They have enough angles and diagonals to make me think that my 10th grade geometry class may have had more relevance that I realized at the time. Some of the best trestles in Idaho are found on the Camas Prairie Railroad, easily seen from U.S. Highway 95 when driving between Lapwai and Grangeville. And if you take a short detour through Ferdinand along Old Highway 95, you can drive right through Bridge 40, which crosses the road more than 120 feet above the pavement. (Bridge numbers match mile numbers; when there is more than one bridge in a one-mile segment, they are numbered consecutively with decimals, such as Bridge 21.1, 21.2, etc.) Read more »


Those of us who live in the Idaho Panhandle refer to this area as North Idaho, as if it were a separate state. We live in the Pacific Time Zone, get our news from Spokane, and are more likely to follow Gonzaga basketball than Boise State football. We can drive to the capitals of nearby states more easily, and on better highways, than we can get to Boise. Sandpoint is 323 miles from Helena, 394 miles from Olympia, and 421 miles from Boise. Sometimes we feel worlds apart. Read more »

Ice Age Floods of the Pacific Northwest

It's raining again in North Idaho. After a snowy winter and wet spring, the Pack River is running high. The broken pilings from the old logging railroad bridge near the store are covered with water, something that always happens during a high water year. This is not unusual for North Idaho, however, and other years have been much higher. Old timers will be happy to tell you about the flood of 1948 when water crept up the streets in Sandpoint almost to the courthouse. And that flood paled in comparison with the one in 1894 that washed out many sections of railroad tracks around Lake Pend Oreille and forced the Northern Pacific to ship passengers and freight via steamboat between Ventnor and Clark Fork. The flood that year set the historic high water mark that remains unchallenged. Read more »

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