By HOWARD KENT
2016 will soon become memories for the history books. I cannot help but harken back 100 years ago and recall some of the events that took place in Boundary County. We became Boundary County in 1915 and 1916 was our first complete year to function on our own.
On Jan. 1, Prohibition became the law of the land in Idaho. All saloons were no longer allowed to sell booze. At one time the town supported 18 saloons. At this time the town had issued only three liquor licenses the year before. To survive, some saloons converted to other business endeavors. It was said that 300 tons less ice was cut from the river as a result of Prohibition.
The county may have gone dry, but come spring things got a little wet, as the town experienced its second flood. It wasn’t as bad as the first one back in 1894, but many of the bridges that crossed the Moyie River had to be repaired. The road from Bonners to Eastport was closed for almost three months.
The steamboat “Crescent”, which operated up and down the river. had to wait until the middle of July before resuming its normal operations. The spring waters remained so high for so long that the steamer could not pass beneath the Kootenai Valley Railroad Bridge.
The new county jail was completed. It was located where the current public safety building exists. Next to it was the former first town school, then a hotel, and now the county’s first courthouse. The current courhouse occupies the site.
Mrs. Edward Bonner visited the town while traveling with friends to Glacier National Park. Her late husband and his business associates established a ferry and a trading post on the north side of the river in 1864. So, in 1916, Bonners Ferry was 52 years old.
A paper company from Wisconsin had a logging crew up Spruce Creek, then known as Ruby Creek, cutting pulp wood. The Timber was flumed nine miles down to Addie, where it was shipped out by the Spokane International Railroad.
The brick single-story First National Bank Building was completed. Depositors were pleased with its modern decor–it contained a washroom with a toilet. Later, in the 1920’s, an addition was added on its north side facing Main Street and the Masons had a lodge built on top. The post office occupied the west end of the building along with a grocery store. Originally the First National Bank was in a building which today is occupied by Bonners Books.
The town basketball team played the Round Prairie team at the new Settler’s Hall in Round Prairie. The score was 122 to 5. Country boys can pitch hay, but not basketballs. The structure was just east of today’s Branson Farm. The Forest Service burned the old building down in the early 1960’s.
The Fourth of July was celebrated on the Northside at Maugham’s Park, located below the bridge near today’s ball park. It included a dance pavilion.
The two-story brick Gray Block was built in 1910. The second story soon became the Commercial Hotel. In 1916, they added a third story with 16 rooms, a new lobby, and an electric elevator. Today it is Northern Treasures.
There’s talk that telephones are scheduled for the Curly Creek area. Contractor Clapp built a six-room brick house on the south side of west Madison Street on the South Hill. It’s still there.
The new two-story brick 7-12 school was dedicated in February. Eight graduated from high school in May. In later years, it became the Southside Grade School. The former first and second grade school building behind the two-story grade school was converted into a gymnasium for school and public use. All those structures were located at the site of today’s Oak Street Senior Apartments.
It was a cold winter that included 70 inches of snow. The Continental Mine had 12 feet of snow on the ground at one time.
The town completed the laying of four-and-a-half miles of sewer pipe. The days of those sometimes challenging visits to the outdoor pooper palaces may soon become a memory.
Remember back in 1905 when Fred Fisher’s famous White Caribou Bar existed on Main Street? Well if you don’t, stop in at Brody’s Pharmacy in the Enterprise Building and you can see many of those stuffed animals that once occupied his saloon. In later years, the white caribou mount disappeared, but it was rediscovered in 1964 at a museum in Newport, Wash. Finally, in the 1970’s, it returned home to the Boundary County Historical Museum.
The county’s major employers were the Bonners Ferry Lumber Company that operated just east of town, and the Schnoor’s Box Factory located just west of the “Rocks”. Unfortunately, the box factory burned down this year and was not replaced.
Well, there are many other recollections, but I shall stop at this point and wish you all a happy and prosperous 2017.