Museum Musings: M.P. Bogle
By: Gini Woodward
Each year in May, the Idaho State Historical Society presents a series of programs throughout the state with a common theme for Idaho Archeology and Historic Preservation Month. This year honors the 75th anniversary of the New Deal, a Legacy of public works in Idaho. The Federal Writer’s Project, 1936-1940 documented American Life Stories. Part of an interview with M.P. Bogle by Veva V. Babb and G.H. Lathrop, in January, 1937, provides a personal narrative of a businessman included in the history of Bonners Ferry.
“Mr. Bogle, as a young man, arrived in Spokane from Stillwater, Minnesota, on August 10, 1889 to behold a city of tents erected over the ashes of the “Great Fire”. Mr. Bogle helped clean the streets of debris, sold newspapers and then opened a restaurant between Post and Lincoln streets. According to Mr. Bogle’s recollections, construction of the Spokane hotel was underway; J. W. Graham’s store was housed in a tent at Bernard and Riverside; Kemp & Hebert’s were a “Gents Furnishing” house, also in a tent; John Tilsley was operating a large grocery store at 505 Howard Street; McGowan Bros., Holly-Mason, Marks & Co., and Jensen-King-Byrd Co., were the pioneer hardware merchants.
“Mr. Bogle states that the winter of 1889-90 was one of the most severe ever experienced here. He had gone to Sprague to visit a sister, Mrs. Desmond, and while there was persuaded to buy same cattle. The temperature went to 33 degrees below zero, and as early as December the snow was 2 feet deep and stayed on the ground. Feed was scarce; hay was $40.00 per ton, and as the season progressed could not be obtained at any price. By spring Mr. Bogle had lost all but five cows. When the weather had moderated and the snow gone, Mr. Frank D. Garrett, then at Sprague, after bringing his flock of sheep through the winter with little loss, turned them out to graze. An unseasonable blizzard wiped out the flock at an estimated loss of $75,000.00. This same spring, 1890, Mr. Bogle and Mr. Desmond rode across country from Sprague to Grand Coulee. This territory was littered with the carcasses of thousands of cattle and horses. In the Grand Coulee, in many places, stock had piled up and died in the winter storms in such numbers that it was impossible to ride between the carcasses.
In 1891, Mr. Bogle, and Mr. Desmond entered the dairy business at Bonners Ferry.
“Floods occurred in 1895. At Bonners Ferry, the Great Northern railway tracks were under 8 feet of water, and train service was suspended for thirty days or more. About this time, Mr. Bogle was engaged in logging on a large scale in northern Idaho, delivering logs by way of the Kootenay River and Kootenay Lake to sawmills at Nelson, Kaslo and Pilot Bay in British Columbia.
“In 1894, Mr. Bogle, while prospecting in British Columbia near Fort Steele, located the first extension of the Sullivan Group mines. Mr. Bogle held this claim until 1906, selling it then for $350.00. A vast fortune has since been taken from that property. Mr. Bogle, Mr. Desmond and Jim Cronin, were camped at Moyie Lake when the “ST. Eugene” mine was discovered. An Indian discovered the ore and took it to a priest, Father Kocolo, who immediately realized its value. Mr. Cronin organized a company to develop the mine. Later, out of the proceeds, a home and independent income were established for the Indian, while Father Kocola received a substantial sum to further his missionary work.
“Interesting spectacles of the times were the pow-wows held when the Kalispell Indians of Montana would came to visit the Kootenay Indians of Idaho near Bonners Ferry.
“In 1902, Messrs. Stone, Shotes & Gleed, built a one-band sawmill at Bonners Ferry. This mill was later purchased by R. H. McCoy and, after being destroyed by fire, was rebuilt as a double-band mill.
In and about this period, he bought logged timber for the Weyerhaueser interests, and took out cedar and poles for the Lindsay Bros. (1899) at Priest River, Idaho. There was some white pine around Bonners Ferry; but yellow pine, red fir, and tamarack predominated. Mr. Bogle bought stumpage from the Northern Pacific railway, cut the timber and delivered the logs at Nelson and Kaslo, B. C. Mr. Bogle states that at this time the Humbird Lumber Co. was contracting for logs in the water. Cedar poles, 30′, were $2.00 each.”
For many years in the early 1900s Bonners Ferry Celebrated “Bogle Days” on the 4th of July. Photos and newspaper clippings are in a browsing book about Mike Bogle at the Boundary County Museum. Bogle’s influence was felt in several other North Idaho communities as well. More information about the Writer’s Project may be found at http://rs6.loc.gov/ammem/wpaintro/wpahome.html