100 Years Ago in Boundary County

1920 – 2020

Compiled by H. Kent

Since the 100th anniversary of the first Boundary County Fair is being commemorated in 2020, it is only seems proper that life in general in Boundary County should be given a review in 1920. The following segment was extracted from “A History of Boundary County 1800’s to 2019”




When the 18th Amendment was passed in 1919 prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcohol in the United States, local law enforcement officials soon realized that Boundary County’s close proximity to “wet” Canada would become a problem. Bootlegging activities kept Porthill, Eastport, and Bonners Ferry officials hopping until the law was repealed in 1933. Federal law enforcers in the area were few and far between.

The availability of automobiles had a major impact on the local population. New dealerships, auto repair businesses, accidents, and the demand for better roads were on the rise.

The district Forestry Office out of Missoula informed the Bonners Ferry Lumber Co. that they would rescind the sale of the tract of white pine timber on Callahan Creek unless they agreed to mill it in Montana. An unpresented action instigated by the people of Troy and others in Montana.

A. Klockman used snow machines with spiral drive drums to haul ore cars from the mine down to the river.

Cynide Gold Mining Co. announced that a compressor and gas engine, together with air drills and cable trams had been purchased and would be put into operation by the first of May. A fifty ton ball mill would be operating by July 1.

Byron N. Hawks, of Hawk’s Drug Store, bought the W. P. Mahoney residence in Park Addition. It’s the two story residence that sits atop the South Hill.

The U. S. Civil Service gave exams to those wishing to become the postmaster at Copeland. Salary was $227 per year.

L. N. Baker established the Kootenai Repair Shop when he leased the Nave garage building last year.

Cady & Pier of Libby took over Megquire’s Ford dealership with an office in Park’s Highway Garage.

The Bonner Tie Company had between 15 and 20 families with their homes at the camp and a population of over 100. A school house had been constructed. In 1919 the company put in several miles of flume with which to transport lumber, posts, and poles from the camp down to the S. I. Railroad at Meadow Creek.

The Herald has reported that many people when leaving the cemetery often don’t close the gate. Animals at large then wander in causing destruction and degradation to the tombstones and the grounds in general.  The gate must be closed.

The Kootenai Valley Commercial Club assisted with the national census. Boundary County had eleven voting precincts. The county’s population was 4,474 and the town boasted 1,236.

Being an election year the Herald was full of political stories. Like other communities across the country, the county’s mood was quite conservative. Memories associated with the agonies of World War I were still very fresh. Boundary County lost many of its boys and those who returned home were quiet about their experiences. Most people wanted to return to the way things were before the war. President Harding had been elected with the promise of a return to “normalcy”. The Republicans opposed America’s participation in the League of Nations, contending it would involve us in future European conflicts. A Republican victory swept the nation, including Idaho and Boundary County. It was the first time women voted nationwide.

Senator Borah had a speaking engagement at the newly opened Rex Theatre which at this time was located on the first floor of the Knights of Pythias Hall. He spoke in opposition to U. S. joining the League of Nations.

If things went according to plans, both sides of Main Street and a portion of Bonner Street would have concrete sidewalks.

The Boundary County Fair Association was organized with $10,000 capital stock divided into shares at $10 each.

C.W. Megquier had a brick addition added to his current garage. It had a 50 foot frontage and a cement basement. He received two car loads of new Fords with electric starters. Thus far, he had brought in 21 Fords for the year.

The Spokane International Railroad completed its fill work across Mirror Lake.

M. L. Rowe opened flour and feed store in the Cook building west of the International Hotel.

The first annual track meet of the schools of Boundary County was held in Bonners Ferry on a Friday afternoon. The high school played host to out of town eighth grade pupils. Tours of the high school were given. Walden’s Band played and the domestic science department provided supper.

T. Jefferies & H. S. Swenson bought the Shamrock Cigar Store from W. C. Cundell after it got busted for having four quarts of Canadian whiskey on the premises. Cundell had purchased the Shamrock from Jos. Banning, who had bought the building from J. L. Nave.

The summer Chautauqua season had six nights of the highest entertainment.

The Copeland School had a fly catching contest last week and a total 2,591 were captured. I wonder if the winner won special fly swatter trophy or maybe a shoofly pie. Yummy!

Town was without electricity due to a broken penstock at the Myrtle Creek plant. No lights or running water – ah! The good old days have once again returned.

W. L. Kinnear sold his three brick stores, warehouse, and the bldg. on south west Main c/o by the Interstate Utilities Co. for a total over $32,000.

L.N. Brown bought his corner store f/o by Club Cigar and five lots in the rear and moved his business across the street from the Gray Block. The center store will continue as Kinnear Klothing, except it will change its name to Boundary Dry Goods, and the south store continued as Kinnear Hardware. It remains as the last of his surviving buildings. Today it serves as Woody’s Gun & Pawn Shop. The other two adjoining buildings later burned. Their spaces serve today as a parking lot.

The Telephone Exchange purchased the frame bldg. at the south end of Main Street on the south side of the Casey Hotel. Today the site serves as part of the City Parking Lot.

Idaho laws proved to be stricter than the federal Prohibition laws by not allowing any alcohol in prescriptions. It was bad for those who developed the Bad Cough Syndrome at the onset of Prohibition. The curtailment of their weekly quarts of cough syrup not only led to fits of uncontrollable hacking, but severe bouts of spitting, swearing, and howling. How totally inhumane!

Kootenai Valley Times office was located in the International Hotel.

A number of Boundary County mines were active in the1920‘s. The largest mine, the Continental, continued to extract, mill, and ship ore to the smelters. Trucks were used to freight the ore down the mountain. As of August, 42 railroad carloads of lead ore had been shipped

The Bethlehem Mining Co. planned to ship ore soon.

The Schnatterly House Boat

After 15 years of development work and an expenditure of $700,000, J. M. Schnatterly stated that gold washing would begin in the spring. Forty men were employed at the mine. In the meantime, Schnatterly had a lavish 28 by 15 steel house boat built at Bonners Ferry for travel up the river to Leonia. Accordingly, the launch was a necessary expenditure for helping Schnatterly to improve his health that had been damaged by the stress of managing the Gold and Ruby Mine. However, by autumn unforeseen problems delayed the sluicing operations. In the dictionary next to the phrase, Flim-flam, should be his picture.

The Cynide Gold Mining Company made plans to do development work on its mines in the Deer Creek area. A fifty ton ball mill would be put into operation by fall.

A “Patron’s Day” program was established in the fall of 1919. High school and grade school students used the day to demonstrate what they had learned to the public. Another “Patron’s Day” took place on December 17.

As part of the continuing program of renaming schools with patriotic names, the Hooker School was renamed the “Sheridan” School. Thank Goodness! Maybe now fewer men will stop knocking on its door and asking if they could further their education.

The District 19 School at Porthill selected “Roosevelt”.

The Paradise Valley School became the “Lincoln”

The Naples school was renamed the ‘Pershing”.

The school at the Boulder Creek Mine was named “Susan B. Anthony“.

The Bonner Tie School was named the “Washington”.

The school district converted the house f/o by J. F. McGlocklin into a girl’s dormitory that would accommodate ten high school students who lived out of town.

The first annual Boundary County Fair took place on October 7, 8, and 9 at the city park on the Northside. Its theme was “Kootenai Stampede” and it was deemed a great success.

Talks continued about organizing the Boy Scouts.

Walden’s Band was organized 15 months ago and consisted of uniformed young people whom played at many public functions.

May 1 was observed in Idaho as “American Day” and all loyal men and women were encouraged to participate.

Bonners Ferry – Sandpoint Road

Road improvement projects took place between Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry and on the Mission Creek Hill.

Official members of the National Park to Park Motorcade were guests of the Commercial Club in September during a stop in Bonners Ferry. They were returning from Glacier Park and were heading next to Mount Rainer. They were met at the Idaho/Montana border and escorted to the city. Walden’s Band played as they were marched to the I.O.O.F. Hall for a banquet. The group’s mission was to make the government aware of the need for better roads so that people could visit the national parks.

An interesting situation occurred for the Motorcade at Glacier Park. They had to have their autos shipped from the east side of the park to the west side by the Great Northern flatcars. The Going-to-the-Sun road through the park had not yet been constructed.

There was talk of draining Mirror Lake in District No. 1. Land owners planned to create a petition for establishing a drainage district of 4000 acres.

C. D. Simonds had a 25×60 addition added to the rear of his drug store.

The Amazon Electric store moved from the Kent bldg. near the county bridge to a bldg. on the south side of the Amazon Theatre.

Joe Moe leased the Kent bldg. as a residence for the Chinese colony.

Joe Moe, also, leased the Monk bldg. on the corner of Main & Railroad Ave. and reopened the Seattle Restaurant.

Sing Mon, “Jumbo”, plead guilty to selling hard cider to a Kootenai Indian. Martin Fry acted as interrupter during the trial. As if spitting on your pie dough wasn’t bad enough – shame on you Jumbo!

Capt. Gray had a frame addition added to the International Hotel so Billy Ferbache could have a kitchen and dining room.

The Inland Empire Paper Mill at Addie was fined $25 for allowing sawdust to be deposited in the Moyie River. Trout were taking on a pulpy flavor.

The International Lumber Company made plans for opening company camps and a mill in the northern end of the county.

J. S. Bond and his son, Charles, installed a saw mill on Brown Creek.

The James Lazos’s Cigar Store and Pool Hall at Meadow Creek was destroyed by fire.

Four valuable cows belonging to the Fitzpatrick Bros. died after eating dynamite. Cows were attracted by the sweet taste found in dynamite. It was an udder disaster.

Myers & Strom purchased the Club Cigar business and the Kootenai Hotel block. Club Cigar was moved from the Kinnear bldg. across Bonner Street to the first floor of the hotel and L. N. Brown moved from the Gray Building across the street into the space.

The Pastime Cigar Store was sold to the Brooks Brothers.

Gay & Holsclaw leased Kent’s Hall for a service station and garage. It was called the Service Garage. The days of it being used for civic functions were over.

J. W. Reid made plans to build a three story hotel on the sites of the Bonner Hotel and the Alexander Building. The plans never materialized.

Paolucci’s Up-to-Date Shoe Store took a 5 year lease on the first floor of the Gray Bldg. He had f/o the George Wade bldg. which was now occupied by M. E. Cash’s Secondhand business.

On lots 5 & 6, Ralph Clapp constructed a six room two story frame house, with a bath, and a full basement in the Grandview Addition. It may be the former Morman residence on Jefferson /Washington Street at the top of the South Hill that is for sale.

The Crescent Garage made plans for constructing two adjoining brick bldg. Meeker acquired Megquire’s building on Bonner Street in the rear of the Myers & Strom building. J. W. Reid bought the frame bldg. on Main f/o by Maughan’s Plumbing and moved it to First Street to a lot next to M & B Carpenter Shop. I. D. “Dad” Lyons bought Megquire’s other bldg. with plans of moving it to the rear of his Amazon Theatre.

The Knights of Pythias sold 50 feet of frontage to E. B. Moore on the east end of Kootenai Street c/o occupied by White & White.

R. E. Clapp completed the new schoolhouse at Copeland. It was a modern one that had two large classrooms, a library, locker room, chemical toilets, and furnace heat.

A new siren fire alarm arrived and was installed on a 30 foot tower on the City lot near the river.

William Eaton died. He came in 1888 and established a mercantile business in the east end of town. He and his partner, Rosengrant, also operated a small steamer named the Alton. His last home was built on the site of his log warehouse. It later burned. The site would be where today’s roadway turns into the Oak Street Senior Apartments.

James Fitzpatrick died. He came in 1890 and homesteaded land east of town. He, his parents, brothers, and sister, through hard work, created the one of the largest and most improved ranches in Boundary County. It encompassed much of today’s District 15.

Boundary County Game and Fish Protective Association looked into the possibility of transplanting elk into the area, but found it to be a very expensive process.

In July the Rex Theater opened on the first floor of the Knights of Pythia’s Hall. (Bonnerport Mall site)

In August the first aeroplane landed just south of Malcomb Bruce’s residence on the South Hill. Rides were given and aerial photos of town and the surrounding area were taken. W. W. Ferbrache was the first up in the air followed by a dozen others.

Sid’s Barber Shop was next to the Herald Office.

100 Years Ago in Boundary County
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3 thoughts on “100 Years Ago in Boundary County

  • October 27, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    Very interesting. I have visited the museum a long time ago, l bought a copy of the History of Boundary County. The story of our great grandfather was on inside cover. Beautiful book and was happy my Mother got to use it before she passed.

    • November 3, 2020 at 5:17 pm

      Glad you found the article. The Museum historian, Howard Kent put it together this last summer before fair time.

  • February 8, 2022 at 6:42 am

    I grew up in Bonners Ferry. It was a time of innocence. The outside world was a million miles away. As a child the biggest issue was finding something to do. As long as chores were done the day was ours to roam and explore. My Father loved Boundary county. We spent many weekends driving up to the mountains, visiting the Black Mountain Ranger at the tower. Exploring the mines and fishing and picnics at Boulder creek. A great great Aunt used to visit Boulder City and play music for the locals. She wrote about it in her memoirs. My parents are gone as is most of the families I grew up with. But Mom and Dad still reside there in Grandview Cemetary overlooking the mountains they so loved. I haven’t been home in years. I’d rather keep the memories I’ve come to know.


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