26th April 2018

If you have an interest in agriculture and farming, or just a broad interest in Boundary County and its history, you will be excited to know that our local Boundary County Historical Society recently received a $2,000 grant to develop interpretive panels for an upcoming exhibit depicting our County’s agricultural history. These informative graphic panels will be placed in locations inside and outside the Museum.

The Idaho Humanities Council awarded $72,658 in grants to organizations and individuals at its October, 2017 board meeting in Boise. These grants are supported in part by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Idaho Humanities Council Education Endowment.

The custom and culture of agriculture in Boundary County is best characterized as varied and is predicated on the unique environmental and soil resource conditions found in our area. The agricultural soils of this area are sedimentary in origin, highly fertile, and structured for a wide range of crop adaptability.

Agriculture is a business, and as such must maintain some level of profitability over time to survive. Over the past hundred years, the production of crops and livestock have changed in response to reclamation and technological advances in equipment, production practices, crop varieties and livestock breeds, transportation, marketing, and communications. The aim of the new panels being prepared is to capture in word and photos the importance and value of agriculture to the local economy of our County.

So how to reflect in graphic form the development and growth of agricultural enterprise in Boundary County? The process involved in this project began back in April 2017 with a group of the local farm community coming together in “round table” format to discuss possibilities, topic ideas, and general direction for the agricultural interpretive panels. Following this initial gathering of ideas, the grant application was made to the Idaho Humanities Council in last September. The Grants Board met in October, and notification was received a month later that our Historical Society was awarded the grant. The real work then began in gathering photos, preparing news articles, maps, and various documents and papers, written by University of Idaho students, local Historian Howard Kent, and Field Researcher Terry Howe.

What began as a project with four panels and a map grew and evolved into a much larger undertaking. In planning the display, conversations among the text committee were known to exclaim, “…but we can’t forget…what about the story of…this is a very large subject …What do we know about farming? We need an expert here!”

At last, in April of this year, after careful scrutiny by our Humanities Scholars and local expert farming family Tom and Tracy Iverson, the panels were ready to present to the “round table” experts for their perusal. Each panel was presented and discussed. Receiving approval for the final draft, the panels are now in the hands of Graphic Artist/Designer/Photographer, Andrea Kramer who will design the photo/text layout in preparation for printing.

A total of seven panels will ultimately be prepared, each featuring a different aspect of Boundary County agriculture. Each week a different panel will be discussed in a story right here on NewsBF, culminating in a dedication ceremony for the entire project scheduled for Saturday, June 9 at the Museum.

The first interpretive panel has to do with the Geology of Boundary County. The Geologic features of Boundary County are the results of uplifting, faulting, and glaciation. The rugged Selkirk Mountains to the west are part of the Priest River uplift presenting an abrupt face contrast to the lowlands we know as the Kootenai Valley.

The broad, low valley of the meandering Kootenai River is but a small part of the Purcell Trench, which extends from Coeur d’Alene Lake to beyond the north end of Kootenay Lake in British Columbia.

To the southeast of the valley rise the Cabinet Mountains, which feature glaciated high valleys surrounded by spectacular cliffs and sharp-crested ridges.

Above the river flood plain lies the Bench Land which extends northeast from Bonners Ferry toward Porthill and into Canada. This ancient bench has a gently rolling topography which adjoins the Purcell Mountains.

These geologic features have created landforms, water sources, and soils conducive to agriculture. The accompanying photo shows the Selkirk Mountains to the west, the Kootenai River Valley, and the Bench Land to the east.

Watch for upcoming stories on the other graphic display panels that are being prepared, leading up to the June 9 dedication.

Agriculture in Boundary County
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