Walking through history in Cd'A - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Walking through history in Cd'A

Local historian Singletary begins summer tours

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Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Spend 30 minutes with local historian Robert Singletary, and you will learn more about the early beginnings of Coeur d'Alene than you could anywhere else.

Spend an hour and a half on his historic walking tour of Fort Sherman and downtown Coeur d'Alene and you'll get it all.

Singletary launched his walking tours last month and they will continue every Tuesday through Saturday until mid-October.

The tours begin at Fort Sherman on the campus of North Idaho College, where the North Idaho Museum has re-opened the old Fort Sherman Powder Magazine Building with three new exhibits.

The Powder Magazine is one of three original Fort Sherman Buildings that were built on the fort grounds after they were established in 1878.

The first of the three exhibits in the building is up on the wall featuring the military presence at Fort Sherman and some of the commanders, who essentially became the community leaders of Coeur d'Alene.

"No one can say for sure, of course," Singletary said on Tuesday. "But the city of Coeur d'Alene may never have developed without the presence of the fort back then."

He said the fort - which was established to aid the development of the railroad, and keep the peace between settlers and native American tribes at the time - was strategically placed by General William Tecumseh Sherman after the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Singletary explained.

"Trouble was brewing with the Nez Pierce Tribe at the time," Singletary said "And this location was a halfway point along the old Mullan Road."

He said it was strategically placed between Fort Benton and Fort Walla Walla because of the potential for the railroad in the area.

Sherman was never stationed at the fort, according to Singletary. But he later returned and the town named the main street after him.

Other notables related to the fort and the development of Coeur d'Alene are also featured in the exhibit.

Oscar Canfield's wife Anne Maple was related to Sherman, and he stayed with them at their Dalton Gardens homestead when he was in the area.

Canfield was a rancher who had a contract with the military to supply the fort with beef at that time, Singletary said.

"Sherman was visiting the Canfields and inquired about the name of the mountain overlooking their home," he said. "When they told him it wasn't named, he suggested Canfield Mountain."

The rest was history, as they say.

General William Carlin, the longtime commander of the fort, is the namesake of Carlin Bay. Singletary assumes his persona during the walking tours of Fort Sherman.

He also assumes the persona of Peter Sorenson, who built the first steamer boat to sail on Lake Coeur d'Alene, during his historic tour of downtown Coeur d'Alene.

Other names such as John Fernan, of Fernan Lake, and Corp. Ed Stanley of Stanley Hill, are also adorned on the walls of the newly opened powder magazine exhibit.

The other two exhibits that will be developed over the summer at the magazine will feature the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and the development of North Idaho College.

Tickets for the Living History Walking Tours are $15 per person and are available at the Museum of North Idaho, 115 Northwest Blvd. The ticket price includes admission to the museum and parking.

For information call 664-3848 or visit the Museum web site at www.museum.org.

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