Putting a pen to the past

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LOREN BENOIT/Press Sixteen public, private and home school students from throughout Kootenai County were declared winners of the fourth annual Student Essay Contest on Kootenai County History at an awards ceremony last Wednesday. The contest and ceremony are sponsored by the Kootenai County Historic Preservation Commission. Front row, left to right: Mark Pierce, honorable mention; Neve Peterson, honorable nention; Anneka Latham, honorable mention; Mary Clare Powers, 1st place middle school; Arial Chafin, 3rd place middle school; Dante Hughes, 2nd place middle school; Karl Jones, honorable mention; Mark Goggin, honorable mention. Back row, left to right: Cajetan Hughes, 3rd place high school. Devin Myers, honorable mention; Madeleine Leahy, honorable mention; Mary M. Green, honorable mention; Sarah A. Hoatson, 1st place high school; Faith Pfeiffer, honorable mention; Nikayla Reason, 2nd place high school.

Top winning essays

High school - First place



Lupine Springs Academy (home school), 10th grade

Dear Mr. Smith,

Thank you for your interest in moving to Kootenai County, Idaho. I am sure you will find Kootenai perfectly suited for you and your family. I will try to answer all your questions with updated information as of June 17, 1910.

You inquired about the recent boundary changes in Kootenai County. Five years ago, the senate abolished Kootenai County and recreated it under a new name, Lewis County, with the new county seat in Sandpoint instead of Coeur d’Alene. The senate’s action was met with such distain, the matter was brought to the Supreme Court in Lewiston. The court ruled it unconstitutional to relocate the County seat, but did agree that Kootenai would have to be divided in the future. Three years ago, Kootenai was split into two counties, Kootenai County and Bonner County. In spite of the recent split, the total population still has more than doubled since the last census in 1900 from 10,216 to 22,747 this year.

Kootenai County currently has six cities: Athol - pop. 282, Coeur d’Alene - pop. 7,291, Harrison - pop. 932, Post Falls - pop. 658, Rathdrum - pop. 725, and Spirit Lake - pop. 907. Since your son and daughter would need a high school to attend, most of these cities will have at least one high school and an elementary school, as well as many one-room rural schools scattered around the county. Coeur d’Alene, for example, has a new high school, which will open next term, and ten elementary schools.

Although each city has different major industries, the County’s largest industries are logging, agriculture, and mining of both silver and gold. Logging, by a sizeable margin, is the largest business in the County. Since the so-called “Timber Boom” started at the turn of the century, the lumber industry continues to prosper today. Towns like Coeur d’Alene and Harrison have experienced sudden population spikes thanks to their prime location on the waterfront for steamboat shipping and the numerous railroads in and around the cities. This “Timber Boom” has increased the amount of lumber production from 56 million board feet in 1900 to an estimated 728 million by the end of this year.

You asked what utilities are available to businesses and residents in the County. The first sign of electricity in the Inland Northwest was on September 2, 1885, when George A. Flitch installed a small generator to operate a flour mill in

Spokane Falls, now known as Post Falls. Five years later, three electric companies were in business in Spokane Falls. By 1902, the Washington Water Power had its eyes set on an electric line from Spokane, Washington to Burke, Idaho, which is nearly 100 miles east in the Silver Valley region. After consulting Dr. Charles Steinmetz, the country’s leading expert on the matter, Washington Water Power started construction and completed the line one year later. This line remains the longest transmission line in the world. Along with electricity, Kootenai also has telephone lines in and around its cities and abundant fresh water available.

In Kootenai County, the very first medical care facility was constructed at Coeur d’Alene’s Fort Sherman in 1880. Since the mining industries were booming in the late 1800’s, medical services were desperately needed due to the accidents that frequently occurred. Near the end of 1892, the Sister of Charity of Providence built a modern four-story hospital in Wallace. Due to the closure of Fort Sherman in 1898, Coeur d’Alene did not have a working hospital or doctor until four years ago when Dr. John T. Wood and Dr. John H. Shephard built a two-story modern hospital in Coeur d’Alene where it continues to provide exceptional medical care.

There are many interesting indoor and outdoor adventures waiting for you in Kootenai County. Boating, swimming, fishing, hunting, camping, and hiking on the numerous trails, are just some of the nature activities in the County. In the winter, residents ice skate and ice fish on the lakes. Bonzanta Tavern, completed in 1906, is a popular resort on Hayden Lake with thirty-five guestrooms and twenty rustic cottages with breathtaking views. It also has a playground, dining room, clubhouse, and dancing pavilion. Almost every single town in North Idaho has a city park. The largest one is Blackwell Park, built in 1905 on the north shore of Coeur d’Alene Lake, which takes up more than twenty acres of waterfront. The park includes a bandstand, baseball stadium, bathhouse, and dance pavilion. Coeur d’Alene also has a small movie theater, completed just two years ago.

I hope that the information I have provided will finalize your decision to move to Kootenai County. Again, if there are any more questions you wish to ask, I will gladly answer them for you.


Kootenai County Commissioner


Middle School - First place



St. Dominic's School, Eighth Grade

Dear Mr. Smith,

As the Kootenai County Commissioner, I would be very happy to help you find information regarding our County, which is very young, for it came about in April of 1907. It is my pleasure to aid you in the possible relocation of your family and logging company.

Three years ago, our boundaries changed and Bonner County was crated from part of Kootenai County. Though this has made our County's boundaries smaller, the population, nevertheless continues to increase and we now have 22,747 residents.

Presently, there are five transcontinental railroads serving North Idaho. The timber boom, a few years ago, has brought the need for railroads and rather big steamboats for use on Lake Coeur d'Alene. The steamers "Idaho," and the "Georgie Oaks" are wonderful modes of transportation in our area, though automobiles are growing in popularity here and sturdy roads are being built.

The most prosperous industry we have here in Kootenai County is logging. Your company will surely be successful with such bountiful forests and majestic pines. Coeur d'Alene has experienced amazing population growth from logging alone. The economy also benefits from the County's mining and agriculture, but logging employs the most of our workers by far. This skilled loggers would be plentiful for employment with your company.

I am assuming that you will greatly appreciate the education accessible to your children. Kootenai County is proud to claim the first private school in the region, Saint Cyril, which may interest you for your daughter. There is also Coeur d'Alene College for your son. It prides itself in degrees in business and music. There are also many rural schoolhouses that add a charming, personal touch to our County.

The recreation experience in Kootenai County is unsurpassed due to the natural beauty that is present here. There are activities for every age. Families can fish in the St. Joe., Spokane or other rivers. In the winter, one can even avail themselves of ice fishing on the many lakes that surround our community. There are local holiday parades, swimming in Lake Coeur d'Alene, skiing, concerts by the Post Falls or marching bands, and picnics and games of all sort in the many parks that surround us.

So, as you can see Mr. Smith, Kootenai County is a fruitful and wonderful place and we would be delighted if you chose to relocate your family and business to our haven of beauty and opportunity.

Sincerely, County Commissioner

Sixteen public, private and homeschooled students from throughout Kootenai County were declared winners of the fourth annual Student Essay Contest on Kootenai County History at an awards ceremony Wednesday.

The contest and ceremony are sponsored by the Kootenai County Historic Preservation Commission. Eight middle-school level and eight high-school level students received first, second and third place awards with five additional students in each level receiving honorable mention awards. The 16 winning essays (including one submitted by a team of two students) were chosen from among 65 essay entries.

Charged with playing the role of a Kootenai County commissioner in 1910 responding to an inquiry from a Mr. Smith about whether he should move his family and lumber mill business to Kootenai County, students were required to write their essays in the form of a letter responding to Mr. Smith’s questions about Kootenai County in that time period.

First place, second place and third place winners received cash prizes of $200, $100 and $50 respectively as well as a gift certificate for a “broomball” party for up to 30 people donated by the Frontier Ice Arena. All winners received a letter from the Board of County Commissioners making them honorary members of the HPC.

Awards were presented to each student by HPC chairman Robert Singletary and County Commissioner Chris Fillios after each gave inspiring remarks about the importance of local history awareness to an audience of more than 80 people including the students, family members and teachers.

“You’re all winners!” HPC vice chairman Skip Fuller said to the students at the ceremony’s conclusion.

First place for the high school contest was awarded to Lupine Springs Academy Home School 10th-grader Sarah Hoatson.

First place for the middle school contest was awarded to St. Dominic’s School eighth-grader Mary Clare Powers.

Other winners:

Second place — Lake City High School sophomore Nikayla Reason and Immaculate Conception Academy sixth-grader Dante Hughes.

Third place — Immaculate Conception Academy freshman Cajetan Hughes and home school seventh-grader Arial Chafin.

Middle school level students receiving honorable mention awards: Mark Goggin, grade seven, Immaculate Conception Academy; Samantha Marie Hayes, grade eight, River City Middle School; Karl Jones, grade six, Immaculate Conception Academy; Anneka Leatham and Madeleine Leahy (team entry), grade eight, St. Dominic's School; and Devin Myers, grade eight, River City Middle School.

High school level students receiving honorable mention awards: Lake City High School junior Crista Falk; St. Dominic's School junior Mary Green; Coeur d’Alene High School freshman Neve Peteron; Kootenai High School senior Faith Pfeiffer; and Immaculate Conception Academy sophomore Mark Pierce.

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