21 June 2009

Roads Less Traveled - Tour Six

We decided to put my new book to use yesterday. While I was at the Coeur d'Alene North Idaho Museum on Friday I purchased a book Roads Less Traveled through the Coeur d'Alenes. It has eight different tours of the area covering Kootenai, Benewah and Shoshone Counties of Idaho. So for our first tour we choose the Tour Six: Historic Coeru d'Alene National Forest.

The tour starts at the Fernan Ranger Station on E Sherman in Coeur d'Alene. Just in front of the Ranger Station is the Fernan Village. This was once the homestead of John Fernan a Civil War veteran. He came to Fort Sherman where he was a soldier in 1878. His wife joined him a year later and they raise thier six children here. Interestingly Mary Jane, his wife, was the first white woman to raise a family in this area. How scary I'm sure that was at times. John rented boats for use on the lake and raised alfalfa hay in the area. Now it is all homes.

Then the route takes you around the lake. At 0.7 miles there is suppose to be a Cattle Crossing. Not over the road, but under the road. The CCC built this road and built tunnels under the road for cattle to get through to the water on the lake. I didn't see the tunnels, but we didn't want to spend long on the road. There is currently construction going on to widen the road. Parts of the road are on the verge of sliding into the lake, so it looks like they are shaving away the mountainside on the other side in order to move the road safer away from the lake.

Next was the Moate House, built in 1954 by Robert Moate. It is a very cute and interesting vertical log cabin. It is one of the first homes built on this lake. His father homestead the area up on the hill.

The route continues to take you around the lake. This road was built by the CCC beginning in 1934. I was a one lane road with turnouts. It took nearly 20 years to complete. It helped to boost the economy in the area and provided greater access to the lumber used in the housing boom after WWII.

Lillypad Bay appears to be in the process of being restored to it's form natural beauty. There was a bridge built across Lillypad Bay that was torn down and the bay was filled in to create a road across. As we traveled passed we see that another bridge is being constructed across Lillypad Bay. I'm sure they will they tear out the current road and open the end of the bay back up. It's obvious where it gets the name Lillypad Bay. It is completely full of Lillypad's and they are huge. I wanted to get a picture, but with the construction there is really no safe place to pull over.

Next was the Kelly homestead. William Kelly came to this area in 1886. He homesteaded this area just on the other side of the lake as you head back into the beautiful valley with his wife and nine children. Over the years there were three different homes built on the property and all three of them burned down. Only two large 100 year old barns remain on the property. I didn't see them, but I'm sure they were amongst the trees at the base of the hill. There is a new home on the property and new owners, though some of the Kelly descendants still own section of the original homestead in the valley.

There were several other sites along the way that have their share of history, but for us they were mostly full of beauty. The hills here are full of pine trees, ferns, and other native plants and flowers to north Idaho.

After going up and over the Fernan Saddle and coming down the other side you come to Deception Creek Experimental Forest. This area was once homesteaded by Isaac Sand in 1904. Then in 1906 the Forest Service pulled this area from homesteading and began to reacquire the homesteads. After Isaac died in 1913 his wife refused to sell the land to the McGoldrick Lumber Company and the land eventually went back to the forest service. I was saddened to discover that Ranger Haynes burned all the buildings on the homestead.

Then we discover there is a grave under the road! Yes a reread the entry a few times. Bill Moore and a couple companions were traveling to Coeur d'Alene. They stopped in the area. The next morning Bill suffered a heart attach and fell dead from his horse. The other two men buried him and reported his death when they reached Coeur d'Alene. Then the story gets more interesting. A storekeeper that Bill owed money, came out here and dug up his body to see if he had any money on him, but he didn't. The cabin the men stayed in was destroyed when the road was built in 1934 and Bill's grave ended up under the road near the mouth of the creek that bares his name.

Then we came to one of our favorite camping sites which you can see in the photo above with my middle boy, the Honeysuckle Campground. Actually when we camp here we have a secluded places back behind this campground on the other side of the creek where we go. We don't stay in the campground.

Then the route took us into uncharted territory for us. We had never been back this way. This area was absolutely breath taking and the road a bit scary as there was only room for one car! But it looks like not too many people know of this area or rarely visit it. There were two interesting sites along this road.

The first was the Halsey Homestead and Barker Sawmill. The location of this former homestead is in the picture below. You are suppose to be able to see the foundation of the Tepee Burner, but from our view point we couldn't see it. There was 85.82 acres here that was homesteaded by Homer Halsey's mother in the early 1900's. In 1912 Homer's sister died and was buried beside the creek here. In 1946 Bob Barker built a Saw mill here and operated it until the early 1960s. It has since been returned to the Forest Service. In 2003 efforts were began to restore the natural foliage of the area. In an effort to chock out the noxious weeds more of the native plants and flower you see here were planted in this valley.

Next we came to the Trail Creek Work Camp site and Magee Ranger Station. Supposedly the camp was dismantled, but there were still cabins there and even cars there. So I didn't take pictures. But the ranger station sat empty. Below you can see one of the cabins. The Station was in use from 1908-1973. There is also a warehouse, barn, office, bunkhouse, as well as the house. During WWII the CCC built a 900-meter long emergency airstrip. The rangers house can be rented.

My daughter and oldest son looking at the cabin. My daughter is on this kick of begging her brother for piggy-back rides lately.
McPherson Meadows, another breath taking site. I told my husband to stop so I could take a photo of this. I wished I could have gotten closer, but you might be able to see the little log structure. It was a tool shed and is the only thing remaining of the McPherson homestead. Frank McPherson lived her from 1920 until he died in 1980. He was a trapper and also did seasonal work for the Forest Service. This land is still privately owned and only the tool shed remains. McPherson's cabin was moved in 2004 to the Shoshone Work Center. Hopefully we'll get to see that when we go on the tour of Shoshone County.
There were other interesting stories along the way. The children really loved having their mother be a tour guide. As we came to each location along the way I would read the history about it. It made the trip a lot more interesting then just staring out the window at the trees and flowers. I can't wait until we take another one of these tours and neither can the kids. They keep asking when we are going to do this again.

1 comment:

Miriam said...

Great post, Amy! I'll have to point it out to my family. Looks like it could be a nice bicycle tour, too!