True Western Towns
Touring our #3 town of the year, from Route of the Hiawatha to Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.
- Written by Janice Schoonover
- Published June 12, 2012
1. For a bicycling adventure you’ll talk about for years, ride the Route of the Hiawatha, crossing the rugged Bitterroot Mountains. Pass through Taft Tunnel, which burrows for nearly two miles under the Idaho/Montana state line, and read the many interpretive signs placed along the route.
2. For an out-of-the-ordinary museum experience visit the Oasis Bordello Museum. This former brothel opened its doors in 1895; the Feds closed it in 1988. Now it serves as a reminder of Wallace’s soiled doves past.
3. After A.J. Prichard discovered gold on Prichard Creek in 1882, Murray became the cradle city of the Coeur d’Alene Mining District. By 1885 more than 10,000 people had traveled to the gold fields in the hopes of cashing in. Today, the people-built Sprag Pole Museum shares the town’s mining heritage, for free!
4. Eagle City was the site of the first gold rush to the Coeur d’Alene’s. The hobby of gold prospecting and small scale mining is promoted at Eagle City Mining Park, the home base of the NorthWest Gold Prospectors Association.
5. Blink and you will miss it, but for a true local flair, the Snakepit at the Enaville Resort is a must. Tracing back to 1879, it has served as a hotel, railroad layover, bordello and, today, a bar and restaurant. Be sure to order the Rocky Mountain Oysters.
6. The 1853 Cataldo Mission, the oldest extant mission church in the Pacific Northwest, shares the stories of the Coeur d’Alene Indians and their history with Jesuit Father DeSmet.
7. When it comes to historic lodging, the Roosevelt Inn B&B is tops. Run by innkeepers John and Tina Hough, the Roosevelt, formerly Coeur d’Alene’s oldest (1905) schoolhouse, is located downtown, just a couple blocks from Lake Coeur d’Alene.
8. Come to CDA and get hitched! The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel has been part of the North Idaho experience since 1919. The chapel married quite a few WWII sweethearts from a former naval station nearby.
9. Learn about the “greatest geologic story never told”—the ice dam that led to the creation of Lake Pend Oreille—and about frontier fur trader David Thompson, all while cruising in comfort aboard the Shawnodese on Lake Pend Oreille Cruises.
10. As the owner of a fifth-generation, family-owned-and-operated cattle ranch, I must invite you to stay at the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch. Hang your hat in a hand-hewn log lodge or a private log cabin, then head out on a trail ride to take in some of the area’s ranching and logging roots.
Janice Schoonover and her husband, Roley, run the Western Pleasure Guest Ranch on property in Sandpoint, Idaho, purchased by her Grandpa Riley in 1940.