Silver Valley Tour, Part 1

I love taking the scenic route… getting off the main highway and slowing down through small towns. I like to look at old buildings and speculate as to what they might have once been.

Earlier this summer Lyle and I took a long Sunday drive through the nearby Silver Valley across the panhandle of Idaho. Interstate 90 cuts right through the middle of Silver Valley and that’s the way we usually go. This time we stayed off the Interstate and meandered along on the back roads. I had no idea that was even possible!

This was another tour with the guidance of Roads Less Traveled Through the Coeur d’Alenes. It is Tour Seven: Coeur d’Alene Mining District.

In case you didn’t make the connection between “Silver Valley” and Coeur d’Alene Mining District, there are historic silver mines in the Silver Valley surrounded by the Coeur d’Alene Mountains, which are part of the Bitterroot Range, which is part of the Rocky Mountains. Got it? Good!

Also, please forgive me and correct me if I misidentified any of the landmarks. I don’t know this stuff by personal experience, only from what I’ve read.

Ready for the tour? Here we go!

Yellowstone Trail

Yellowstone Trail was the first highway through this part of Idaho. It was built between 1914 and 1916. It followed the old Mullan Road which was the first wagon road going into the Northwest from the Great Plains. The Interstate slides right under it and curves around to run more or less parallel with it. At highway speeds it takes approximately an hour to drive from Coeur d’Alene to Wallace. Before Yellowstone Trail was developed into a highway the first automobile trip along that route took five hours. That was in 1911.

Fourth of July Pass

According to Wikipedia, “‘Captain Mullan and his crew celebrated the 4th of July 1861 on top of this mountain as they took a break from clearing passage for the road they were building over it.’ Thus the current name of ‘4th of July’ pass today.”

This is where we got off the Interstate for our tour of the back roads.

Canyon Garage

The Canyon Garage was an auto repair place along the highway in the 1920s and 1930s–and I would guess maybe later than that, though the book doesn’t say so. See it behind the trees? “The yellow sheet metal building on Canyon Rd. was the Canyon Garage.”

Canyon Store

This was a country store, service station, and bar in the 1930s. It appears to be a private residence now.

Wall’s Service Station

A mile and a half down the road is this little log house which was the original location of the Canyon Store and service station. I don’t know when it was first established but when the Yellowstone Trail was realigned to be Highway 10 in the 1930s the owner moved the business and this building became a private residence.

Canyon School

“Originally a grange building it was remodeled several times and since the 1950s it has served as the second Canyon School.” The book doesn’t say where the first one was.

Almond Farm

“In 1904 Herman Almond built this home for his bride-to-be who was coming from New York. The wedding never took place because his bride married his brother. Herman remained a bachelor the rest of his life.”

That’s kind of a sad story, isn’t it? Poor Herman! I wonder if his brother and his bride lived happily ever after.

Arnhold Farm

The Arnhold family settled here about 1910. They sold farm produce and milk. The boys also worked in the mining industry nearby. The farm stayed in the family until the 1990s.

Old Mission State Park

Cataldo Mission was built between 1850 and 1853 and is said to be the oldest building in the state of Idaho. It is a state park now. It was locked the day we were there but I have been inside it on other occasions.

I was fascinated to learn that it was built without nails. One of the most interesting features to me is that the interior woodwork was painted blue by using crushed huckleberries.

We are just getting started, but I’m out of time for today, so I’ll leave you to contemplate the view from the Mission for now. I’ll be back soon to continue the tour.

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