History of Sandpoint & North Idaho
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O’Keefe, who was to make the next leg of his trip aboard the
Mary Moody, one of the early day steamers on Lake Pend Oreille, wrote in glowing
terms of Pend d'Oreille City, its people, the scenery of the area and also of
the Mary Moody.
“Pend d’Oreille City, standing on a picturesque slope – or
running down it, to speak more correctly – consists of a large store comfortably
stocked, with California and Oregon goods – dry, soft and liquid – a billiard
saloon of grand dimensions – a modestly-proportioned hotel – and a half dozen
private residences, evenly and compactly built of logs and snugly shingles,”
“The store belongs to Captain Moody, who is also the
principal owner of the little steamboat, which has been complimented with his
daughter’s name. The billiard saloon is the property of Mr. Blackstone, whose
genial nature well deserves the soldierly and splendid frame through which it
The Pend Oreille route was plagued with mud problems which slowed, but did
not stop, determined travelers. Launching of the steamboat Mary Moody in 1866
helped ease this situation. The Oregon Steam Navigation Company built the boat
at Sineacateen in the winter of 1865-66. Following the launching in late April,
the Mary Moody carried packers and their animals from Sineacateen to Kootenai
Landing if they were headed north, or to Cabinet Landing if they were headed
east. Later in 1866 the home port was changed from Sineacateen to Pend d'Oreille City at the
south end of the lake.
The Mary Moody he termed the first of three boats to
navigate the Clark’s Fork of the Columbia to the mouth of the Jocko, 10 miles
west of the main range of the Rocky Mountains … some 50 miles from Pend
d’Oreille City. There, O’Keefe wrote, she stopped short at the landing at the
foot of Cabinet Mountain, “the Rapids, immediately above the landing, being too
violent to permit her pushing further up.”
Above the Rapids, a second boat took travelers to
Thompson’s Falls, and above Thompson’s Falls, the third boat completed the chain
of navigation to the Jocko.
The distant mines stimulated the growth of the first two
settlements in Bonner County. By 1867, Pend d'Oreille City had two grocery
stores, a hotel, billiard hall, saloon, and stable and just about matched the
booming metropolis of Sineacateen with its hotel, two stores, and two saloons.
These towns did not last, however, fading as the mining boom dwindled at the end
of the decade.
The impact of the mining boom on northern Idaho was
temporary, but the coming of the railroad changed life here permanently. After
the initial survey in 1853, the Northern Pacific conducted additional surveys in
the 1870s to justify the big northerly sweep that the line took around Lake Pend
Efforts at construction moved forward slowly, moving from
west to east through this area. The tracks reached the south side of the Lake
Pend Oreille outlet at the end of 1881. The next year 6,000 men - 4,000 of them
Chinese - continued the construction through the Clark Fork division which ran
from Sandpoint into Montana. This was the most expensive section to build on the
entire Northern Pacific line.
Sineacateen still served as an important base when the
Northern Pacific Railway was built nearby in 1881-1882. Surveyors who located
the line camped there prior to construction, but the Northern Pacific came
through a few miles away. New communities emerged with rail transportation, and
Sineacateen no longer occupied a strategic site after transportation routes
changed with new bridges and new lines of communication. Sandpoint on Lake Pend
d'Oreille replaced Sineacateen as the major center for that part of the country.
Hope began to grow in 1882 when the Northern Pacific came
through and in 1900 set its Rock Mountain division point in the hillside
village. Incorporated in 1903, the village was named in honor of the
veterinarian who tended the construction horses. A wise and kindly man, Dr. Hope
was widely respected. Hope was the largest town in the area during the 1880s,
achieving prominence as the Rocky Mountain division point on the Northern
Pacific line. Engines turned around in the large roundhouse, and the railroad
built shops, offices, and a "beanery" there.
The Hotel Jeannot was able to
capitalize on this business with its location right above the depot, and with
it's tunnels providing easy access for passengers to the hotel. Many say that
the tunnels were used to entertain these Chinese “coolees,” who were normally
not allowed in the establishments that served the locals and travelers.
In contrast to Hope's early boom, Sandpoint grew slowly
following completion of the railroad. An 1883 visitor found only 300 people in
town, and nine years later another traveler reported that "Sandpoint is made up
of between three and four dozen rude shacks and perhaps a dozen tents." The town
experienced tremendous growth, however, following the turn of the century.
When the division point moved
to Sandpoint, Hope began to decline. The hotel continued to draw people until
the 1960's, partly because the picturesque setting of the town beside Lake Pend
Oreille attracted many tourists. Some of them prominent, such as; J.P. Morgan,
Teddy Roosevelt, Gary Cooper, and Bing Crosby.
The original Hotel Jeannot
(now Hotel Hope) was a wooden structure which burned down in about 1886. It was
then that Joseph M. Jeannot started on his fireproof commercial building, which
he shared with his brother Louis. He constructed one section at a time, and
added on over the years, finally completing the
three-bay, two story
hotel in 1898. The rectangular building has two full stories above two separate
basement sections. The facade is divided into three approximately equal bays
which vary in design and building materials indicating that the hotel was built
in sections over a period of years. This theory collaborated by the analysis of
the structure during restoration as well as through oral accounts. The first
section to be built was the first story of the east bay with it's walls of
rock-faced random-coursed granite ashlar with beaded joints. Next came the first
story of the center bay with it's lower facade walls of poured concrete.
Following this, or possibly built at the same time, was the red brick second
story over the center and east bays. The west bay was the last to be built,
either all at once or in two stages. The first floor is of poured concrete with
the second floor of red brick.
Various business have
occupied the building over the years including a saloon, a restaurant, a general
store, a meat market, and even a post office. The vaulted meat cooler adjoining
the west basement was probably built when Louis ran his general store, and meat
market in the period from 1895 to 1897. Now called the Hotel Hope, it still
stands as a testament to the times.
J. M. Jeannot's hotel and
saloon were not his only business interests. He was also involved in mining and
had several claims across Lake Pend Oreille in the area of Green Monarch
Mountain. Hope had a large Chinese population which had arrived with the
railroad, and Jeannot supposedly took advantage of this source of cheap labor
for his mines. According to one of Jeannot's friends, he allowed these men to
use the meat cooler under the hotel as a clubhouse. They gained access to this
room through the small tunnel which connected it to the railroad depot, thus
bypassing the more obvious entrances. This vault in the hotel is one of the few
sites left in Hope which may be connected with the large number of Chinese who
used to live in the town.
Jeannot's mining operations
as well as his losses at gambling led to his unstable financial condition which
may have been one reason the hotel took ten to twelve years to complete.
According to one source, the construction was held up for more than a year when
Jeannot lost all of his money in a bet on William Jennings Bryan in 1896.
Uncertain finances continued to plague Jeannot and he mortgaged and remortgaged
the hotel over the years between 1907 and 1918, eventually losing the building
in 1918. A friend paid off the debt in 1920, and ran the hotel until her death
Two other railroads contributed to the growth of Bonner
County. The Great Northern Railroad came through in 1892, stimulating the
development of Colburn, Laclede, and Priest River. In 1905, the Spokane
International opened more of the countryside to development. Sawyer, Vay, and
Clagstone grew up along this route.
The spring of 1894 is still remembered as “high water
year.” Streams throughout the entire panhandle were overflowing with a heavy
snow pack melting rapidly under a sudden hot spell.
An old railroad map first designated the village of
Sandpoint as “Pend Oreille.” The first post office was at Venton across the
lake, but when the Northern Pacific railroad completed its long trestle over the
mouth of the lake, the post office was moved to Pend Oreille and Venton died
out. In 1886, the second community became known officially as Sandpoint. So
named for the nearby landmark … a long bar of silvery sand stretching into the
lake. Sandpoint was platted as a town site in 1898 when the Great Northern
Railroad telegrapher, L. D. Farmin, subdivided his family homestead along Sand
Creek. The village was incorporated in 1900. He filed on the original town site
and laid out Sandpoint ten feet above the lake's high water mark, near the sandy
shore of Lake Pend Oreille.
While the railroads were the primary links connecting early
communities, trails and rough roads were upgraded for general use. Much of this
was done on a commission basis, with the county then granting the contractor the
right to charge a set toll for using his road. Dr. Wilbur Hendryx held a
franchise on the toll road running from Kootenai to Bonners Ferry, and the early
county commissioners received many complaints from northern citizens about the
unjust fares. The county gradually took over these roads, but maintenance was a
continual problem. In October 1888, J. J. Noonan, Road Supervisor of District 3,
reported that recent fires had destroyed all of the corduroy (log "ribbing" laid
across a wet spot to provide stability) on the county road between Sandpoint and
Kootenai Station. The commissioners appropriated $450 for necessary repairs.
Water inundated the Northern Pacific Railroad trestle at
Sandpoint. Flat cars, loaded with rock for ballast were run out on the bridge to
keep it from floating away. Later the railroad raised its tracks well above the
high water level creating a problem for Sandpoint.
Compiled from various sources
History try this page at
Continued on page 3