Missions and miners
Coeur d'Alene, ID
Coeur d’Alene, ID
With over 100 travelers, our group was divided into three to make logistics easier, and my group headed east on I-90 for our first stop at the Old Mission State Park.
The mission was also known as the Cataldo Mission and the Sacred Heart Mission. It was built by the Coeur d’Alene Indians. The story goes that they invited the Jesuits here, after hearing from other tribes that the “black robes” (Catholic priests) were powerful medicine men. A Belgian priest named Father De Smet responded to the invitation, and the original mission was built along the St. Joseph river, where it was vulnerable to floods. An Italian priest named Father Ravallo was a talented artist and architect who was the genius behind the new mission built on the top of a hill in the mid 1840s. Father Cataldo lived at the mission later on for many years and was instrumental in preserving it as a National Landmark.
From our various local guides I finally learned where the name Coeur d’Alene comes from. Literally translated from the French, it means Heart of the Awl. One version of the story is that sharp metal awls were a popular trade item the Coeur d’Alenes got from the French fur traders, for stitching leather. The more romantic metaphor says it means that the Coeur d’Alenes were very sharp traders!
The blue color of the ceiling comes from using huckleberries as a stain for the wooden planks.
Not far from the mission is Kellogg, Idaho, a former silver mining town which, like so many others in the area, has transformed itself into a resort area. Once the center of one of the richest mining areas in the US, its population has declined since the price of silver dropped steeply in the 1980s. In the Mining Museum we saw displays of mining equipment and memorabilia, and one that honored the victims of the Sunshine Silver Mine fire, one of the deadliest mining disasters in US history.
The quilt hanging in the museum celebrates the town’s history, including this patch that shows the sign posted just outside of town. We passed the sign itself several times along I-90 but always going too fast to take a photo. Legend has it that the town got its start when Noah Kellogg lost track of his donkey, and when he finally found it, it was standing next to an outcropping of silver ore.
While my group had lunch at a local cafe, one of the other groups from our tour took a ride on this gondola, which goes up a 3400 ft. vertical climb to the Silver Mountain Ski Resort. At 5 km it is the longest one of its kind in the world.
After lunch our bus dropped us at one of the trailheads on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, a rail trail that follows the former Union Pacific Railroad route from Mullan, ID on the Montana border to Plummer near the Washington state line. The trail is fairly straight, flat, and paved with asphalt, but the views are lovely as it winds along the Coeur d’Alene River.
Near the end of our 8K segment of the trail, we stopped to watch this mother moose and her baby, munching on the greenery along the river.