History of Clark Fork, and Hope, Idaho
The Hope/Clark Fork area stretches along the shores of Lake Pend Oreille from the Pack River to the mouth of the Clark Fork River, the major waterways that feed mighty Pend Oreille. Lake Pend Oreille is one of the West’s largest freshwater bodies of water with several islands near the Clark Fork estuary, including the islands off Hope and the Hope Peninsula, Warren, Cottage, Pearl, Eagle, and Memaloose Islands, as well as the Islands at the end of the Clark Fork River, called the Clark Fork Flats, which includes Derr Island. There are three major peninsulas that thrust into the lake: Sunnyside, the Hope Peninsula, and Sagle. Sagle is actually more like an area the lake wraps around, but nonetheless is a major abutting feature of Lake Pend Oreille.
It is important to note that the histories of the two communities are closely tied to one and other. They have a shared past of railroads, mining, and logging, and sportsman activities. More recently, both Lake Pend Oreille and the Clark Fork River have been a draw for tourists seeking the mountain/lake lifestyle. In recent years the area has attracted national public attention, being featured on several broadcasts, in articles, and by developers. The most famous golf course in this part of North Idaho, Hidden Lakes, was purchased by Jack Nicklaus, and is slated to open in 2009 as the Idaho Club. However, with the federal and state owning over 70% of the land, growth has been measured.
Glacial Floods and Lake Pend Oreille
The most prominent feature of Hope and Clark Fork, Idaho is Lake Pend Oreille. With 111 mile of coastline and 148 square miles, it is one of North America’s prominent lakes, and the nation’s fifth deepest. Formed by cataclysmic floods when the mile high Ice Age ice dam broke time after time, the features of the land and lakes of Bonner County and Western Montana all the way to the coast in Oregon were formed by these monumental floods. Just one of these deluges was ten times the combined volume of all the rivers on earth, with walls of water moving at super highway speeds. To learn more about the Ice Age Floods visit Ice Age Floods Institute.org
Centuries before white man discovered the region, the Kalispell and other Indian tribes, such as the Flatheads, inhabited North Idaho. Visit North Idaho History The first white men to trade in North Idaho were the intrepid adventurers “Big Finan” McDonald and explorer and “land geographer” David Thompson, who established the first permanent wooden structure in 1809 on the Hope Peninsula, taking advantage of Lake Pend Oreille and the Clark Fork River. This trading post, Kullyspell House, is still standing as a stone building on the shores of the lake. Kullyspell House still stands on the Peninsula, Idaho’s most historic home. It sits at the end of Kullyspell Road. As you turn right on David Thompson Road, you will pass several white houses on the left. This grouping of summer homes is the family retreat of the Kienholz family. Ed Kienholz is easily one of our nation’s most famous artists.
The first true transportation the region enjoyed were the steamboats of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, which brought its first engine and hardware from Portland, building the 108-foot Mary Moody in 1866.
As the railroads came into the area, Northern Pacific Railroad built the 150-foot Henry Villard in 1883 to supply the men laying the rails. Steamboats continued to be an integral part of transportation around Lake Pend Oreille until the 1930s. Later in the era, steamboats became popular excursions, much as Pend Oreille Cruises is today, and dignitaries staying at Hotel Hope and other resorts would spend days on the water.
In 1864 Congress granted the Northern Pacific Railroad a charter to build a line from Lake Superior to Puget Sound on a route north of the 45 parallel. In 1872, the Clark Fork Pend Oreille route was chosen. With the railroad came the people who established the towns of Clark Fork and Hope.
Railroads came to prominence in the 1880s, as local construction began on the northern transcontinental line in 1881. Trestle Creek, at more than a mile long, became the line’s longest structure. It was at this time that Hope became the center of railroad activities and the largest city in the county. Along with Chinese Coolies, over 4,000 rough and ready railroad workers lived in a tent city along the Clark Fork River. Railroads brought people, and the lumber industry, which began to service the rails and trains, became the stalwart of the North Idaho economy for the next 100 years.
History of Hope, Idaho
At first Hope was just a stopping point along the railroad, but in 1890, the Northern Pacific moved its division point west from Montana to the shores of Lake Pend Oreille. Hope was incorporated on July 17, 1891. East Hope was incorporated on June 28th 1902. Hope was a busy port in its early days. Steamboats crossed the lake carrying supplies and mail to mining sites around the shore before roads were built. The boats were used to carry supplies up the Clark Fork River to Cabinet Gorge while the railroad was being constructed. The lake had long supported a fishing fleet, bringing in tons of fish every day. The populations were decimated by the introduction of tiny krill. The Federal government added these small shrimp in an attempt to increase fish populations; the experiment had the opposite effect. Recent years have seen a small recovery in fish populations, and now Hope is the center of some fine sports fishing.
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, now known as Hotel Hope, was able to capitalize on this business with its location right above the depot, and with its tunnels providing easy access for passengers to the hotel. Many say that the tunnels were used to entertain the Chinese “coolees,” working on the railroads, 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. Hotel Hope continued to draw people until the 1960s, partly because the picturesque setting of the town beside Lake Pend Oreille attracted many tourists. Some of them prominent: J.P. Morgan, Teddy Roosevelt, Gary Cooper, and Bing Crosby.
The original Hotel Jeannot (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 its walls of rock-faced random-coursed granite ashlar with beaded joints. Next came the first story of the center bay with its 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 businesses 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. Hotel Hope 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 in 1968.
Today the era of lumber and trains has been supplanted by tourism and manufacturing in Bonner County, and Hope and Clark Fork have become known as an artist colony. This is in great part due to Ed Kienholz.
Born in 1927 at Fairfield, Washington. He studied at schools and colleges in the Inland Northwest. He first earned his living as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital, as the manager of a dance band, as a dealer in secondary cars, a caterer, decorator and vacuum cleaner salesman. In 1953 he moved to Los Angeles.
In 1954 he made his first reliefs in wood. In 1956 he founded the NOW Gallery, and in 1957 the Ferus Gallery with Walter Hopps. In 1961 he completed his first environment Roxy’s, which caused a stir at the documenta “4” exhibition in 1968. His retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1966 provoked the County Board of Supervision to attempt to close the exhibition. The theme of his environments is the vulnerability of the private life of the individual to intervention by the environment and social convention.
In 1972 he met Nancy Reddin in Los Angeles. In 1973 he was guest artist of the German Academmic Exchange Service in Berlin. He moved to Hope with his wife Nancy, and around this time also established himself in Berlin . His most important works during this period were the Volksempfänger (radio receiving apparatus from the National Socialist period in Germany). In 1975 he received a Guggenheim Award.
He died in 1994, but his wife, Nancy Reddin Kienholz continues as a world-renown artist, frequently visiting Hope.
Because of their notoriety, and the astonishing beauty of the area, we now have over 600 artists in our enclave.
The Kienholz couple befriended many wealthy patrons in Berlin, and over the years, two families have also created their own family retreats on the Hope Peninsula. As you turn from David Thompson Road on to Kullyspell Road, the Max Factor group of homes is on your right. These go down to the beginning of the property line for Kullyspell House. The other family is the Groenke family. Klaus Groenke is the managing director and part owner of Trigon Holding GmbH, a Berlin based international real estate company. He is also reported to be a leading share holder in Coca Cola Company, and a regional board member of the Deutsche Bank Berlin/Brandenberg. They built the Groenke Estate, a 150 acre compound at the end of David Thompson Road that becomes Kienholz Road. It is here that a full section of the Berlin Wall stands, encased in lexiglas, graffiti and all intact as it was before its fall. Recently the family sold half the estate, where many multi-million dollar homes have been built or are planned.
Today Hope, Idaho is a tourist and summer lake destination, with numerous artists and eclectic folk. It is a bedroom community to Sandpoint, and is considered by many, with its spectacular lake and mountain views, to be among the most picturesque areas of North Idaho. In fact, many travel magazincalled the journey along the cliffsides from Sandpoint to Hope one of the most beautiful drives in the world.
History of Clark Fork, Idaho
While totally distinct towns, many in North Idaho think of Clark Fork and Hope as one community. In fact, the two share the same Chamber of Commerce website: [http://www.poby.org/]
The City of Clark Fork also became a viable town in the early 1880’s as the construction by the Northern Pacific Railroad continued through the nearby Bitterroot and Cabinet Mountains. This small community has been geared towards mining, logging, sawmills, farming, Forest Service activity, fish hatcheries, dam construction, fur trapping activity, collegiate studies and homes for teens. Also, for most of its history the railroad maintained a station and section crew in Clark Fork. Clark Fork was incorporated 1912. Today the University of Idaho Clark Fork Field Campus is located there.
In the 19th century the Clark Fork Valley, like the shores of Lake Pend Oreille around Hope, was inhabited by the Flathead tribe of Native Americans. It was explored by Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition during the 1806 return trip from the Pacific. The river is named for William Clark. A middle segment of the river in Montana was formerly known as the Missoula River.
Much of Clark Fork’s story over the following years had to do with crossing the river. The bridge fording the Clark Fork River provided one of the only passes to the north, and with the steamboats bringing miners making the arduous journey to the Kootenai gold rush, this was one of the only ways to travel. Before a bridge was built, Clark Fork had a ferry to make the crossing. Early ferries were nothing more than logs lashed together. Later, some records indicate a ferry was operating in 1893, but this was a decade after the Northern Pacific line was put in place, so it is safe to assume there was a brisk business with ferry crossings during construction.
It is important to be reminded that the Cabinet Gorge Dam was not in place then, and reporters at the time wrote in 1916 that “The Clarksfork river handles a volume of water much larger than the Snake river. At times during high water, the flow amounts to as much as 94,000 cubic feet per second. The average width of the river is about 1300 feet. The velocity of the river at certain times is very large, about eight miles an hour. Due to this it is necessarily very hazardous to operate a ferry at Clarksfork at any time and very dangerous and at some times impossible to operate a ferry at all.”
Certainly this ferry crossing created a need and a place for travelers, not only to cross, but at times to rest, restock supplies, and take advantage of the occasional saloon.
Until WWI there was a lot of sawmill activity, then to a lesser degree through the 1950s. Early sawmills include McGillis and Gibbs, Lane and Potter. From the start until the late 1950s, mining operations played an important role in the community’s economy. The Whitedelph mine and mill located near the Spring Creek fish hatchery began operation in 1926 until it closed in 1958. It yielded galena ore assaying principally in silver, lead and zinc. The Lawrence mine was located on Antelope Mountain near Mosquito Creek and near the University of Idaho Clark Fork Field Campus. Area hills and mountains had numerous small mining holes tended by small operations and prospectors.