Lake Pend Oreille: a remnant of the Ice Age

Lake Pend Oreille, looking south.

Two thousand feet of ice moving by inches a day between the Cabinet and Bitterroot Mountains, creaked and cracked, as the Pleistocene ice sheet scoured the earth southward from Canada into what is now Northern Idaho.  Scientists presume that the eastern side of the Purcell lobe of the great Ice Sheet formed a dam at the present day mouth of the Clark Fork River with Lake Pend Oreille, thus, eventually creating the great  Missoula flood.

A brief history of the Lake

Today, the ice is melted, and Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced Pond-o-ray) sparkles like a jewel under the blue summer skies of northern Idaho as testimony to the last Ice Age.  Over 1150 feet of water covers the lake bed, making it the fifth deepest lake in the United States, and competes with Lake Ontario in length.

The US Navy took up residence along the southern shore during World War II, shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.   The Farragut Naval Training Station which eventually processed over 300,000 enlisted men, chose Lake Pend Oreille to test submarines.  Today, the Navy continues to utilize the facilities for it’s Acoustic Research Detachment.

The view looking north

The rocky shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille may be it’s saving grace.  After World War II, developers constructed roads through dense forest to places along the lake, but fortunately, because of the shear ruggedness, today much of the shoreline is accessible only by water craft

Coordinates:  48°10’0″N   116°20’0″W

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Recommended reading:

Farragut Naval Training Station

Legendary Lake Pend Oreille


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Copyright 2015 Rita Boehm. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Photographs, artwork, and/or related text are available for licensing. Contact writer for further information
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