You, God, and an endless string of power poles

City of Rocks National Reserve, Almo, Idaho

There is beauty in desolation.  A beauty that sparks a renewal of the soul, sends the heart on a fleeting journey of freedom, and instills a sense of consciousness.  You know the place . . . it’s where the land stretches to the four quarters of the earth and nothing is there but you, God, and an endless string of power poles.

The roadway stretches like duct tape fused to the landscape.  Nonexistent highway markings forewarn the traveler of impending desolation.  Eventually, signs and mileposts disappear; homes and ranches are now a figment of imagination.  There’s nothing here, but the barren beauty of loneliness.

A monolith of granite

Life’s journey through desolation leads us to our destination, and so too does the road to the City of Rocks.  This is not a destination for the feeble-hearted.  This is an area so remote that you must have an unwarranted desire to get there.  But, the reward is the experience of remoteness, because after all the isolated miles of travel, you arrive at a city not like any other.  The buildings are monolithic outcrops of granite poking through the earth’s crust like terrestrial whiteheads, begging to be pinched under foot by  Vibram-soled rock climbers.

Sagebrush peppers the landscape.  The roads are mere trails of hard-packed earth, looping between granitic outcrops.  Aspen trees speckle the sparse forest of pinyon, juniper and yellow pine.  Gone are the days of pioneer travel through the City of Rocks, but the relentless, unending landscape of desolation has yet to relinquished it’s godforesaken character on the modern-day traveler.

42°04’34”N 113°42’06”W

Further information:

City of Rocks Idaho, 7th: A Climber’s Guide

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The Limekilns of Bayview Idaho

Limekiln Park, Bayview, Idaho

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A troubled bridge over water

Entrance to the Cedar Bridge Public Market in downtown Sandpoint

From it’s humble beginnings as a settlement on the east side of Sand Creek, Pend Oreille outgrew it’s name shortly after the Northern Pacific Railroad built a connection between Montana and what is now called Sandpoint, Idaho.

The Bridge, Fourth of July, 1933
Photo by Ross Hall / Courtesy Hallans Gallery

However, Sandpoint developed on the west side of Sand Creek, and by the early twentieth century, city officials saw a need to connect the downtown area with the depot, and thus built the Cedar Street bridge.

By the late 1950s and early 60s, train travel gave way to quicker  air transportation, and the bridge no longer served as the city center. Plagued by disuse and the ever increasing structural damages, officials closed the bridge in the late 1970s.

Photo by Chris Bessler / Keokee.

For almost a decade the bridge awaited destruction, but  Scott Glickenhaus teamed up with Jonathan Stoumen and designed a distinctive “marketplace-on-the-bridge.”  This new mall-like structure over Sand Creek housed boutiques, cart vendors, book stores, artists studios and eateries until the economy declined in the mid-1980s when stores closed, vendors gave up and the bridge fell once again on hard times.

Coldwater Creek, a local clothing manufacturer, opened a small retail store in 1988, and by the mid 90s it occupied the entire 16,000 square feet of Cedar Street Bridge.  In 2005, Coldwater Creek moved into larger facilities, not more than a block away, to accommodate their growth, and the bridge again falls vacant.

Now restored to it’s original vision as a unique meeting place, vendors, artists, boutiques and eateries once again fill the Cedar Street Bridge Public Market


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Sandpoint, Idaho: a community nestled along the shore of Lake Pend Oreille

Lake Pend Orellie

The pacific beauty of northern Idaho with it’s many sapphire blue lakes and densely forested mountains can hardly be thought of as a stronghold for national terrorist organizations.  The Aryan Nations congregated in the area of Hayden Lake and Coeur d’Alene in the 1980’s, but the more than 7,000 residents of Sandpoint, Idaho vehemently protested, and formed the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force.  The Aryan Nations, bankrupted by a lawsuit against them, lost the 20 acre site at Hayden Lake, and eventually demobilized.

Downtown Sandpoint, ID

Apart from the recent history of Bonner County, the community of Sandpoint, Idaho evolved as a result of the logging industry.  The first lumber company, built-in 1890, hired laid-off lumberjacks from the once thick forested areas of the Great Lakes region.  Railroads followed shortly thereafter to support the lumber industry.

Today, Amtrak rolls through town, making Sandpoint the only stop in Idaho along the Chicago – Seattle line.  New industries, including a salad dressing manufacturer, a medical instrumentation plant, and Coldwater Creek (a national producer of clothing and apparel)  now employ local residents.

Entrance to the Cedar Street Bridge Public Market in downtown Sandpoint

The Cedar Street Bridge, once home to Coldwater Creek, now houses the Cedar Bridge Public Market; a small mall-like structure in downtown Sandpoint with mom-and-pop shops, vendors and eateries.

Coordinates:  48°16’N 116°34’W

Suggested reading


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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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Popcorn from the pond

Indian pond lily

Rumor has it that Native American people roasted the starchy roots of this particular species of water-lily, peeled them, and ate them in a stew-like soup.  If not roasted or boiled, they ground them into flour.   However, Nuphar polysepalym grows in four to five feet of water, so harvesting the roots required the difficult task of diving, and thus, the highly edible plant became a prized commodity, and their stashes often prone to raids from neighboring tribes.

Indian Pond Lilies growing in a shallow pond

The huge, smooth, green leaves float on ponds and shallow lakes, ranging from northern Alaska southward to New Mexico, and produce a beautiful, brilliant yellow, waxy-looking flower, sometimes up to five inches across. Seeds placed in a pan, and set over heat, swell and pop like popcorn.

Medicinal uses ranged from baking the root stock to poultice ulcerated skin, to grinding the root stocks, boiling them and adding to bath water, which worked well to relieve rheumatism.

Sell Art Online

Enjoy more prints of nature photos

suggested reading:
A Field Guide to Pacific States Wildflowers: Washington, Oregon, California and adjacent areas
Common Edible and Useful Plants of the West (Outdoor and Nature)
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Harrison, Idaho: population 280

One lane bridge over the Coeur d’Alene River

Harrison Idaho, the namesake of President Benjamin Harrison, once laid claim to “the largest city on Lake Coeur d’Alene” until 1917, when a fire at the Grant Lumber Company spread, and devoured a major section of the business community.  Despite a population of 2,000 at the time, and a reputation as a bourgeoning center for rail and water transportation, the citizens never completely rebuilt  their city.

The historical Harrison Building

Today, Harrison consists of 0.4 of a square mile of land and 0.1 of a square mile of water, and a population of less than 280.  It overlooks a unique area where the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe Rivers unload their sediments into Lake Coeur d’Alene.

For the very best Huckleberry Ice Cream in the Northwest

Water access to the town is popular in the summer months when boaters tie up at the nearby dock, and hike uphill to The Creamery for the best tasting Huckleberry Ice Cream in the Inland Northwest. Bicyclists detour from The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, while cars stream through on State Route 97, an Idaho Scenic Byway that twists and turns along the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Further Information:

City of Harrison (47°26’59”N 116°46’50”W)
P.O. Box 73
Harrison, ID 83833
Phone: (208) 689.3212
FAX: (208) 689.9014

Suggested Reading:

 Auntie Enid Remembers: Reminiscing about Harrison, Idaho In the early years

The Harrison Area (Images of America Series) (Images of America (Arcadia Publishing))

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