About the Potlatch Historical Society Collection

A group of men holding food and drinks outside a log cabin at a PLC camp.
PLC Camp

The digital materials in the Potlatch Historical Society Collection were donated to the University of Idaho Library by the Potlatch Historical Society. Some were also collected via community digitization days held at the Potlatch Public Library In 2017 and 2018. The Potlatch Historical Society was founded in 1998 as a non-profit group dedicated to finding, preserving, and sharing the history of the company town known as Potlatch and North Latah County, Idaho. The organization has materials and offices in the historic Washington, Idaho & Montana Railway Depot and City Hall in Potlatch, Idaho.

About Potlatch, Idaho

Located 18 miles north of Moscow, Idaho along the Palouse River in northern Latah County, the community of Potlatch first began as a company town for the Potlatch Lumber Company in 1906. The town site was chosen on account of its proximity to the company’s larger holdings of western white pine and soon became the home to the largest white pine sawmill in the world.

Because of the remote placement of the mill, Potlatch was built as a company town to provide housing, commerce, and other amenities for mill workers. During its height, Potlatch contained the sawmill, hundreds of homes, two churches, a hotel, a school, a hospital, and a mercantile. Many of these buildings have burned or been torn down throughout the last century–including the mill itself–but some of them still stand in Potlatch today.

The mill in Potlatch operated until 1981 when, due to a depressed lumber economy and declining lumber prices, it closed its doors for good. Shortly after the town was sold to its residents. Since the closure of the mill, Potlatch’s population has dwindled but it remains a bedroom community for the university town of Moscow, Idaho and Pullman, Washington. Many efforts have been made by residents to preserve the town’s history, and today Potlatch is home to not only the Potlatch Historical Society, but the Return to Riverside Music Festival as well.


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Last build date: 2019-10-09.