About the Priest Lake Historical Photograph Collection

The 380 photographs in this collection depict scenes across seventy years (1880-1950) of Priest Lake area history. The Priest Lake Museum Association built the collection in the early 1980s after putting out a call for historical photographs of their region. With the help of grant funding provided by the Greater Inland Empire Foundation and the Association for the Humanities in Idaho, members of the association went about gathering photographs from those who answered their call. These photographs were eventually hand-delivered to the University of Idaho Library's Special Collections & Archives Department, where they were photographed, reprinted, and then returned, via the Museum Association, to their original owners.

This is a collection depicting family, community, and business life in the Priest Lake area. Earlier photos show homesteads as well as Prater Ranch, aka "half-way house," where, during the regular trips from Priest River to Priest Lake, the stage stopped to exchange horses and provide a place for its passengers to have a mid-day meal. Many images also depict logging activity: There are images of logs on sleds drawn by horses, log booms pulled by steamboats moving from Priest Lake to Priest River, and logs on multi-trailer trucks traversing snow-covered roads.

This rugged, outdoorsman's wonderland was the perfect calling card for adventurist and silent film star Nell Shipman, who brought her production company and zoo to the area. Shipman made her outdoor adventure movies in the region, starring in them with her own wild animals. This ruggedness also lent itself to the production of moonshine in the hills during Prohibition.

In the 1930s, the federal government found itself fighting Blister Rust Disease in the area's national forests. To combat the disesase, the government used manual labor from the newly founded Civilian Conservation Corp(CCC). The men in the CCC not only worked on disease control and fought fires, they also built fire lookouts, campgrounds, and roads. The Federal Government later used these camps to house German and Italian internees during World War II.


Wikipedia Entry for Priest Lake - A thumbnail sketch of the area and history.

The Priest Lake Museum Association Newsletter - A PDF that describes how the collection came about. See page 2.

Blister Rust Disease - Information on what the Blister Rust Disease is, how it spreads to white pines, and the economic impact for the United States.

Wikipedia Entry for the CCC - A history of the CCC.

Wikipedia Entry for Nell Shipman - An overview of Nell Shipman who she was and what she did.

Priestlake.org - The Priest Lake Chamber of Commerce home page.

The following books were also consulted:

Pioneer Voices of Priest Lake Edited by Kris Runberg Smith. Day-NW F.782 P75 2007

Priest River and Priest Lake: Kaniksu Country Author(s): Marylyn Cork, Jeanne M. Tomlin, Diane E. Mercer Copyright 2012

Questions? Comments?
Contact Devin Becker, digital initiatives librarian at dbecker@uidaho.edu.


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