History of Lake Pend Oreille in Hope Idaho
Prior to the commencement of the logging era in this region, the shores of Lake Pend Oreille were covered down to the high water line with a dense evergreen forest of ponderous pine, cedar, and larch. Higher elevations contained likewise dense concentrations of pine, fir, and cedar.
In the 1880’s northern Idaho saw an influx of large Midwestern lumber companies move into the old growth timberland around Lake Pend Oreille. The industry that depleted the resources of the Great Lakes forests had developed techniques useful in their new location. They used the difficult terrain to their advantage. The mountain slopes became flumes and chutes; sleighs moved all winter in heavy snow and the swollen river of the springs provided log transportation to the mills.
Birth of Hope Idaho
Originally the location of a construction camp for the Northern Pacific Railroad, which began establishing this site in 1882. Due to the length of time involved in the construction of this section of the railroad, the camp materialized into a permanent town. It was platted in 1896 and became the home of the Hope Lumber Company in 1901. The company began operations in November of that year.
The Hope Lumber Company mill was located on the shores of the lake, just east of the railroad station. It was a band saw type mill with both lathe and planing capabilities. The planing mill itself was detached from the rest of the facility to minimize the risk of fire. Due to its use of the most modern time and labor saving machinery, along with full mill electric lighting, it became a model for all future lumber mills in that region. All logs milled by the Hope Lumber Company were floated down the Clark Fork River into Lake Pend Oreille where they were hauled by tug to the holding pond.
The lumber mill employed over one hundred men and records tell us that the mill started with a stock of 20 million board feet of logs in the pond. With the addition of a night crew, the mill became capable of generating 100,000 BDF every 24 hours. O.M. Field was the president of the company, with a W.F Neinman as secretary and treasurer, and a Will Neinman as manager. The Hope Lumber Company remained in operation until 1916. The building burned to the ground in the early 20’s.
Recovered Lumber Logs from Lake Pend Oreille
Log marks recovered from the Hope site to date include the following: HL, D, 5 inside a circle, X, D with a 9 inside, R, R us, SP, D with a 5 inside.