August 8, 2010 in Idaho Voices

Bayview’s beauty has grown over the years

Herb Huseland

Cape Horn slide remediation.
(Full-size photo)

Editor’s Note:This is the final part of a four-part series on the history of the community of Bayview.

After more than a century, Bayview has come full circle. The Indian settlement that gave way to frantic industry – both peaceful and wartime – again basks in the peaceful waters of Scenic Bay. The Navy is gone, except the small research facility tucked into the southwest corner of the bay. The fishing fleet is no more. The once-frantic pace gave way to the present peaceful pleasure-boating mecca that we now enjoy.

Most fishing on Lake Pend Oreille had ceased during the war years, 1941 through 1945. During that time, the monster Gerrard rainbow trout were getting fat off of teeming schools of kokanee. The landlocked sockeye salmon were so plentiful that a commercial fishery for them existed. Unfortunately, they were overfished past the point of no return in later years. Some of the blame was also placed on the dams on the lower Clark Fork River, which severely impacted spawning salmon.

The bright spot in this saga was the day in 1947 when Wes Hamlin set out for a day of fishing. We don’t know what he was trolling with, if in fact he ever told anyone. He got a monster strike and after a tussle of epic proportions, hauled in a 37-pound rainbow. It was a world record and still is.

Many residents of Bayview were employed by the Good Hope Company, tearing down Farragut Naval Station buildings. Salvaged lumber went to area yards, as well as windows and doors. Another company involved in the deconstruction of Farragut Naval Station was Farragut Wrecking. Many buildings were moved intact, some as far as Sandpoint. Some examples would be the retaining wall and guest cabins at MacDonald’s Resort. The hospital buildings and equipment went to area cities. Many homes still in use dot downtown Bayview, some with additions and some as they were. Dependent housing at Farragut village supplied most of the homes, while the green lumber used to build the base had cured and was welcomed in the postwar village of Bayview.

During the last three days of May 1948, Lake Pend Oreille flooded. Pictures from that era show boats pulling up to the original JD’s Bar, with the bartender serving them from the top of a Dutch door while standing in waist-deep water. These were the days before the dam was built at Priest River and helped control the highs and lows, up to the time that the depth control killed massive kokanee spawners, where their nests were left high and dry to die.

Several natural phenomena occurred during the years following World War II. Jan. 13, 1950, saw temperatures drop, with a high of 25 degrees and low of 2 degrees. It stayed cold until Jan. 20-23. Then it plunged again on Jan. 25. From Jan. 29 through Feb. 5 the lows went to minus 29 degrees at night, then down to 30 below zero by Feb. 5. Scenic Bay for the first time in recorded history snap froze.

The 1950s and ’60s were also a huge fishing opportunity. In addition to the trophy trout, kokanee were fished hard. Personal limits were 100 fish per day and 200 for commercial licensees. Jim MacDonald, while serving in the state Senate, requested in 1971 a decrease of the limits on kokanee. He saw that harvest and predation were happening at a higher rate than new spawning could replace. The Idaho Fish and Game Department agreed and curtailed the harvests in 1973. The damage, though, had already been done. Kokanee went into a death spiral.

Many old-timers remember their fathers’ hand-lining with jigs for washtubs full of 10- to 12-inch kokanee. Commercial fishing was closed in 1973, but the old smokehouse still stands at the south end of Long Bridge in Sandpoint. In 1952, two new dams were built, Cabinet Gorge on the Clark Fork River in Montana and Albeni Falls on the Pend Oreille River. These two dams were the death knell for the Lake Pend Oreille fishery for different reasons.

The Cabinet Gorge Dam chopped off the river seven miles upstream and only the strain of kokanee that had adapted to spawning in the lake shore gravels were left. Kokanee spawn in the late fall. Chip Corsi, a Fish and Game official, explained, “The destruction of 75 or 80 miles of spawning habitat up the Clark Fork River and its tributaries had a huge impact on the survival of the kokanee.”

The following year was the opening of Cape Horn to vehicular traffic. Bob Peck, then road foreman for the Belmont Road District, climbed onto his bulldozer and cut through and over the summit of the Cape. With him on his crew was Milton Cameron, whose grandson and granddaughter, Ethan and Maddie, still live and work in Bayview. Cameron primarily hauled gravel in the area once called Belmont. The impetus for the road was access for shoreline homeowners who until then had only water access. Each lot owner was taxed $1 per frontage-foot to fund this undertaking. Peck said that previously, some of the homeowners rented a bulldozer to cut the initial one-lane, treacherous path through. The road district then came in and widened it out and in some cases ran the road away from the original trail.

On June 24, 1956, a ladies’ group was formed in Bayview, Athol and Belmont, a community that no longer exists except in memory. They called themselves BABS and dedicated the group to community service. The original street fairs during the Fourth of July weekends were established by BABS. They still exist without fanfare. Two years later, the Bayview Chamber of Commerce was formed. The organization doubles as a community action group and social club as well.

One of the few government-sponsored plantings happened in 1960. Sixteen mountain goats trapped in the Clearwater Mountains were transplanted to Bernard Peak in 1960. The same year there was a monumental slide on the north face of Bernard Peak. It caused a small tsunami that rolled up the length of Lake Pend Oreille. Some damage of floating docks was reported as the waves dashed against the north shore.

Farragut State Park was established in 1965, park ranger and historian Dennis Woolford said, pulling together various tracts of land owned by state agencies such as Idaho Department of Lands and Idaho Fish and Game. Idaho Parks and Recreation was in a hurry, because about to descend upon the brand new park were 12,000 Girl Scouts for a jamboree.” Two years later it was the boys’ turn, as 13,000 Scouts showed up for the World Jamboree. While there, they started building things. Towers were built and still stand, slowly being swallowed up by the encroaching timber.

In September 1980, Dick and Shirley Hansen made the first boat slip rental from the new sailboat marina. Dick said, “I had just took on a huge debt load to build the Bitter End Marina when the economy tanked. It was a struggle for a few years.” More recently, they developed the Baywatch Estates. It was finished just in time for the economy to tank again.

Bayview’s Vista Bay Marina on Lake Pend Oreille was experiencing an early-season warm day in May 1977. Jan Larkin, then part owner of the marina, said, “Just after 7 p.m. on May 14, 1977, we heard a loud pop from the boat docks. Suddenly, flames gushed out of the east boat sheds.” When it was all over, 12 boats were destroyed.

A chain reaction occurred, with the 188-foot wooden dock engulfed in flames within five minutes. Since the boats were parked so close to each other, fire spread quickly from boat to boat. No firefighting equipment existed on the docks, and a bucket brigade was formed.

Some boats were saved, cast free and pushed out of harm’s way.

Other marina fires include: May 4, 1986, when Boileau’s main dock suffered the loss of a 33-foot boat and a two-story float home at the end of the dock. Minor damage occurred on adjoining structures. Bayview firefighter Gerald J. Franz collapsed from smoke inhalation and later died from a heart attack at this fire.

And on June 13, 2001, a boat owner was vacuuming his boat inside a shed when a spark ignited fumes in the bilge. Within seconds, the owner bailed out and swam to safety. Two boat sheds containing four boats were destroyed along with two float homes at the end of the same dock where the 1986 fire occurred.

Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 11, 2000, found many Cape Horn residents attending parties at the local watering holes. Lorraine Landwehr, a Cape Horn resident, hearing that a slide had blocked the road home, remarked to her friend, Liz Justus, “I hope you have something in your closet that fits me for work tomorrow.” Well it was many tomorrows before the road was reopened. Joe Wuest of Lakes Highway District said, “Funding for slope remediation was obtained from the National Resources Conservation Services, a U.S. government agency, in the amount of $1 million.” FEMA funded the rental of a party boat, the ‘Idaho’ from the Coeur d’Alene Resort, to act as a passenger ferry, he said, while a barge made trips between Eagle Landing at Farragut and the old Cape Horn Resort, where they created a landing area. Cars stranded behind the slide were barged outside, and service vehicles for propane delivery and garbage pickup were also barged in and out. More than two months went by before the road was reopened.

Today, the quiet village basks in the sun with the sparkling waters of Scenic Bay entertaining guests and residents as it has since it was an Indian encampment and was called Squaw Bay. In the last five or so years, developers and speculators have discovered Bayview, much to the chagrin of longtime residents. Bayview is changing rapidly, and, post-recession, could see an unprecedented building boom.

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