Museum publisher preserves local past

SUNDAY, MARCH 28, 2010

Maybe you made a New Year’s resolution to read more. Even though more than two months have passed since we flipped over the calendar to a new year, it’s never too late to follow through on a resolution already made or make a new one. Why not begin close to home with locally published books that focus on North Idaho?

The Museum of North Idaho is well known as a repository of artifacts and collections that physically preserve the rich history of our region, but it is also a publishing house.

“Part of the museum’s mission is to foster an appreciation of the area’s heritage, and the museum press keeps alive local history books that otherwise might become out of print,” said museum director Dorothy Dahlgren. The museum reprints these books that otherwise might disappear along with the local history they preserve.

The museum’s publishing side began almost 20 years ago with “In All the West No Place Like This: A Pictorial History of the Coeur d’Alene Region,” by Dahlgren and Simone Kincaid. The book has become a regional best-seller, so popular that it is now in its third printing, on sale through the museum’s Web site and local bookstores.

Filled with pictures and explanatory text that chronicle the region’s history, “In All the West” is coffee table book chuck full of photographs and text that provoke discussion and questions about the local history of railroads, steamboats, logging, mining, farming and the native peoples.

According to Dahlgren, the new edition includes enhanced photographs, minor corrections and changes in the layout. The book’s pages shows scenes that are gone forever – sisters wearing black, ground-sweeping habits tending a mission garden, the inside of a post office with men sitting comfortably around a pot-bellied stove, a lone logger slathering grease on a log chute ahead of oncoming logs. Logging in the old days was not for the fainthearted or those with slow reaction time.

“Roads Less Traveled” by Dahlgren and Kincaid, published in 2007, could be used as a companion book, a guide to many of the places pictured in “In All the West.” “Roads” is a guide to day trips to interesting points within easy driving distance of Coeur d’Alene.

Dahlgren credits railroad enthusiasts for their support that resulted in the publication of five railroad books – three on the Milwaukee Road. A recent release is “Inland Empire Electric Line, Spokane to Coeur d’Alene and the Palouse,” by Clive Carter.

“It’s a long-needed history of the Inland Railroad system,” Dahlgren said. She adds that the museum’s railroad books sell nationally,

For those who enjoy tales and human interest stories about the people who lived in and settled North Idaho, there are reprints of Bert Russell’s “Swiftwater People and North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River.” If you are into western lore there is “Wyatt Earp and Coeur d’Alene Gold,” featuring the fabled and controversial lawman of the Old West who lived for time in the mining country of the Coeur d’Alenes.

The most recent publication, released this year, is Larry Storbel’s “When the Mill Whistles Blew: The Way It Was in Coeur d’Alene Country, 1888-1955.” This is the story of two pioneer families that overcame tragedies and hardships that led to the development of orchards, farmland, a logging railroad and a silver mine. Dahlgren said the story of their everyday life is “told with humor, sadness and insight. The title comes from the time Coeur d’Alene was a lumbering town and the mill whistles regulated employees’ work hours and also the population’s comings and goings.”

Gene Hyde’s “From Hell to Heaven,” a compilation of those who died in North Idaho mining accidents, and the “Lookout Cookbook,” a blend of history, personal stories and recipes from North Idaho’s Forest Service fire lookouts, make for interesting reading.

Of interest to rock hounds is “Idaho Minerals: The Complete Reference and Guide to the Minerals of Idaho” by Larry Ream. Faust’s “Wild Flowers of the Inland Northwest” will be helpful to those who want to learn more about the blossoms of our fields and forests. The format of both books is 6 by 9 inches, making them convenient to carry into the field.


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