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Railroad awakens town

Sun., May 23, 2010, midnight

Lime production helps bring tracks to Bayview; tourists soon follow

Editor’s note: This is the second in a four-part series of articles exploring the history of Bayview, Idaho, and its environs as the community celebrates its centennial.

After a slow start, the small town of Bayview finally took the fast track to success around 1910.

All it took was an increase in production at the local lime kiln to bring the Spokane and International Railroad to the quiet shores of Lake Pend Oreille. Of course, the tracks ran both ways between Bayview to Spokane, which began to send tourists by the hundreds.

Suddenly, Bayview had all the right connections – and a reason to grow.

That same year, a hotel was built. Rather than an old muddy road from Granite and Athol, Spokane tourists could ride the rails all the way into town. The hotel was built at the corner of Fifth and Main. It is now the entryway to Harborview Marina. Originally called the Bayview Inn, the hotel was built by J. Grier Long, founder and president of the Washington Trust Co. There were 20 guest rooms with four communal bathrooms on the top floor and various businesses on the street level. Facing toward the lake was a tavern and pool hall. A dance floor graced the middle. Much of the 1920s saw Alice and Martin Burroughs managing the hotel. Long’s daughter, Frances “Mickey” Mulrooney George, took over and renamed it the Wigwam Lodge Hotel.

An interesting side note to this history is the census records. The 1910 census counted 94 people – 17 worked at the Washington Brick and Lime works. By 1920 the count was 216, with the population declining to 139 in 1930. This decline was the beginning of the end of the lime industry in Bayview. In 1939 the railroad was discontinued and the tracks ripped out, only to be replaced in 1942 by the Navy.

The first few years of the float home era were somewhat informal. Many were brought close to shore where they anchored off the beach with a gangplank to shore. One such was an entrepreneurial man recently retired from the Spokane International Railroad, John B. Wilcox. With his wife Jennifer, he purchased a float home and moved it close to where Boileau’s resort is now, operating a boat livery from the makeshift dock. The boat livery was on the lower level with living quarters on top.

Wilcox rented out boats and motors, and also ferried people between Bayview and Lakeview. A gas bottle explosion caused the building to burn down in September 1931. They rebuilt it with just one story. Living in Bayview today is his grandson Skip Wilcox, who moved here after retiring from the Air Force.

Carl and Selma Gasman moved to Bayview in 1932. They bought several waterfront lots from the Prairie Development Corp. Gasman built a marina now owning the littoral rights. According to Bayview resident Bob Peck, Gasman evicted Wilcox from in front of his holdings. Wilcox promptly bought the lot to the west, where they moved their home from the water. The Wilcoxes sold out to the Navy in 1942 and moved back to Spokane. That home ended up today as Rusty’s Buttonhook Inn.

Gasman sold to Glenn Daniel in 1944. He renamed the resort Daniel’s Resort and ran it until he sold to the Boileau family in 1949. Dianne Martinson, Glenn Daniel’s granddaughter, related what she knew regarding those years: “From what my mother recalls, my grandfather Glenn Daniel bought Gasman’s Resort in 1944,” she said. “Apparently Bayview was not incorporated then, and cows were allowed to roam the streets. You can imagine what a mess that must have been so my grandpa apparently initiated the process of getting Bayview incorporated so that the cows would have to be confined,” she said.

Peck said that the effort to incorporate was given up, citing “too much red tape.”

Glenn and Lillian Daniel owned a Buick dealership in Moscow, Idaho, and began coming to the lake in the 1930s. Situated in the bay on the bottom of Fifth Street, the Daniel’s Resort had a series of docks, a store and 28 rental boats.

Lillian worked in the store, as did their teenage daughter Evelyn. The store was equipped with all the essentials needed for fishing. Even at a young age, Evelyn was an accomplished angler and many visitors relied on her expertise when selecting the appropriate lures and bait.

Glenn rented his boats during the week for $2.50 a day and $3 on the weekends. Those were the years when fishermen could get their limit of 200 silvers each day! The entire family caught fish, which Lillian cleaned and Glenn smoked. Glenn had a 23-foot Chris-Craft which was his pride and joy. He built the first covered boat slips on those docks and served in the Coast Guard Auxiliary during the 1940s.

Ambrose and Marguerite Boileau bought the resort from Daniel and operated it until 1965 when they sold to D. Presley Fiscus and son. The resort then became one of three that Bob Holland purchased in 2004.

The other original resort/marina was J.D.’s, built by Elmer “Squeaky” Driesbach after his tavern boat, the Dora Powell, sank.

“It was called Yacht Inn Dock and was tied up at the railroad pier,” Peck said. “He built on shore near the lake, but was flooded out soon after. The original is the gray house down near the water. He then built up on higher ground where the bar is today. J.D. Driesbach, Squeaky’s son, traded a parcel of land on the cape to his dad for the bar. J.D. operated the bar into the 1970s then sold to Bill and Linda Krueger. When Krueger died, the resort was sold in 1993 to the present owner Chan Krupiah, who also owns the Scenic Bay Marina.”

Jim and Mary Feely moved from the Rathdrum Prairie to a float home at Gasman’s docks early in the 1930s. They later moved the home to some lots purchased from Washington Brick and Lime and started Feely’s Marina, these days known as Scenic Bay Marina. Mary Feely was widely known for an enormous garden built elevated on the main dock. The Feely’s are survived by a longtime Bayview resident Chuck Waller, a grandson.

Some of the living conditions back then would be abhorrent to today’s ecologically minded. Float home owners would fish, swim and well … they had outhouses on their decks.

Most of the early residents worked either for Washington Brick and Lime, the railroad or the steamships that plied the waters the length of Lake Pend Oreille. Others were loggers or made their living from the bountiful fishing in the lake.

Many interesting characters inhabited early Bayview. There was Elijah “Lige” Napier. It was said that while his wife was very religious, he would shoulder his crosscut saw and head into the hills for the day. When he came home, his saw was as clean as when he left. None of his customers said anything, but rumor had it that Lige had a still on the hill.

Hattie Konkle was the first postmaster in Bayview, established in 1906. He segued into hotel management, running the Wigwam Hotel. These were the days of deep depression. Most residents killed, caught or grew all of their own food and in many cases made their own clothing.

The war years were just ahead, with Europe already engaged. Life in and around Bayview was soon going to change radically.

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