The natives of the region, who called themselves the Schee-Chu-Umsh, lived and camped around Lake Coeur d’Alene for many generations before the first white men, likely French explorers or trappers, approached Lake Coeur d’Alene in the early 1800s. Those first visitors nicknamed the locals “Coeur d’Alene” – or those who have a “heart like an awl” – for their sharp skills as traders.
Today, the town of the same name has grown into a tourist destination. But the transformation from an area of scattered Native American villages to a resort town started with a fort, built on orders of General William Tecumseh Sherman, in 1879.
Fort Sherman, now the location of North Idaho College, became the nucleus of a bustling timber town, heavily financed by Silver Valley mining wealth. The town’s waterfront, where steamers would land to load cargo and fuel, was given over to docks, a railroad spur, a lumber mill and industrial buildings.
Ace Walden, a longtime Coeur d’Alene banker and philanthropist who died in 2010 at 103, recalled seeing rats while picking his way between the grimy creosote-covered pilings of the waterfront mill as a 6-year-old selling newspapers on the sidewalk in 1913.
Although a few hotels and restaurants attracted visitors, the prime spot between Tubbs Hill and the city beach wasn’t fully developed until Bob Templin and his partners built the North Shore Motor Hotel in 1964. Twenty years later, Duane Hagadone and Jerry Jaeger took over and built the Coeur d’Alene Resort around the old North Shore.
1945: The waterfront in Coeur d’Alene.
Present day: A similar angle shows the waterfront, including the Coeur d’Alene Resort.
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