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Monday, July 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 Years Ago in Spokane: Fishermen missing after boat capsizes

Searchers were looking for five men whose boat capsized while on a fishing trip on Priest Lake. Among the missing were a lawyer and power utilities manager, and they set out shortly before midnight over the concerns of a local merchant. (S-R archives)
Searchers were looking for five men whose boat capsized while on a fishing trip on Priest Lake. Among the missing were a lawyer and power utilities manager, and they set out shortly before midnight over the concerns of a local merchant. (S-R archives)

Five local fishermen vanished in the waters of Priest Lake when their small boat apparently capsized.

The four Spokane men – all professional men, including a lawyer and a power utilities manager – left Spokane at 6 p.m. and arrived at Coolin about 11 p.m., on June 14, 1919. They purchased groceries and fishing tackle and prepared to set out from from the Coolin landing shortly before midnight, accompanied by a Coolin fishing guide. A Coolin merchant tried to talk them out of risking their lives in a small boat in the middle of the night, but they wanted to cross the lake before daybreak and reach the summer cottage of one of the men, Henry P. Engdahl.

The boat was equipped with small Evinrude motor. The boat was weighted down with groceries, 10 gallons of gasoline, and the five passengers.

Ranchers along the shore reported hearing cries for help between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Several ranchers went outside to investigate but could not tell in the darkness where the cries were coming from. The water was choppy and waves were beating against the shore.

The next morning, searchers found the overturned boat in Kalispell Bay, along with groceries, fishing tackle and clothing belonging to the missing men. Three hats were floating in the bay.

Friends of the men spent the next day dynamiting the lake in an attempt to bring up the bodies, but so far none had been found.

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