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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in North Idaho: Actress Nell Shipman was planning a ‘motion picture colony’ for Priest Lake, but the dream would not pan out

 (Spokane Daily Chronicle archives)
By Jim Kershner The Spokesman-Review

Movie star Nell Shipman was planning to build a large movie studio and “complete motion picture colony” at her lodge compound on the upper end of Priest Lake.

A spacious studio building would be surrounded by “laboratories, indoor stage, executive offices, projection rooms, dark rooms and a power plant,” said her general manager, Bert Van Tuyle. Work would begin as soon as weather permitted.

“The whole colony will be built after the pattern of an old-time Hudson’s Bay trading post, so that (the buildings) may all be used in the making of pictures,” Van Tuyle said.

Van Tuyle said the successful sale of her latest feature, “The Grub Stake,” allowed Shipman to go ahead with her ambitious project. He said “The Grub Stake” was being released by one of the largest distributors in the country and would be given worldwide publicity. He claimed never to have heard “such favorable comment” on a picture.

Van Tuyle would prove to be vastly overoptimistic. “The Grub Stake” would get tied up in legal disputes and never be widely distributed. The financial windfall never arrived.

Shipman would make several more short animal films at her Priest Lake compound, which she named Lion’s Head Lodge. But the company would soon go bankrupt.

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