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Posted on July 24, 2014 at 4:13 PM by GayDawn Oyler
Looking out over Pinehurst
Before the early 1800s when the first explorers/trappers came into the area of the Coeur d’Alenes, American Indians—principally of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe—inhabited the region around what is now Pinehurst.
In 1841 Roman Catholic missionaries, led by Father Pierre Jean de Smet, came to teach the Indians their religion and culture.
In 1860 Captain John Mullan led 230 soldiers and civilian workers in the construction of a 624-mile military wagon road from Fort Benton, Montana; through what is now the Silver Valley; Pinehurst; and city of Coeur d’Alene to Fort Walla Walla, Washington. It was the first engineered road in the Inland Northwest. Interstate 90 generally follows Mullan Road.
In 1877 reacting to concerns about Indian conflicts in the West, General William Tecumseh Sherman, the Union Civil War hero, made an inspection tour of military forts in the Northwest. While traveling over Mullan Road, Sherman passed along the northern shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene. He made a recommendation to Congress that they authorize construction of a new military post on the north shore of the lake.
Congress approved Sherman’s recommendation and in 1878 authorized construction of Fort Coeur d’Alene on 999 acres of land at the headwaters of the Spokane River. The name of the fort was later changed to Fort Sherman. The military also commissioned Captain C.P. Sorensen, a boat builder from Portland, to build a steamboat to patrol the 30-mile-long lake.
Civilians employed to build the fort and other settlers started a small tent and log cabin village, which they called Coeur d’Alene City, near the fort.
At this same time, a prospector named A.J. Prichard made a significant placer gold discovery about 20 miles northeast of what is now Pinehurst.
In 1883 Prichard made disclosure of his discoveries, setting off a major gold rush. Ten thousand people had converged on Shoshone County by the end of 1885, scouring the mountains and streams in search of precious metals.
One of these prospectors was an unemployed carpenter named Noah Kellogg. Kellogg secured grubstakes and began prospecting several locations including Milo Gulch and Creek at what is now Wardner. There he discovered a rich outcropping of lead, zinc and silver ore.
Colorful folklore stories developed around how Kellogg actually discovered the ore body. The stories are hearsay, as Kellogg did not record the events. However, Kellogg told others who wrote and told various accounts making Kellogg and his fabled jackass a legend.
Kellogg and his partners worked together to develop the mine. The closest smelter was in San Francisco. James Wardner, one of Kellogg’s partners, took ore samples to Selby Smelting Company to seal a sales contract for the ore. The first shipments of ore were loaded on wagons, transported through what is now Pinehurst and Coeur d’Alene to the railhead at Rathdrum, then by rail to Portland and by boat to San Francisco.
A tent city developed in Milo Gulch. In October 1885 Kellogg and his partners named the new community Wardner and the mine the Bunker Hill and Sullivan (Bunker Hill Mine). By 1890 all of the original partners in the discovery had sold their claims to investors who, in a few years, moved the entrance of the mine down the mountain to Kellogg and built a new concentrator and smelter.
The Bunker Hill Mine played a pivotal role in the early history of Pinehurst and the Silver Valley.
In the 1880s prospectors made lead, zinc and silver ore discoveries just south of Pinehurst on Pine Creek—later named the Pine Creek Mining District. It was at this time that retail business entrepreneurs established their businesses on the broader Coeur d’Alene River Valley and platted a town they named Pinehurst.
In 1887 railroad interests built the Silver Valley’s first rail line, a narrow gauge 44-inch track. Shortly thereafter, national standards changed and in 1889 other railroad interests replaced the line with a wider 56.5-inch-wide track that extended from Spokane to Wallace.
By 1892 the Bunker Hill Mine was the largest mine operation in the 40-mile-long Silver Valley that extended from Pinehurst to Mullan. In 1892 and again in 1899 the Bunker Hill Mine became the center of sharp conflicts between the mine owners and labor unions. These conflicts quickly spread affecting mines and towns across the valley as they turned violent, resulting in loss of life, dynamiting the Bunker Hill facilities and later the murder of Idaho’s governor.
On February 10, 1970, Pinehurst became an incorporated city.
Superfund--Repairing Land Damaged by Mining
Due to mining practices, the land in the Silver Valley was damaged by lead and other heavy metals. In 1998 the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared most of the Silver Valley, including Pinehurst, a Superfund Site. Over the intervening years, there has been massive removal to landfills of soils contaminated by lead and other heavy metals from mining. Clean soils were then hauled in, streams restored and the land replanted with native species of vegetation. In Pinehurst homes and businesses, EPA contractors have replaced contaminated soil with clean soil topped with new sod and replaced certain road drains and other infrastructure.
Amenities and Attractions Today
The 18-hole Pinehurst Golf Course draws patrons from throughout the western part of the Silver Valley.
The Silver Mountain Resort, part of a chain of destination resorts in the Northwest, is located in Kellogg and is one of the largest private businesses in the valley.
The resort complex starts at Gondola Village in Kellogg and takes patrons for a 3.1-mile gondola ride that passes over Wardner as it rises 3,400 feet to the ski lodge, village and condominiums.
The expanding resort includes two mountains—Kellogg and Wardner Peaks at 6,300 and 6,200 foot elevations, respectively. Additionally, the resort has six ski lifts and 67 named ski trails and runs. The resort sponsors year-round outdoor activities including concerts.
Pinehurst is close to other outstanding attractions. Old Mission State Park is located four miles west of the city. It is the location of the old Cataldo Mission of the Sacred Heart, Idaho’s oldest standing building.
The Route of the Hiawatha is a scenic 30-mile round trip on a paved, non-motorized path built on the rail bed of the old Milwaukee Railroad. It is headquartered 19 miles southwest in Wallace. The path is also part of the Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area located east of Wallace on the Montana Border.
The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is a “Rails to Trails Conservancy,” a national organization, project. It is a paved 72-mile-long trail built on the old Union Pacific rail bed between Mullan and Plummer.
In addition to nearby trails and resorts, the surrounding forest, mountains, streams and the Coeur d’Alene River and its tributaries offer fabulous opportunities for camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and other outdoor recreation and activities.