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News & Press: Community Spotlights

AIC Shines Its Community Spotlight on Dalton Gardens

Friday, October 21, 2016  
Posted by: Gay Dawn Oyler
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Dalton Garden City Hall

Located in Idaho’s beautiful panhandle, Dalton Gardens sits on the eastern edge of the fertile Rathdrum Prairie. The Coeur d’Alene National Forest lies to the east.

The city of Coeur d’Alene abuts Dalton Garden’s southern boundaries. To the north, the cities of Hayden and Hayden Lake border the city

Historical Tidbits

For millennia, nomadic American Indians lived along the lakes and rivers of Northern Idaho. Although the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane Tribes were the most prominent in the Northern Idaho upper panhandle, members of the Kootenai, Flathead and Nez Perce Tribes were frequent inhabitants. Some of the tribes referred to the area as the "Great Road of the Flatheads."

In the early 1800s European explorers came into the upper Idaho panhandle to trap beaver and other fur-bearing animals. Most of these mountain men represented organized businesses such as the Hudson’s Bay and Pacific Fur Trading Companies. Beginning around 1809 they began working the streams in the Rathdrum Prairie.

Around 1842 Roman Catholic Jesuit missionaries established a mission with the area’s Coeur d’Alene Indians.

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 and city of Coeur d’Alene to Fort Walla Walla, Washington.

In 1862 Congress passed the Homestead Act. The Act gave 160 acres of public land to a person who improved the property and lived on it for five years. Many Northern Idaho settlers came into the area traveling on 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 was so impressed with the setting that 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. In 1887 following Sherman’s retirement, the military changed the name of the fort to Fort Sherman. Civilians employed to build and provide services to fort personnel started a tent and log cabin village, which they called Coeur d’Alene City, near the fort.

The need for fresh food for the fort’s military personnel and the approximately 100 mules and horses kept at the post as well as the people living in the growing Coeur d’Alene City provided a ready market for fresh agricultural commodities.

One of the first settlers—Oscar F. Canfield, the namesake of Canfield Buttes that lie two miles west of Dalton Gardens—arrived in 1878. He had a contract to supply beef to the fort. Other settlers soon began to stake their homestead claims in the fertile soil north of the fort.

Many of the early settlers built small irrigation systems and dug wells that ultimately proved inadequate to meet their growing demands as well as the needs of new settlers moving into the area. This prompted the formation of larger private irrigation companies.

On December 4, 1907, the Hayden-Coeur d’Alene Irrigation Company recorded the 979-acre plat that they named Dalton Gardens. The plan was to pump irrigation and domestic water from Hayden Lake to a high point where the water would gravity-flow at low-pressure through wooden stave and concrete pipes to small farm lots on which settlers raised fruit trees, berries and vegetables.

The project was successful. With irrigation water available, the farmers planted apple, pear, cherry, plum and apricot trees as well as raised superb vegetables and berries.

Originally, the farmers took their produce to Coeur d’Alene and sold it door to door. In 1909 they formed the Dalton Fruit Growers Association to better market their produce.

In 1920 the Association was successful in building an apple packing plant next to the railroad and contracted with another packing plant in Spokane to sell their commodities into the larger market. In addition, they opened a Farmer’s Market in Coeur d’Alene.

In 1923 a cold snap froze about 50 percent of their fruit trees. The majority of the farmers replanted and production soon returned to normal. However, on October 31, 1935, there was a hard freeze with temperatures dropping to two degrees below zero. The devastating freeze killed about 90 percent of the apple, pear and cherry trees in the area. Many farmers pulled up their trees and sold portions of their land. The apple packing plant shut down.

At the same time, Dalton Garden residents and farmers were experiencing service delivery problems with their irrigation and domestic water systems. Maintenance problems on the domestic water system became so great that in 1944 they had to replace the entire system.

By 1950 farmers were losing so much irrigation water through the leaking irrigation pipes that their crops were suffering. The cost of redoing the system was greater than they could afford. They appealed to Congress and the US Department of Reclamation (Reclamation) for assistance. Congress authorized the system reconstruction. Reclamation—already working on the Rathdrum, Avondale and Hayden Lake projects—oversaw renovation of the entire systems with the final contract completed in 1963.

In 1907 the Coeur d’Alene and Spokane Electric Railroad, later renamed the Spokane and Inland Empire, extended a rail line to Hayden Lake. The railroad built a depot between Coeur d’Alene and Hayden Lake that they named "Dalton." The basis for the name "Dalton" is not known. For the next few decades, the railroad gave the community’s economy a major boost.

By 1959 Dalton Gardens had a population of 1,083. Prominent citizens in the town became concerned that Coeur d’Alene would annex the community. On January 13, 1960, they presented signed petitions to the Kootenai County Commissioners requesting incorporation. The commissioners approved incorporation of "Dalton Village" on March 8, 1960.

When Idaho changed its laws in 1967 establishing the legal designation of all incorporated communities as cities, the citizens of Dalton changed the name of their city to "Dalton Gardens."

Settlers Valued Education

In 1891 settlers locating north of the fort built the first area school in the town of Hayden Lake. Children from what is now the Dalton Gardens area generally walked to that school.

In 1903 the settlers in what is now the Dalton Gardens area built a one-room school in their own community that they named Canfield. The school had one teacher who taught grades one through eight.

In 1909 they moved the Canfield School to Hayden Lake and built a new school that they named Dalton. Dalton School had 32 students with two teachers and classrooms. They taught grades one through four in one room and grades five through eight in the other. The school also had two rooms for community use including one room with a stage for live performances.

Amenities and Attractions Today

Dalton Gardens has a two-acre public park called Newcomb Park. The park has picnic and children’s play areas, a gazebo and extensive flowerbeds.

The city also has a livestock arena and is in the process of building a pavilion next to the arena.

On the first Saturday following Labor Day, the city sponsors a city-wide picnic in Newcomb Park. The picnic is potluck, with the mayor and city council preparing and serving hamburgers and hotdogs. The Fire Department provides games and educational events. A Dalton Gardens car club provides a car show.

The annual Ironman competition takes place in the area each June. The bike portion of the competition runs from Coeur d’Alene to Hayden, passing through Dalton Gardens.

Perhaps the most significant amenity available to city residents is their close proximity to incredibly beautiful natural surroundings and urban parks and services in the neighboring cities of Coeur d’Alene and Hayden Lake. Lake Coeur d’Alene lies three miles south. Hayden Lake is two miles northeast. The Coeur d’Alene National Forest lies just east of the city. The numerous lakes in the area along with the nearby forest lands offer visitors and residents a wide variety of outdoor activities and sports.

Farragut State Park lies about 25 miles north. In 1942 at the beginning of World War II, the U.S. Navy built a training station on the southern shore of Lake Pend Oreille. There were so many Navy personnel living at the station that for two years it was the most populous community in Idaho. While it was a naval station, it provided jobs for hundreds of local residents. After the war, the federal government removed most of the buildings and gave the 4,000-acre facility to the State of Idaho. The park has a military museum and facilities for a variety of activities including boating, swimming, hiking, biking, model airplane flying and a shooting range.

Silverwood Theme Park lies about 18 miles north near Athol. The park offers numerous rides and attractions including a roller coaster, steam engine train and various rides on the water.


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