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News & Press: Community Spotlights

AIC Shines Its Community Spotlight on Hope

Tuesday, September 19, 2017  
Posted by: Gay Dawn Oyler
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Beautiful Hope Scenery

The city of Hope is a hillside community on the eastern shore of the 180-square-mile Lake Pend Oreille, the largest lake in Idaho.

The heavily wooded mountains of the Kaniksu National Forest—part of the 2.5-million-acre Idaho Panhandle National Forests created in 1973 to administer the Kaniksu, Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe National Forests—form the city’s eastern boundary. The city of Sandpoint lies 15 miles west. The city’s southern boundary is adjacent to East Hope.

Historical Tidbits

For centuries, the Kalispell Indians hunted and fished around Lake Pend Oreille and its tributaries.

In September 1809 frontiersmen David Thompson and his associate, Finan McDonald, arrived at Lake Pend Oreille near what is now Hope. Thompson was a partner with the North West Company, a Canadian company in competition for the fur trade with the British Hudson’s Bay Company.

He built a log trading post he named "Kullyspel House," the first trading post in Idaho.

In 1866 the steamboat Mary Moody began ferrying trappers and miners around the lake. Prior to an adequate road system, Hope was a busy port with steamboats carrying passengers, supplies and mail to mining sites around the shoreline and up the Clark Fork River.

Around 1880 the Northern Pacific Railroad began construction of a line from Wallula, Washington, to Missoula, Montana, essentially creating another transcontinental railroad. In 1881 the railroad reached Sandpoint. From there the line continued along the northern and eastern shore of Lake Pend Oreille through Hope and Clark Fork, before proceeding east, reaching Missoula in 1883. The railroad used about 6,000 men, including 4,000 Chinese, to construct the line.

As a financial inducement to build railroads, the federal government granted large tracts of land to the railroads. In 1883 W. T. Crawford, a real estate developer, moved to the area and purchased a parcel of lakefront and foothill land from the railroad.

In 1884 the railroad began building resort facilities on the shoreline near Crawford’s property. A year later, a guesthouse named the Highland House had been built, and tourism was being promoted by offering guided fishing and hunting packages.

In 1888 Great Northern Railroad interests acquired the Northern Pacific Railroad. In the same year, there was a drought at the railroad’s division point in Heron, Montana. Because of the abundant springs on the eastern mountainside above Lake Pend Oreille, railroad executives decided to move the division point, or depot, from Heron to about one-half mile northwest of its lakeshore businesses. It named the new depot and post office Hope, the name of a veterinarian employed by the railroad.

The railroad built additional tracks and a roundhouse at its Hope facility, as well as housing for workers and a large laundry, servicing rail employees from Portland/Seattle to Saint Paul, Minnesota, and staffed by Chinese workers.

J. J. Strong, superintendent of the railroad’s Dining Cars and Hotels managed the facilities. He provided fresh water to the settlement by piping it from the creek that would later bear his name.

In 1896 railroad interests filed a plat of the town of Hope with the county.

In 1901 entrepreneurs borrowed $75,000 from backers in Michigan, purchased lakeshore land from Crawford for $500 and built the Hope Lumber Company sawmill. At its peak of 100 employees, the mill was an economic anchor for the area.

In 1902 Crawford platted 39 lots on the bench and hillside above the new sawmill. Rather than keep the name of Hope, he decided to separate his development from the one created by the railroad by naming it East Hope. Adjacent landowners platted their land as East Hope subdivisions.

A commercial district made up of retail and service stores, shops and offices, a boat manufacturer, a wood pole mill, fruit orchards and berry farms developed around the mill. The railroad transported local lumber and agricultural commodities from both Hope and East Hope to distant markets.

In 1903 Hope had a population of around 800 and successfully petitioned the county to become an incorporated village.

The Hope Post Office also served East Hope. When East Hope became incorporated on April 13, 1913, its leaders petitioned postal authorities for their own post office. They argued that East Hope deserved to have its own post office since most of the business coming into the post office originated in East Hope, where "the bulk of the population" lived. Their request acknowledged the similarity of the names between the two communities and stated that if postal authorities granted their petition, they would change the name of their city from East Hope to Ellisport or some other acceptable name.

The postal authorities denied their petition. Fifty years later in 1963, postal authorities closed the Hope Post Office facility and built a new one in East Hope. However, they did not change the name. The post office located in East Hope still bears the name "Hope Post Office."

Guiding Tours and Happy Days!

Strong was a bit of an entrepreneur and opportunist. He also purchased a ranch located near the mouth of the creek and opened a guide service operated by his two sons, Lewis and Sam. Sam said he and Lewis, "spent many happy days taking out fishing parties on the lake and hunters into the mountains."

Sam further wrote of the area, "Deer were abundant near Hope, also bear and further back up toward the Canadian border were moose and caribou. Trout were abundant in the lake and brook trout in Strong Creek...up on the benches of Hope Mountain were plenty of grouse and pheasants to be had...we batched in the old log cabin and lived off the fat of the land. The most enjoyable time of my life was spent there and I often wish I were young again and could spend it over."

Amenities and Attractions Today

The City owns and maintains a cemetery. With the support from the entire area, the Hope International Film Festival comes to the city each January.

The City manages the 276 acres of timberlands in its watershed. The city has one of the few boat ramps accessible on a year-round basis.

Area residents extensively use Old Highway 200 which runs through the cities of Hope and East Hope for biking and walking.

Nestled between the beautiful Lake Pend Oreille and the Kaniksu National Forest, Hope residents live in one of the most naturally scenic parts of Idaho. Both residents and visitors enjoy boating, water skiing and fishing on the lake and hunting, camping, hiking and fishing in the nearby forest. There are also several recreation sites and camping facilities around Lake Pend Oreille and in the surrounding forests.

Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort is visible from Hope and lies 25 road miles northwest. The resort has an average snowfall of 300 inches, 92 ski runs, 10 ski lifts, snowboarding terrain park, cross-country ski trails, snowmobiling and other winter activities. Facilities include a lodge, condominiums and a variety of retail stores.

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