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Priest River and Priest Lake

PDF The first permanent settlers of Kaniksu County filtered into the Priest River and Priest Lake area of northern Idaho's panhandle in the late 1880s. Some came to build homes, farms, and businesses in an area where none had existed before. Others were more interested in trapping and prospecting; they sought to lead solitary and eccentric lives away from civilization. Most settlers learned quickly that harvesting the vast timber wealth of the heavily forested mountains was the best way to earn a livelihood. For almost 50 years, millions of logs and cedar poles were sent down the tumultuous Priest River to its confluence with the larger Pend Oreille. This was believed to be the second-to-last log drive to end in the lower 48 states. Construction of the Great Northern Railroad in 1892 spurred both industry and settlement, opening the way for sawmills downstream to service their markets until modern roads and trucking came into existence.

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