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Moving History Forward: Early Hayden Lake

| March 13, 2021 1:00 AM

With the completion of the first railroad across North Idaho in 1881 and the rapid development of towns, there came a very high demand for agricultural products.

Matt Hayden was one of the first to attempt systemic farming in the area near the shore of Hayden Lake. According to folklore, the lake got its name when a group of early settlers were playing cards. They decided that the winner would get to name the lake. Matt Hayden won the game and named the lake after himself.

By 1890, several other homesteaders had cleared their land and were growing legumes, wheat, oats and hay. Fruit orchards also became very popular in the Hayden Lake and Dalton Gardens area.

During the early 1900s, D.C. Corbin, a renowned railroad builder and land developer in the Inland Northwest, invested in a sugar beet factory in Waverly, Wash., just south of Spokane. He also purchased several hundred acres of land between the town of Hayden and Athol in North Idaho with the idea of growing sugar beets, which were supposed to replace sugar cane.

The Dingley Act of 1897 imposed extremely high duty on sugar. Corbin hired Japanese laborers to plant, care for, and harvest the beets. The workers lived in special camps between Athol and Hayden. The beets were shipped by rail to the factory in Waverly. Corbin later sold his land as small irrigated tracts. The factory closed after fire destroyed the town of Waverly in the mid-1920s.

Dairy operations became quite common around Hayden Lake. Some cattle and poultry business also developed in the area. During the early 1900s, lumbering and timber mills flourished in the Hayden Lake region. However, the most important industry was tourism.

In 1906, the electric railroad was extended from Coeur d’Alene to Hayden Lake. That same year, a new resort called the Bozanta Tavern, designed by famous Spokane architect K.K. Cutter, was opened. J.C. Olmsted, designer of Central Park in New York, was the architect.

The Bozanta Tavern became an immediate success, especially after the completion of an 18-hole golf course, the first in Idaho. Today, the golf course and much of the Bozanta Tavern exist as the Hayden Lake Country Club.

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The Museum of North Idaho is closed for the season. The research library and administrative office is open by appointment only Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The museum will reopen to the public on Thursday, April 1. There will be a special members-only preview of the new exhibition "Hollywood of the North: North Idaho and the Film Industry" on March 31 from 5-7 p.m. To become a member, please visit www.museumni.org. This is an exhibit not to be missed.