Wednesday, November 29, 2023


| May 28, 2023 1:05 AM

That 75-ton, green-and-rust contraption in front of the Museum of North Idaho played a key role in the local economy for almost 50 years. It’s the Corliss steam engine that ran the old Rutledge mill from 1916 to 1963. And before that, the engine, built by Allis-Chalmers, provided electricity for Butte, Mont. (1900-16).

Thirty-five years ago (May 26, 1988), volunteers moved the Corliss engine from the Rutledge mill site to the MONI property to preserve a small part of our timbered past.

“Everyone realized it’s an artifact,” museum official Gard Teall said at the time. “Once it’s destroyed, it's gone. There’s very few of them left.”

Teall told The Press that sawmill workers would gather in the power room during breaks to watch the engine slowly rotate “as they swapped jokes and stories.”

Potlatch offered the Corliss engine to the museum after Duane Hagadone bought the old mill site to construct a golf course for his Coeur d’Alene Resort. The Corliss engine was headed for the scrap pile before MONI stepped forward to rescue it.

Wolf whistle

The wolf whistle has gone the way of the dodo. And that’s a good thing.

Sixty years ago, there was an outbreak of wolf whistles coming from the sheriff’s office, which in those days was located just south of the Kootenai County Courthouse. Female courthouse visitors reported the harassment to Sheriff John Bender. It didn’t take the sheriff long to apprehend the culprit.

Seems the guilty party was a dirty bird known for mimicking whistles, the mynah. The whistler joined KCSO after its young owners were arrested for grand larceny. The couple purchased the bird with money stolen from the Hayden Lake Irrigation District. After KCSO staff complained about the noisy mynah, it was moved outside.

“Its frequent outbursts,” reports The Press on May 27, 1963, “can be heard as far as a block away.”


Poet’s Corner: For all involved, I stand and cheer;/planner, worker and engineer./I give them too a standing O —/I’d just as soon not sit, you know./(I’d rather not sit down, you know.) — The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“After Biking for Hours on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes”).

Limericking: Regina and Judy’s terms may be through,/But we owe them their deeply earned due./With grace and good will,/Irreplaceable skill,/Our libraries are better thanks to these two — The Humble Spud (“True Friends of the Library”).

Progress: Sixty-five years ago (May 17, 1968), Marie O’Brien was about to launch the fashion shop bearing her name in the Coeur d’Alene Mall that would make her a local fashion icon. Before she did, she joined other shopkeepers in celebrating the mall’s second anniversary. Later, she would move her shop downtown. She lived by the motto: “You can’t stop progress.”

Persistence: “Kate” appears carefree as she bikes through Riverstone Park with her two sculpted dogs, crafted by artist David Clemons 20 years ago. But she’s been vandalized, cut apart, stolen, lost one of her pets, and moved from the state line to Riverstone. Nevertheless, she and creator Clemons have persisted. And “Kate” cycles on, one of the city’s most beloved public art pieces.

This Day in History: Seventy-five years ago, Coeur d’Alene mayor J.G. Adams bought the first poppy to launch the traditional Poppy Day sale. Residents ponied up their nickels, dimes, quarters and more to help veterans of all wars, needy orphans, and “widows of the war-departed.” The American Legion and VFW conducted the sale. Coeur d’Alene was a unified community then.

Parting shot

The opening of the Third Street parking lot 60 years ago (May 24, 1963) was cheered. The famous Silver Spurs of Spokane led the square dancing. Caller Buford Finch furnished music. And townspeople wore period garb to a Friday night bash to observe the state’s territorial centennial. Festive downtown merchants did their part by raising $14,000 to build the lighted, blacktopped and striped lot. It was designed to hold up to 400 vehicles on the southern edge of the central business district. And as drab and misplaced as it was on the waterfront, that lot served Coeur d’Alene until it was torn up in 2012 as part of the McEuen Park overhaul. And almost everyone celebrated the progress again.

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You can contact D.F. (Dave) Oliveria at


Photo courtesy of The Coeur d'Alene Press archives

Marie O’Brien at second anniversary of Coeur d’Alene Mall. Others are, from left, Tex Sigler (Mall Furniture), F. Dennis Clark (Montgomery Ward), Jim Pryse (Sprouse Variety), Don Klotz (Klotz Drug) and Jim Howard (Buttreys).


Photo courtesy of The Coeur d'Alene Press archives

Artist David Clemons sculpts bicyclist “Kate.”


Photo courtesy of The Coeur d'Alene Press archives

Mayor J.G. Adams buys the first poppy from Mrs. Claude Barnes.


Photo courtesy of The Coeur d'Alene Press archives

The new parking lot at Fourth and Front was cause for celebration.

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