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Area History

The history of Lake Couer d’Alene is quite rich and dates back thousands of years. The lake is quite large, stretching out over 30 miles, and offers numerous beaches and opportunities for water sports. It has been a favorite destination of travelers for hundreds of years, but the first inhabitants were believed to be the Couer d’Alene Indians. This tribe called the area home for hundreds of years before the first settlers discovered the region, but they were slowly pushed out as the area became more populated. Currently, the tribe owns one third of the lake, but this has not affected tourists who are still allowed use of the entire lake.

Lake Couer d’Alene, and the neighboring Priest Lake were believed to have been formed by glaciers millions of years ago. The natural climate is very temperate and it is the place to go in Idaho during the summer months. There are many different towns and resorts that surround the lake and although one of them, Harrison, had a chance to be the county seat, they eventually lost the race. That has not diminished the popularity of the region however, and it is still one of the most visited places in Idaho.

As more people moved into the area in the early 1900’s transportation across the lake became a problem. Most preferred not to wait and would try to cross the lake using their cars. This has led to numerous Model T’s being found on the bottom of the lake. It is a popular destination for divers and to this day, parts of old cars and ferries can still be found on the bottom. Thankfully, accessing and getting around the lake is much easier today.

The Priest Lake area is home to numerous forms of wildlife and fish, and many people come to spot the eagles as they feed each day. The Spokane River Centennial Trail also goes past a good portion of the lake and each year, many people hike or bike their way along the trail, to experience a bit of what the original settlers to this area felt as they found their new homes.

Although the lake is very beautiful and offers many fishing opportunities, the EPA has stated that the fish caught should not be eaten, due to the high levels of metal contaminants in the water. These are the result of mining operations through the years and although the water is completely safe for boating, swimmers are encouraged to shower thoroughly after taking a dip. Many plans are in the works to clean up the problem at the lake, but for now, you can fish, but not eat what you catch.

This is a small downside considering the natural beauty of the area and all that it has to offer. To this day, people travel from all over the world to experience this magnificent lake and the resorts that surround it. If you’re looking for a laid back summer vacation, Lake Couer d’Alene or the town of Priest Lake are the perfect spots.