It’s evident that a lot happened around here 100 years ago. We celebrated the centennial of Sandpoint’s founding a few years back, and shortly after that we celebrated the centennial of the long bridge that crosses Lake Pend Oreille to reach us. Kootenai and Bayview both celebrated centennials last year, as did the East Bonner County Library, and we also remembered—although we could hardly be said to have celebrated—the centennial of the great fires of 1910.
On the weekend of July 4, we reached the centennial of the incorporation of Clark Fork, a village of some five or six hundred souls clinging to the upper inner edge of Idaho, just a few miles short of the Montana line.
Actually, it isn’t quite correct to say that the centennial occurred July 4th. The centennial of the actual incorporation date occurred in May, but city fathers and mothers decided to move the celebration forward to coincide with the Independence Day weekend, so they could celebrate the centennial on Saturday, take Sunday off, and celebrate our federally ensured freedoms on Monday.
The celebration went as such an occasion should, with ice-cream-eating children running in the grass among spinners and blacksmiths and others who had set up booths to give them a faint inkling of what life was like before iPods and the Internet.
Oldsters enjoyed an exhibit of historic photos at the senior center, where they could be heard commenting on their memories of the individuals shown. “I hate that picture of my mother.” “She looks so mean!” “And she was the nicest, sweetest thing….” Their celebration was personal, not historical or theoretical.
Those in between enjoyed a softball tournament with accompanying glasses of beer. Trish Gannon, renowned publisher of the noteworthy regional rag The River Journal (“a newsmagazine worth wading through”) had suggested that baseball would be an appropriate activity, reminding current Clark Forkians of the importance of their baseball team in years gone by and its rivalry with the Sagle team across the lake.
One town resident took advantage of the centennial to hold an open house in the family home, celebrating her own family’s history and sharing the fruits of her labor to honor and preserve it. Maureen Vogel Snyder, known to all as Sissy, started last fall to reclaim the stately three-story home her great grandfather Herman Fritz Vogel had built in 1908. Sissy restored the structure—which was so dilapidated that some residents feared it was haunted when they were kids—to maintain its historic integrity but also to provide some modern conveniences, such as wireless internet, air conditioning, and modern plumbing. It is now open as a B&B and for weddings and other events.
Such an undertaking is a labor of love in this remote town, and in restoring the house her great grandfather built, Sissy brings to mind the efforts of Brian Runberg, who recently restored his great-grandfather’s great edifice, the Beardmore Building, in Priest River at the opposite edge of the panhandle.
It’s an admirable urge on both their parts, and with any luck their children’s children’s children will have a reason to remember their efforts when Clark Fork’s bicentennial rolls around.