Free First Saturday, October 4

September 30, 2014

Visit the Museum on Saturday, October 4, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for FREE FIRST SATURDAY! That’s right–admission is free on the first Saturday of every month in 2014. Come and explore our many engaging exhibits, learn about local history, and browse in our Gift Shop, where our fabulous Red Solo Cups are now 20% off. Autumn is a great time to take a leisurely drive through the countryside, so be sure to pick up a copy of Driving Past, our brand-new collection of historical driving tours, at 10% off.

Come and join us from 10-2 on October 4th for this Free First Saturday, which has been generously sponsored by Rotary of Sandpoint.

halloween kitty

Wander through our haunted Museum while you gather treats from costumed characters! A safe, fun, and friendly way to spend Halloween. Admission is FREE. October 31, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

cover art077Just in time for the summer tourist season, the Bonner County Historical Society has released DRIVING PAST, a collection of turn-by-turn driving tours to sites that have played important roles in Bonner County’s past and present. Hit the road and travel back into Bonner County’s rich and colorful past. Explore Bonner County’s history from the comfort of your car (or your armchair) with this handy, easy-to-follow guidebook.   Packed with information, DRIVING PAST helps you discover gems of local lore while enjoying spectacular vistas along each route. Each tour has been meticulously researched and includes maps, directions, distances, stories, and photos about the places, people, and events that shaped Bonner County.   Whether you’re a longtime resident or just visiting the area for a day or two, DRIVING PAST will deepen your appreciation of the region and its roots. Each tour heads off in a different direction. Just pack a lunch and pick a destination!

  • Highway 2 west from Sandpoint to Oldtown
  • Highway 57 north from Priest River to Upper Priest Lake
  • Eastside and East River Roads from Priest River to Coolin
  • Coolin
  • Eastshore Road from Coolin to Lionhead
  • Highway 41 from Spirit Lake to Oldtown
  • Highway 54 west from Athol to Spirit Lake, and east from Athol to Bayview
  • Highway 95 south from Sandpoint to Athol, and north from Sandpoint to Elmira
  • Dufort Road between Highway 95 and Priest River
  • Sagle Road from Highway 95 to Glengary Bay
  • Garfield Bay
  • Colburn-Culver Road
  • Sunnyside
  • Highway 200 east from Sandpoint to Cabinet Gorge

Here’s just a small sampling of historical gems you’ll learn about on your informative drives:

  • The historic railways: Great Northern, Northern Pacific, and Spokane International
  • Explorer David Thompson and the Kullyspel trading post he established near present-day Hope
  • The development of Sandpoint from a motley collection of shacks along Sand Creek to today’s thriving and beautiful metropolis
  • The late, great ice house at Cocolalla
  • The tree-shaded treasure of Seneacquoteen Cemetery
  • The majestic Albeni Falls Dam
  • Farragut Naval Training Station, once a thriving military center and now an attractive park
  • Nell Shipman’s silent-film-era movie studio at Lionhead Lodge
  • and much, much more

Ask for DRIVING PAST at the Bonner County Museum gift shop, Vanderford’s Books, Common Knowledge Bookstore, the Corner Bookstore, and other retailers in and around Bonner County, or call (208) 263-2344 to order a copy.

chautauqua imageThe New Old Time Chautauqua “Keep the Faith” Tour 2014 arrives in Sandpoint Thursday, July 17th through Saturday, July 19th, 2014.

Following in the path of similar performers from a century before, the New Old Time Chautauqua (NOTC) will be kicking off their 2014 “Keep the Faith” tour in Sandpoint, Idaho. In addition to their “big show” held at the Panida Theatre at 7:00 PM on Saturday, July 19th, they will hold several events that are free and open to the community, including a potluck, workshops, a town parade, and community service shows.

NOTC will kick off the celebrations on July 17th with a community potluck in Lakeview Park at 6:00pm–everyone is welcome! After meeting the Chautauquans, kick back for a free vaudeville teaser show, featuring a selection of their touring talent–jugglers, musicians, acrobats, magicians, and more, all backed up by a live band! Then come into the Bonner County Historical Society & Museum from 6-8 p.m., check out our new exhibit and learn more about how the Circuit Chautauqua movement started, matured, disappeared, and was reborn in the New Old Time Chautauqua. The museum exhibit also honors Faith Craig Petric (1915-2013), beloved Chautauquan and renowned folk singer, who attended the original Chautauquas nearly a century ago, and to whom this year’s tour is dedicated.

Can’t make it on the 17th? Below is a current schedule of NOTC Events (or visit their website at

On Thursday, July 17th, the Chautauqua kicks off with a potluck at 6 p.m. in Lakeview Park. Everyone in town is invited! Bring food, instruments, the kids, and a good joke to tell!

On Friday, July 18th, NOTC will be conducting community service shows. For more information, please visit their website.

On July 19th, meet the New Old Time Chautauqua at the Farmer’s Market at Farmin Park, where they will present preview acts for our shows at 12:30 p.m. Then, at 1:30 p.m., join NOTC in a raucous parade led by their marching band, rife with jugglers, stilt-walkers, and dancers. Kids, adults, and groups are welcome to join the performers and the band in the march to the Historical Village–wear a costume or come as you are!

Then, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., join them at Farmin Park for free workshops, offered in three consecutive 45-minute sessions. These workshops are geared toward children and adults alike, and accommodate community members of all skill and experience levels. Topics include juggling, magic, history, tap dance, instrument-making, and much more! For more information, please see the paragraph on the following pages or visit the NOTC website!

On Saturday, July 19th, NOTC will hold their Vaudeville Extravaganza at 7:00 p.m. at the Panida.
Advance tickets cost $15 for adults, and $10 for kids 12 and younger. You may purchase tickets at Eve’s Leaves, Eichardt’s Pub & Grill, Winter Ridge Natural Foods, and the CO-OP Country Store. At the door, tickets cost $18 for adults and $12 for kids.

The two-hour variety show offers an evening of delight for the whole family, featuring both locally and internationally acclaimed acts: high-caliber comedy, music, and vaudeville, all accompanied by a rollicking live band. Something for everyone, from age 2 to 102!


June 18, 2014

chautauqua image

Chautauqua is coming to Bonner County! What’s that, you say? Read on . . . or better yet, come on in to the Museum, where we’ve just installed “The Chautauqua Movement,” a special exhibit with artifacts and info about this fun, educational, historic event.

In the 1820s, Yale professor and farmer Josiah Holbrook started giving geography lectures in surrounding communities. He found that people were eager to learn, and his lectures were quite popular.  He realized that working adults hungered for education and self-betterment.  Holbrook believed that improving oneself through education, music, and the arts should be a lifetime commitment.

Holbrook proposed that communities form societies of citizens dedicated to the idea of perpetual learning.  He called his idea the Lyceum, after a grove of trees under which Aristotle taught his students.  Lyceum members would research topics and then make a presentation.  Hired expert lecturers were also utilized, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and David Henry Thoreau. By the Civil War, Lyceums were found in rural communities throughout the United States.

In 1874, Methodist minister John Heyl Vincent and inventor/businessman Lewis Miller enhanced the Lyceum concept by utilizing an idyllic location to recruit Sunday school teachers for religious and cultural events.  They located their enterprise on the shores of Lake Chautauqua, New York.  The first “Chautauqua” was attended by only 40 people. Within a few years, thousands attended each summer.  Permanent buildings were added, including concert halls, private summer homes, and churches.  The “Mother Chautauqua,” as it came to be known, still exists and continues the same sort of programming as it has done for 140 years.

Quickly the Chautauqua idea spread all over New England and then moved west as towns were established. Some of these communities bought property at beautiful natural settings and constructed their own buildings to hold concerts and lectures during the summer vacation months.  By the turn of the 20th century there were community Chautauquas in many towns from coast to coast.

In 1904 Keith Vawter and his partner, Roy J. Ellison, created a standard 6-day program for a summer Chautauqua that could be rented, complete with a large brown tent that fit up to 1,000 people.  That first packaged Chautauqua was a great success!  Word spread and many towns, especially those in the Midwest, were clamoring to book a Chautauqua.  The brown Chautauqua tent became the ubiquitous symbol of what came to be known as the Circuit Chautauqua.

The original message of Circuit Chautauqua was that the rural life was the American ideal and that young men and women should stay at home rather than migrate to the dark, spiritually corrupting cities.  It was more than entertainment. It became a movement.  Circuit Chautauqua would bring the cultural and intellectual stimulation needed to create that Jeffersonian ideal – the educated farmer.

In response to the demand, numerous Chautauqua “bureaus” sprung up to provide the culture and education.  Ellison-White was one bureau and it was located in Boise.

While the lecturer was generally the Circuit Chautauquas’ big draw, it was by no means its only attraction. Politicians could not resist the large audiences, especially during election years.  Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft spoke at Chautauquas, as did William Jennings Bryan, who gave his famous “Cross of Gold” speech over 5,000 times on Circuit Chautauqua.  Both Bryan and Russell H. Conwell, who gave his “Acres of Diamonds” speech over 6,000 times, were enormous draws at any Chautauqua.

There were also opera divas, marching bands, scientific lecturers, exotic groups from far flung nations, jugglers, and eventually even actors and plays.  African American Jubilee singers from the South sang gospel.  The “Chautauqua Girl” organized games and readings for the children while the parents edified themselves under the brown top.

Come experience “The New Old Time Chautauqua” for yourself, coming to Sandpoint July 17-19 (see the poster above for details), and stop by the Museum to view our exhibit honoring Chautauquas past.

The Panhandle Antique Tractor Club and the Bonner County Historical Society & Museum has rescheduled their Benefit Plow Day for Saturday, May 24th, 2014.  The event starts at 9:00 a.m. and we won’t stop until the plowing is done. Location: 4205 North Boyer.  Admission: FREE (donations welcome). Bring the whole family and enjoy the spring sunshine while you watch a selection of antique tractors plow the soil and prepare for planting.  Close to a dozen antique tractors on display with club members on hand to answer your questions. Bring your appetite – volunteers will be grilling up hamburgers and hot dogs at the concession stand.  All proceeds benefit the building of a future exhibit hall in Kootenai to display a local antique tractor & engine collection.

let us meetPlease note date and time change!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
5:30 p.m.

BCHS Museum
611 S. Ella St.
Sandpoint, ID
(208) 263-2344

Mix and mingle with other BCHS members while you hear all about the success of 2013, and what’s coming in 2014. Meeting and election will begin promptly at 5:45. Light beverages and appetizers will be served.

Cost: FREE!

BCHS Board of Trustees, new and continuing candidates:

Brent Featherstone (new)
Bev Kee (new)
John Linch (re-election)

flowers-lilacs-graphicsfairy008April showers bring May flowers, and plenty of other smile-inducing delights:

Saturday, May 3, will be the next “Free First Saturday” at the Museum, sponsored by the Co-op Country Store. Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. you can bring the whole family out to enjoy the Museum without cracking open your wallet–unless, of course, something in the Gift Shop catches your eye! This is a great chance to catch up on our newest exhibits, including 50 Years of Schweitzer  and Digging Into the Past. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, May 10, is the annual Plant Sale at 8:30 a.m. in Lakeview Park. Come and stock up on green things for your garden!

Wednesday, May 28 will be the Annual Meeting, 5:30 p.m. at the Museum.

On Saturday, May 31, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Museum, University of Idaho archaeologists Mary Petrich-Guy and Molly Swords will present a day of hands-on activities for children, in celebration of Idaho Archaeology and Preservation Month. Admission is free!
This event is generously sponsored by the Idaho State Historical Society, the University of Idaho, SWCA, Inc., and the Idaho Transportation Department.

For more information call: 208.263.2344

Check out the latest BCHS Newsletter here.

1920518_745479425483229_4757093522774628963_nNow on sale at the museum gift shop, A Glorious Field for Sawmills by Nancy Foster Renk chronicles the fascinating history of Humbird Lumber Company and its logging operations here in Bonner County. The company existed in a context of rapidly developing towns, changing rural landscape, and sometimes tumultuous social times. Many local residents earned their livelihood by working for Humbird (perhaps even someone in your family?). Historical photographs from the collection of the Bonner County Historical Society & Museum richly illustrate its story. This book would make a great gift for anyone with an interest in logging, the early development of Bonner County, or the history of northern Idaho. Visit the museum gift shop or call (208) 263-2344(208) 263-2344 to order a copy.