Coeur d’Alene, Idaho: Enchanting visitors since 1878
Born as an offshoot of the construction of Fort Coeur d’Alene, a military structure ordered by General William T. Sherman in the 1870’s and which was later renamed as Fort Sherman in honor of its creator, Coeur d’Alene is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the Northwest thanks in part to the gorgeous landscape surrounding the area courtesy of the Coeur d’Alene National Forest.
Its beauty is so notorious and well known that Barbara Walters at one point referred to the city as “a little slice of heaven”.
Although it was a well-known mining district at the end of the 19th century, Coeur d’Alene has expanded its economic and industrial outlook and these days is also considered to be the health care, educational, tourism, manufacturing, and commercial center for the northern portion of Idaho.
Privileged Geography and Great Weather
Conveniently located only 30 miles away from Spokane, Washington, at an altitude of 2,180 ft above sea level, the city of Coeur d’Alene covers a total of 16 square miles along the western portion of the National Forest of the same name, a site that is renowned for its beautiful lakes and popular camping grounds.
Its privileged location allows Coeur d’Alene to enjoy dry, warm summers, as well as cold, moist winters, with temperatures ranging from a chilly 29 degrees to a comfortable 70 degrees, very well defined seasonal changes, and only a handful of days that surpass the 90°F range.
A River and a Lake at the Heart of the City
Formed by the Missoula floods approximately 15,000 years ago, Lake Coeur d’Alene is one of the focal points of the city, and one of the most popular tourist attractions during the summer months thanks to its beautiful beaches and benevolent weather.
The lake also offers locals and visitors an opportunity to watch bald eagles feeding, as well as other activities, including walking and cycling along the North Idaho Centennial Trail.
On a curious note, the bottom of the lake is dotted with the remains of several steamboats together with a considerable number of Ford Model T’s. This happened because in the early 20th century the locals would drive across the frozen lake during the winter months to cut the time it would take to drive around it, but when the spring thaw took place, many vehicles ended up sinking to the bottom.
Lake Coeur d’Alene is fed by the Coeur d’Alene River, which runs approximately 37 miles from its point of origin in the Silver Valley.
The river is a popular tourist attraction due to its offering of a variety of activities, including water-skiing, tubing, and swimming. The river is also a favorite for local fishermen as it maintains a thriving salmon population.
Economy and Commerce
Once explored by miners in the hopes of finding gold, the local economy of Coeur d’Alene thrived during the 19th century thanks to the discovery of some of the largest and richest silver mines in the country and the subsequent exploration of very large zinc and lead deposits. Many of these mines are still in production today and form an important part of the city’s financial activity.
As the city grew and evolved, its economic vision also expanded to include important commercial activities with the opening of new stores and housing developments, which live side to side with the typical American small businesses that can be found lining its most iconic streets, all while maintaining a friendly environment and preserving the city’s natural beauty.