Wild Place: A History of Priest Lake, Idaho, Paperback/Kris Runberg Smith image0
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Wild Place: A History of Priest Lake, Idaho, Paperback/Kris Runberg Smith

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Beginning in the 1890s, adventurous souls-- homesteaders, prospectors, speculators, and loggers dazzled by its natural resources--tried their best to tame Idaho's Priest Lake. Yet grand turn-of-the-century Western expansion bypassed the area, sparing its idyllic beauty. In 1897 President Cleveland expanded federal influence over the region and introduced an enduring tension between public and private lands. Still, industrial and recreational use increased. Timber and summer cottages were in high demand. Devastating wildfires also initiated profound change. Population growth accelerated after World War II, and electricity became commonplace. In 1947 a local newspaper crowed, "Priest Lake has become a cult with many vacationists." Today, every privately-owned acre and lot represents past optimism, opportunity, hard work, greed, or politics. "Wild Place" traces those remnants--focusing on stories of the colorful characters who navigated Priest Lake's demanding challenges.

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