Numerous events with author Jane Fritz are planned in Sandpoint, Coeur d'Alene and Bayview Idaho, as well as in Spokane, Wash. Click to read a news release.
• Read more in this Dec. 6, 2009, Bonner County Daily Bee story: People, places shine in 'Legendary' book
Experience Lake Pend Oreille. Sprawling 43 miles long with 111 miles of shoreline, Idaho's largest natural lake is truly awe-inspiring. At more than 1,100 feet deep, it's the fifth-deepest lake in the nation. During the last ice age, it was the nexus of the most cataclysmic floods ever to scour the planet. For the native Kalispel Indians, it was the cradle of creation. It was the site of the first trading post in Idaho, built in 1809 by voyageur David Thompson. The lake has also yielded the world-record Kamloops trout.
Add the lake's spectacular setting amid three major ranges of the Rocky Mountains, and it's no wonder Lake Pend Oreille inspires such awe. This book captures the lake's incredible features with comprehensive guides to:
Legendary Lake Pend Oreille is far more than a recreationist's directory. Rich with sketches about biology and botany, fascinating historical lore, stories about the indigenous Kalispel Indians and modern-day residents, and abundantly illustrated, this is a bible for Lake Pend Oreille.
Part I: Recreation Guide to Lake Pend Oreille
Part II: Human History
Author’s note: Hazel Hall moved to Sandpoint in 1932 as a new bride. For more than 30 years her husband, Ross, photographed memorable images of the lake, mountains and people of northern Idaho. Together they captured, printed and hand-tinted remarkable works of art. Their Himes Studio was sold in 1963 to the late Duane “Cap” Davis; Ross Hall then focused his keen eye on creating scenic postcards until that business, too, was sold to the late photographer, Will Hawkins. Ross died in 1990. Active to the end, Hazel died August 14, 2009, at age 96 while this book was in production. Son Dann continues to manage the Ross Hall Collection through the Hallans Gallery in downtown Sandpoint. This book contains a special section of Ross Hall’s timeless black-and-white images, courtesy of Hallans Gallery.
Never had I seen a lake so vast. I longed to explore it in every direction.
These were the days before colored film, and Ross taught me to color some of the photographs with transparent oils. This kind of painting does not take the skill of a real painter, but it does require knowing how to mix and apply the pigments. It is a joy to stir the many shades of blues, greens, yellows and reds to capture nature’s myriad moods. Sometimes the lake would be caught in a storm. Other times her passive calm and stillness would make me wonder about her mood. The happiest images made me happy, too.
Sometimes I hiked with Ross for pictures, but mostly he went alone or with male friends who loved strenuous, mountain hiking. Besides, there was always work for me to do back in the studio in order for our business to make a living for our young family. Sadly, the tinted images and the ones taken later on with color film have faded in their vibrancy. But our son Dann cares for Ross’ collection of black-and-white photographs, so other people can enjoy vicariously the vantage points Ross sought out of Lake Pend Oreille from those mountaintop trails.
Today, so many decades after my first moonlit encounter, I live at the shore of Pend Oreille. I can still feel her every mood. On the hottest days, there is a soft, cool breeze as if fanned by fairy wings. Other times it is as wild and boisterous as the ocean. I observe daily how this great gem of a lake teems with life: An abundance of waterfowl keeps me ever amused, from the time a hen teaches her little ones to duck and feed, then to file in a straight line to follow the wake of the sibling ahead, and finally, when mature enough, to fly into the yonder. I feel the promise of their return; coming back to raise and teach their own young the next spring.
The great Clark Fork River, large and small streams, and waterfalls supply the lake with fresh, clean water. Most species of western trees grow from the shoreline up the hills into the rocky mountaintops. The islands, the peninsulas, the bays, the cliffs, the white, sandy beaches, its mystic depths – all become one. It is as though the Great Landscaper and Painter closed the book and said, “This is my best Creation. It belongs to all of you – enjoy and take care of it.” And so we must.
Since little has been written about the Kalispel, or Pend d’Oreille, Indians, most people don’t realize the vastness of our aboriginal territory. As a hunter-gatherer society, my people once lived in the abundant, watery region that stretches from western Montana’s Mission Mountains, across the panhandle of Idaho and eastern Washington, and north into Canada’s British Columbia – comprising more than 4 million acres. Our traditional villages and seasonal encampments were along the Clark Fork and Pend Oreille rivers, Pend Oreille and Priest lakes, and the many tributaries and stream-fed forested mountains and valleys that empty into the great Columbia River.
Lake Pend Oreille holds many tribal legends. Some of them tell of the origin of our life in this beautiful land when the Earth was very young and evolving and all of its creatures were submerged and lived underwater. It was then that Creator told all the animals that were chosen – from the smallest to the largest being – to emerge from the lake onto its shores. Some of these left their footprints in the soft, still evolving rocks. Closely following was the creation of the Kalispel, or Pend d’Oreille, people placed here to be the caretakers of all creation.
My life as a traditional Kalispel, and the reflections about my people as written by the author, only serve to reawaken for me a way of life that once was and still can be. The simplicity, closeness to nature, and nurturing that our surroundings can give us is still possible, only if and when we can learn to respect what we have.
–Francis Cullooyah, Cultural Program Director
Hank Birnbaum and his family live in Talache in what was originally a trapper’s cabin and then this mining town‘s one-room schoolhouse. Like so many people who have made their home at the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, Hank has a special connection to this amazing lake, but he may be reticent to say so. His elderly mother attended school and grew up in his log cabin home, and he’s owned property here for more than 30 years, although he’s only actually lived here for the last several years. But he says it takes much longer than that – many generations of living – to create a true sense of belonging to such country. Just as it was for the indigenous peoples he has studied, a sense of belonging to a particular place requires a respect for, and a long-term dependency on, its natural environment for survival. Only then can one fully appreciate and understand its generous gifts. Lake Pend Oreille has much to teach.
Hank, his Russian wife, and their children moved here from the shores of our planet’s oldest and deepest lake, Lake Baikal. At 400 miles long and 25 miles to 50 miles wide, Siberia’s Lake Baikal is also the world’s largest (in volume) freshwater lake, holding more water than all North America’s Great Lakes combined. To those peoples who have relied on Baikal for subsistence for numerous generations, it is called the “Sacred Sea,” in recognition of its immense creative power. The more its mysteries are understood, the more humble and grateful a person becomes.
Lake Pend Oreille is also like that, for my friend Hank and those of us whose stories grace the pages of this book. If you acquired this book because you are new to the area, a tourist or visitor, or because you have lived here a long time and want to learn more than you presently know, either way I invite you to look deeply into why Pend d’Oreille is the great gem of this world. As a creative source of life, it is so much more than the sum of its parts. You are about to encounter magic, where no lives are easy or uncomplicated, but are rich in beauty and spirit.
–Jane Fritz, author/editor
Here's a sample from the Color Section