A Lake Reader
A Sampler of Writings
Over the course of two centuries there has been a great deal written about Lake Pend Oreille. Much of it is historical, some of it is reflective, and a few accounts are downright hilarious. Following is a sample of the contributions to the literature about the lake.
A thin veil of clouds joined our hushed party and shrouded the moon, diffusing its soft light across the waterscape. Pend Oreille’s far side was swallowed up in the darkness, but only for as long as it took the moon to shrug off the unwanted cloak. The clouds fled, the moon found the islands once more and the dance resumed. Like spectators at a world-renowned performance in a great hall, we watched the display of light and water.
Dennis Nicholls, The River Journal, September 1999
And there, on that very lake, I awoke one Sunday morning in the month of August 1866, in the midst of the fragrance and shadow of great forests; the sparkling of warm, deep, wide-spread waters; in a world of mountains, the variety of whose shapes and hues was perfectly bewildering for a time, and from the vagueness of the more distant giants of which the whole scene derived a character of immensity, infinite beauty and infinite grandeur.
Col. Cornelius O’Keefe, Harper’s, 1867
Preparation for war
One fall about 2,000 Indians congregated at the (Indian) meadows (now Denton Slough) to practice war maneuvers preparatory to helping the Flatheads make war on the Nez Perce, whom the Flatheads claimed had stolen one of their squaws. They set up posts about 50 feet apart. Then they’d charge, with their ponies running at top speed, and throw tomahawks into the posts ... . Every night they beat tom-toms and engaged in war dances. They dressed in war regalia and painted their faces red, with black streaks on cheeks and foreheads.
Jim Parsons Sr. interview with Nina Owen for the Spokesman-Review, 1958
Bull turns table on being towed
One day a man, we will call him Smith, engaged L.D. (Farmin) to take a 4-year-old bull across the lake in a scow. After a good deal of trouble and having given up several times, they succeeded in getting the brute on board, and after making him fast to the mast in the center of the scow, and hitching the scow ahead of the launch with a guy rope, they moved out from shore. All went well until the scow struck the shore at the landing on the other side of the lake, when Mr. Bull became frantic and threw himself over the side of the scow.
To keep him from breaking his neck, Smith cut the rope, which was still holding him partly in the scow. When the bull found himself free, he struck out for home at a gait that would indicate he had been in the water before. L.D. told Smith to jump into the launch, and he would head him off by running around him and thus drive him to shore, but the beast paid no attention to the boat, so another turn was taken around him while Smith, from the bow of the boat caught the remainder of the rope which was on the bull’s neck.
“Now,” he said, “go ahead and we will tow him to shore.” They had hardly got underway when the propeller caught the bull’s tail and wound about two feet of it around the shaft, which of course, stopped the engine and also rolled him over on his side. At this Smith let go the rope saying “He’s dead! He’s drowned!” He soon righted himself, however, and struck out again in the direction from whence he came, but this time reversing the order of things he towing the launch.
by Ella Mae Farmin, The Days of a Woman Written by Herself, 1890s
by James R. McLeod, Mysterious Lake Pend Oreille and its Monster, 1984