Created By: The Sandpoint Group
Brief History of Sandpoint
Sandpoint has historically benefited from its key strategic geographic location as a link between water and land based transportation routes. Sand Point, as it was known, was a meeting ground and trading center for local Native American tribes when early explorers and trappers visited the region. In 1882, as the construction work on the railroad began, a small settlement called Pend Oreille developed on the east side of Sand Creek. With the arrival in 1892 of the Great Northern Pacific Railroad, the community grew and this rustic, rough and tumble Sandpoint, as it was now known, grew to encompass the east and west sides of Sand Creek and at the same time developed a more genteel and family oriented nature. The Village of Sandpoint was incorporated on February 7, 1907.
The forests, farms and ranch lands, as well as rich mineral deposits in the Lake Pend Oreille region attracted settlers to small communities as they began to form throughout the area. Sandpoint continued to grow as a regional commercial center. Timber became the main industry in Sandpoint and Kootenai and the Humbird Lumber Company mill as well as others thrived in Sandpoint into the late 1920s.
The first two-mile bridge connecting Sandpoint with Sagle was completed in 1910. At the time it was the longest wooden wagon bridge in the world. The Panida Theater was built in 1927 to enhance entertainment options for area residents, making a total of 4 theaters in town. The 1940s brought Farragut Naval Station and 300,000 servicemen to the area. In 1963, Schweitzer Basin ski area opened. North Idaho’s many unpopulated areas, natural beauty and diverse recreational opportunities began to attract a new wave of families from outside the region in the 1970s.
Between the 1980s and present day, the Sandpoint area transitioned from a resource-based economy of logging, mining, farming and ranching to a more diversified economy. That new economy includes arts and culture, manufacturing, recreation, technology, aeronautics, commercial services, education and small-scale horticulture while logging and mining have diminished.
This self-guided tour that highlights some of the key historical buildings dating from the early history of the City.