Bonners Ferry, Idaho

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Bonners Ferry is a city in and the county seat of Boundary County, Idaho, United States.[1] The population was 2,515 at the 2000 census.



When gold was discovered in the East Kootenays of British Columbia in 1863, thousands of prospectors from all over the West surged northward over a route that became known as the Wildhorse Trail. Edwin Bonner, a merchant from Walla Walla, Washington, established a ferry in 1864 where the trail crossed the broad Kootenai River. In 1875, Richard Fry, and his Sinixt wife, Justine Su-steel Fry, leased the business,[2] but the location retained the name of the original founder and later became the town of Bonners Ferry.

Before the gold rush, only a few visitors had come to the region; one of the first was explorer David Thompson, a cartographer for the Northwest Trading Company. Thompson and four fellow fur traders arrived in 1808 to trade with the Lower Kootenais. Exhausted and famished, the local natives gave Thompson's party dried fish and moss bread. Thompson returned the next year and established a trading post on Lake Pend Oreille. He was followed in 1846 by Jesuit Priest Father DeSmet, a missionary to the Kootenai Tribe.

The Oregon question was settled by Oregon Treaty of 1846 which established the 49th Parallel north as the boundary between the U.S.A and British North America. Government surveyors of the Boundary Commission came in 1858 to establish the border between the United States and British Columbia.

With mines to the north, the community of Bonners Ferry began to flourish in the 1880s as a supplier.[3] The Norwegian-built steamer Midge began service in 1883 and operated for the next 25 years, carrying passengers and freight between Bonners Ferry and British Columbia. The Great Northern Railway was built here in 1892, followed quickly by the Spokane International and the Kootenai Valley lines.

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