A cemetery exists beneath the surface of Lake Coeur d’Alene, hidden from view. It’s been a well-kept secret in the neighborhood for a long time, with minimal publicity but a rich history.
This cemetery is unlike any other in the world. It does not contain the graves of ancestors, but rather the final resting places of significant pieces of local history that are still anchored in culture and an era that has long since passed away.
We’ll learn more about this historic cemetery and the historical significance it has had on Coeur d’Alene Lake in the sections that follow.
The graveyard of the steamships
In this case, the graveyard in question is none other than the CDA’s steamship cemetery. The Coeur d’Alene Steamboat Museum is where several steamboats that used to cross the lake met their end after a long and arduous career.
Despite the fact that Lake Coeur d’Alene has a long history, it is loaded with tremendous accomplishments and wonderful stories that have helped to build the city into what it is today.
The lake was given its name by fur traders from France. They regarded the local Indians as strong negotiators, and as a result, they bestowed the name Coeur d’Alene upon them and the surrounding area. The phrase literally translates as “heart of the awl.”
The city of North Idaho didn’t begin to take shape until the late 1800s, when Fort Sherman was constructed on the site of what is now North Idaho College’s campus. By 1887, the region had become well-known for its lumber and mining resources, and the city had been formally established.
Steamboats were required in the area because of the large volumes of lumber and mined goods that needed to be moved. These steamboats serviced the area for decades, both for tourism and for business purposes, until they were deactivated in the early 1900s and were never again used. A ceremonial goodbye followed, and they were sunk to the lake’s floor in preparation for 4th of July celebrations, which were held on the beach.
The steamship cemetery is located just a few hundred yards out past the Coeur d’Alene Resort and is easily accessible. There are remnants of several local favorites, including the Amelia Wheaton, to be found in this location. She was the first steamboat on the lake, and she was referred to as the “lady of the lake” in many circles because of her historical significance.
These days, all you need is some scuba gear and a sense of adventure if you want to get up up and personal with the ocean’s creatures. As a matter of fact, some people in the surrounding area take regular dives into the steamer cemetery.
Hundreds of years ago, our forefathers traveled down these corridors and up these winding stairs, and you can swim through them today. It’s a fantastic invention!
Various other treasures
You’ll very certainly come across various trinkets and valuables while exploring the graveyard. One local diver has turned his salvaged stuff into a profitable commercial venture. He’s discovered bottles and vases, as well as a gambling machine.
Machines and power tools are examples of this. At one point, he even discovered an antique automobile that had been brought up to the surface and was still in good operating order!
Take a cruise to relax.
Would you like to learn more about the history of Lake Coeur d’Alene and its surroundings? If this is the case, you should consider taking a trip with CDA Cruises. Our gorgeous excursions will take you all the way around the lake so that you can see for yourself where the graveyard is located firsthand.