Bonners Ferry is in northern Idaho.

Bonners Ferry along Kootenai River

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Kootenai Tribe

On September 20, 1974, the Kootenai Tribe, headed by chairwoman Amy Trice, declared war on the United States government. Their first act was to post soldiers on each end of the highway that runs through the town and they asked people, to pay a toll to drive through what had been the tribe’s aboriginal land. The money would be used to house and care for elderly tribal members. Most tribes in the United States are forbidden to declare war on the U.S. government because of treaties, but the Kootenai Tribe never signed a treaty. The dispute resulted in the concession by the United States government and a land grant of 12.5 acres that is now the Kootenai Reservation.

The village of Bonners Ferry was formally established in 1893, along the south bank of the Kootenai River. Scattered along the valley and benchland were a few ranches and homesteads. Numerous mines were developed in the nearby mountains, including the Continental Mine in the Selkirks. The lumber industry also grew rapidly. Bonners Ferry, perched on stilts to avoid the inevitable spring floods, appeared to be a boom town.

Moving into the 20th century, the town became the center of a lumbering and farming community. The valley land was drained, levees were constructed and farms were cleared on the benches. The rich Kootenai Valley became known as the "Nile of the North", while the Bonners Ferry Lumber Company grew to be one of the world's largest lumber mills. The downtown took shape as brick buildings were constructed, replacing those on stilts. Completion of the Libby Dam in 1975 lessened the threat of serious flooding. Today, much of Main Street dates from this initial period of solid, permanent construction.

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Routes through Bonners Ferry
SpokaneSandpoint  W   E  TroyKalispell
Cranbrook ← becomes    ← Jct   N  N   S  SandpointCoeur d'Alene


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