Monday, August 13, 2012

Touring the Idaho Panhandle

We continue with our day trips visiting local sights and learning about our local history. This trip we toured the Idaho Panhandle (to the non-natives, that is the top portion of the state of Idaho). We started off at the Cataldo Mission. Driven by several times but never bothered to stop. I am glad we did.

This is the old mission bell. It was rung at the end of everyday to call everyone to meeting. This mission was put in place by some of the very first Catholic missionaries called to serve the Native Americans in the area.
 The inside of the mission is beautiful. Very peaceful and has been kept in wonderful condition. Being raised mormon we did not understand a lot of the symbolism in the church. Luckily Ben was able to fill us in. He was not raised Catholic but Lutheran's share a lot of the basic art styles and beliefs.
 I love the artictecture of the mission. The pictures do not do this building justice.
 This is the parish house. We were able to go in and see some examples of what the rooms would have looked like at that era. They also have an amazing visitors center. No cameras allowed inside so no pictures, sorry. But I would highly recommend this as a fun field trip.
 Next was off to Kellogg, Idaho for the Crystal Mine Tour. Each kid got their very own hard hat and flashlight before heading down into the mine. That's right. We got to go down into the mine.
 Ben thought this one fit Ike perfectly.
 There are really colorful crystal formations all throughout the walls of the mine because of the high copper content in the soil.
 As you can see the ceilings are quite low and water is contantly dripping on you. Ben knocked his head good a couple of times.
 Now for a very brief history of this amazing mine. It was discovered in 1881 by two gentlemen. Several worked at the mine, blasthing their way through the mountain in search of gold. They found it! In fact there is still gold in the mine. You can see it in the walls! One day then men left, and never came back. No one knows why. When it was discovered in 1995 their tools were still down there. Like they were planning to show up for work the next day, but never did. Very weird. The gentlemen that found it is a miner himself. He cleaned it up and put in lights, poured concrete paths and set it up for a tourist attraction. It can no longer be mined because of it's location to the freeway and the town.
 This in the lowest spot on the tour. The constant cool temps inside make it a nice break on a hot day.
 After the tour they have a spot you can try your hand at panning for gold. The kids had a lot of fun doing this as did Ben and I.

 We each found little bits of stuff. Sadly it was not real gold. Jakey had great plans as he was panning. He was going to buy a boat, and Cuba. It seemed a shame to crush those dreams. Luckily being a middle child, he is used to having his dreams crushed.
 This is the original opening to the mine. It was able to reamain hidden for over 100 years because of the overgrowth. I have not done the story or the history of this mine justice. You will just have to check it out for yourselves.

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