Bayview, Idaho

Bayview is a tiny, unincorporated community in the US state of Idaho. Located close to Coeur d’Alene, Bayview was originally founded as a camp for travelers, trappers, and loggers in the mid-19th century. However, by the late 19th century, a permanent settlement began to emerge. In the early 20th century, plans were hatched to turn the tiny community into a tourist destination and summer resort. At the same time, Bayview became a transport conduit for lumber and limestone shipped west to Spokane. An important naval training base was built during World War II near the town. It was decommissioned after the war and eventually became Farragut State Park, one of the prime attractions in the area. 

Geography Of Bayview

Bayview, Idaho
Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho.

Bayview is located in northern Idaho, otherwise known as the North Idaho Panhandle. It is situated on the southwest shore of Lake Pend Oreille, which is the deepest lake in the state. The US-Canada border lies about 161 km to the north of Bayview. To the southwest is Farragut State Park. Farther to the southwest, at a distance of about 48 km, is the city of Coeur d’Alene, the largest city in northern Idaho. The tiny communities of Careywood and Granite are located to the northwest, and the village of Athol is situated to the west, 11 km away. 

Population And Economy Of Bayview

Approximately 400 people live in Bayview during the winter, but during the summer, this population rises to about 1,000. There are 37 businesses listed as members of the Bayview Chamber of Commerce. Some of these businesses are located in Bayview itself, while others are located in nearby communities. The town has four eating establishments and six establishments that provide lodging and/or campgrounds, including two bed and breakfast establishments. 

History Of Bayview

Bayview’s history dates back to the 1840s when it was a settlement called Squaw Bay. At the time, Lake Pend Oreille was called Lake Kalispell, which was named after the local Native American population in the area. French Canadian trappers who frequented the area called the Native Americans there the Pend Oreille because of the pendant ornaments they wore in their ear lobes. By the mid-1860s, Lake Kalispell became universally known as Lake Pend Oreille.

In the mid-19th century, Squaw Bay consisted of just a few fur trappers’ cabins and some tents. Most of the inhabitants were French Canadians, who trapped in the Columbia region of Washington Territory for the Hudson Bay Company, the American Fur Company, or the North-west Company, all of which had trading posts in the area. There were also some Jesuit priests in the settlement attempting to convert the local Native American population.

Bayview, Idaho
Old limestone kilns in Bayview, Idaho, that were used to process concrete in the 1930's.

After the 1880s, however, a more permanent settlement began taking shape, likely because of the growth of the logging business. In 1894, Squaw Bay became known as the town of Bayview. By this time, Bayview had begun developing the facets of a summer resort, including hotels and cottages. The town’s shoreline was also developed to accommodate mooring steamships. These steamships served the needs of miners, railroad contractors, homesteaders, lumber companies, and tourists.

In 1910, a group of businessmen from Spokane formed the Prairie Development Company, which plotted the town of Bayview and sought to turn it into a tourist destination and resort. One year later, the Spokane International Railroad was extended to Bayview, allowing lumber and limestone to be transported directly to Spokane. Limestone had been mined in the area since it was first discovered in the 1880s. By the 1930s, however, the limestone quarries had closed, and in 1936, the railroad to Bayview was abandoned.

In 1942, present-day Farragut State Park was chosen as the country’s second-biggest US Naval Recruit Training Facility site. Named after US Civil War Admiral David G. Farragut, this new training facility quickly became Idaho’s largest city, with more than 55,000 recruits being trained there. By 1946, when the base was decommissioned, more than 290,000 recruits were trained at the base. Between 1946 and 1949, the former naval base was home to a college, though this college did not last due to financial issues. Finally, in 1964, the site of the former naval base was turned into a state park. The US Navy still, however, maintains a presence in the Bayview area in the form of the US Naval Surface Warfare Center, located at the top of Scenic Bay in Lake Pend Oreille.

Attractions In And Around Bayview

Lake Pend Oreille and Farragut State Park

Lake Pend Oreille
Two kayakers paddling on Lake Pend Oreille near Bayview, Idaho. Editorial credit: Gregory Johnston / Shutterstock.com

Bayview is the gateway to a fabulous outdoor playground. One of the top outdoor attractions in the area is the lake on which the tiny town is situated, Lake Pend Oreille. This lake is the largest freshwater lake in Idaho, and includes more than 321 km of shoreline. Thus, Lake Pend Oreille is an ideal venue for various water sports like fishing, boating, water skiing, and swimming.

Farragut State Park, one of the largest state parks in Idaho, is also located on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, in the Coeur d’Alene Mountains. The park encompasses a total of 4,000 acres, and is a great venue for hosting large gatherings. In fact, the park even has its own amphitheater. It also has a small beach, a trail network connected to Bayview, and a Disc golf course. The trail network is great for visitors who enjoy hiking or biking. In addition, Farragut State Park hosts a wide variety of amenities, including 223 individual campsites. These campsites include designated equestrian campsites, RV campsites, campsites with cabins, and group campsites.

The Museum of the Brig

As previously mentioned, Farragut State Park was once the site of a naval training station. This base once contained a total of 776 buildings. Most of these buildings are gone now, but a few remain, including the Brig. Today, this building is home to the Museum of the Brig and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As its name implies, the Brig once served as the naval base’s jail. Some of the Brig’s cells have been kept in their original condition, while others have been converted to house displays, including photographs, equipment, letters, furniture, personal items, and more. The Museum of the Brig also has an audio-visual theater and a gift shop.

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