“A Town that Grew Around Timber Products”
explorer David Thompson noted a point of sand in his diary in 1809 which he believed to be near where the city of Sandpoint is today.
Settlement began in Sandpoint in the 1880s, but it was the panhandle's timber wealth that brought the railroads, which then greatly increased the number of settlers coming to Sandpoint.
Across Sand Creek from where you are now standing was the site of one of the largest sawmills in the area, the Humbird Lumber Company. Frederick Weyerhaeuser and John A. Humbird incorporated the company in 1900. Humbird held more than 150,000 acres of forest and operated one of the finest mechanized modern mills for its day powered by large steam boilers.
By 1931, with the white pine depleted, the mill closed. This sent hundreds men straight into the Great Depression. An early morning fire in July 1940 burned the empty sawmill — closing a proud chapter in Sandpoint's timber history.
northern Idaho's forests were being harvested, a new business based on the wealth of metals moved to Sandpoint.
The Panhandle Smelting & Refining Company began operations in June of 1907 to smelt ores shipped in from Trail, British Columbia. The "smelter blows!" the words used to describe the firing of the furnace. Within the first few days of operation, the smelter produced the
first run of lead bars.
Powered by a tandem 150 horsepower Corliss steam engine along with electrical machinery, the smelter was a sizable operation. Men working three-shifts set a record with the largest run within a 24-hour period. On July (sic) 1907, the smelter produced 168 lead bars weighing 115 pounds.
Although the smelter increased it capacity to 600 tons per day by adding furnaces, a suit filed in 1909 was the beginning of the end. Charging the company's president of dishonesty eventually led to bankruptcy. In 1913, a court ordered sheriff's sale unceremoniously ended Sandpoint's smelting history.