In the late 1800's, the timber companies came to Shoshone County, Idaho to
cut the great stands of Douglas Fir, Grand Fir and White Pine that had been
growing on the slopes of the Bitterroot Mountains. The lumber was used to
build the cities of Spokane, Washington and Coure 'd Alene, Idaho. Bear
Creek was forced to flow into a wooden flume to float the logs downhill to
the north fork of the St. Joe River, then into Coure d' Alene Lake. In
August of 1910, a lighting strike ignited the Great Desolation Fire which
consumed over 2 million acres of forest in Idaho and Montana. The fire
burned through the Bear Creek drainage and destroyed timber and the flume
in which Bear Creek was forced to toil for the lumbermen.
Today, the Bear Creek flows free and the valley is once again green and lush.
Deer, elk and moose have returned as well as the Fir and Pine trees.
The only remaining sign of the old logging operation are the sections of the
stream that flows over the boards that were the bottom of the flume from 90
Bear Creek can now be seen from the Hiawatha Trail which winds through the
mountains. The trail can provide a very sceanic 12-mile mountian bike ride,
taking you through 9 abandoned (but restored) railroad tunnels and 7
trestles. The trail is open to the public from May until October.