Priest River
Pop. 1,754

This community was first settled in 1888, but the town site was forced to move a mile east to its present location because of regular flooding from the nearby Priest River. Drawing its name from the river, the town experienced a population boost thanks to the arrival of the Great Northern Railroad. As the line moved west from Montana in 1891 and 1892, several Italian immigrants responded to the advertisements calling for large quantities of laborers. When the line was completed, many of the former line workers stayed in the region, filed for homesteads, and eventually saved enough money to send for their wives and children still living in the homeland.

From 1901 to 1931, thousands of white pine, Ponderosa and cedar logs were cut in the Priest River area and floated downriver to Pend Oreille Lake and Newport, Washington. The area’s economic dependence upon the timber industry has since declined, but a celebration of logging activities is held every July to commemorate the town’s history.

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