Historical Spirit Lake, Idaho and Vicinity

By F. Keith and Jan Spencer




Keith and Jon Spencer have spent over 10 years researching and writing their book, the Historical Spirit Lake, Idaho and Vicinity. 

The time, dedication, and accuracy they applied to this project is quickly evident and has clearly made it the definitive history of Spirit Lake.

In this endeavor, they realized the importance of original resources, asking for and receiving excellent cooperation from the archives of every public entity involved with Idaho’s history. They also drew upon the expertise of the areas most respected historians in the Inland Northwest.

Based on thorough research of the earliest information available, the Spencers begin their book with an interesting description and credible hypothesis of how the area around Spirit Lake was formed. Following that interesting discourse the authors developed the story of Spirit Lake with detailed descriptions and an abundance of photographs. 

Most important, the authors chronologically detail highlights of the area as it relates to both important events and incidents of levity, such as the “Haywire Pacific Railway.”

Spirit Lake history is filled with people who worked hard, played hard, and often just did interesting “stuff.” The authors have created a great read– a book that will bring many memories and smiles to the few left who have lived it. It is an excellent record for those that just want to know about Spirit Lake and the surrounding area or look at exceptionally old and interesting photographs. 

– Tony Bamonte 

Like many other first-time history writers (myself included), Keith & Jan Spencer first came to their research with no intention of writing a book; but the discovery of more and more exciting finds lured them on with a resulting accumulation that begged for something more. 

The book will be of interest to the railroad fan, It includes information about the short logging line the Idaho Logging Railway at Twin Lakes and the Idaho & Washington Northern Railroad. The I&WN Railroad with its headquarters at Spirit Lake was constructed as a first-class railroad with new equipment and a roadbed second to none. Building this way was very expensive and certainly led to its “rescue” by the Milwaukee Road.

But beyond the railroad interest, it also carries the enchanting story of a number of steamboats that ran on Spirit Lake.

 Of course the story of the town itself is full of fascinating characters that are thoroughly entertaining as well not to mention the way the community evolved through the years. It is a great read. I thank both of the authors for bringing this story to light. 

-John V. Wood