|View of Elmira Schoolhouse From My House|
|Working on the Railroad in Elmira|
|A Ghost Town|
|View of Elmira Schoolhouse From Across the Tracks|
|Wood Shed in Old Elmira?|
|Nope! The Original Elmira Schoolhouse!|
|The Second Elmira Schoolhouse|
Elmira was once a railroad town. While my research is incomplete, two major railroads built through this valley and its mountain passes around the mid-1860s. By 1900, Elmira employed a sizable group of Italian immigrants to maintain the tracks.
This valley is framed by three mountain ranges--the Cabinets, Purcells and Selkirks is called the McArthur Corridor. It is a natural pass and a perfect launching point for railroad crews.
The railroad companies created a stop-over here to house workers, equipment and supplies. To this very day (because I saw a BNSF crew pass earlier this morning) this area remains a hub for railroad crews. No longer do they live here in homes between tracks; crews bus to hotels 15 miles south in Sandpoint.
Elmira is a ghost town, no longer a point on a map. Only a few houses remain--my place was actually a ranch and at one time a rollicking inn that passed out moonshine. A sign marks the establishment of the official town-site as 1909, just one year before the stone schoolhouse was erected. It's across the tracks.
In fact, if you look at the Elmira Schoolhouse from that vantage point across the tracks you will find a collection of abandoned buildings typical to a ghost town. Made of wood, they resemble sheds if anything. Yet, the town housed families before 1909. So there was actually an original school.
After researching local records at the Bonners Ferry Museum, I've been able to identify one of these shed-like structures as the original schoolhouse. Somewhere in this cluster is what remains of the original teacher's house, outhouses, post office and yes, a wood shed.
So next door is the second schoolhouse. Abandoned after WWII, historians say that many of these one-room schoolhouse were often moved or dismantled. To have two originals in a town that no longer exists is unusual.
I must live among well-schooled ghosts!