Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Can you solve this puzzle?

We shared this vintage brain teaser with our Facebook friends and Twitter followers this morning, asking if anyone knew how you might separate the two pieces of the wooden puzzle without irreversibly damaging either.

Before we reveal the answer, some background information about this wonderful artifact seems in order.  Rod Headrick, an LCHS Board member, friend of the organization, and long-time Latah County resident, donated the puzzle to our collection.  It was crafted by his father, Frank Headrick, who farmed in the area for many years.  Frank fashioned this tricky item out of local white pine, Idaho's state tree, and employed it to win a number of bets and free drinks.  The puzzle reflects the rich heritage of the region in several ways, including as an artifact of Latah County craftsmanship as well as a symbol of the good-natured humor possessed by many farmers.  We're so pleased that Rod has entrusted us with this delightful piece of family memorabilia.
Frank Headrick photo, donated by Rod Headrick.  The embedded caption serves as further proof of the amiable humor of Latah County farmers. 
Now, to reveal the secret of the puzzle!  By now you might have guessed how Frank was able to win his bets, particularly if you know anything about white pine.  White pine lumber is remarkably soft and easily manipulated.  As Frank explained to Rod, he could place the knobby end of the interior puzzle piece into a vice and compress it with minimal effort.  Once the end was narrowed, it could be slipped out of the second piece.  Having solved the puzzle and won his bet, Frank could put the pieces back together, soak the object overnight, and perform the bit all over again.  According to Rod, Frank only ever carved the example now in our collection, suggesting that while white pine may be soft, it is certainly durable material. 

Want to get in on the fun when we post mystery objects?  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Friday, February 21, 2014

U.S. Route 12

Last Wednesday the 19th, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture from Beth Erddy, a recent PhD graduate from Washington State University as she spoke about U.S. Route 12 and its tumultuous history of construction through north central Idaho.  This event was part of the Nez Perce National Historical Park's winter programming and was held at the visitor center in Spalding, Idaho. 

Beth Erddy, PhD discussing her research regarding U.S. Route 12 through north central Idaho.
Briefly I will summarize what I learned from the lecture.  What became U.S. Route12 through Idaho was original the Lolo trail or Buffalo Trail as known by the Nez Perce and other Native American tribes and mountain men.  People traveled over the trail to present day Montana to hunt buffalo and return to north central Idaho.  The trail and future road traverses from Lewiston, Idaho over Lolo Pass.  The road in Lewiston begins at an elevation of 745 feet above mean sea level (msl) while climbing to 5,233 feet msl at the top of Lolo Pass.

Beth Erddy, PhD discussing her research regarding U.S. Route 12.
The road cut through rigorous terrain and even fiercer political battles which formed its funding.  U.S. Route 12 was funded by many different state and federal organizations over time from 1918 when road construction began to 1962 when the road was completed.  The road was a struggle because of the cost in completing it through the rough and unyielding terrain.  In 1962 when the U.S. Route 12 was completed it was calculated to cost$142,574 per mile through north central Idaho. 

I would like to close by thanking Beth Erddy, PhD for sharing her very interesting research with us and the Nez Perce National Historic Park for presenting the programming.  I will close by posting a map of U.S. Route 12 through north central Idaho.

Image courtesy of www.lewisandclarktrail.com .

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentines Day!

In honor of Valentines Day we thought we'd share some photos from our Victorian Valentine's Day event.  Last Saturday, February 8th, Latah County Historical Society hosted an open house at the McConnell Mansion.  To celebrate the event we opened the doors and invited the public to come enjoy cookies, crafts, and good times with us.  The Appaloosa Lace Maker's Guild was at the event showing off their skills.  There was music at the event by the talented Juliana Witt on piano and Rachel Kone on violin.  Despite less-than-ideal weather conditions, we had many visitors, young and old.

The event was catered by our very own volunteers and members.  We would like to thank everyone who brought cookies for the enjoyment of our guests.

A very big thank you also should go out to the Latah County Historical Society Events Committee who organized the celebration.

The Lace Makers hard at work
WSU graduate students Rachel Kone on violin
and Juliana Witt on piano entertained our guests.
Without further adieu here are some pictures from our event:

Children having fun making Valentines at the Mansion.

Children enjoying the music and cookies.

We would like to thank everybody who joined us at the Mansion as well as those who volunteered to help at during the event.  Thank you all for helping make this years Victorian Valentine's Day event a success. Lastly, a Latah County Historical Society blog post wouldn't be complete without recognizing some items from our collection.  Enjoy and we hope you have a happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Celebrating Excellence

Last week I had the privileged of attending a very special celebratory reception at the Wallace District Mining Museum, which was awarded the 2013 Sister Alfreda Elsensohn Award for Outstanding Service.  This important and impressive recognition is bestowed each year to one cultural heritage organization that demonstrates a commitment to excellent programming, community outreach, and professionalism.  Together the Idaho State Historical Society, the Idaho Humanities Council, and the Idaho Heritage Trust award the chosen organization with $10,000 to advance their work.

The Wallace District Mining Museum on a snowy, celebratory night.
 Despite less-than-ideal travel conditions, I was so pleased to have the opportunity to visit the Wallace District Mining Museum for the first time.  After extending a heartfelt congratulations to Jim McReynolds, the museum's director, on behalf of LCHS, I toured wonderfully innovative exhibits that presented the region's long history of resource extraction. 

Director Jim McReynolds receiving a the big check from Idaho State Historical Society and Idaho Heritage Trust representatives
The centerpiece of the museum is a replica of a mine shaft that visitors can walk through.  At each turn a small exhibit shares another piece of local history or mining technology.  This powerful and unique storytelling model was proof that the Wallace District Mining Museum is truly deserving of the Sister Alfreda Award.

Wallace District Mining Museum exhibit

Jim McReynolds has not only breathed new life into the museum -- if you haven't visited in the last few years, you really should check it out -- but he has also dedicated a tremendous amount of energy into digitizing documentary resources associated with the region's mining history.  Visitors can now learn about people and places of local importance quickly and efficiently at the museum's free research kiosks.

To find out more about the museum, check out their website here.

To read a nice article in the Coeur d'Alene Press about the award, click here. 

So once again, congratulations Jim and everyone at the Wallace District Mining Museum on a job well done!

-- Dulce Kersting, Executive Director