The Pacific Northwest Forum
Volume 2, Numbers 2-3, Pages 24-34
Spring-Summer, 1977

Photo Essay: The Inland Empire of F.A. Blackwell

By Frederick Warn Blackwell

Frederick Warn Blackwell, a great grandson of F.A. Blackwell, is Associate Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures
and Humanities at Washington State University.

The interests and influence of F.A. Blackwell embraced a considerable area of the Inland Empire (indeed, recently my son and I, fishing above Clarkia, came across a sign directing toward Blackwell Hump). Still in the family are almost two hundred photos - most of which are in two albums.

The photos represent the wide diversity of F.A. Blackwell's interests: civic events; scenes on and of lakes and rivers; steamers and boats; railroads; and sawmills, timber and other logging activities. Presented herein are eight (each titled as it appears in the albums) - not necessarily of any better quality or interest than the others, but selected for their diversity.

The holdings and achievements of F.A. Blackwell were at once typical of his times, and yet to a degree ahead as well: Of particular interest today would be the electric railroad connecting Spokane and Coeur d'Alene.

There isn't much left of F.A. Blackwell's accomplishments; even his house at Ninth and Sherman in Coeur d'Alene was recently torn down, and the park he donated to the city has long since had its name changed to City Park. There is still a slough named after him, and a street in Ione. The first two generations rest in Coeur d'Alene's beautiful cemetery - though one wonders what their feelings might have been about the transformations that the lake city is putting itself through. Yet, F.A. was one of the builders, and though none of his own words seem to have been recorded, his feelings might well have been expressed in an undated interview probably sometime in the twenties by his son, R.F. Blackwell:

I am proud of the fact that I believe in the Northwest and the Inland Empire. I always think that if one stops to consider the number of transcontinental railroads that were built through here by men who were in competition with each other, we must conclude that they all believed that there was something to build for, and that those men could not all have been wrong. I hope and believe that we will see the very near future bring forth a development of the resources of this section that will confirm our faith.


A. "Sunday Excursionists at Ione."

The album contains photos of three other steamers besides the Ione (shown here): the Idaho, the Newport, and the Spokane.


B. ''Manito, Spokane's Beauty Park. " The sign on the arch is in flowers and reads: "150,000 in 1910."

Spokane was growing quickly but did not reach this goal.


C. ''At Spirit Lake in from Spokane."

The album has a photo of an even larger locomotive, also of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, in the Spirit Lake yards with eight large and two small sets of wheels.


D. "Over 5,000 Passengers Each Way, July 4th."

This is the Spokane terminal of the electric line connecting Spokane and Coeur d'Alene. (Note the Review Building left center.)

E. "Fourth of July 1908 at Spirit Lake."

The town is about a year old here. It had a large sawmill important to the logging operations of the Pend Orielle country, and also contained railroad shops.

Photo by Frank Palmer, Spokane.


F. "Calispell lndian Village - Pend Oreille River."

The albums contain only three photos of Indians, all apparently by Frank Palmer, "Scenic photographer," Spokane.


G. "Blackwell's Park and Pavilion, Coeur d'Alene."

The other similar pictures of the park are dated July 4, 1906.


H. This photo represents three generations about 1921. Left to right: Russell Frederick Blackwell (d. 1952); Robert Eugene Blackwell (residing on the Oregon coast); Russell Blackwell Hart (Billings), son of F.A.'s daughter, Blanche; Frederick Albert Blackwell (d. 1922); and Frederick Russell Blackwell (d. 1968). The house, F.A. Blackwell's residence, was recently razed.