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April 26, 2018


Preston Avenue in Thompson Falls is the street that runs west to east right above the railway tracks. I've been asked how it was named.

Eugene Preston was born March 3, 1852, in Pallantine, New York. His mother was from England. Eugene was nicknamed "Pee Wee." He married Celia Ingraham in 1875. Eugene and Celia came to Thompson Falls in 1886. This was noted in the pioneer list of 1935.

Preston was the proprietor of the Thompson Ferry, Livery, Boarding and Sale Stable – Rigs 1891. This livery stable was located where St. William's Catholic Church is today. Eugene bought the water and dray business from J.R. Faults about July 1887. There was no city water system at that time and Mr. Preston would deliver fresh water to houses in town. In the winter he would harvest ice from the Clark Fork River and stored it in a warehouse up by the railroad tracks. The warehouse was insulated with sawdust between the walls and in turn the blocks of ice were packed in layers of sawdust to keep them from melting. Along with delivering fresh water Preston also delivered ice in the warm months for ice box refrigerators. In addition, he picked up freight from trains and delivered it to stores and individuals. One must remember that in the horse and buggy days goods and freight were delivered by rail.

The first ferry built in Thompson Falls was built by Pat Harris who sold it to Eugene. Pee Wee owned the ferry at the time it washed away in the famous high water of 1894, after which he had to build a new one. For a while they hired a regular man named Nichol Wilson or Wilson Nichol, but they didn't keep him and after that, anyone wanting to use the ferry hollered for one of the Prestons (of which there were many) to come and operate the ferry. And now you know how Ferry Street got its name.

The Sanders County Ledger, Thompson Falls, Mt. Friday, Jan. 28, 1910 – page 3 – The Joe Beighly property, lots 26, 27 and 28 block 31 of the original townsite of Thompson Falls, was sold at sheriff's sale last Friday. Eugene Preston was the highest bidder, giving the sum of $560.

The Sanders County Ledger, Friday, Jan. 18, 1912: E. Preston was rushing in the ice crop the first of the week and was fortunate enough to get the town people supplied before the chinook struck us.

Eugene and Celia's third child, Elda, was married to Fred Hougland, the first mayor of Thompson Falls.

Sanders County Ledger, March 11, 1936 – Preston Obituary. The funeral of Eugene Preston was held at the Methodist Church Friday, March 6 and attended by many. Mr. Preston was in the truest sense an old pioneer of this community. He helped to clear hundreds of acres in western Sanders County where he logged for a number of years. When he first came into this country the only way one could see the sky was to look straight up and that was right here in Thompson Falls, for the trees were all around them. Mr. Preston always had a story of the pioneer days to tell the newcomer, which was always interesting as he was bright and quick of mind when reminiscent even in his later years.

50 YEARS AGO • APRIL18, 1968


Plans to open a drive-in café at the west edge of the city were announced Tuesday by Chuck Strout. The drive-in will be located on land owned by Mr. and Mrs. Merrill H. Young at their trailer court fronting Highway 10A (now Highway 200) at the western city limits.

He said his drive-in will offer hamburgers, hot dogs. Pizzas and a complete fountain service. High school girls will be employed to serve customers in their cars.

Construction on a 6 by 20-foot building was scheduled to get underway this week. He said he hopes to open for business sometime in May.

At first there was no indoor seating at the drive-in. It was added onto in subsequent years and became a teen hang out. There were pool tables and pinball machines along with indoor seating.


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