Remember When?


September 14, 2023

90 YEARS AGO • AUGUST 9, 1933


Members of the David Thompson Memorial committee have discovered what is believed to be the site of the Salish House, the first building erected within the present boundaries of Montana. The Salish House or Flathead House, was a post of the North West Fur Company established by David Thompson in the fall of 1809.

The exact site of the Salish House has long been a puzzle to students of early Montana history. Dr. Elliott Coues who edited the notes of Thompson and Ashley, published an account in 1897 in which he states that the place was close to the mouth of Ashley creek, not far from the mouth of Thompson River.

Dr. Elliott, of the Oregon Historical Society has visited the region several times. In one instance he arranged to bring Duncan McDonald from the Flathead Reservation in the hope of locating the site. Dr. Elliott and John Brauer of Thompson Falls, surveyor for Sanders County, went over the ground along the river below Thompson Falls but did not arrive at a definite conclusion.

Interest in the matter was revived when the town of Thompson Falls took up the project of erecting a monument in honor of David Thompson. The David Thompson Memorial Committee had access to David Thompson’s journal through the library of the University of Montana. In this journal David Thompson has recorded the longitude and latitude of the Salish House as a result of observation taken during the winter of 1809-10. The explorer used the site of the Salish House as a base point to map the region west of the Rockies.

The site was known to be on the edge of a flat which had no trees when the pioneers discovered it. Since early times this was called Thompson Prairie. Duncan McDonald had described it as a place which could be seen from the Flat along the Thompson River mouth. From David Thompson’s journal it was learned that the place was along the banks of the Clark’s Fork River.

John Brauer furnished the Memorial Committee a map of the Thompson Prairie as it existed before the timber was removed from the rest of the neighborhood. Supervisor A.H. Abbott of the Cabinet National Forestry staffchecked with David Thompson’s readings of longitude and latitude with the entries in David Thompson’s journal. With the exception of two terms, Mr. Brauer served as surveyor for Sanders County from 1909 to January 1, 1955, when he retired.

The Committee spent considerable time exploring up and down the river. At a spot near the river bank, at the edge of the original timber, the committee found stones laid in rows which looked like the corner blockings of the log houses of the Post. At one of these sites a heap of stones was dug away and charred soil was discovered underneath. The Committee found the head of a stone maul among the same ruins. This maul head weighs about 10 pounds and was the type used by the earliest pioneers in driving dowel pins in puncheon floors and timber hewn furniture. In front of this site there is an old trail leading down to a cluster of alder trees along the river bank where old timers say there were springs before the water was backed up by the dam and covered the place.



Geo. Anderson, one of the C.C.C. camp men located a short distance out of Trout Creek at Larchwood, was out hiking Sunday with two regular army soldiers on Marten Creek about eight miles from camp. Anderson, who was ahead of the rest, came across a large black bear. The bear charged him, and he attempted to defend himself with a club, but the bear pawed the club out of his hands, and grappled with Anderson. His companions hurried up, and while the bear was mauling him fired a number of shots into the bear with an army pistol. Two of the shots went through the bear and entered Anderson’s hip and side. The bear was shot by Sergt. Hardiman.

Anderson, who is a member of the Montana contingency from Missoula, was rushed to Thompson Falls by the army ambulance and medical corps doctor and in conjunction with Dr. A.W. Rew was given attention.

Moral: Thar’s bears in them thar hills boys, and a little club or stick just tickles them.



Chips are flying as the 297th Company C.C.C. road crew chops its way through uncleared woodland three miles above Vermilion Creek Camp. These boys have been improving roads previously built by the Forestry Department and have been putting the finishing touches to the road six miles below camp in the direction of Trout Creek and three miles upstream to the site of their present activities.

Though most of this country was burned over in the disastrous fire of 1910, there is quite a heavy growth of trees and brush to cut away. Behind the crew of woodchoppers follows the “Bulldozer,” a caterpillar tractor with a heaving grading blade mounted up front. Felled trees, brush, boulders and dirt are pushed out of the way as this modern Paul Bunyan carves its way across the hills.

The boys are getting tougher as the days go by. Many of them work bare to the waist and all are heavily tanned and are showing muscular development. Mess call finds them ready to stow away the generous portions of chow furnished by Mess Sergeant Arthur Evans and his crew of cooks, bakers and K.P’s.

Hot cakes are occasionally on the bill of fare at the different camps and recently the mess sergeant at the Vermillion Camp tried to fill the boys up. By actual count the 200 men in the camp stowed away some 2,200 hot cakes. No one knows who had the top record, but it is claimed that one man beat 25.


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