Under the surface: A history of sunken steamer ships

Every day, Coeur d’Alene Cruises boats take people on tours of the lake and local rivers. Our ships cover thousands of miles atop the water each year as we help people see the shoreline and wildlife of North Idaho.

But have you ever wondered what’s below the surface?

Lake Coeur d’Alene has many sunken ships below the surface. Steamships were used in the 1800s to transport people, mining equipment and logs during the timber boom. The lake was a hub of activity, with the big steam-powered ships running back and forth across the surface. However, when the ships were worn out, mining and logging companies sunk the ships to quickly get rid of them.

One popular dive site with more than five steamship wrecks is off Steven’s Point. Many ships were sunk when they were no longer needed, and ended up near the shoreline. Check with local dive companies for more information about scuba diving this site.

Many shipwrecks are also located off Independence Point. After the ships were rendered useless after years of service, they were stripped of all useful parts and used as docks for those lighting off fireworks during Fourth of July festivities. Many of the discarded ships are still intact, and scuba divers visit the ships, between about 40 feet and 60 feet deep, to see a bit of Coeur d’Alene history preserved.

Because of its rich history, there are even rumors of sunken treasure!

Legend has it, in the late 1880s, more than 150 tons of silver ore spilled off a barge at McDonald Point and sunk to the bottom of Lake Coeur d’Alene. If the myths are fact, the mass of silver could be worth up to $75,000 today. There’s no way to know if it’s true, but local scuba divers always keep their eyes peeled, just in case.

What have you found while diving in Lake Coeur d’Alene — any sunken treasure or favorite sunken ship scuba dive sites? Let us know!

Bands on Boats

Looking for things to do in Coeur d’Alene this summer? Or are you trying to decide the best place to see your favorite band? Grab your ticket for the Bands on Boats summer concert series at Coeur d’Alene Cruises.

The concert series features four of the Northwest’s biggest groups — Kelly Hughes Band, Ryan Larsen Band, The Rhythm Dawgs and The Rub — while you cruise on scenic Lake Coeur d’Alene.

This series, sponsored by Deep Eddy Vodka, offers four shows throughout the summer for attendees over 21 years old. It’s the perfect chance to cut a rug at an intimate venue with some of the biggest bands in the area.

Here’s what’s on the docket this year:

Thursday, July 6 – Kelly Hughes Band 
To start the summer off right, the Kelly Hughes Band will bring their unique country twang to the cruise ships. If you have guests in town for the Fourth of July week, or if you’re just looking to keep the Independence Day party going, this is the perfect event to showcase all that Coeur d’Alene has to offer — great views, catchy music and good times.

Friday, July 21- Ryan Larsen Band 
Since 2008, the Ryan Larsen Band has been bringing contemporary country music to the Northwest, and its appearance on Coeur d’Alene Cruises will be no different. A staple at many North Idaho honky-tonks, Ryan Larsen Band will have you stompin’ your boots and boogie down right away.

Thursday, August 3 – The Rhythm Dawgs 
Put on your dancing shoes, and get ready to party with Coeur d’Alene’s own Rhythm Dawgs. Expect to hear all your favorites, from ‘50s rock to today’s Top 40. The Dawgs play songs that everybody loves, so this show is great for any generation.

Thursday, August 31 – The Rub 
To cap a perfect summer of music, The Rub will finish up the set at the end of August. This is a show you won’t want to miss — The Rub is known for its zany 70s songs, crazy style and performances.

These shows will go fast, so don’t wait to buy tickets — just $25 per show, or get a four-concert pass for $80. Get tickets here or call our office at (208) 292-5670.

Hit the water to see the wildlife

For locals and newcomers alike, bird watching on the St. Joe River is a perfect way to take in the little-known sights of North Idaho. It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid ornithologist or a novice bird-watcher, you’ll love spotting some of the Pacific Northwest’s most beautiful species.

Spring is one of the best times to watch birds along the St. Joe River. Many of the winter birds have not yet left, and species that have migrated south are beginning to head back to Idaho for the warmer months. April through June, you can see a wide variety of birds — and other wildlife — as the Northwest sheds its winter coat and comes back to life.

The best way to take in the view is from the water. Coeur d’Alene Cruises offers a tour of the St. Joe River weekly, with expert guides to help you get the most out of your experience. Cruise along silently as you listen to birdcalls and watch the birds in their natural habitat. Cruisers are often able to see osprey nesting on pillars along the river and other beautiful sights.

The St. Joe Cruise runs every Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with a lunch made of local delights served partway through.

In June, a new cruise will hit the waters of the Spokane River. Last summer was so popular, we’re bringing it back. This cruise will be a three-hour tour every Tuesday and Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Cruising along the water is the best way to see all of North Idaho’s wildlife in its natural habitat. Contact the cruise office today to schedule your next adventure!

Host a holiday party with style

Whether you’re looking for a place to host the annual office Secret Santa gift exchange, or trying to entertain a large family, searching for the perfect place to host a holiday party can be difficult. Many locations feel boring or played out after years of used. Instead, look for something new and exciting that’s sure to keep coworkers and in-laws alike entertained.

Take a trip across Lake Coeur d’Alene with Coeur d’Alene Cruises instead of the usual get together. Out-of-town guests will love the stunning views of mountainous North Idaho, and employees will love the beautiful setting, perfect for chatting with friends or grabbing a drink before taking in the views.

Winter months are the time for parties, large and small. A single cruise boat can accommodate a small-to-mid-sized party. Our team can tether any combination of two of our vessels together to cruise as one.

Guests can walk from one boat to the other safely throughout the cruise, and still get the great experience of cruising on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Our boats will depart the marina separately, cruise out to the open water, then tie together to float as one boat.

Forget crowded homes or going back to the office after-hours. Instead, create memories this holiday season. You can bring more than 600 guests and enjoy all the beauty Idaho has to offer this season — double the boats, double the fun!

Ready to book your Christmas work party or family gathering? Act fast; our holiday season can book up fast. Contact us today to get started.

See the Holiday Lighting Ceremony from a new location — the water

Downtown Coeur d’Alene is magical year round, but it is a real treat during the holiday season. The Friday after Thanksgiving, Coeur d’Alene goes all out with a beautiful lighting ceremony. The entire Coeur d’Alene Resort and floating boardwalk are lit up with hundreds of holiday lights, depicting different scenes: dragon, an underwater castle, and, of course, Santa Clause and all his reindeer!

To top it all off, the holiday extravaganza kicks off with a fireworks show and music before the lights are lit for the first time of the season.

If you have family in town, or are looking for a new way to view the show, try a cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Besides stunning scenery, great food, and hot drinks, the cruise offers the perfect way to see the lights. Kids will love the boat  and family members will treasure the memorable experience.

As the season goes on, you can also take children to see Santa Claus at the North Pole! Cruises sail across the lake to a beautifully lit house, where Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves come out to say hello to your boat. Who knows — your child might get a shout out from Santa, and learn if they’ve made the “nice list” this year!

Tickets are limited each year, so purchase yours today. Contact our team for any questions.

How groups are working for water conservation on Lake Coeur d’Alene

Lake Coeur d’Alene is great for a summer cruise, bird watching, or entertaining out-of-town guests. Swimming in the lake is great on a hot day, and there’s no better place to take in a sunset than from the deck of a cruise ship by Coeur d’Alene Cruises. From pristine beaches and clear water to beautiful mountains, Lake Coeur d’Alene and its tributaries are the place to be in the summer.

However, the lake hasn’t always been this clean and beautiful. Early mining leaked millions of tons of mine waste into the Coeur d’Alene watershed. Today, the Silver Valley is one of the largest superfund cleanup sites in the country. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Geological Survey have taken the lead in cleanup efforts during the past three decades to restore the basin and the environment.

In addition to working in the water for cleanup, the City of Coeur d’Alene is working to keep the watershed healthy. The city offers landscape conservation classes throughout the year to teach homeowners and water users best practices for conservation and environment health.

And we can all do our part to conserve water. Keep boats leak-free in the summer with regular maintenance and remember if you pack it in, pack it out.

What’s your favorite way to conserve the beautiful North Idaho environment? Do you have tips or tricks? Let us know!

The best way to watch Ironman is a cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene

Every summer, thousands of athletes and spectators flock to Lake Coeur d’Alene to participate in the famed Ironman race. Athletes start in the lake on August 21, and swim a two-loop, 2.4-mile course before taking to the pavement to bike 112 miles and a marathon run. Watching the race is one of the most incredible experiences for Idaho locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re cheering on an athlete or just soaking in the experience, Ironman is a unique event. History is made every year — did you know the youngest finisher ever was Rodkey Faust, a 14-year-old from Rathdrum, Idaho?

One of the hardest parts of the race to view is the swim. Because athletes take off into the water, spectators are often left on the beach to kill time until the swimmers return. Coeur d’Alene Cruises has the solution — our breakfast cruises take you right up next to the action, so while you enjoy coffee and a delicious breakfast, you can cheer on your favorite athlete.

There are no crowded steps, beaches or streets. You’ll get a unique perspective on the race, and the enclosed boat — as well as coffee, hot chocolate and tea — will keep you warm on a cold morning.

Looking for the perfect way to view the start of Ironman? Book your tour today, before the boats fill up!

Safety comes first with Coeur d’Alene Cruises

Not only is the team at Coeur d’Alene Cruises committed to making sure you have a good time on your cruise, but we’re also very safety conscious as well. We know that many families trust us to ensure they have a relaxed, enjoyable time, and it is our job to keep everything up to date. That’s why we’re always proud to say that we’re Coast Guard Certified, one of the highest levels of safety certification we could receive. We regularly have checks and are consistently updating our boats to include the latest safety practices.

So what does being Coast Guard Certified mean?

  1. Built for stability
    Before anyone stepped foot on our boats, we made sure they were built to be stable and last. Our boats all carry a Certificate of Inspection (COI) from the coast guard — we submitted tests, drawings and calculations for all our boats to ensure we are always carrying a safe number of passengers and using good practices.
  2. Meets good marine practices
    In addition to having a boat that is soundly built, we also need to ensure our boat is up to code for carrying passengers. This includes having railings that are the proper height, and entryways the correct width.
  3. Continued safety
    Safety isn’t a one-time check-off on our list. We’re continually training our team — and briefing our passengers — on proper safety procedures to make sure that we’re always prepared.

 Do you have questions about our safety procedures? Or are you ready to book your cruise? Let us know in the comments below, or contact us today!

What’s below the surface — a glimpse at the history of sunken ships in the Northwest

Not only are the beaches of Lake Coeur d’Alene and other North Idaho lakes and rivers the perfect place to spend summer months, but below the surface, many of the Northwest’s waterways have stories to tell! Here’s a sampling of some of the sunken ships and treasures at the bottom of the lake:   

Sunken ships:

The bottom of Lake Coeur d’Alene is home to dozens of ships that have sank during the past 200 years. Between the logging industry, steamer ships and tourists seeing the lake on old-time paddleboats, many boats have found their way to the bottom of the lake. The citizens of Coeur d’Alene even used to strip the steamer ships of useful parts, and use the boats as bases for the Fourth of July fireworks show off Independence Point in downtown. At the end of the night, the boats were set on fire and sunk — now scuba divers enjoy exploring the underwater boat park.

Naval equipment:

Lake Pend Oreille near Spokane is home to a U.S. Naval testing base that many locals are familiar with — since waters are so deep near Bayview, the Navy can train on and test submarines and other deep water equipment in the Idaho lake. But the base has come with its share of sunken items: an unarmed Navy torpedo is rumored to have sunk 50 years ago beneath 1,200 feet of water and a huge Navy barge with more than $1 million in equipment sank more than 1,000 feet below the surface in the 1970s. Because the items are so far down, it’s unlikely they’ll ever be dredged back up to the surface.

Oddities:

Divers in the more shallow waters of Lake Coeur d’Alene and Pend Oreille can scour the bottom for all sorts of treasures. Some may be new — car keys, sun glasses, watches or other items that have flow off boats or been dropped off docks, and sunk to the bottom. Even golf balls are not an unusual sight, having been hit off the Floating Green. However, some divers have found some obscure items too. One diver told the Spokesman Review about finding 25 Watling slot machines, all of which, he brought up from the lake bottom. The diver suspected the machines were dumped off a barge in the 1950s, when gambling was deemed illegal.

So whether you’re treasure hunting, scuba diving in the lake, or a boater, skimming the surface, think about all the strange items that have sunk during the past two centuries.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve found in Lake Coeur d’Alene or Pend Oreille? Do you have a favorite scuba dive spot? Let us know!

Coeur d’Alene Cruises offers the perfect graduation party location

As spring nears, students at Northwest high schools and colleges begin to look past final tests to graduation and beyond — moving away from home, getting a first job or starting a career. However, before it’s time to take the next step in your education or career, take a moment to celebrate all you’ve accomplished!

Graduation parties have always been a way to celebrate everything the students have done, giving them one last gathering with friends, family and loved ones before they venture out into the world. It’s an exciting time for college and high school students.

When looking for a venue for a graduation party — whether a private party for an individual graduate or a school-sponsored Grad Night — Coeur d’Alene Cruises offers a magical experience, giving graduates one more genuine lake experience before they embark on their new journey.

Cruises on any of our vessels (LINK: http://www.cdacruises.com/photos/ ) are family-friendly, and can be customized for any size group (LINK: http://www.cdacruises.com/blog/double-the-boats-double-the-fun/ ).

We also have an in-house DJ service (LINK: http://www.cdacruises.com/charter-cruises/dj/ ), which provides everything you and your party will need to dance the night away.

“We have four professional DJs that can light up any type of party,” said our head in-house DJ, Brandon Naipo. “From graduation cruises to business groups to weddings, we have every event covered. Not to mention we have the most top-of-the-line gear in DJ equipment, sound, and lighting there is to offer.”

For school-sponsored parties, our cruises provide an isolated venue, which alleviates the stress of school security measures. Schools can control the length of time and people allowed on board the ship, ensuring a safe cruising experience.

For more information on any of our graduation cruises, or to book yours, contact us (LINK: http://www.cdacruises.com/contact/ ) today!