From Jim West
West began the Washington, Idaho & Montana Railway History Preservation Group (HPG, for short) in 1998. Part of the HPG’s mission is to “To locate, preserve, . . . . items of a historical nature relating to the history of the WI&M Ry; . . . . to encourage public interest in the history of the WI&M and the Potlatch Lumber Company (PLCo) and to acquire objects and property appropriate for a museum... ”
The dilapidated Potlatch Depot and three acres of property were purchased in July of 2001. Built in June 1906, the depot was the first commercial structure erected in the company town. The town, the WI&M railroad, and the largest sawmill in the world were built by midwestern, Weyerhaeuser-partnered lumbermen. The depot originally housed the offices for the PLCo, city, and the railroad.
Following years of design and engineering work, the depot’s foundation, roof, and the exterior were restored in 2007. The work was funded through a Transportation Enhancement grant, administered by ITD’s District 2, and from donations small and large from far and wide.
Interior rehabilitation began in February. Retail shops and the WI&M/PLCo museum will be open to the public mid-May, with a grand opening scheduled for Memorial Day weekend.
The annual WI&M History Day celebration is the first Saturday following the Fourth of July weekend (July 10 this year) and will feature speeder rides, music on the Bennett Boxcar Stage and a barbeque. The public is encouraged to stop and visit the museum when in the Potlatch area – or to make a special trip to see it. Bus service between Coeur d’Alene and Boise stops at the depot twice daily.
For more information on the HPG visit: http://wimryhpg.com/
For more information on the Depot rehabilitation project visit: http://potlatchdepot.blogspot.com/