Not only are the vessels in the Coeur d’Alene Cruise fleet beautifully designed and a blast to voyage on, but they are also steeped in a rich history that dates back over 100 years.
All the boats in the Fun Fleet were either designed and constructed or remodeled by Finney Boat Works here in Coeur d’Alene. Carl Fus heads Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises as captain of the fleet, and carrying on the cruising tradition, which began in1932 when the first excursion boat set sail on the lake.
Today, many of the boats that ride along the lake are out here just for recreation. However, at one time, there were over 50 steamships working on the lake.
The first steamboat on Lake Coeur d’Alene was the Amelia Wheaton, built by the military. At the same time, the largest steamer of the era was the Idaho, which could carry up to 1,000 passengers.
However, as always happens, progress moved forward. When more modern methods of transportation arrived, several of the steamers were refurbished as excursion boats. Others were used during the annual Fourth of July celebrations- after the boat had been retired and emptied, it was hauled to the center of lake and set afire during the night to create a beautiful spectacle for those watching from the city beach. Today, several of those early day steamers are still visible beneath the lake’s surface, but your best bet for a good view is underwater, with scuba gear.
Riverboats took silver ore from the Cataldo landing, down the Coeur d’Alene River, across the lake to the railhead at Rathdrum.
Lumber was transported to area mills from the surrounding lakes and forests by floating down the adjoining rivers. During this time, Coeur d’Alene also become a popular tourist spot as electric trains brought people from Spokane to enjoy the parks, beaches and excursion boats.
Have we peaked your historical interest? We know the Coeur d’Alene Lake is a fascinating place, and surrounded with a rich history. If you’re looking to learn more, or for something to do in Coeur d’Alene this summer, join us on one of our daily cruises or contact us to set up an event. See you on the water!