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Newport to Canadian Border

  • Distance: 74 miles
  • Routes: SR 20, SR 31
  • Estimated Driving Time: 2 hours

This is a 74-mile tour that, for much of the route, parallels the Clark Fork River, which bisects Pend Oreille County, once one of the most sparsely populated in the state. Swinging in a westerly direction from Newport, the highway climbs for a few miles and then, turning to the north, winds along the west side of the river as far as Metaline Falls. Here it crosses to the east bank and continues northward to the Canadian Line.

The route is marked by a succession of logged-off and forested hills, stump ranches, valley farms, and small mill and mining towns. Ages ago this region was covered by glaciers, which ground their way southward, forcing the river to reverse its direction. When the glaciers retreated, the river resumed the northward course.

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Seat of Pend Oreille County, this town laid out on the gentle curve of a hill that slopes northeast down to the sweeping arc of the Pend Oreille River. Rising in the rugged Bitterroot and Rocky mountain ranges, this stream drains westward into Washington, and then, bending abruptly northward, flows into British Columbia, only to loop back to join the Columbia River almost directly upon the Canadian Boundary Line. In...

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Points of Interest
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Dr. John and Viola Phillips House and Office

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Pend Oreille County Courthouse

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McIntosh Barn

The tour leads through heavy forests of pine, tamarack, and fir. Rising from the deep cleft of the river’s channel are benchlands, a series of ascending terraces that break into steep, rugged mountain slopes. East of the river, the Kaniksu National Forest extends into Idaho. After climbing for a few miles, the highway dips sharply down to the benchlands. This is a region of cutover lands, with stumps, snags, and...

Learn more about Cooks Mountain

Mile: 434

The town took the name Dalkena after the surnames of the D & K Mill Company’s founders, Dalton and Kennedy. Now an almost deserted village, this town stands slightly above the river. On both sides of the tracks of a branch line of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railway were the remains of a big lumber mill that burned in 1935. In 1902, the Dalton and Kennedy Sawmill was...

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Points of Interest
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Dalkena Lumber Company Barn

Mile: 426

A small community with stores, a post office, and a service station, along the flats west of the river. Some logging was still being done in the vicinity as of 1941, but the merchantable timber was almost exhausted. The history of the district around Usk is in a measure typical of the county. Isolated from population centers and off most rail lines, this region was not opened to logging operations...

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The town began as a sawmill town on the Pend Oreille River, northwest of Newport. In the early 1890s, Joe W. Cusick settled there and platted the town on May 24, 1902. He was a pioneer river captain who ran the steamer Volunteer and other early stern-wheelers on the river. The town took his name when platted. The town once surrounded the former tall, aluminum-painted water tower and the black...

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A small town with a post office, a tavern, and a general store, the town clings to the side of the road. Here the mountains close in on the valley, and the river flows quietly for a short distance between its rocky walls. It was named for Robert W. Jared, who settled in the valley in 1886. He operated a small store and when a post office was established February...

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Mile: 409

A small community on the west bank of the Pend Oreille River at its confluence with Little Ruby Creek. It is named for the color of a clay slide on the river bank, which has a bluish tinge when wet. The town was comprised of a few neatly painted houses surrounded by gardens and small orchards, and was a center of valley farms and dairy ranches. North of Blueslide, the...

Learn more about Blueslide

Mile: 400

A crossroads community on the west bank of the Pend Oreille River. The place was established in 1905 as a trading post by a pioneer named Yoder, who also was the first postmaster. The sternwheeler steamers on the river stopped at Tiger during that period. The place was named for George Tiger, the first settler who homesteaded on the bank of the river about 1900. A series of ponds and...

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Mile: 391

The second largest town in the county, it is largely dependent on the sawmill of the Panhandle Lumber Company, which employed about 150 workers. About a mile northeast of town is some good skiing terrain, and the winter festival of the Ione Ski Club is a popular local event. A notable building in town is the old Ione Depot (1909), on Main St. In 1906, an English engineer built a...

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Mile: 4

The narrowing channel of the river is visible at the approach to this canyon, the purple-gray portals of which stand out sharply. The canyon is 1,200 feet long, and the rocky walls range from 20 to 100 feet in height. The white water flows with extraordinary rapidity through the narrow gorge. Logs, which are still sent down Box Canyon, whirl in the narrow corridor before they go booming over Metaline...

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Points of Interest
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Idaho and Washington Northern Railroad Bridge

Mile: 7

The Pend Oreille Mine and Metal Company’s plant is the chief industrial development at Metaline, on the west bank of the Clark Fork River. The name is taken from the adjacent falls in the Pend Oreille River. The Pend Oreille Mine and Metal Company (incorporated in 1929) was once one of the most productive mining companies in the nation, producing 20 percent of the lead and 13 percent of the...

Learn more about Metaline

Mile: 12

Both a community and a water fall. The waterfall is a cascade with a 19-foot descent; at its foot is Dudenay Trail, one of the most often used of the fur-traders’ trails. David Thompson, who twice made the trip to the falls, recorded the name of the Indians of the region, the Kalispelus. Metaline Falls occupies a rocky, sloping bench on the east bank of the Clark Fork River. The...

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Points of Interest
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Larson House

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Washington Hotel

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Pend Oreille Mines and Metals Building

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Metaline Falls School

Mile: 14

The U.S. Border Station Building at Metaline Falls, built in 1931–1932, was designed by architect James A. Wetmore. This is the most easterly of the 13 immigration stations built along the Canadian border in Washington. It was built in 1925 in the “Northern Plan,” which includes an inspection station and two residences with steep roof gables and overhangs. The inspection station is built mostly of wood with some brick and...

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Mile: 27

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