Historical Sites in North Central Idaho

Blue Fox Theatre, Grangeville, Id.

Blue Fox Theatre, Grangeville, Id.

Throughout their history, the Blue Fox Theater and Sunset Auto Vue drive-in have charmed movie-goers the modern way. For the history buff, the Blue Fox, is both a must-see and a can’t-miss standing in the center of Grangeville’s downtown.

The marquee and neon lights punctuate the building’s retro aesthetic, but inside, a bit of digital-age technology shines an even brighter light on the classic big screen. With a digital projector putting all the latest hit movies on display, the Blue Fox has made a leap in the interest of keeping up with the times that relatively few small-town theaters across the country have made.

The business that keeps the lights on has roots that run as deep in the area as the owner-operator Wagner family, and the building itself forms a connection to the past that numbers uniquely among Idaho’s historic places.

In 1999, the building, built in 1929, was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and registration made the Blue Fox one of about two dozen in the Idaho County Historic Preservation Commission’s most recent publication.

While the Blue Fox Theater is unlikely to be overlooked by virtue of its Main Street location, many of the other places a history buff would want to see take a lot more effort to visit.

Campbell’s Ferry – A key part of the path to one of the last American gold rushes, Campbell’s Ferry came to be the remote home and sanctuary from which the writings of Frances Zaunmiller Wisner flowed. A beloved local newspaper columnist who more than once gave voice to the popular will and swayed state and federal government, she verged on fame; her writings tell of quiet joys, of independence, and of the spirit that brought so many men to mountains so many years ago. Though the place bears the name of the man who ran first ran the ferryboat in the early 1900s, the pack bridge that replaced it bears her name.

Elk City Wagon Road – Ancient people, native and white, both followed this prime path to prosperity – the natives for buffalo hunting in Montana in time immemorial, the whites for mining and commerce in Elk City from the mid-1800s to the mid-1930s. Today, it is a remote forest road that features long views during the late summer. First Indian Presbyterian Church – An historic church and cemetery off the highway east of Kamiah, this is the oldest active church in Idaho. On Sundays, services are held and hymns are sung in the Nez Perce language.

Monastery of St. Gertrude – The women who founded this monastery outside of Cottonwood in 1907 raised the only example of Benedictine architecture in Idaho. Listed in 1979, the monastery is home to an extensive museum. Contact 208-962-3224.

Clearwater Battlefield – This site where the U.S. Army and the Nez Perce fought a battle that proved costly for both sides in 1877 was listed in 1965. The event is marked by signage south of Stites, but the fighting took place on what today is private agricultural ground that is closed to the public.

Contact the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest for details about when and how best to visit the remote locations.

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