A Lush Bedroom Community That Saved Its Identity
By Larry Telles
I can drive from Coeur d’Alene to Dalton Gardens from the west or south, while Hayden is to my north. My town, Dalton Gardens, has a footprint of 2.32 square miles in Kootenai County with an estimated population of twenty-four hundred people. It started out in 1878 with no name and was christened the “City of Dalton Gardens” in 1960. In the years between those two dates, it was mostly known as just plain Dalton. The town’s story is all about being a young forest with bushes aplenty, vegetables, and fruit trees on its 1,590 acres—living conditions so lush they eventually inspired incorporation.
I was born and reared in the Bay Area, and first visited Coeur d’Alene in 1989, when my wife and I stopped overnight during a trip to visit her birthplace in Minnesota. I woke up the following morning with a feeling that I was home. That feeling stayed with me the rest of the way to Minnesota and back to California. In 1995, we returned to Coeur d’Alene to buy a house for renting out. The California real estate market was down at the time, but when prices came back up, we sold our house there in 1999 and headed back to the Idaho Panhandle, where we bought another house, as the one we already owned there had a one-year contract on the rental. We decided on Dalton Gardens, which was like living in the countryside. There were no covenants or restrictions that prevented me from putting up my sixty-foot amateur radio tower. At night, we could see every star in the sky.
Many people with horses or other livestock have discovered the quiet neighborhoods with no sidewalks and a country atmosphere. Over the past couple of decades, a lot of small houses in town have been torn down and replaced by large dwellings with multiple garages, but Dalton Gardens remains a very friendly place. While I’m working in my front yard, runners or strolling couples will wave and say hello. Many young runners follow their dogs, who also are out getting exercise. During the summer and fall months, people ride their horses down the street, some with saddles and some bareback.