Moyie Springs—Spotlight City
More Than It Seems
By Emily Bonsant
As I drive east on U.S. Route 2 towards Montana, I approach an “Entering City Limits” sign that says 712 people live in Moyie Springs, commonly called “Moyie.” But through the thick evergreens on either side of the highway, houses are faintly visible as I whisk by at 65 mph, ignoring the 60 mph speed limit, like many people do.
Cars pull on and off the stretch of road, coming and going onto half-hidden lanes that arch off the highway. The road curves like a bow until I feel almost as if it will turn back on itself and then it descends as a flashing sign demands a speed reduction.
Moyie, a rural hamlet in Boundary County, the most northern county of Idaho, is just minutes from the Montana border and about an hour from the Canadian border. It was incorporated in the 1950s as the county’s second city, which it owed in part to the mill and the logging industry. The mill, which perches on a cliff above the Moyie River, is to this day the largest business in town.
I continue to descend until I come upon a crossroad. To my right is one of the first indications of civilization on the outskirts of town, a gas station and one-stop shop with signs that announce RV parking, a laundromat, beer, and food. When a fully loaded logging truck inches into the intersection, I pump my brakes. The street here, Roosevelt, bears the same name as the one I passed a few miles back.
I drive onward, across a narrow bridge that soars above treetops along the Moyie River. If I were to look to the right, I might see billowing fog below and catch a southern view of the Cabinet Mountains. To my left, for a brief moment I’d see the Moyie Dam upriver, laid tightly between dominant rock and pine. I think some people who cross this bridge might not take the moment to look and instead keep their eyes on where they’re going, not on where they’ve been.
But the people of Moyie see things differently. They look both at what is in front of them and at what once was.