Once a Company Town
By Mary Terra-Berns
Something didn’t look right in the tall grass and shrubs off the side of the bike trail. I slowed to a stop and got off my bike while keeping my eyes focused on the anomalous spot. The “something” started moving and slowly materialized into a substantial set of antlers attached to a very large bull moose. Without fully knowing it, I had spotted his antler tines in the grass before he lifted his head and glared at me for disturbing his nap. Bullwinkle was lounging in his version of a man-cave across the bike trail from what I call the concrete wetland because of some out-of-place concrete blocks just off its banks.
The concrete wetland, separated from Bull Run Lake by a dike road, is beside the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, which is off State Highway 3 and across the Coeur d’Alene River from the tiny, unassuming, and mostly unnoticed town of Rose Lake, about three miles south of Interstate 90. According to the geographical dictionary Idaho Place Names, by Lalia Boone, “The name is a corruption of Rows Lake, so named for an early settler.” Also spelled “Row’s Lake,” the name apparently was interpreted as “Rose Lake” by the post office when it was established in 1905. North of the town is a body of water also named Rose Lake.
From the bike trail, you get the impression that chunks of concrete were unceremoniously dumped in the wetland sometime in the past. However, when you get a bird’s eye view, the chunks clearly delineate the foundation of a long-forgotten building. This waterlogged foundation is all that remains of the green chain, a facility where logs were sorted for processing by the defunct Rose Lake Lumber Company’s sawmill. In the early 1900s, this wetland was a dry meadow and the town of Rose Lake was neither unassuming nor unnoticed.