June 29, 2021 – Whitefish and Flathead Lake

Whitefish Train Depot
Whitefish, Montana
Whitefish, Montana
Whitefish, Montana

Ric and Kevin have been taking folks who were interested in walking on neighborhood walks before the day’s activities begin. On this morning Mark went along for a five mile walk which took about 90 minutes. The walk took us past many beautiful homes, some made of logs, some modern and some traditional cabin styles. Mixed along the way were a few homes under construction and a few poorly maintained homes.

In the early afternoon we visited the town of Whitefish with a population of approximately 8,000 people. The native American tribe of Kootenai is believed to have inhabited this area for more than 14,000 years. In 1883 the first permanent immigrant settler by the name of John Morton built a cabin on the shore of Whitefish Lake. In the 1890’s logging of the timber was in full operation. In 1904 the Great Northern Railway was built through the area, bringing development of the town. Originally the town was known as Stumptown because of the number of trees that had been cleared and stumps were everywhere. Early residents of the town worked for the railroad or in the logging industry.

In recent years, Whitefish has been ranked as a top place to live and visit on many lists. In 2020 the New York Times listed Whitefish as one of the top 52 places to visit in the world. In 2021 Travel and Leisure magazine listed the town as one of the top 11 small towns in the U.S.

The main street of Whitefish is filled with galleries, winter clothing shops, touristy shops, bars and restaurants. At the edge of town sits the original railroad station saved from demolition by the local historical society. The historical society purchased the old station for $1 and then spent $1,000,000 to restore and update the building. A museum is housed in the rail station where you can find all sorts of memorabilia of the town and its early settlers.

The weather on this particular day was very hot with temperatures reaching 100 degrees so spending much time outside was not ideal. We meandered the main streets wandering in and out of the air-conditioned shops before meeting up with Todd and Larry where we stopped at a restaurant and pub for a drink.

After exploring the town for a couple of hours we ventured up the hill to the local Whitefish Ski Resort where there is a chairlift and many ski trails. There are many neighborhoods of condominiums and hotels used mostly for winter sports.

We drove along Flathead lake on our journey to Whitefish. Flathead Lake is nestled between the Mission Mountains on the east and the Salish Mountains on the west. This valley maintains a remarkably mild climate given that it is 400 miles from the Pacific Coast and how far north it is. The mild climate allows Cherry orchards to flourish on the eastern shore and vineyards on the western shore. They are also able to grow apples, plums, pears, vegetables, hay, honey and wheat. The lake is inhabited by the native bull trout, cutthroat trout, lake trout, yellow perch and lake whitefish.

The natural lake was dammed in 1930 by Kerr Dam at its outlet on Polson Bay, raising the water level of the lake by ten feet. The lake is approximately 30 miles in length, 16 miles wide, 370 feet deep and covers an area of 197 square miles. It is considered one of the cleanest lakes in the populated world for its size and type.

Back at the house it was Taco Tuesday and Kent, Mark and Carlos were responsible for the evening’s dinner. We prepared tacos, refried beans, chips, salsa, guacamole and fresh blueberries, raspberries Biscotti for dessert. Everyone seemed to finish their plates so I guess it was a success.