Fort Connah Historical Society keeps history alive
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A rich history of trade and tradition came to life Saturday and Sunday at Fort Connah Trading Post, set against the backdrop of the Mission Mountains halfway between Ronan and St. Ignatius. Surviving the era is the original log cabin that housed the Hudson Bay Company post, as well as many of the 1,543 descendents of one time fort operator Angus McDonald.
McDonald, a young Scot, completed the post in 1847 and operated it for its first five years. Some of his descendents — including former Salish Kootenai College president Joe McDonald and Tracy McDonald, director of SKC Student Support Services — were on hand Saturday, working tirelessly to keep the history alive. Joe McDonald presented the McDonald geneology while Tracy McDonald helped visitors bead earrings. The aroma of buffalo burgers on the grill and smoky wood stoves helped bring history to life.
During its 23 active years, Hudson Bay Company traded goods such as blankets, hatchets, cooking utensils and beads in exchange for braided rope the Indians made from buffalo hair and sinew.
The last post director was Angus’ son, Duncan McDonald. The site was originally British territory, and the post closed after the land was settled as U.S. territory.
Fort Connah was the first building to be erected in the Mission Valley.
Each year, the Fort Connah Historical Society opens the fort to visitors to keep the story alive and relevant.