History of Dover Idaho
The City of Dover, Idaho, incorporated in 1989, is the youngest city in Bonner County and one of the youngest in the state. It is located at the confluence of Lake Pend Oreille and the Pend Oreille River.
The Kalispel, Kutenai and other native peoples were the first inhabitants of the area, living along the waterways and utilizing the area’s abundant natural resources for thousands of years. Several sites along the river were used repeatedly by the native peoples including a site just west of the current Dover City limits that has not been excavated.
In the early 1800s, the region began being explored for fur hunting and trade routes. By the 1880s, with the establishment of the Northern Pacific Railroad, the current towns of Greater Sandpoint began to appear. The rail access supported industrialization early in the 20th century by the lumber industry. There was a great demand for wood during that time, as it was a time of great expansion for the United States.
The Dover Lumber Co. Mill was established in 1906 along with a townsite laid out on 160 acres near where the mill was located. It was originally named ‘Welty’ after the mill president. A retail store, Donovan, Hopke & Ninneman, of Hope moved to the mill site as soon as the mill was erected and a hotel was planned.
By 1922 the Dover mill was idle and a mill at Laclede, 10 miles downstream on the Pend Oreille River, burned down. The Dover mill was purchased by the owner of Laclede, A.C. White, and the 55 remaining buildings from Laclede were moved up river to the Dover townsite and the mill reopened. The mill closed again in 1928 after the death of White. As the Depression subsided, and World War II loomed, the timber industry made a comeback. The mill opened and closed several more times over the years and finally closed for good in 1988.
Railroad corridors and rail traffic continue to have a big impact in the Greater Sandpoint area. While forest products still play an important role, the economy is shifting to include manufacturing and recreation/tourism. The original mill site has recently been redeveloping as a planned community neighborhood within the city along the lakeshore. That lakeshore, the original townsite and the surrounding hillsides are now home to many residents seeking the high quality of life the region offers and this has fueled the recent growth in Dover.
The Dover Church, 313 Washington Street, is significant historically as the only public building extant of more than 50 structures moved via barge on the Pend Oreille River from the small town of Laclede to Dover. It is significant architecturally as a rare example of a professionally designed Rustic style building. It is privately owned today.