North Idaho Reads Programs for 2016

Gary Eller:  Idaho Song Collector Gary Eller presents “Railroad Songs of Early Idaho.” Learn about Idaho through early railroad songs. An Idaho Humanities scholar, Gary will tell tales and sing songs about railroading in the early days of Idaho.  You’ll hear the earliest known American train songs commemorating the first passenger railroad in 1828, and the 1883 song written when the Oregon Short Line was completed. He will also perform an Orphan Train song written in the 1990s about the events taking place form 1853-1929, and two of his own written about the Sagebrush Annie Line and the collapse of the spur railroad after a failed first attempt to build Oxbow Dam.

Libraries and other venues will host Eller starting with Coeur d’Alene on Sept. 12 beginning at 7 p.m.  He will also perform at these libraries, Athol: Sept 13, 6:30 p.m.; Hayden, Sept 14, 6:30 p.m.; Post Falls, Sept 15, 6:30 p.m.; Spirit Lake, Sept 16, 6 p.m.; and at the Wallace Depot: Sept 17, 3 p.m.

Eller will be available after each program to collect early Idaho songs (pre-1923) that he might not have from the public, and that he will have time during the week to talk to people.  There is a song list on the outdated Idaho Songs website at

Railroad Day: Saturday, Sept 17 is Railroad  Day in Wallace at the Northern Pacific Depot and Railroad Museum. Activities will include Telegraph Demonstrations, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; A Railroad Tea at 2 p.m., with Marlene Bischoff, author of the “All Aboard” book series and new books from the Silver Valley. Refreshments will include oil tea, railroad tie cookies and coal candy; and Gary Eller performs at 3 p.m. (See above.)

The Wallace Library will host a storytime beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15, in combination with its LEGO Thursday with a theme of train building.

Riders on the Orphan Train: Novelist and Humanities Scholar Alison Moore and singer/songwriter Phil Lancaster combine audiovisual elements, historical fiction and musical ballads that bring the Orphan Train movement, a largely unknown chapter in American history, to public awareness. Orphan trains, were a charitable movement that “placed out” 250,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children between 1854 and 1929 to rural families in the American west.

The multi-media presentation will be hosted by the Coeur d’Alene Library on Friday, Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m., and at the Post Falls Library, on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 6:30 p.m.

These programs, as well as the Eller concerts are made possible by grants from the Idaho Humanities Council, the state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional support from the Friends of the Coeur d’Alene Public Library and the Friends of the Community Library Network.

Sandpoint Programs: A screening of the PBS American Experience documentary “Orphan Train” will be presented at 9 a.m., Saturday Oct. 1.  At 10:30 a.m. there will be presentation by local Train Historian Aric Spence, “A History of Passenger Train Travel in Sandpoint” at the Columbia Bank auditorium second floor, 414 Church Street in Sandpoint.

For details, contact the library or venue hosting a program.