History of Coeur d’Alene Rowing

Rowing got its second start in Coeur d’Alene in the mid-1980’s as a community rowing program established at North Idaho College. Several faculty members, including English professor Jim MacLeod, were the organizers. Rod Mott, now head coach at Vassar College, was the first coach of the student division of the club and Peter Wagstaff coached the masters, a group of experienced and novice rowers in the community who thought rowing on Lake Coeur d’Alene an appealing idea. There was a first start to rowing in Coeur d’Alene early in the twentieth century, stake racing was popular and Coeur d’Alene was not an exception. It might be mentioned that along with professional rowing there was a small group of recreational rowers, which included Foxy Edmunds. The North Idaho Museum has photos and information.

As is typical of fledgling clubs, equipment was quite minimal. Nevertheless, we were proud of the three worthy Pocock 8’s, retired from WSU, and the 8 or 10 spruce oars. In the early years, with those venerable oars and boats, we were definitely in the minority at regattas, but the members were not to be daunted. High spirits prevailed, a very happy and congenial group indeed. On Saturdays, you would see Chuck Moseley and others fixing an ancient foot stretcher or varnishing where needed.

In the early 1990’s the club moved to the shore of the Spokane River where, through the generosity of a church camp and, later, a service organization, the club had free access to the smoother and somewhat safer water of the Spokane river and security for the growing flotilla.

During the late 1990’s, the club, at that point independent of North Idaho College, came to be known as The Coeur d’Alene Rowing Association. Affiliation with US Rowing was established and the association was recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c)(3) corporation, mostly through the tireless efforts of Rob Neate.

In 2000, the club decided to move to Fernan Lake, the lake nearly ideal for rowing, particularly for the smaller boats now more and more popular with members. The club entered into an agreement with Kootenai County to lease riparian land and the Department of Lands granted the club a dock permit. In the meantime the County sold their replaced docks to the club for a nominal amount. Members pitched in and worked to fix what needed to be fixed and re-configure to rowing’s best advantage.

The club strives to follow its mission to provide the opportunity for rowing for anyone interested. Rowers from North Idaho College row from our docks, as members, as do the 20 or so high school rowers from our area schools. With the cooperation of USRowing, the club offers learn-to-row classes each year, encouraging interested masters to give it a try. Total membership is now approaching 90. Members compete in local, regional, and national regattas. Members will tell you with some justified pride that, for several years now, the club presents a regatta on our own water, an event which shows off the energy, good will and cooperation of its members.

And the wood Pococks? Providing a place for buffet salad at upscale (we like to think) restaurants in Washington and Idaho. As we think upon it, not such an ignoble calling. We hope they may yet inspire the birth of Idaho’s second rowing club.

Promoting the sport of rowing in the Coeur d'Alene area