The History of Lochaven Farms

Looking east toward Hayden Lake with Maple Ave. extending across the bottom intersecting with Honeysuckle Ave., Finucane’s “modern home” in the center and the Lochaven Farms in the clump of trees on the right, 1950s. Photo courtesy of Mickey Blakely

By Deb Mitchell and Dorothy Dahlgren

Today, on the corner of Honeysuckle and 4th, there stands a large barn, a two-story home and several other faded-white buildings surrounded by a once-white board fence that were part of Finucane’s Lochaven Farms. It encompassed 400 acres straddling Honeysuckle Avenue from Government Way to Strahorn Road. The Finucanes (fin-uke-inn) arrived on the scene in 1948, which made us wonder about the history of this area.

The first white settlers in the Hayden area included Mathew Hayden. He acquired several hundred acres around present day Honeysuckle Beach and built a log cabin west of the beach. He was also one of the early settlers to plant an orchard in this area and see its potential. An 1880 bill of sale from The Dalles Nursery shows a variety of fruit trees and berry plants delivered to Mathew Hayden in Coeur d’Alene. Hayden died 10 years later at age 72.

A town site called Monaghan was planned near Honeysuckle and 4th St. Mathew Hayden was working on a town in this area. James Monaghan was Mathew Hayden’s friend and executor of his estate. Monaghan, born in 1839, moved to Spokane in the 1880s, making his fortune in banking, railroading and real estate. The Granite Investment Company with James Monaghan as president was responsible for developing the town of Monaghan.

In the early 1900s, the Justis Mercantile and Hayden Lake’s second post office, known as the Monaghan Post Office, were located in Monaghan. Before 1910, the store was sold and along with the post office, was moved to the present day Avondale Lake area.

The Granite Investment Company laid off and platted the tract of land known as Monaghan. The dedication of the forty-acre town on section 24 was dated April 14, 1908 with James Monaghan, President and Edward O’Shea, Secretary. Street names in the town were Lincoln Road and O’Brien, Monaghan, Railroad, Idaho, Cowley and King avenues. This would be in the area of the present day Finucane Drive neighborhood. None of these street names exist today.

The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington), March 22, 1908

The Monaghan map shows the Monaghan Station, located on the electric line railroad, near present day Strahorn Ave. The extension of the Coeur d’Alene & Spokane electric line railroad (renamed the Spokane and Inland Empire) from Coeur d’Alene to Hayden Lake was important for the development of the Hayden Lake area. The electric line arrived in the city of Coeur d’Alene in 1903, and by 1906 the line extended to the Bozanta Tavern (Hayden Lake Country Club) with stops along the way, including one near 12th and Harrison and another at Dalton Gardens.

Irrigation companies and land promoters played an important role in attracting farmers to the Monaghan area. In 1906 the Malloy Brothers, along with investors, doing business as the Interstate Irrigation Company began purchasing thousands of acres of land in the area. They advertised 5- and 10-acre tracts for $125 and $150 per acre. By 1908 the price was $150 to $250 per acre. A March 22, 1908 Spokesman-Review ad encouraged the home seeker and fruit grower to visit the Hayden Lake irrigated district. The ad touted rich, black, sandy loam soil, the electric line running through the center of the district and every tract having 4-inch mains. The ad also mentioned this being the first opportunity for the public to secure business and residence lots near Hayden Lake. “Monaghan is sure to be a prosperous little town, as it has the support of a farming and lumbering community.”

Water piped from Hayden Lake was used for irrigation. The pipes were installed above ground supplying water to the irrigation districts of Hayden Lake and Dalton Gardens. As promised, in the Malloy Brothers’ ads, with irrigation and dependable rail transportation, fruit produce farmers thrived in the area. In 1913, the Interstate Irrigation Company became a municipal corporation.

The railroad at Monaghan connected with a spur to Frank and Charles Woods’ mill at Honeysuckle Beach. They operated the mill from 1906 to 1909. Timber felled around Hayden Lake was towed to the site where it was transferred to railroad cars and hauled to area sawmills. Corbin’s spur headed west to the Spokane International Railroad’s main line in the Garwood/Chilco area. D.C. Corbin organized the Spokane International Railway Company in 1905, which included James Monaghan on its board.

It is unclear what became of the town site of Monaghan. The 1912-13 City Directory lists it as a station of the S&IE Ry (electric line), but no residents or businesses were listed. It was not listed in 1914.

Electric line passenger services to Hayden Lake remained strong until about 1917. With improved roads and increased use of automobiles, rail travel became less popular. The Spokane and Inland Empire Railway went into receivership in January 1920. In 1927 the Great Northern Railway acquired the electric line.

In 1931, the Interstate Commerce Commission authorized abandonment of 1.65 miles of track, including the loop at Hayden Lake. However, freight service still operated from Coeur d’Alene to the Dalton Gardens and Honeysuckle (4th and Honeysuckle) apple-packing warehouses and the spur extending from Honeysuckle east to the lake. There, logs were loaded onto railcars for transport to area mills.

Beginning Oct. 31, 1935, negative temperatures killed all the cherry and many of the pear and apple trees, ending the success of many of the fruit farmers. Only a few orchards managed to survive.

Rail freight revenue declined, with no revenue by 1939. There was still some farm production, but the principal reason for the rail decline was the popularity of travel by automobiles and trucking. The track on the branch from Coeur d’Alene to Honeysuckle Farms was removed in 1940. As promised in the Malloy Brothers’ ads, farmers thrived. One of the most successful farms was the property that became the Finucane’s Lochaven Farms.

George and Nellie Sims (nee Kraemer) of Mt. Hope, Spokane County, purchased the 400-acre

Honeysuckle Dairy Farm in 1918 from the F. Lewis Clark Estate for $12,000. It was here on the southwest corner of Hayden Lake where they built a house, raised their 11 children, cleared more land, worked the dairy, and served as leaders of the Dalton Gardens Grange.

When Sims purchased the Honeysuckle Dairy, it was already equipped with a 26-stanchion cow barn, creamery with boilers, horse barn, icehouse, and a grain silo. Fifty acres had been cultivated and the rest of the acreage was in pasture and timber. In 1918, Mr. Sims built a two-story home with four bedrooms upstairs and two bedrooms on the main floor. A centrally located wood stove heated the house, and cooking was done on a wood cook stove. Indoor plumbing was a modern convenience. The house still stands at 4th and Honeysuckle.

George had six workhorses for farming hay or vegetables and 25 to 30 Guernsey cows to milk, twice a day, by hand. The milk and cream were sold to Van’s Creamery in Coeur d’Alene and transported via the train. Chickens, pigs, and beef cattle were also raised on the farm and all of the children helped out with various tasks. Eventually, more land was needed to pasture the many animals or grow hay , so the Sims purchased an additional 160 acres near Wyoming Avenue.

During haying season, Mr. Sims would hire young men to help. Brothers Neil and Gene Hyde and Norm and Harold Bratlie were friends with Walter, the youngest Sims son. Occasionally, work could turn into a good-natured, yet competitive, game to decide who would drive the 1938 Chevy flatbed truck, bought from Walt Bennett, through the fields. Two would walk alongside the truck, throwing bundles up in the flatbed, while the third, often Walter, kept them neatly stacked.

Ice was used at the dairy to keep the milk cool, so Walter and his father took a bobsled down to the lake where they cut blocks of ice. Straw was packed around the chunks so they wouldn’t freeze together on the way home. Once they got back to the icehouse, they used sawdust to pack around the ice to keep it from melting too fast.

Jake Moser and Walter Sims at Honeysuckle Dairy farm, circa 1935. Agr-1-119

In 1948, when Charles C. and Marion (nee Burke) Finucane purchased the Sims farm from Nellie Sims, they were living in a 15-room, French Revival home at West 506 Sumner, Spokane. Charles was Vice President of the Sweeney Investment Company and principal stockholder of the Davenport Hotel. Charles was born in Spokane in 1905 to Francis J. and Mary Gertrude (Sweeney) Finucane. He graduated from Yale University in 1928 and married Marion Burke of Connecticut the day after graduation.

Following a 3-month honeymoon in Europe they came home to Spokane. Charles served with the Navy reserves and was called to active duty during WWII. His maternal grandfather, Charles Sweeny, had made a fortune in the Coeur d’Alene mines and real estate in the late 1800s.After buying the Sims’ farm, the Finucanes temporarily moved into a smaller guest house behind the two-story house and built a more modern home with a pool on the north side of Honeysuckle. The Finucane home of the 1950s through 1970s was a series of both newer and older buildings connected by breezeways. It included a guest house, butler’s quarters, separate kitchen, and a large, awe-inspiring office filled with framed certificates, photographs with distinguished leaders, and gifts from around the world. The Finucanes only lived at their Lochaven home during the summers, enjoying the ranch, the lake, the Hayden Lake Country Club and entertaining. The rest of their time was spent traveling the world or living on the east coast, near Washington D.C. and at Vero Beach, Florida.

The Finucane’s “modern” home and pool on the north side of Honeysuckle Ave., 1962. Agr-7-381

The old two-story home on the south side was remodeled from six to four bedrooms to create more living space on the main floor, and it would become the home for the ranch manager. The dairy farm operation was switched out to become a first-class cattle ranch, raising registered Black Angus. Carl and Nita Cantonwine were managing the ranch in January 1962 when the Coeur d’Alene Press reported that an 80-foot loafing shed collapsed under a heavy snow, killing prize-winning cows and calves valued at $20,000. While the Cantonwines were at Lochaven, they held auctions twice yearly at the ranch, and the land surrounding Avondale Lake with a large barn was leased to provide more pasture.

From 1963 to 1977, Mick Blakely, Sr., was the ranch manager at Lochaven. He, his wife, Naomi, and their four children, Linda, Mickey, Don, and Joyce, lived in the two-story home on the south side of Honeysuckle. They kept a milk cow, chickens, and

a garden for their own use. An average of eight working horses for use on the ranch were kept in stalls near the manager’s house and the big white barn. The barn and corral were used for breeding and medically treating the cattle. A hay barn was located towards the lake.

Mick Blakely, Sr., remembered artifacts that told of earlier times. The driveway to the Finucane house had evidence of a railroad even though the rails were gone. The land near the dike at Honeysuckle beach had sections of a wide-diameter, wooden irrigation pipe wrapped with metal that probably was part of the original irrigation system for Dalton Gardens and Hayden Lake irrigated tracts.

Government Way flanked the property surrounding the main buildings on the southwest, Maple on the northwest, the Hayden Lake dike to the east and Prairie Avenue to the south. Honeysuckle Avenue and 4th Street crisscrossed it and those roads were fenced with sturdy white horizontal boards and posts. Son Mickey Blakely remembers repairing fence after the winter of 1969 when the snowplows pushed the fences over because the drifts were so high that the plow driver couldn’t see them. He also remembers the arduous job of clipping the grass around the bottoms of those bright white posts. “Hundreds of them,” he said, “and by hand, not a gas-powered weed whacker. In those days, the ranch was immaculate.”

Marion Finucane on the right on an auction day in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Mickey Blakely

Back then, the dike at Honeysuckle did not stop water from seeping around it in the spring, and the Finucane’s field between the dike and Hayden Lake Road would fill with water and fish. One year, a newspaper article jokingly exclaimed that the fishing was good at Finucane Lake!

The Finucanes expanded their land holdings with several parcels extending north to Lacey. An additional 1,000 acres on the prairie brought the total to 1,800 acres that had to be irrigated with movable pipes, which provided summer work for the youth around Hayden and Coeur d’Alene. In 1969, Charles Finucane won the title of Idaho Grass Grower of the Year.

There were no auctions at the ranch when the Blakely’s were there. Instead, the cattle were transported to auctions, such as at Davenport, Washington. Other times, trucks would move the cattle to feed lots or other breeding ranches. When the trucks showed up, Naomi prepared a large breakfast for all participants. The Finucanes were often there on these big days. One time, 11 semi-truck loads of cattle were shipped out.

Besides the success at the ranch, Charles Finucane was appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower as Assistant Secretary of the Army in 1956, served as a member of the Armed Forces Security Council, and in 1958 was approved by the Senate as Assistant Secretary of Defense for two years. His memorabilia and personal papers, including some from Lochaven, are kept at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas.

The Finucanes began selling off parts of the ranch in 1978. Charles Finucane died in 1983, and Marion followed him in 1987. A 10-acre piece on the corner of 4th and Prairie was given to the City of Hayden for Finucane Park. The land on the hill to the southeast would become Woodland Heights, Hayden View Estates and Loch Haven Hills. Woodland Meadows and a commercial area were developed later from lands west of 4th Street. More houses, a church and a lodge sit on the land north of Honeysuckle Avenue. The only two pieces of the Lochaven Farms land recognizable today include the original ranch buildings on approximately 20 acres against the hill at the southeast corner of 4th and Honeysuckle and the Finucane home site hidden by trees on the north side of Honeysuckle.