Legend has it that late in the fall of 1889, the captain of the Kootenai received orders to bring two barges, each loaded with 150 tons of ore, down from Mission Landing. The Kootenai pushed one barge and towed the other for a while, but the captain had trouble breaking through the ice, that way.
He decided to tie up the front barge, leaving it behind, and tow the second barge on down to the ice-free lake.
As the story goes, about midnight, near McDonald's Point, on Lake Coeur d'Alene, something happened that caused the loose ore on the barge to shift. The barge tipped first one way, then the other, and 135 tons of high grade silver ore poured into the lake. That was about $15,000 worth in 1889.
So, is there a fortune in ore on the bottom of Lake Coeur d’Alene? The tale is told in the book Lost Treasures and Mines of the Pacific Northwest, by Ruby El Hult. A few other sources mention it, but I’ve yet to find a contemporaneous newspaper account of the incident. Divers have looked for it a few times, without reported success. North Idaho historians (and divers), what say you?