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NIC to offer history presentation on Interstate-90

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Local historian Gene Soper Local historian Gene Soper

Historian Gene Soper to present on the history of Interstate-90 at North Idaho College.

Local historian Gene Soper will present a history presentation on Interstate-90 at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16 at the Hayden Lake Public Library, located at 8385 N. Government Way in Hayden.

“Interstate-90 History: Then and Now” will focus on the history of the interstate highway through the Idaho Panhandle, starting with the Mullan Road (the first road built through the region) followed by the Yellowstone Trail and U.S.-10.

“From one location in the Silver Valley, you can see all four roads at one location,” Soper said.

Through stories and photographs, Soper will relate the road’s progression from its early military uses to the arrival of miners to the area and the transportation of goods. Soper will detail the construction of the interstate highway and traffic delays while dynamiting was completed. The presentation will also highlight the city of Wallace, which retained the only traffic light on I-90 between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The residents of Wallace also held up construction crews for years protesting the division of the town with the new I-90 route.

Soper worked with Grant Construction Company as a heavy-duty mechanic and welder.

From 1958 through 1975, the majority of the road work was on the interstate highway systems with projects from Vantage, Wash., to St. Regis, Mont. In 1976, Soper retired and went on to establish a diesel mechanics program at NIC. Soper is also a well-known local historian.

The presentation is part of the “Your Place in History” local history program series sponsored by NIC’s Molstead Library, the Museum of North Idaho and the Kootenai County Public Libraries. Upcoming programs include “Peacekeepers of the Old West and Their Regional History” on Feb. 25 and March 9.

The event is free and open to the public.

Information: (208) 772-3953.

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Stacy Hudson is the Public Information Coordinator for North Idaho College

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