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Bye-Bye Garwood Saloon

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Another area icon closes

The Garwood Saloon had been in existence for so long, nobody still alive remembers when it first opened. Recently bought by the Idaho State Department of Transportation for a new highway project, this icon closed permanently July 30. The riding arena next door closed in 2005.

Wayne Darwood and his wife, Darralyn, were the owners for the last 23 years. They enlarged the old place, then built the riding arena that bordered the Saloon on the south. Situated on Highway 95 and Garwood Road, it became a police magnet for potential DUIs. Not to be deterred, Wayne set up RV parking so guests could party all night, then crawl into their rig without the fear of being arrested, or worse, killing themselves or others on the highway.

A gigantic barbecue out back signaled the goodies the guests were to experience at the last hurrah for this long-term saloon. As we walked through the door we were greeted cheerfully by bartender, Tina Miller, who scooped up an ice cold MGD with my name on it. Not wanting to be churlish, I humbly accepted the brew and started circulating the room. Introduced to owner Wayne Darwood, I took in the most recent history of the place.

Much like the Snake Pit on the Coeur d’Alene River, the current liquor license is an historical one. In Idaho, liquor licenses are not issued to businesses outside incorporated cities, unless they are waterfront resorts, or historical. Several years ago violations of bootlegging laws were flagrantly violated in the more secluded areas. In order to better control liquor sales, the state passed a law that issued licenses to those businesses that could provide evidence that a bar or saloon had existed for at least 75 years. That license, issued to the Garwood Saloon, is over 23 years old, suggesting it might have been in existence since the turn of the previous century as a logger’s hangout.

In the 70s, real cowboys hung out there, as there were many ranches still operating in the area. The Garwood burned down in the early 70s. I remember dropping in for a beer back in, I think, 1972. Then it was much smaller. It was rebuilt, but current folks don’t remember the names of the owners, other than the ones preceding Darwood were “Deb” and “Sam.”

Wayne showed us around, and explained that about twice a year, he would throw a free barbecue for his friends and customers, which actually were one and the same.

Visiting with the friends and relatives that showed up for the final shindig, we noticed a preponderance of older people present. Ted Prewitt, grizzled horse rancher from Twisp, Wash. was there, spinning tails of his roping days. When a cowboy was spotted, they didn’t just dressed the part, they were people who raised livestock and harvested their own hay, for the most part.

Denny Middleton and his band prepared to play one last gig at this historical place. Denny is known far and wide for his magical fiddle playing. The odor drifting up from the BBQ became overpowering as the chef, Herman Froelich, opened the cooker, revealing perfectly prepared pork loin. Time to... ‘er... pig out. A trestle table appeared bulging at the seams, full of beans, potato salad and much more. We paused for the cause.

Asked what they were going to do when the doors closed for one last time, Wayne replied, “Were gonna head for Fargo, North Dakota to see our son, then who knows where. Probably Arizona in the winter.” He went on to say, “We like having our freedom, but we’re going to miss this place and every one of our customers.” They will undoubtedly catch some rodeos, as Wayne and several other relatives and friends were retired rodeo performers. Darwood’s, specialty was roping, as was his buddy from Twisp, who was visiting for the last time.

Garwood Saloon, one of the last of the old-time “Road Houses,” will be missed.

Herb Huseland is known as “Bayview Herb” by fans of the Spokesman-Review’s “Huckleberries Online,” and of Herb’s own “Bay Views” blog . A periodic columnist for the Spokesman Review, we look forward to seeing more of Herb’s offerings here in the River Journal.

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Herb Huseland Herb Huseland Herb Huseland is known as "Bayview Herb" by fans of the Spokesman-Review's "Huckleberries Online," (www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/hbo) and of Herb's own "Bay Views" blog (www.bayviews.blogspot.com). He is also a periodic columnist for the Spokesman Review

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