DescriptionIone has always been a timber town. Pend Oreille River steamboats linked Washington's northeastern corner with the outside world from the late 1880s until the railroad arrived in 1909. A sawmill built by the Panhandle Lumber Co. opened in this small community in 1901 and by 1909 employed 700 workers; a smaller mill continues to operate on the site. The era of river transportation is fondly recalled during Down River Days the last full weekend in July. The festivities include a parade, a cowboy breakfast and snowmobile races—on the water.
The Lions Club Excursion Train offers sightseeing trips along the scenic Pend Oreille on six selected weekends from late July through October. The 20-mile round trip aboard three classic railroad coaches and three open-air cars converted from rolling stock runs along the north end of the Pend Oreille Valley Railroad between Ione and Metaline Falls. The track snakes along cliffs rising up from the river far below and negotiates a series of low wooden trestles as well as the mighty Box Canyon Bridge, with one splendid view after another. Reservations are required; phone (509) 442-5466 or (877) 525-5226.
No road can provide comparable vistas, but if you can't take the train ride Box Canyon Viewpoint, 4 miles north of Ione on SR 31, offers a gander at the rugged canyon scenery; it overlooks a narrow, rocky gorge spanned by a railroad bridge.
Things to SeeBox Canyon Dam