In the fall of 1940, Earl Somers and his wife Byrd moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho with the idea of operating an amusement park near the Coeur d’Alene City Beach and Park. For years, Earl and Byrd had operated a traveling amusement company based in Pasco, Washington. They were in their mid-forties and were looking for a permanent location. Tired of traveling from city to city and dealing with the problems of setting up, taking down and traveling, Earl was convinced Coeur d’Alene was the perfect place for their amusement business. He began to meet with city officials about the possibility of leasing land near the city park. It took over a year to convince the city fathers this was a good thing for Coeur d’Alene, soon, the iconic Playland Pier would be entertaining families from around the region.
Seafair has been a part of Joanne Ludwig’s life for as long as she can remember – not only did her mother work for the chair of the hydro races/yacht club, but she also grew up in a neighborhood full of festival superstars, including a member of the Aqua Follies and a Commodore. In 1994, Ludwig was asked to be the Chair of the Seafair Scholarship Program for Women. She served in this role for almost two decades.
By Tony and Suzanne Bamonte, excerpted from their book, Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past. Find more of the Bamonte’s books at Tornado Creek Publications. Pictured above, Francis and Laura Cook’s nine-bedroom home, which was completed by April 1892 and lost in 1897 following