In Volume I, former Lake County School Superintendent Joyce Decker Wegner and her co-authors gave readers a vivid historical portrait of schools in the southern part of Lake County, which was originally part of Missoula County. This second volume takes us north to the Polson area, west to Hot Springs and east to Swan Lake.
Hundreds of photographs and first-hand narratives are presented, along with facts, figures, dates and maps to locate and characterize the schools and their communities. The book covers establishment of the first public school in the area at Proctor in 1895, through eventual consolidation of the majority of the small districts into the present-day Polson School District.
Images date from the early 1900s to 2012 and include a 1988 photo of famous fashion designer Liz Claiborne, speaking to the graduation class of two students at Salmon Prairie School. With so many photos and so many lists of names, just about anyone with a connection to the area is sure to recognize someone!
In the foreword, historian Harry Fritz calls the two volumes “a masterpiece of local lore and memory. They are important not just as nostalgia, but because they tell critical stories of race, culture, and education vital to the larger history of Montana.”
Decker Wegner began collecting material for the history of Lake County schools around 1997 and helped to form the Lake County Country School Historians in 1998. She generously credits the hundreds of people who came forward to offer material and time to assist in the research and assembly of both Volumes I and II. She and her husband, Gary Wegner, live in Condon.
The latest history book was published by the Flathead Reservation Area Historical Society and Stoneydale Press Publishing Company, Stevensville, MT, and sells for $29.95.
– Judy Shafter