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Idaho Destinations: Cataldo

Cataldo-- Twenty-three miles east of Coeur D'Alene, stands the oldest building in Idaho. Built by Jesuit Priests and Coeur D'Alene tribal members in 1853, it still stands on the bluffs above the Coeur D'Alene river.

In 1831, the Indians heard of the white man's Book of Heaven and wanted to learn more. Local tribes sent six men to St. Louis but due to hardships, just four arrived. In 1842, Father Pierre-Jean De Smet accepted the mission call and helped pick the spot for the mission.

In 1850, Italian Jesuit missionary Antonio Ravalli started construction and designed the mission building. He deliberately employed the Indian people, so they would feel part of the new church. Workers used wooden pegs in the building, its called the wattle and daub method and crews finished the project in just three years without using a single nail.

The mission was named the Coeur d'Alene's Old Mission State Park by the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. The nearest town to the mission site is Cataldo and it is right on the river. The mission was an important crossroad and supply center for traders, settlers, and miners. But also serving as a port for boats heading up the Coeur d'Alene River.

The site is just a 30-minute drive from Coeur D'Alene, features a museum and interpretive center. It's a National Heritage site and manned by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and the perfect spot for a summer picnic.