IDAHO CITY, ID — At one time Idaho City was one of the largest communities in the Northwest. It was a rough and tough mining town where the long arm of the law in short supply. But high on the hill over-looking the town was a place where people could come and find a little bit of peace. Patrick Minto is a long time parishioner says it was actually the first permanent Catholic church for Europeans in Idaho.
"You can imagine the den of iniquity that fifteen thousand miners and liquor and no police and a lawless western environment would be."
Built during the Civil War, St. Joseph's Catholic Church is still standing and that's after a fire, off and on repair work, some more complicated than others and of course surviving the wild, wild, west. The Arch Bishop for the region took notice and quickly dispatched not one, but two priests to the mountain town. Minto says the two definitely had their work cut out for them. Inside the church, there are oil paintings over one hundred years old and pews made from Idaho wood, but Minto adds that not everything is original.
"Part of the Bi-Centennial in 1976 they actually raised the entire structure up and put it on a concrete bed foundation for the first time since it was ever built. At that time they discovered a whole bunch of stuff left under the structure some of which dated from the 1867 fire."
And if you look closely, the side of the church on the parking lot side the top board seems to disappear underneath the awning. Minto explains.
"The reason for that is because this side is eleven and a half high, that corner of the structure is eleven."
Not perfect, but for over one hundred fifty years, St. Joseph's Catholic Church has offered a place for people to find hope in an imperfect world.