Company History

“GOLD!”“GOLD!” “GOLD!” “GOLD!” “GOLD!”

The cry of “Gold” first resounded in the Coeur d'Alene Mountains of Northern Idaho in the early 1880's and in a matter of weeks claims were spotting the area and mining camps with names like Eagle City, Murray and Pritchard were booming.  It was then that James R. Marks and Billy Hart felt there was a better way of making a living than grubbing for gold in their placer diggings up Buckskin Gulch.  In 1884 on a little Clapboard building in Murray they hung a sign - “J.R. Marks and Co.” which became the area’s first mine supply house selling retail hardware and metals (copper, tin and sheet ironware) to the miners and prospectors. The ensuing years saw all the events common to mining districts:  romance, heartaches, labor disputes, recessions, booms, fortunes made and fortunes lost.  The cast included many famous names: Calamity Jane, Clarence Darrow, “Big Bill” Haywood, Eugene Debs, Wyatt Earp and Harry Orchard, to name a few.

While exhausting the gold, vast deposits of silver, lead and zinc were uncovered.  Mining camps died and were replaced by others.  The lone miner gave way to large, well-capitalized, underground mining operations as the world famous Coeur d’Alene Mining District came into being.

Our Company kept pace with the times.  At one point prior to 1890 we had stores in five camps within the Coeur d’Alene Mining District.  Our headquarters moved with the markets we served.  From Murray we moved headquarters to Wallace, Idaho, heart of the “Silver Valley”, then to Spokane in 1889, helping rebuild the city after the great fire, and then back to Wallace in 1892 after their great fire. Eventually, we grew and expanded a metal service and processing center, a hardware wholesaler, and we became a world-renowned mining equipment manufacturer.  We added a foundry in 1913 for mining and mill castings and finally, in 1966, when our market base expanded to serve other industries as customers, we moved back to Spokane, Washington.  We now have grown to be among the largest single building metal service centers between Minneapolis and Seattle.  The last move to Spokane allowed us to become a bridge builder.  The largest (3,000 tons) was the AISI prize winning, “Most Beautiful Long Span”, the KOOCANUSA Bridge across the Libby Reservoir completed in 1971.  Our last bridge across Dworshak Reservoir, on the Clearwater was completed in 1972.  We now have grown to be among the largest single building metal service centers between Minneapolis and Seattle and there is still more to come, stay tuned.

From the beginning we went through several name changes: J. R. Marks and Company, Holley Mason & Marks, The Coeur d’Alene Hardware Co., The Coeur d’Alene Hardware and Foundry Co.  And finally in 1960  “The Coeur d’Alenes Company” with remembrance of the “Coeur d’Alenes Mountains” and in fitting memory with gratitude of the Indians, French trappers, prospectors, miners, owners and mine companies that made the name famous.  In 2001 we added our present doing business label to cover the Company’s inclusion of Aluminum to the Tin, Copper, Sheet-Ironware (steel) we started with in 1884 along with the processing expertise added in the intervening 117 years.  Now 129 years later we are well into the second quarter of our second century of business in the Metals Industry.