An Idaho Mystery: William Vane - Old Town, ID
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 48° 11.139 W 117° 01.832
11U E 497730 N 5336935
Quick Description: In Rotary Park on the Right Bank of the Pend Oreille River in Old Town, ID are two kiosks containing no less than ten historical markers. This one tells of the mysterious man named
Location: Idaho, United States
Date Posted: 3/25/2015 5:00:23 PM
Waymark Code: WMNJYN
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member muddawber
Views: 1

Long Description:
Family Man, Gang Boss, Justice of the Peace

A Mysterious Man Steps off the Stage
If you could travel back in time to 1915 and ask the folks living not far from where you are now standing about Mr. William Vane, they may have described him as a: businessman, entrepreneur, family man, robber, gang boss, Justice of the Peace, and convicted felon. Puzzled? Well, so were the citizens here in what is now present day Oldtown, Idaho. From the moment the 30-year old William Vane stepped off the Newport Stage in the 1890s, mystery surrounded him. No one knew where he came from or where he was born.

Controversy and Court Cases
Vane appeared in Idaho at the time when northern Idaho's forests held enormous timber wealth. At that time, shipping wood products to market by slow riverboat and freight wagon was unprofitable for the fledging timber industry. Vane realized a profitable business opportunity with the coming of the Great Northern Railroad to Idaho. William Vane, in a questionable business transaction in 1893, acquired ownership of nearly the entire town of Newport, Idaho. Beginning with this transaction, controversy followed Vane his entire life. Vane's own doings would ignite a fire storm of court battles that eventually entangled the U.S., Idaho and Washington Supreme Courts.

A Wealthy Businessman with No Limits
William Vane's "no-limits" business attitude made him a wealthy man. As he profited handsomely from business deals with the Great Northern Railroad, freight trains travelling to Spokane, Washington were losing money from train robberies. The Seattle Daily Times reported that a man arrested for selling stolen goods confessed that he had purchased them from William Vane. The prosecuting attorney charged Vane with possession of stolen property. True to his nature, Vane then in turn sued the newspaper for defamation of character demanding $250,000.

A Mysterious Death
In a turn of faith, William Vane established the first hospital in town with the understanding of providing transportation for injured railroad workers. Vane also was appointed Justice of the Peace. On the other hand, throughout his life, Vane walked a thin line between truthfulness and suspicion. Awaiting trial, Vane was released on a $12,000 security bond. Possibly trying to avoid prison time, and to profit from the bond at the same time, Vane's last business deal was to fake his death. Promising an accomplice $2,000 of bond money, the accomplice claimed Vane had drowned in a boating accident while crossing the river. During the investigation, William Vane was located hiding in a cabin on the Kalispel Reservation. Arrested and taken to the Newport Jail, Vane was found the next morning partly conscious, dying of strychnine poisoning. Did he try suicide? Did someone poison him? We'll never know. Vane's mysterious death along with his notorious life has today made William Vane one of Idaho's most intriguing legends.
From the History Marker

Photo goes Here

Marker Name: An Idaho Mystery: William Vane

Marker Type: City

Marker Text:
See Above


County: Bonner

City: Old Town

Date Dedicated: 2008

Group Responsible for Placement: Rotarians

Marker Number: Not listed

Web link(s) for additional information: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
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