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About Benewah County

Established January 23, 1915 Benewah County is located in the Panhandle of Idaho and has a population of 9,530.  The county seat is located in St Maries.

How Benewah County received it's name has been a cause for debate.  In one account, the name of Benewah County is said to be the result of a misspelling of the name of an Indian man baptized with the French name "Benoit", which English speakers pronounced and spelled as "Benwah". The spelling of the county name "Benewah" is said to be the result of a typographical error somewhere along the line.  Others account that the French pronunciation of the name "Benoit" was just too difficult, and another syllable eventually crept in.  

Benewah County is home to numerous communities.  The county seat, St Maries, was established by Joseph Fisher who received an appointment as postmaster and established a general merchandise store.  Later along with his brothers, Fisher put up the first sawmill in St Maries.  The steamboat era and the construction of the Milwaukee railroad helped other communities like St. Joe become a thriving little city with sawmills, stores, hotels, saloons and a hospital.

Homesteaders also built up the communities of Santa, Emida, and Fernwood. Settlers were also building on the western part of the county where the
communities of Sanders and Tensed appeared outside the Indian Mission town of DeSmet, and Plummer grew to be second in population to St Maries.

Benewah County is home to two State Parks - Heyburn State Park (Idaho's oldest park) and Mary Minerva McCroskey Memorial State Park.  Outdoor enthusiasts will also enjoy the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene's which is the longest paved bike path in the United States. Spanning 73 miles, the trail originates in Plummer and travels east across the county through Heyburn State Park, over Chatcolet Lake and reaches Mullen Idaho.