Idaho's Old Mission State Park is home to Idaho's
oldest building, the Sacred Heart Mission church
near the town of Cataldo. Jesuit priests were
invited to the area by the Coeur D'Alene tribe in
the 1840s. Between 1850 and 1853 the community
built this unique mission church. This sturdy
building with one foot thick walls was made by
wattle and daub construction out of hand-hewn
logs, saplings, woven grass, and mud. The interior
was decorated in original folk art with the few
materials on hand - painted newspaper, cloth, and
tin cans - to mimic the marble and chandeliers
found in a European cathedral.
What you will find in the park is a small museum in
the visitors center that explains the history of the
tribe and the site, the mission church itself, and
nearby a house once occupied by the Jesuits.
We found this place by just following a roadside
marker on the spur of the moment. It's fun to
deviate from your itinerary and allow unstructured
time for exploring a new area.
Idaho State Parks
by Bob Kelly