Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Remembering the Tiger Hotel

Growing up, my grandfather told me stories about the town of Burke. How he worked at the mine, the little shop that would sell sandwiches to miners on their way to work, and the pool where all the kids would swim in the summer.

Once he told me about a hotel that used to be there. He had never seen it with his own eyes because it was demolished before he was born, however, his mom and dad knew of it very well and told him many stories.

I still remember the excitement I felt hearing these stories of a grand hotel in Burke — somewhere I had never thought it would be.

The Tiger Hotel was initially built in 1896 with 150 rooms in a three-floor frame style, spreading nearly through the width of the canyon. It was constructed with Canyon Creek, a tributary of the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River, and the Northern Pacific Railroad going directly through the lobby.

The hotel was named after the Tiger-Poorman Mine that was roughly half a mile east of Burke. In 1897, the building sustained damage from a grease fire in the kitchen, which before the fire would have roughly fed 1,200 meals daily.

The hotel's main purpose was to arrange meals and housing for miners in the area. Though owned by private individuals, it operated under the mutual management of several large mining companies in the area. Occasionally, an ephemeral traveler was accommodated if there was a room available. Often local families would eat at the hotel, finding the food both flavorful and cost-effective.

The devastating fire of 1923 ravaged the town of Burke, including the hotel. The 1927 Sanborn map of Burke showed the Tiger Hotel distinctly rebuilt into two separate buildings, the first of which contained the rooms and the lobby, as well as a new fourth floor adding 14 single and 18 double rooms. The second building became home to the dining room, kitchen and bakeshop.

In 1942, despite the inimical wartime atmosphere, the owners of the Tiger Hotel held continuous intentions to maintain a superb standard of boarding conditions. In 1944, with three-fourths of the partners deceased, and the operation deteriorating to the point where a profit could no longer be made, the partnership was dissolved. Rather than shut down the hotel, Mr. Hanley of Star Mines purchased the entirety of the hotel’s franchise for $12,000.

In April 1944, the Sullivan Mining Company took over the Tiger Hotel. Before its destruction, the hotel had become an apartment building housing children who thought it was immensely amusing to have a train running through their homes.

The hotel was sold to Ed Woods of Osburn, who tore down the remarkable hotel in 1954 due to vandalization and defacement, as well as the boundless risk of fire.

If I could travel back to this time and experience the majesty of this hotel, be a patron walking among its halls, I would be elated. To be a boisterous child feeling the rumble of the train underneath my house, or to see a lively creek running through the building is something I can only dream of.