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Potlatch is a city in the northwest United States, located in north central Idaho in Latah County, about six miles (10 km) east of the border with Washington. On the Palouse north of Moscow, it is served by State Highway 6, and bordered on the northeast by the small community of Onaway. The population of Potlatch was 804 at the 2010 census.
In 1903, Frederick Weyerhaeuser incorporated the Potlatch Lumber Company (eventually becoming the Potlatch Corporation), naming his son Charles as the President. The directors of the company selected Canadian lumberman William Deary to build a mill somewhere within the company's timber holdings. The townsite was chosen because of proximity to the company's large holdings of Western White Pine on the Palouse River. Potlatch was chosen as the mill site, and in 1904, crews working under W.A. Wilkinson of Minnesota began constructing what would be the largest white pine sawmill in the world.
Because of the remote placement of the mill, Potlatch was built as a company town to provide housing and commerce for the mill. A total of 143 houses were built in 1906, with 58 more built the following year; other building constructed during that period include boarding houses, an ice house, a Catholic church, hotel, school, and general store.
The company developed and ran Potlatch on a model mostly patterned after that used by Pullman Company for its company town in Illinois. It provide police and fire protection, a school, churches, a hospital, an inexpensive company store, and recreational amenities. It banned prostitution, prohibited alcohol, and encouraged its workers to marry by allowing only married couples to rent the houses it owned.
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