“Agriculture in Boundary County,” panel 2 displays a General Soils Map that color codes soil associations throughout the County, and is used to compare and define differences of farmable lands in Boundary County. “The Nile of the North,” as the Kootenai River Valley has been called, and “God’s Country,” a reference to the Bench Lands is compared in terms of soil fertility, early farming and current farming practices.
The valley soils are rich due to the annual flooding that occurred before the drainage ditches and the Libby Dam were in place. As the flood waters receded, wild grass was cut for hay, however some of the early crops like timothy and clover were often severely damaged by standing water. Livestock were grazed on Valley Land as cattle ranches and dairy farms began to appear. Orchards were planted on the valley slopes. Today dikes and drainage ditches protect the grains as well as other specialty crops grown in The Valley.
The bench land, “God’s Country,” is made up of soil which was less productive and moisture deficient, not having the advantage of fertility from the annual flooding. Logging created what was known as cutover lands that became suitable for livestock pasture and dairy farming. “Stump Ranches,” as these cutover farms were called can still be seen in some areas. Today alfalfa, small grains, and nursery trees as well as some other specialty crops are grown on “The Bench.” The panel also displays photos illustrating the comparison of the land as well as some of the farming past and present.