Opinion: Remembering Duke

| October 7, 2020 12:05 AM

North Fork Views by Larry Wilson

Just as the sun was about to peak over the mountains on Friday morning the North Fork lost an icon. Duke Hoiland, 87, passed over the Great Divide. Duke and Naomi Hoiland became year-round North Forkers in 1993 but their roots in the North Fork were in place long before that.

In the years prior to 1993 Duke and the family began to build what became the Hoiland North Fork home. First was the beautiful log house. The house was built of logs from their own property. Also from the property was all of the lumber for framing, floors, roof etc. All sawed on the Mickey Mouse saw mill and planed on Dukes’ little planer. The same was true of all the buildings that were added with the passage of time.

Duke always said that work on the property was more like playing than working. This was because they focused on family. Naomi in the kitchen with fantastic meals featuring her famous pancakes and sticky buns. Duke with his skills in the woodshop, creations which made life on the North Fork easier and more fun-- from wooden rifles and treehouses for young grandsons to the gun room, laundry/showerhouse, grandkids’ dorm, two-car garage and water system.

Hoiland’s kids and grandkids were all a part of and enjoyed this Trail Creek paradise and that added to the enjoyment of Duke and Naomi.

They were also active community members and leaders serving as officers of the Landowners Association for many years. During this period Duke was in charge of multiple improvements and maintenance jobs at Sondreson Hall (the Community Center). Most visible improvement is the woodshed that Duke built in his woodshop on Trail Creek, transported in pieces to the hall and set up behind the hall where it remains today.

But that is not all of Duke’s contributions.

Duke became an expert on the old Kutenai Trail that led from the Eureka area down Trail Creek where the Indians traveled east to hunt bison.

Every year Duke would lead groups to view the remnants of that trail which are still visible today. He continued this even while fighting the illness that eventually killed him. His last tour was in 2019 and I wonder if anyone will be able to continue his efforts to keep Native American history alive.