Idaho’s Smallest State Park Has A Big Surprise
We are in a society that is obsessed with size. We upgrade our lunch to super-size; we want to live in a bigger house, drive a bigger car, sleep in a bigger bed, and watch the game on a bigger TV. The other end of the spectrum is also popular. Some people want to live in a tiny house with a dog that fits into their little purse. They want to drive a little Prius and talk on their tiny phone. All of this begs the age-old question: Does size matter? Can big fun come in a small package?
When it comes to State Parks, a blogger named Philip Sites tried to find the smallest in each state. He found that the smallest in the country depends on what you consider a State Park. Technically, there is a State Park in Washington, D.C., the smallest in the country. It's so small that they only recently named it "French Street Park." It is 0.123 acres and sits at the corner of 10th and French Street, in case you want to visit.
Since Washington D.C. isn't a state but a District, we'll remove the unnamed park from the discussion. The smallest State Park in the country deserves to have a name. The next smallest is much closer to home in Washington State. It's Willie Keil's Grave State Park, which is .34 acres. The park is an eight-hour drive from Boise and, as expected, is the site of Willie Keil's grave. Wille was a 19-year-old pioneer who died just before leaving his hometown of Bethel, Missouri, in 1855. His father, who promised to take him west on the Oregon Trail, put his body in a barrel of whiskey and buried him at this spot off of what is today Highway 6, just five miles east of Raymond, Washington. Interestingly, he considered Boise as a grave site. Today, Willie is known as "The Pickled Pioneer" since they preserved his body in whiskey.
Idaho's smallest State Park is also the home of Idaho's oldest building. Old Mission State Park in Couer d'Alene is 18 acres. Catholic missionaries and members of the Couer d'Alene Tribe built The Mission of the Sacred Heart between 1850 and 1853. The church is beautiful and is a popular tourist stop, along with the restored Parish House and cemetery. It is also a popular place for weddings.