(From A Grass Roots Tribute: The Story of Bonner Montana, 1976.)
After returning from the Alaska gold rush, Baptieste Poitras and Cyrille "Bud" Thibodeau purchased much of what is now the settlement of Pinegrove. Many people believe the settlement was named after the Pine family who settled there, but most think it was because of the many large pine trees in the area which were eventually logged by the Zauggs to make good farming land.
At one time Bud Thibodeau built a large two-story home (on the corner west of the Club Chateau). The home burned down, but some outbuildings remain. Reportedly, rattlesnakes were numerous in this area, but the Thibodeaus raised pigs, which destroyed the snakes. In later years, Mr. and Mrs. Thibodeau and their son Archie lived in the farmhouse at the end of the land just west of the McDonald home.
In 1900, Ben Soucie, who had arrived earlier from New Brunswick, Canada, purchased land from Thibodeau and built his home on the bench above the Clark's Fork, close to the Greils' current residence. Other early settlers were Antone Beaulieu (his place later became the Art Warwood residence); Paul LaGus, a well known bootlegger (he lived next door to the present Ray Hebert home); Augusta Clevette (who built the house that Joe Hebert lives in behind the Club Chateau); Frank Beaulieu (V. I. McDonald home); and Ed Martin (in the old Therriault home).
In the late 1880s, Andy Vote homesteaded what is commonly called the Bandmann Place, across the river and west of Pinegrove. Mr. Vote did not want to settle there, so in 1886, he sold his option to Jacob Rehder, who "proved up" on the homestead and planted MacIntosh apples. (Mr. Rehder had an ongoing argument with Mr. Bass from the Bitterroot as to who started the first MacIntosh trees in Missoula.) In 1888, Mr. Rehder sold the place to Daniel Bandmann, a great Shakespeare tragedian who rehearsed his plays and recitations on the top floor of a remodeled livery stable at the ranch. Mr. Bandmann died in 1905, and in 1929, Mrs. Bandmann offered to sell the ranch to Arnold Zaugg for $10,000. However, the mortgage was overdue, and the bank took possession instead. The land is still owned by the bank.
A number of businesses have operated in Pinegrove over the years. One of the first was Beadle and Wagner's slaughterhouse, which supplied meat for their butcher shop in Milltown from 1912 to 1928. The slaughterhouse was located near the Clark Fork River (near the present-day Evans residence), and the surrounding land was used for pasture. Later, the Clemsonsons purchased the land, and in 1961 several acres were sold to Archie Cram, who currently runs A & C Wrecking, an auto salvage business. The Quonset Building, located nearby and owned by Leonard Lyman, is used for auctions, as a Christmas tree lot, and is currently occupied by Medicine Bow Motors, a business that restores old cars.
Western Park was located in the pine trees just east of A & C Wrecking. Sponsored by the Western Lumber Company, the open-air park was used for family or company picnics, Indian pow wows, and amateur boxing matches, among other things. The streetcar had a special coach, the picnic car, which was used to bring families out from Missoula. The car, which had no windows, sometimes made several trips to Missoula to bring everyone who wanted to visit.
The Grizzly Inn was a "speakeasy" with a gas pump out front, located west of the Club Chateau, that operated in the late 1920s and early 1930s. For a short time in the 1930s, Harry Bishop owned and operated the Blue Moon, an open air dance pavilion where visitors brought their own liquor and refreshments and local groups provided music. It was located approximately one block behind the Club Chateau.
In about 1930 Lou Quinlan purchased land from Arnold Zaugg and built his home along old Highway 10, just east of the Club Chateau. In 1941 he started Quinlan's, a grocery store and butcher shop with delivery service; he also owned the Missoula Meat Company in Missoula. In 1946 Nevil Quinlan started a lunch counter called the Dew Drop. George Buckhouse also operated this business for two or three years, and in 1950 it was converted to the "Copper Shop" which sold copper souvenirs. When the freeway came through, business declined, so the store and copper shop buildings were converted to apartments.
Bill Soucie, son of Ben Soucie, married and built his home near family in Pinegrove, where he operated the Soucie Cabinet Shop from 1937 to 1945. Mr. Soucie was an excellent carpenter and helped with the construction of the present Catholic Church.
Club Chateau was originally named the Ring Club and was opened by Richie, Alphonse, Roland, and Edmond Fontaine in 1942. Richie Fontaine had retired from the life of a professional boxer, which at one time took him to Madison Square Gardens, and he used the building (which had been built earlier) for working out. The Ring was operated as a nightclub by the Fontaine family until Gib Marchildon purchased it in 1947 and renamed it the Club Chateau. After Gib's death in about 1954, Ralph Marchildon took over; he is still the owner today.
Two small sawmills, both owned by the Fontaine brothers, operated in Pinegrove for a short time. One was located just west of Club Chateau and was working in 1936; the other mill operated in the late 1940s and early 1950s about half a block behind the Club Chateau. The Fontaine Machine Shop building is located just behind the Club Chateau. Armond Fontaine had been doing machine and lathe work since the 1930s and built this shop in 1947. He started doing business on a part time basis, and in 1964 he left his job at Intermountain Lumber Company to work full time in his shop. He is still in business and does custom machine work.
Just a block behind the Club Chateau, Ted Nyquest operates a rental storage building called Nyquest Storage as well as several apartments. He bought this complex, his home, and several other buildings from Gay Anderson in 1967. Mr. Anderson had owned the property for some time, and after losing the buildings to a fire in 1943, he rebuilt and sold chickens and eggs to local cafes.
Ralph Yule came to Missoula in 1946 and moved to Pinegrove in 1948. He began running the shop for Eino Wiemer's garage in Milltown in 1951, and 13 years later he leased a portion of Wiemer's shop and started an auto repair business. In 1971 he purchased an acre of ground along Highway 10, east of the Club Chateau, from Arnold Case. He now operates his auto repair business, the Milltown Garage, in a new shop at that location.
In 1954 Fred Dowd built a truck shop just east of the Club Chateau and called it the Rio Montana. In 1957 Clyde Whitman and Tom White moved their business, Brian Motors (which Lawson Brian started in Missoula in 1951), into the Rio Montana building. They expanded in 1960 and currently service all types of trucks.
The Greils came to Missoula in 1962 from Colorado. In 1964 they purchased 11 acres along the Clark Fork River from Art Warwood, who had lived there for 41 years. Mr. Greil now operates logging and road building business, and the family owns a small trailer court at the edge of their property, bordering Highway 10.
Several other trailer court businesses are located in Pinegrove. Al Baide owns the Tamarac Trailer Court located along Highway 10, just west of the Club Chateau. The court was started in 1965 and enlarged in 1968. Greenwood Court is owned by V. I. McDonald and was started in 1965. It is located west of the Club Chateau, along Highway No. 10. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Johnson own Circle J Trailer Court, which is located just east of the rifle range. Mr. Johnson purchased several acres from the Halls and started the court in 1973.
Yochim Transport is owned by John Yochim and his son Dan and was started in 1972, when Mr. Yohim received a contract to deliver mail from the Missoula Post Office to the airport. Mr. Yochim now has contracts for nine routes, which include delivery of mail from Missoula to Seeley Lake, Phillipsburg, Corvallis, and other small towns.
--written by Nancy Fontaine