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print your own money!

Coeur d'Alene Water Supply Company
Coeur d'Alene Water Supply Company

What do you do when its 1885, you’re in a mining camp in Idaho Territory, and you’re business venture has run out of funds before it could even begin?  Why, you print your own money of course!  Dr. K. Morgner of St. Louis devised that very same plan, printing notes payable in water which was to be supplied by his business, the Coeur d’Alene Water Supply Company.   Dr. Morgner intended to build a flume 6 feet wide and 4 feet deep and drawing from Prichard Creek, to supply placer miners, quartz mills, and other users needing water in the area near Murray, Idaho.   This was a rather optimistic goal, and appeared to be doomed from the start.

This worn copy of the bill endorsed by Dr. Morgner on April 8, 1885 was said to be accepted as legal tender in stores and bars.  Whether or not anyone actually received payment of this water is unknown.  By June of 1885, however, Dr. Morgner was rumored to be a fraud in the water supply business when he disappeared from the Coeur d’Alene mining district, his enterprise bankrupt and others quickly looking to buy out the improvements on the property.


Letter accompanying currency, MG 5526, Special Collections and Archives, University of Idaho Library, Moscow, Idaho.

Robert Wayne Smith, History of placer and quartz gold mining in the Coeur d’Alene District (Thesis (M.A.) - University of Idaho, 1932), 75.

“Ditch News,” Coeur d’Alene Sun (Murray, ID), June 25, 1885.

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