“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Orofino in Clearwater County, Idaho — The American West (Mountains)

Routes Through the Region

Routes Through the Region Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, August 16, 2020
1. Routes Through the Region Marker
Routes Through History

Travel through the rugged Clearwater River region has not always been on smooth, paved highways. Routes on land began as game trails, then foot paths which grew into horse paths. Many of these historic routes paid scant attention to the topography - they sought to avoid thick vegetative growth and hazardous slopes. Thus, the present-day highway along the river does not follow a time-worn path. Except in the broader valleys, routes along the rivers were impractical until modern road-building techniques were developed. Water travel was frequently used. Native Americans constructed rafts of timbers and canoes from burnt-out logs to navigate up and down the Clearwater and Snake Rivers.

Nimi'ipuu Seasonal Routes

The Nimi'ipuu or Nez Perce followed many trails. The availability of food influenced their semi-nomadic lifestyle. From winter camps along the Clearwater River, the people climbed to the rich camas-gathering fields of the Weippe and Camas Prairies. With the return of the salmon, the Nimi'ipuu would likewise return to the river. One of
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the popular fishing spots was near the mouth of the North Fork, four miles downstream from here.

"Road to Buffalo Country

An ancient trail system connected the lands of the Nimi'ipuu of this region with the peoples of the Plains. To the Nimi'ipuu, it was known as the "Road to Buffalo Country" and was used annually for bison hunts as well as trading with the Native Americans on the east side of the Rockies. Tribes such as the Salish knew this as "The Trail to the Nez Perce." The trails followed ridge lines of the mountains to avoid thick river vegetation.

Lewis & Clark's Routes

In 1805, the Corps of Discovery first came into this region over the Lolo trail. After struggling through harsh conditions and terrain of the Bitterroot Mountains, they descended onto the gentle prairie near Weippe. There they met the Nimi'ipuu. From the prairie, they proceeded on to the Clearwater River near present-day Orofino. From Canoe Camp, the remainder of their western route was on the water. On the Expedition's return in the spring of 1806, they found it easier to follow overland trails rather than fight against the river. Thus, the Corps passed to the south of here on their way to Long Camp at Kamiah.

Routes of Miners & Suppliers

When gold was discovered
Routes Through the Region Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, August 16, 2020
2. Routes Through the Region Marker
in the Pierce area in 1860, it prompted the first gold rush in what was to become Idaho. The miners flocked to this area by foot or on horseback and probably would have crawled if they had to. Supplies to feed and equip the miners came up the Snake River to Lewiston by steamboat. Sturdy horse-drawn wagons and pack teams moved the goods upstream from here to the mining camps. Those routes grew into our present-day highways.

Railroad Routes

When the gold played out, loggers found a new sources of wealth: timber. The Clearwater region had vast stands of majestic trees ready to be cut to meet the construction needs of the developing towns from here to Portland. For many years, logs were floated down the rivers each spring in massive log drives to mills in Lewiston. Construction of the railroad enabled logs and other products to be transported in and out of the area in all seasons.
Erected by Idaho Governor's Lewis & Clark Committee.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Native AmericansRailroads & StreetcarsRoads & VehiclesWaterways & Vessels.
Location. 46° 28.86′ N, 116° 15.562′ W. Marker is in Orofino, Idaho, in Clearwater County. Marker can be
Clearwater Crossing image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, August 17, 2020
3. Clearwater Crossing
reached from Riverside Avenue near Dent Bridge Road / Brown Avenue, on the left when traveling north. The marker is located near the entrance to Clearwater Crossing RV Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 500 Riverside Avenue, Orofino ID 83544, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. River Crossing Over Time (here, next to this marker); Dworshak Dam (approx. 3.2 miles away); Indian Fishing Rock (approx. 3.3 miles away); Lewis and Clark (approx. 3.3 miles away); Canoe Building Site (approx. 3.6 miles away); Ahsakha Village Site (approx. 3.6 miles away); 1804-1806 Corps of Discovery (approx. 3.7 miles away); Pit House Village (approx. 3.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Orofino.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 7, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 7, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 88 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on November 7, 2020, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.

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May. 28, 2023