Lewiston, Idaho

Trip Start Apr 12, 1992
Trip End Jun 15, 1992

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Flag of United States  , Idaho
Thursday, May 28, 1992

Most people are honest.
Lewiston, Idaho
Warm, clear
I followed US-195 south to Colton and Uniontown. Local people told me they received considerably less snowfall last winter than is normal for the area, so water run-off from the nearby mountains this spring has been curtailed severely. Also, rainfall this spring has not been up to par. Consequently there is a serious draught over the entire area. A sign on a local main street pled "Think Rain".

Nearing Lewiston I stopped at a small cafe in the little town of Colfax. The waitress was a very nice elderly lady, who moved very slowly, as if in pain. She shared the local newspaper with me, kept my coffee cup filled with excellent brew, melted a slab of real butter on a bear claw pastry and charged me $1.08 including tax. It seemed like I was back in 1940.

I crossed into north-central Idaho, Lewis and Clark country. This pair of explorers and Chief Joseph, Sacajaewa and the Nez Perce Indians dominate local history. Roadside historical markers, place and business names, etc. refer repeatedly to these well known heroes. The largest town in the area is Lewiston, named in honor of one of the famed explorers.

Old campsite remains have been discovered that indicate primitive tribes were following game herds in this area 13,000 years ago. The Lewis and Clark expedition were the first Europeans in the area. They wintered with the Nez Perce on their famed trek of exploration in 1805. The era of the mountain men, 1808 to 1840, lasted just long enough to remove most of the beaver.

A few settlers came, not many remained. Most pushed on south or west to land better suited for crops. In 1860 gold was discovered a ways north of here in Orifino Creek, followed by a gold strike on Grimes Creek in Boise Ridge.The rush of new people led to territorial status for Idaho followed by statehood in 1890. The first capital was here in Lewiston. Shortly afterward the capital was moved to Boise. Meanwhile silver was discovered in the Coeur d'Alene mountains north near Spokane. The resulting large, stable mining industry triggered an expansion of lumbering, ranching and agriculture all across the new state.

The border line between Washington and Idaho near Lewiston reinforces my earlier observation that political boundaries tend to follow geographic features. US-195 south from Pullman, Washington hardly crosses into Idaho before encountering the Snake Eiver. The Snake establishes much of the border for western Idaho.

From atop Lewiston Hill, a 2000' bluff, there is a sweeping panoramic view south across the city of Livingston. The city is tucked into the juncture of the Clearwater and Snake rivers. The annual "I Made the Grade" bicycle hill climb takes place here.

The Snake emerges from the south end of Hell's Canyon, From the east the Clearwater flows out of the Nez Perce Reservation and the Clearwater Mountains. At this location both streams are deceptively placid, Only a few miles upstream the Snake has cut between rock formations to form a magnificent gorge. Rock bluffs and mountains loom up to 9300 feet above thundering white water rapids separated by quiet deep water pools.

I looked around downtown Lewiston long enough to get my bearings and replenish my stock of food and drink. A leather vest in a shopping center display window caught my eye. It turned out they had my size. It was too expensive but I bought it anyway. When I wear that vest I look just as tough as John Wayne. Maybe I can learn to walk like him.

I had the afternoon free so I decided to follow Idaho highway P-2, exploring the area south of town, out around Waha on a plateau east of the Snake River. It consists mostly of broad stretches of grassland. Late afternoon I returned to Hell's Gate Park on the east bank of the Snake River.

Nearby, at the Beamer Company office I booked passage on a jet-boat which runs the Snake River rapids for 100 miles upstream (south) through Hell's Canyon almost to Hell's Canyon Dam. The river passes through spectacular rapids and scenery. Departure time is 7:00 a.m. tomorrow (Friday) for an all day round trip.
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