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Join us for Week 467 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: Was a formidable obstacle

Tuesday: Has had several names

Wednesday: Has been used in different ways

Thursday: Is easier now

Friday: There is slick deep mud when it is wet.

Saturday: Traveled for hundred, maybe thousands of years by the famous and the unknown

The Lolo Trail, Lewis Clark Trail and the travel route known by other names connects Lolo Montana to Weippe. However the it has had different and beginnings and ends from time to time as it has been used by different groups of people.

Indians traveled the Lolo Trail before the coming of the white men. The Nez Perce name for the route is Khusahna Ishkit or buffalo trail, according to The Clearwater Story. It was one of the two main routes of travel for the Nez Perce to the buffalo herds in Montana and Wyoming. The other route was further south and became known as the Southern Nez Perce Trail and later the Nez Perce Trail.

Some writers say that the trail is thousands of years old. However, the author, Ralph Space, from his research feels it was only a few hundred years old after the Indians near it got horses, about 1700 A.D. One of the old sections goes from Lolo to Wendover Creek. Space feels that was used by the Salish Indians to travel to the salmon fishing around where the Powell Ranger Station is now.

It was a formidable obstacle to early explorers, trappers, hunters and solidiers. It is often described as 'precipituous, boulder strewn and over high rugged mountains'. It is none of these. The highest point on the trail is 7,035 feet at Indian Post Office, which is not high as mountains go. Boulders are rare and Space says there is not a single cliff to be seen along the route. However, there are several reasons that it is a difficult route, such as dense timber with frequent downed trees, snow comes early and melts late, there is littel game along the trail and fourth, the ridge the trail follows is not a hogback, but a series of mountains and deep saddles. Fifth, the area has deep, fertile soil that becomes slick and deep mud when wet.

It was designated a National Historical Landmark in 1965. It is now the Lolo Motorway.

To see more, check out Space's publication, The Clearwater Story.

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Window on the Clearwater
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Orofino, ID 83544
Orofino 476 0733
Fax: 208-476-4140