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Elk River is the answer for Week 215 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: Homesteaded in the late 1890s.

Tuesday: Electricity was key for growth

Wednesday: It had a hospital.

Thursday: 1,300 people called it home at one point

Friday: It had a school and a bank, among other facilities.

Saturday: Lewiston's new mill started its decline.

According to information on the Elk River Lodge web site, Willard Trumbell homesteaded the present day site of Elk River in 1897.

Potlatch Lumber Company purchased the homestead in 1909 and started the first all electric sawmill in the country .in 1910. The Milwaukee and Puget Sound Railroad extended its line from Bovill to Elk River at the same time.

The name was changes to Elk River from Trumbell and in 1911 the fast growing town had 1,300 residents. Between 1911 and 1930 about 40 businesses were operating in town, representing about every kind of trade. By 1912, the town had a new school, a waterworks system, graded streets, electricity, board sidewalks and a hospital. There was also some mining in the surrounding area.

Elk River began to decline when a newer and bigger sawmill was built in Lewiston in 1927. It took a second blow in 1929 when blister rust attacked the white pine trees. The Great Depression hit the area in the 1930s. This along with other problems affecting the lumber industry, caused closure of the sawmill in April of 1931. The following year, the planer mill was shut down.

By 1933, with most of the employment opportunities eliminated; the bank closed and houses were moved out of town. Many of the homes sold for as little as $15. The population declined to around 400. Today's population is about 200 and its outdoor receation oppportunities draw visitors in all seasons.

Check the web site at: to learn more about Elk River and the Elk River Lodge.

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Window on the Clearwater
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Orofino, ID 83544
Fax: 208-476-3407