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The Carlin Hunting Party is the answer for Week 279 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: Did not heed the warnings

Tuesday: One died.

Wednesday: They didn't know the area

Ralph Space in his book, The Clearwater Story, tells about this ill fated party of men.

In 1893, three young men set out to hunt elk in the Clearwater backcountry. They were William P. Carlin, 27, Vancouver; A.L.A. Himmelwright, 28, and John Henry Pierce, 30, Carlin's brother-in-law from White Plains, NY.

Martin C. Spencer, 27, was hired as they guide. He had six years of guiding experience. George Colgate, 52, Post Falls, was hired as their cook.

The party left Kendrick on Sept. 18 and journeyed through the Weippe and Browns Creek area. They were warned that they should make their stay short due to the danger of snow. They scorned the old timer's advise since they thought he considered them tenderfeet.

It had been a rainy fall and as they progressed, that continued. On the Lolo Trail they found six inches of snow. They reached the Lochsa River on Sept. 26. At the river, they found Jerry Johnson, a prospector and Ben Keeley, a trapper, building a cabin. Colgate was exhausted and his ankles swollen, but he insisted that he was just tired.

Johnson also warned the hunters to make their stay short due to possible snow. Again the warnings were unheeded. They thought Johnson wanted the hunting for himself. Hunting consisted of sneaking up on game at the hot springs where they had come to drink the mineralized water. The hunters lay in wait and killed several elk.

It continued to rain and their guide feared that they might get snowed in, but no one took him seriously. Colgate continued to get worse. Upon questioning they found that for some time he had used a catheter due to difficulty urinating and had not brought it with him. He was relieved of his work, but they felt an urgency to get him to a doctor. By Oct. 6 Colgate was in worse condition and Spencer urged that the party get out immediately and Pierce agreed. However, the other two decided that they had not had enough hunting.

A few days later on Oct. 10, six inches of snow fell in their camp and three to four feet on the ridge above. The gate had been closed on their escape. The group questioned Keeley about possible routes of escape, purchased his supplies and hired him to help them go downriver. However, Keeley helped finish the cabin which took four more precious days. Then they built a raft which anyone acqainted with the river knew was useless, but on Oct. 29 they set out on the Lochsa. Space says they made it about a mile when the rafter overturned and they were all wet, cold and miserable. Colgate was very sick.

The next day, they took the trophies of the elk back to the cabin and set out again on the river. They made 10 miles in 4 days. The supplies were almost exhausted, the river rapids were getting more difficult and Colgate was getting much worse.

By this time it was early November and the hunting party was supposed to be back home. Rescue parties were being organized. One group got to Lolo Hot Springs and tried to forge through to Lolo Pass, but made little progress in the deep snow. Another group set out from Weippe to Lolo Pass, but got turned back at Snowy Summit by deep snow. A third party started up the Middlefork and Lochsa rivers under the direction of Lt. Charles Elliott. They met the Carlin party near what is now known as Canyon Creek.

Meanwhile the Carlin party abandoned their rafts and Colgate started out afoot near the mouth of what is now Lost Creek. When the Carlin party reached safety, it caused a wave of rejoicing until it was found out that they had abandoned Colgate without furnishing him even food or a gun. The public turned back on them in anger.

Two parties went back in the spring in an attempt to find Colgate, but were unsuccessful. In midsummer 1894, Elliott led a party to the area and found some of Colgate's belongs, clothing and bones. Those were packed up to Colgate Hot Springs and buried. The grave was marked with a mound of stones. The grave now has a Forest Service marker, Space concluded.

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