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Clearwater County, Idaho

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Please add profiles of those who were born, lived or died in Clearwater County, Idaho.

Official Website


The Clearwater River and Lolo Pass, in the southeast corner of the county, were made famous by the exploration of Lewis and Clark in the early 19th century. Following an arduous trek through the Bitterroot Mountains, suffering through a mid-September snowstorm and near starvation, the Corps of Discovery expedition camped with the Nez Perce tribe on the Weippe Prairie outside of present-day Weippe in 1805. With the assistance of the Nez Perce, the expedition recuperated and constructed burned-out canoes at Canoe Camp in October 1805 and then paddled down the Clearwater, Snake, and Columbia rivers and met the Pacific Ocean a month later at present-day Astoria, Oregon.

Elias D. Pierce and Wilbur F. Bassett made the first discovery of gold in Idaho, on Orofino Creek (Canal Gulch) in 1860, 1 mile north of present day Pierce.

Until 1904, Clearwater County was part of Shoshone County to the north. It was annexed by Nez Perce County for several years and then was established as a new county in 1911. The original county seat of Shoshone County was Pierce, in today's Clearwater County. It was the first gold rush area of present day Idaho (then Washington Territory) in 1860 and was made the county seat of a vast Shoshone County in 1861, two years prior to the establishment of the Idaho Territory. When the Silver Valley population rose dramatically in the 1880s, the seat was moved to Murray in 1884 (and to Wallace in 1898) to better serve the majority of the county's population. The population of the southern area increased with homesteading in the Weippe area in the late 1890s. The vast distance and time required for travel to Wallace from the Clearwater River area prompted the move of the southern portion to Nez Perce County.

Adjacent Counties

Cities & Communities

  • Ahsahka
  • Cardiff
  • Cavendish
  • Dent
  • Elk River
  • Fraser
  • Grangemont
  • Greer
  • Headquarters
  • Hollywood
  • Judge Town
  • Konkolville
  • Moose City
  • Orofino (County Seat)
  • Pierce
  • Teakean
  • Weippe



Clearwater National Forest (part)

Nez Perce National Park (part)

St. Joe National Forest (part)

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