In September 1805, the Lewis & Clark Expedition was struggling to get over the rugged Bitterroot Mountains. The men were starving as there was little game to be found in the dense forests surrounding them. Realizing their predicament, Captain Clark lead six men ahead to hunt for food. But when they reached the Weippe Prairie, they came across three Nez Perce boys instead. Clark gave the boys ribbons to take back to their village to announce their arrival. Fortunately, the Nez Perce people decided to supply the food to rescue the Corp of Discovery.
This decisive event is just part of the history that will soon come to life at the new Clearwater Historical Museum in Orofino, Idaho. Operated by the Clearwater Historical Society, the museum will share the rich history of the Clearwater River drainage, Clearwater County and parts of Lewis, Nez Perce, Idaho and Shoshone counties.
Museum-goers will be able to take self-tours though exhibits featuring historic photographs as well as artifacts that relate to the Lewis & Clark Expedition, the Nez Perce people, mining, early homesteading, farming and logging. (A variety of oral histories and early film recordings of the logging era will be included as well).
In addition, the museum will feature outdoor displays, including a steam engine and small train, as well as an old diesel engine, an antique horse harness and a traditional blacksmith shop. Building plans also call for a library and research area.
The Avista Foundation recently awarded a $10,000 grant to the Clearwater Historical Society. The Society still hopes to reach a total funding goal of $300,000 to cover construction and expenses.