Friday, June 20, 2014

Lewiston Idaho

June 15-18, 2014:

Amidst the roar of boat motors we depart Shorts Bar BLM area and head north on Route 95, up a seemingly never ending hill north of White Bird, then descend into a huge prairie area of rich farmland, mostly grain.  We then go east on route 12 to the McKays Bend BLM Recreation area.  It is located right on the Clearwater River about 18 miles east of Lewiston, Idaho.  This is a pay BLM area with full hookup, rather strange, but cheap ( $9.00) due to our 50% off senior card.  It is also a really nice well maintained campsite with a view, hard to beat that !  The only problem is poor phone signal, but at least it is workable.

The Campground
The Clearwater River is a river that Lewis and Clark traveled on during their epic transcontinental voyage of Discovery.  It is the largest tributary of the Snake River and it empties into the Snake River at Lewiston. We were worried that the river might be packed with Salmon fishermen, thus hard to get a campsite, but the fishing season ended here on June 12th.

The Clearwater river behind campground
Eveything here is about Lewis and Clark and the Nez Perce Indian tribe.  The Nez Perce tribe's territory once extended from northern Idaho into Oregon, Washington and Montana.  They were one of the most powerful tribes of the Northwest.  They were a friendly tribe to the Americans, starting with Lewis and Clark and during the difficult period in history had a leader who was controversial then and remains so even today.  Lawyer was his name (isn't that ironic) and he understood the inevitability of US western expansion to overpower the Nez Perce tribe. He tried to keep the peace and maintain good relations with the U.S. amidst several land treaties that all went bad. Eventually the tribe split into two factions, those wanting peace at all costs (treaty faction) and those ready to fight to keep what was theirs (non treaty faction).  They all eventually ended up on the reservation, east of Lewiston, a much smaller reservation than original promised, but at least in the the same geographic area.  The iconic tribal leader, Chief Joseph, often quoted and revered tried to escape to Canada with his band against huge odds, an amazing story and almost made it.

I visited the Nez Perce historical Park visitor center on Sunday with a short walking tour of the old Nez Perce church mission remains, general store, indian agents cabin and old cemetery. The Presbyterian Mission, resulted in a faction of the Nez Perce dropping original tribal beliefs, going christian and becoming Americanized.  This caused much controversy amongst the tribe and had a major impact on their dealings with the US. 

Nez Perce Indian items

Chief Joseph's hemp bag

Old dug out canoe and mural in museum

This Old chief  was tough

On Monday we rode into downtown Lewiston and toured the historic area.  It is yet another decaying old downtown, but they appear to be making some progress.  They have a beautiful library in an old building that appears to be freshly renovated.  Also there is a river walk connecting to the downtown area that has great potential.  Also many professional offices have taken over the old buildings and have improved them. 

Old Camas Prairie Railroad car and Locomotive

Lewiston mural scene

Lewiston downtown flower beds

That's a deal ?

Railroad lift bridge over the Clearwater river

Wood for the huge Clearwater Paper Company in Lewiston

The first Idaho Capital building in Lewiston, the
capital eventually moved to Boise

First thing Tuesday, I went looking for the Nez Perce legendary "Coyote and his fishnet" and the "Ant and the Yellowjacket".  I was successful, but not that impressed. 

The Ant and the Yellowjacket were turned into
stone by Coyote according to Nez Perce legend.
this takes some imagineation

Coyote's Fishnet is another Nez Perce legend, also take imageination
Next was a visit to the Nez Perce Museum which was very impressive with tons of historic artifacts on the city of Lewiston, Lewis and Clark, and the Nez Perce Indians. 

Museum exterior

I then went looking for the actual confluence of the Snake and the Clearwater Rivers and stumbled upon a park that was sort of hidden, they could use better signs.  Once there, I saw a pedestrian bridge going over the highway to a building which turned out to be a Lewis and Clark information center.  They have the most interesting sculpture in front called "Tsceminicum", (Nez Perce for "Meeting of the waters").  It has a symbolic Earth Mother figure with water running out of her hands on the front and on one side is the Snake River with its wildlife and legends shown and on the other side is the Clearwater River with its wildlife and legends.  
Riverwalk along Snake River

Front view of sculpture 

Side view of sculpture

Side view of the sculpture

The meeting of the Snake and the Clearwater Rivers

A canoe Sculpture in Lweiston
I then went across the bridge over the Snake River into Clarkson and the State of Washington.  I didn't realize it before, but Lewiston, Idaho is named after Lewis  and Clarkson, Washington after Clark.  In Clarkson, I stopped for lunch at the "Jawbone Flats Cafe", mainly because of the name, expecting something on the wild side, in reality it was dull !  The food was fine however, I actually prefer my food not on the wild side.

Jawbone Flats Cafe in Clarkson

Interesting activities at the Moose Club

Next stop is Coeur d'alene, Idaho,

Twinkles and Slick

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