Historical Sites

Nez Perce National Historical Park
For thousands of years the valleys, prairies and plateaus of north central Idaho and northeastern Oregon have been home to the Nez Perce people. Nez Perce National Historical Park, a unit of the National Park Service, is devoted to telling the story of the Nez Perce. The park features 38 sites, scattered across four states. Many sites tell of Nez Perce legends and history while others cover their interactions with fur traders, missionaries, soldiers, settlers and explorers. Lewis and Clark's travels through Nez Perce country are featured at the Lolo Trail, Weippe Prairie, Canoe Camp and Long Camp sites. A visitor center at Spalding has brochures, museum exhibits, a film, bookstore and Ranger-led programs during the summer at 11, 1:00 and 3:00.

Nez Perce National Historical Trail
The 1877 flight of the Nez Perce from their homelands while pursued by U.S. Army Generals Howard, Sturgis, and Miles, is one of the most fascinating and sorrowful events in Western U.S. history. The Nez Perce (Nimiipu or Nee-Me-Poo) Trail stretches from Wallowa Lake, Oregon, to the Bear Paw Battlefield near Chinook, Montana. Congress passed the National Trails System Act in 1968, establishing a framework for a nationwide system of scenic, recreational, and historic trails. It was added to this system by Congress as a National Historic Trail in 1986.

St. Joseph's Mission
This first mission for the Nez Perce Indians was built in 1874 near Mission Creek on land donated by Chief Slickpoo. It was restored in 1960 and is open to the public as part of the Nez Perce National Historical Park. The Nez Perce National Historical Park is the only national park that celebrates a people instead of a place and consists of 38 sites in four states. The park headquarters is located in Spalding, near Lewiston on Hwy 12.

Long Camp Historical Site
On Hwy 12 near Kamiah a sign at milepost 68 notes that the Lewis and Clark expedition spent 3 weeks among the Nez Perce people in late spring 1806 waiting for the snow to melt in the Bitterroots so that the expedition could continue east. Also called Camp Chopunnish (a word Lewis used for the Ni Mii Pu) or Camp Kamiah. The actual camp site is on private land.

Canoe Camp Historic Site
At this point in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the explorers finally reached navigable waters after enduring a grueling journey crossing the Bitterroot Mountains. An interpretive signs relates how the expedition camped here from September 26 to October 7, 1805, while 5 canoes were built for their journey down the Clearwater, Snake and Columbia Rivers. A replica of a canoe is on display.

Heart of the Monster
Located on the banks of the Clearwater River south of Kamiah, the Heart of the Monster is the legendary birthplace of the Nez Perce Tribe, where Coyote defeated a monster and, in turn, created the Nez Perce people. A walking path takes you to an interpretive shelter and another to a small seating area where audio stations tell the legend in English and Nez Perce.

Buffalo Eddy
Across North America, Native Americans have left their etchings and paintings on rocks. The Nez Perce are no different. Long before Europeans or Americans first set foot in this country, the Nez Perce left behind vivid evidence of their association with this land. On either side of an eddy formed by a series of sharp bends in the Snake River are densely grouped clusters of petroglyphs and a few pictographs. Known as Buffalo Eddy, the unique petroglyphs of this area are evidence of the longevity of the Nez Perce in the region and contain hundreds of distinct images that possibly date from as early as 4,500 years ago.

Lewis and Clark
Appointed by President Thomas Jefferson, Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were charged with finding the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Coast. The Lewis-Clark Expedition was one of the most significant exploration events in the history of the United States. The explorers camped overnight on an island near the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers located near what is now the sister cities of Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington.

Confluence Center
Located atop the levee in Lewiston, Idaho near the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake rivers. A historical marker for the October 10, 1805 campsite of the expedition is located here. Nearby are several open-air interpretive displays, including a dugout canoe. Nez Perce lore is conveyed in Nancy Dreher’s Tsceminicum sculpture. Parking is off the west end of D Street in Lewiston.

Lewis and Clark Timeline
Located at the Hells Canyon Resort Marina in Clarkston. View beautiful sidewalk etchings depicting the adventures of the expedition.

Idaho History Tours
Walking tours of historic downtown Lewiston. Experience the Ghost Tour, explore beneath the sidewalks, feel the presence of the “spirits” that traveled under the sidewalks and worked in the unmentionable side of society in the 1930′s. You also learn how the area citizens built downtown Lewiston. Call 208.790.1257 or 208.791.5848 to arrange a tour.

Jack O’Connor Hunting Heritage & Education Center
Here you’ll find a museum displaying Jack and Eleanor O’Connor’s personal collection of over 60 trophies that span a lifetime of hunting throughout North America, the Indian Subcontinent, Africa and the Middle East. Call 208-743-5043 for directions and more information.

Lewis Clark Discovery Center
The center features interpretive displays including an Indian tepee, a display about Lewis and Clark’s difficult route through the Bitterroot Mountains, a dugout canoe display, a salmon stream and a bronze cougar sculpture. A 30-minute video, Lewis & Clark: From the Mountains to the Sea, is shown every day on the hour starting at 9 a.m. For more information and directions, call (208) 799-5015.

Gold Rush Historic Byway
This route begins at the junction of Highways 12 and 11, following Highway 11 for 42.5 miles through the towns of Greer, Weippe, and Pierce to its end at Headquarters. It takes travelers past historic sites of the gold rush era of the mid-to-late 1800s. Great views of the Clearwater River and the Weippe Prairie can be seen. Full services are available in Pierce and Weippe with partial services in Greer.

Emerald Creek Garnet Area
Idaho and India are the only two places in the world where the rare Star Garnet can be found, from gravel to golf ball size. Visitors will take garnet-bearing gravels from a stockpile to one of the two sluices where they will wash and screen the gravels for garnets. While visitors will no longer be digging for garnets, the new method will still allow people to enjoy the thrill of discovery. All of the equipment will now be provided so visitors will not have to bring their own and pack it up the gulch. The site is open around Memorial Day through Labor Day (check for dates) and rangers are available to issue permits or provide advice. This trip is recommended for the active, curious and those fearless of getting dirty. Step-on guides for groups are available with advance notice.

Historical Museum at St. Gertrude
The Historical Museum at St. Gertrude is located on the grounds of the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood. Established in 1931, the museum houses a unique collection of over 70,000 artifacts with some 11,000 on display which reflect the early history of north central Idaho. Rediscover the pioneer days through exhibits from the early mining and farming era, plus a varied collection of minerals, firearms, Nez Perce artifacts, religious items, and more. Highlights include the Rhoades Emmanuel Memorial, an extraordinary collection of fine Asian and European artifacts. The Museum hosts an annual Raspberry Festival on the first Sunday in August.

J. Howard Bradbury Memorial Logging Museum
Located in a 1928 log cabin, the J. Howard Bradbury Logging Museum is a source of community pride, preserving the local mining and logging history, as well as other artifacts. The grounds are adjacent to a park with a picnic area and Idaho’s first public building, the 1862 Shoshone County Courthouse. Special group tours are available. Open Seasonally from Mid-June to Mid-October (after Labor Day - Saturdays only) Admission: By donation.

White Spring Ranch Museum/Archive Library
White Spring Ranch is a Century Farm & National Historical site along Hwy. 95 at Borgen Rd, 2.5 miles N. of Genesee junction. An c.1873-1904 Farm house, c.1876 Log Cabin, early Museum c.1880's cabin & a wonderful stop for picnics. The Farm house is a Museum of 130 years of artifacts saved by the Lorang family, many of whom were historians and photographers,and who also journaled life in the Palouse area for over 130 years. Discover true stories of the turn of the last century, WWI, Roaring Twenties, Depression, the New Deal, WWII, Space Race, Civil Rights, Cold War, through early magazines, newspapers, letters, postcards, pamphlets, books, comics, receipts and wonderful photographs. This setting is a beautiful spot for picnics in warm weather or photographs year round. The White Spring Ranch Museum and Archive Library is about 12 miles south of Moscow, Idaho and 16 miles north of Lewiston, Idaho on the West side of the road. We do have one space for an RV to park for the day, only. This Farm house is not handicapped accessible, but we have a comfortable place to sit and read and we can bring items to you. We are on Facebook at "White Spring Ranch Museum".

Chinese Hanging Site
At mile marker 27.5 along the Gold Rush Byway Highway 11, the Idaho Department of Transportation chose a memorial site for the 1885 Chinese Hanging incident. A local Eagle Scout improved the 365' trail to the site, by placing interpretive signage along the trail. The signs provide historical details of the Idaho Gold Rush of 1860 in Pierce, and the resulting population influx of Chinese miners. The final sign provides the reader with the full-story of the murder of a local merchant, and the resulting vigilante hanging of the five Chinese men accused of the crime.

Photo Gallery

  • Near the Visitor's Center at Spaulding you will find The Bredell family cemetery & homesite.

    Photo by NPS
  • At Buffalo Eddy you will find densely grouped clusters of petroglyphs and a few pictographs.

    Photo by NPS
  • Museum exhibit at the Nez Perce National Historical Park visitor center located at Spalding.

    Photo by NPS
  • The Gold Rush Historic Byway takes travelers past historic sites of the gold rush circa 1800s.

    Photo by NPS
  • The creation story of the Nez Perce (Nimiipúu) people begins at the Heart of the Monster.

    Photo by NPS
  • The Emerald Creek Garnet Area near Clarkia allows visitors to search for Star Garnets.

    Photo by NPS
  • Henry Spalding's Mission site located below the Spalding Visitor's Center Outside Lewiston.

    Photo by NPS
  • One of the ancient places is Buffalo Eddy, a petroglyph site near Asotin, Washington.

    Photo by NPS
  • A replica of a canoe is on display at Canoe Camp Historic Site which is located west of Orofino.

    Photo by NPS
  • The Historical Museum at St. Gertrude is located at the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood.

    Photo by NPS
  • The first mission for the Nez Perce was build in 1874 near Mission Creek and is open to the public.

    Photo by NPS
  • The Spalding Visitor's Center and Museum located at Nez Perce National Historical Park near Lewiston.

    Photo by NPS