The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests has installed the first digital kiosks, known as Electronic Tour Sites, associated with the forests’ new Historic Routes Project. This initiative highlights the significant history and recreational opportunities available on three historic routes on the forests. At these kiosks, forest visitors can download a variety of multimedia content onto their personal mobile devices in remote locations where there is no Wi–Fi or network connectivity.

Visitors can then enjoy this content on their personal device for the rest of their visit to the forests, whether there is cell phone service or not. The first two kiosks were installed at Lolo Pass Visitor Center, located off of U.S. Highway 12 at the Idaho/Montana state line; and Lochsa Lodge, located in Powell just west of Lolo Pass.

Acting Kootenai National Forest Supervisor Cheryl Probert, who normally serves as the Forest Supervisor for the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, has taken great pride in the development of the Historic Routes Project. “I am really excited for the opportunities this project has to bring history and human experiences alive using modern technology to introduce Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests visitors to the rich history of travel ways that have been connecting communities for millennia,” she said.

The new Electronic Tour Sites look much like traditional Forest Service interpretive kiosks, but include an on–site router that enables visitors to download interpretive content to their mobile device. Step–by–step instructions are available for visitors to connect their device to the network, where they may download the multimedia of their choosing. Downloadable content at Electronic Tour Sites includes local historic information, photographs, maps, podcasts, videos, and brochures about the rich history of the region and nearby recreation opportunities. Content at each digital kiosk is unique and specific to its location. Once downloaded, visitors can refer to maps, watch videos, and view historic photos of the areas they are visiting as they continue their visit through the forests.

The Historic Routes Project highlights the history and significance of the Lolo Motorway, Elk City Wagon Road, and Magruder Corridor on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. These routes follow historic trails that were used for centuries and now exist as roads following or bisecting these ancient trails. The Lolo Motorway follows both the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trails. The Elk City Wagon Road and the Magruder Corridor follow the Southern Nez Perce Trail.

No mobile network connection is required to download content at digital kiosks, and visitors do not have to download an app prior to visiting the digital kiosk in order to access the content. The Wi–Fi network at Electronic Tour Sites only allows visitors to download Forest Service content. Users cannot upload content, check in to other websites, or make phone calls using the network at the digital kiosks.

“The development of this project has brought together many generations across our local communities to tell the tales of these historic motorways,” Probert said. The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests worked with local historians, businesses, volunteer clubs, and others to gather stories and information for the digital kiosks. Students at the University of Idaho assisted the Forest Service with the project by drafting grant proposals and digital content. The Clearwater Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc. also provided project support to help the Forest Service implement the Historic Routes Project.

Additional Electronic Tour Sites are scheduled to be installed across the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests along the historic routes and in nearby communities. Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NPClwNFs) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/NPClwNFs), and download our mobile app (search “Nez Perce Clearwater” in your app store) for updates on the installation of future digital kiosks.

“With this project, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests hopes to contribute in a real way, both socially and economically, to our local communities,” said Probert. “We hope this project encourages visitors near and far to experience the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, and the communities within and surrounding it, to learn more about the fascinating history of this area.”

For more information about the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests’ Historic Routes Project, please contact Chrysann Jaeger, Recreation Programs Assistant, at chrysann.jaeger@usda.gov

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