Elk City Wagon Road

Freighters on the Elk City Wagon Road around 1900

The Elk City Wagon Road celebration is an annual event held this year July 20-21 in Clearwater.

This is the 23nd year of Wagon Road Days. Activities include a parade, quilt & hooked rug show, vendors, lunch, raffles, historical presentation, old time gospel hour and musical variety show on Saturday.

On Sunday, beginning at 6:30 a.m. is a breakfast and at 8:15 a guided tour of the 53 mile wagon road begins in Clearwater. Raffle ticket drawings will be held at 10:30 a.m. Vendors and parade participants on Saturday are welcome. No fee. Just show up!

The Wagon Road has been in existence for 130 years and has proven to be a valuable asset to Idaho County. In 2015 with all the devastating fires in the area a part of the road was used for firefighting efforts in the Pilot Knob area.

Early in 2016, with a huge landslide on the main road to Elk City making it impassable for many days, a portion of the wagon road was the only way into and out of Elk City. It is important for this remote road to remain open even today as it was 130 years ago. The Friends of the Elk City Wagon Road have taken on the task of keeping the road operational.

The Elk City Wagon Road History Museum is celebrating its sixth year anniversary in July. It is located in the Grange Hall in Clearwater, ID. The little town of Clearwater, four miles off Highway 13, between Grangeville and Stites, is also celebrating its annual Elk City Wagon Road observance on July 20-21.

The museum tells of the wagon road where supplies were hauled to the gold fields of Newsome, Elk City, Buffalo Hump, and Thunder Mountain regions in the late 1800’s and of life around Clearwater and the wagon trail in those years. Admission is free. Donations are accepted. It will be open July 20, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. and July 21 6:30 a.m.-12:00 noon. For a more convenient time, you may call any of these people and they will be glad to meet you there and show you around, Lyle or Sue Smith 926-4278, or Jim Gribble 926-4709.

Construction on the road began in 1894 and was declared officially completed July 15, 1895. Prior to this all travel to the gold fields was by way of the old South Nez Perce Trail. Beginning at Harpster, and the road extends 53 miles to Elk City through the Clearwater Mountains of the Nez Perce National Forest. The first gold miners from Pierce used the trail to reach the Elk City area gold fields in 1861. By 1896 way stations were established along the wagon road to serve the miners, freighters, and other passenger traffic.

For more information contact Susanne Smith 208 926-4278 or Linda Winters 926-4606.

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