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County guide – Nez Perce

Initially organized by the Territorial Legislature of Washington in 1861, Nez Perce County was established February 4, 1864 by the Idaho Territorial Legislature with its county seat at Lewiston.

Nez Perce County has a total area of 856 square miles, of which 8.2 square miles is water; and its population (2010 Census) is 39,265. The county was named after the Nez Perce Tribe, and Lewiston served for 22 months as the territorial capital before it was moved to Boise. The Clearwater and Snake rivers meet in Lewiston.

Incorporated cities within Nez Perce County include Lewiston, Culdesac, Lapwai, and Peck. Among the regions communities include Sweetwater, Gifford, Lenore, Myrtle, Southwick, Spalding and Waha.



Lewiston founded the same year (1861) as the county, spurred by a neighboring gold rush northeast in Pierce. It serves as a hub for recreation into the Hells Canyon National Recreational Area; and its industries include agriculture, timber/paper products, as well as light manufacturing. The Port of Lewiston is the farthest inland port east of the West Coast of the U.S. It is home to Lewis-Clark State College.

Activities include:

-Dogwood Festival: late March through April;

-Hot August Nights: Aug. 25-27, 2016;

-Lewiston Round Up: Sept. 7-10; ; (509) 758-7712 or 800-933-2128



Culdesac was named for its location at the end of the railroad line. Located here is St. Joseph’s Mission (1874), listed on the National Register of Historic Places for being the first Roman Catholic mission among the Nez Perce Indians.

Activities include:

-Culdesac Sausage Feed: usually first Sunday in March

-Culdesac Shebang Days: second Saturday in June


Located within the boundaries of Nez Perce County and the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, Lapwai is also the seat of government for the tribe. Here, Henry H. Spalding established a Protestant mission in 1836. The name, Lapwai, means “place of the butterflies.” In nearby Spalding is the Nez Perce National Historic Park Museum and Visitors Center, highlighting the region’s artifacts and cultural history.

Activities include:

-Lapwai Days: July 8-10

Contact: Lapwai City Hall, (208) 843-2212,


Located at the mouth of Big Canyon near the Clearwater River, Peck is situated east of Lewiston between Lenore and Ahsahka. The American Women’s League Chapter House was built here in 1900, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; it currently is in use as the Peck Community Library.


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