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Elk City Wagon Road celebration is set for Saturday and Sunday

Clearwater events set for July 21, 22

Burton and Barbara (Thompson) Pearson are the 2018 Elk City Wagon Road Days grand marshals.

Burton and Barbara (Thompson) Pearson are the 2018 Elk City Wagon Road Days grand marshals.

— The annual Elk City Wagon Road celebration is set for Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22, in Clearwater. This is the 22nd year of Wagon Road Days.

Pearsons to serve as grand marshals

CLEARWATER – Burton and Barbara (Thompson) Pearson will serve as the Elk City Wagon Road Days grand marshals for 2018.

Barbara (Thompson) Pearson is the daughter of the late Bert and Vivian (Gunter) Thompson. She is a descendant of the early Gunter family who settled and homesteaded in Clearwater. She was born in Clearwater and graduated from Stites High School in 1957. She had nine other brothers and sisters: Evelyn, Lou, Jean, Kenneth, Rodney, JoAnn, Janice, Larry and Jerry Thompson.

Burton Pearson was born in Grangeville in 1955, the son of Stanley and Esther Pearson. He had three other brothers: Stanley, Bob, and John. Burton Pearson and Barbara Thompson were married in Clearwater on July 8, 1962. He worked for Les Schwab Tire Centers for 27 years, the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office for seven years, and the Grangeville Super 8 for five years having retired from all three positions.


Freighters on the Elk City Wagon Road circa 1900.

Activities include a parade, quilt and 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.m., 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. In 2015, with all the fires in the area, a part of the road was used for firefighting efforts in the Pilot Knob area. Early in 2016, with a 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 anniversary in July. It is located in the Grange Hall in Clearwater. Clearwater is four miles off U.S. Highway 13, between Grangeville and Stites, and is also celebrating its annual Elk City Wagon Road observance on July 21-22. 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 1800s and of life around Clearwater and the wagon trail in those years. Admission is free. Donations are accepted. It will be open July 21, 9 a.m-4 p.m., and July 22, 6:30 a.m.- 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 at 208-926-4278, or Jim Gribble at 208-926-4709.

Construction on the wagon 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, Idaho, 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 details contact Susanne Smith 208 926-4278 or Linda Winters at 208-926-4606.


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