Port of Lewiston
Review and History

The Port of Lewiston is the seat of Nez Perce County in northwestern Idaho. It is over 300 nautical miles (455 kilometers or 277 miles by air) upriver, on the Snake and Columbia Rivers, east-northeast of Portland, Oregon. Not surprisingly, the Port of Lewiston is part of the Columbia-Snake River System. In 2009, almost 31.9 thousand people called the Port of Lewiston home. Directly across the Snake River from Lewiston is Washington State's City of Clarkston, named after Meriwether Lewis' partner, William Clark.

Sitting where the Snake and Clearwater Rivers meet, the Port of Lewiston was named for explorer Meriwether Lewis who camped at the site with William Clark in both 1805 and 1806. The economy of the Port of Lewiston depends on agriculture, lumbering, and small manufacturing. Just 16 kilometers (10 miles) to the east is Lapwai, the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. The only seaport in the State of Idaho, the Port of Lewiston is the most inland port on the United States' West Coast.

Port History

When Europeans arrived in the future Port of Lewiston, the Nez Perce Nation occupied the area. The David Thompson expedition arrived there in 1803 with the goal of establishing Hudson's Bay Company trading posts. However, the Nez Perce thought that trapping beaver was women's work, and this migratory tribe was not interested in providing pelts. The infant village soon failed with no source of goods to trade.

In late 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition discovered Nez Perce settlements at the future Port of Lewiston town site. They returned through the area on their journey back from the Pacific Ocean in 1806.

In 1861, the Port of Lewiston was founded after a gold rush started in Pierce, a small town northeast of Lewiston. Publication of Idaho's first newspaper, The Lewiston Teller, started in 1862 when the area was still part of Washington Territory. The paper was followed in 1892 by The Lewiston Morning Tribune, which is still being published. In 1862, the Port of Lewiston was the site of the Territory's first public school.

For a very brief time, the Port of Lewiston was the capital of the new Idaho Territory. But as the gold rush slowed down, there was a rush to southwestern Idaho. In the 1860s, Idaho City was the biggest city in the Northwest, and in 1864 the Territorial Capital was moved to Boise, some 315 kilometers (196 miles) to the south.

Due to litigation and politics, Boise did not become the formal capital until 1866. The matter was so controversial that the territorial governor secretly moved the territory's seal, treasury, and archives from the Port of Lewiston and headed downriver to Portland. On the trip, the treasury was reportedly stolen.

In 1910, seven years after the Wright Brothers' first flight, James Ward began his flight from the Port of Lewiston fairgrounds. The plane was supplied by Glenn L. Curtiss, the Wright Brothers' major competition.

The Port of Lewiston was home to a popular baseball team from 1952 to 1974. Parent clubs to the Lewiston Broncs were the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, and the Oakland Athletics. The most famous player on the team was Reggie Jackson, who played in the Port of Lewiston in 1966.

Every spring, the Port of Lewiston celebrates the Dogwood Festival when the dogwoods are in bloom and pink blossoms line the streets. In August, the Hot August Nights celebration celebrates rock 'n roll music from the 1950s to the 1980s. The celebration includes a classic car show.

In the autumn, Port of Lewiston cottonwood trees let go of their seeds, covering the streets with what looks like snow. The Port of Lewiston has a big Christmas festival each year where the downtown area is decorated with stunning displays.

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