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Sacajawea byway highlights historical, cultural roles

The temptation, during the next few years of celebrating the Lewis & Clark Expedition, is to focus on the explorers' journey along the Clearwater River and among the Nez Perce of north-central Idaho.

A new scenic byway approved by the transportation board last week will bring appropriate attention to another area near Salmon that was instrumental to the expedition’s success. The Sacajawea Historic Byway, which follows a portion of Idaho 33 north of Idaho Falls and the entire length of Idaho 28 to Salmon, will recognize, in part, the role Sacajawea played in the historic journey.

“This passage through the high country of eastern Idaho offers a wealth of engaging stories, many of them considered legacies of Idaho and beyond,” according to the Salmon Valley Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the byway application.

“There is Chief Tendoy, Sacajawea, Lewis and Clark, the Alma Shoshone, the flight of the Nez Perce, the Reverend Samuel Parker, stage routes and the mining boom of the late 1800s they served, fossils of the extinct North American lion, Native American rock art and much more.”

The scenic byway proposal identified 41 places of historical, cultural, scenic and recreational interest along the 132-mile route. Among them are:

  • The Nez Perce National Historic Trail
  • The continental divide – basin and range
  • Viola mine and Nicholia Townsite
  • Jaguar cave
  • Gilmore and the Gilmore Summit
  • The Lemhi Shoshone reservation and Lemhi Grange
  • The Lewis & Clark, Lemhi Pass and backcountry byway
  • Birthplace of Sacajawea and the Sacajawea Interpretive Center
  • Lewis & Clark Camp, and
  • The Lemhi County Historical Museum

The sponsoring group will have to judiciously winnow those 41 outstanding points of interest to about a dozen for display on scenic byway signs that will be placed at both ends of the route.

“As you turn onto the byway from Interstate 15 your exit from the fast track lane of life will become quickly evident…

“A series of dips and turns reveals the mysteriously diverse nature of the land where there is more than first meets the eye. Your ascent into Birch Creek Valley leads you to the world of ancient rock and prehistoric man. Two mountain ranges flank your sides like rigid sentinels standing guard at the entrance…”