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Michael Bushfield, Eureka, MT, is the winner!

Trappers is the answer for Clearwater History Trivia #622, a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: Marten

Tuesday: Most had a headquarters

Wednesday: Some trespassed

Trapping was one of the oldest uses of what is now the Clearwater National Forest, but no records were kept, so it is difficult to track the individuals that were a part of this history.

They entered the backcountry of the Clearwater from both the Idaho and Montana sides. Those from Idaho came in from Pierce, Weippe and Kooskia and those from Montana came in through Superior, Lolo Hot Springs and Hamilton, according to The Clearwater Story.

Frequently, those who lived in Montana and trapped in Idaho would not admit that their traplines went into or were Idaho because people from out-of-state had to pay costly license fees and after 1920 a large area along the border of Idaho was a game preserve and trapping was illegal. They said they were trapping in 'Lapland', that is where Montana lapped into Idaho. Few were ever caught because it was a big country.

They trapped marten, mink, fox, beaver, otter, lynx, wildcat and coyotes during the winter and black and grizzly bear during the early spring. The marten was the most trapped and made into fur, it sold on the market as sable and commanded a high price. In addition to being trappers, many of these men worked for the Forest Service during the summer months. Some also prospected when the snow did not interfere with their work.

Beginning in 1929, the price a trapper could expect for their furs began to decline. Some attributed the decline to establishment of fur farms, but there was also a change in styles that was probably was the real cause.

To read more about this era and some of the individual trappers, see:

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