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Packing in Clearwater Country is the answer for Clearwater History Trivia #632, a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: Diamond hitch

Tuesday: Different customers

Wednesday: Elk horns

Thursday: Food and equipment

Friday: Cargo system

Saturday: Individuals under contract

Monday: A means of supplying places

In the early days of the Forest Service on the Clearwater, travel was by horseback and each ranger was required to have a saddle horse. They usually had one or more pack animals as well to carry food and equipment. That practice was discontinued in 1924. After that the Forest Service furnished the stock, but some rangers kept their own stock for a few years.

Packing to large fires or construction projects was at first handled by contract packers and their pack strings. Before the formation of the Forest Service, these packers had been working for settlers and mining companies. The transportation of food and equipment by packhorse and mules in the Clearwater country has been around as long as the horse itself, according to the The Clearwater Story by Ralph Space. He said that the Nez Perce Indians, instead of using the travois, used packsaddles and some of their old saddles do not differ in design much from the one Robinette patented. They used elk horns instead of steel.

The diamond hitch is a system of tying the load onto the packsaddle iwth a rope and a cinch. It gets it name from the diamond the rope forms on top of the load. This system was used extensively across the northwest. Early rangers had to demonstrate that they could throw a diamond hitch. However, it was eventually replaced by the cargo system after 1910, Space recorded.

Packing declined over the years as the Forest Service needed less from the commercial groups. Then roads and landing fields were built to bring in supplies. More and more supplies were brought in by truck or plane.

For more details, see Chapter 27 or

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Window on the Clearwater
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Orofino, ID 83544
Orofino 476 0733
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