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Ray Norton, Betty Ells, Clarkston, WA; Kay Mathews DeFrancesco, Rathdrum; and Chuck Johnson, Fairbanks, AK, are the winners!

U.S. Highway 12, formerly called the Lewis and Clark Highway, is the answer for Week 283 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: A bridge was the beginning

Tuesday: Parts had been used before

Wednesday: Became a part of a controversy

Thursday: In 1923, an association was formed to back the project.

Friday: It was a major undertaking with the terrain.

Saturday: Cooperation between two states

Monday: Provides a corridor for travel

According to Ralph Space's book, The Clearwater Story, the railroad survey the route between Kooskia and Lolo, MT in 1908, but plans for the line were dropped. However, from that the idea of building a road was born. In 1915, the Forest Service investigated building it. The next year it was designated a state highway and name the Lewis and Clark Highway.

Prior to 1919, there was a ferry across the Middlefork of the Clearwater River above Kooskia. That was replaced by a bridge as the first piece of work on the highway. In 1920 a narrow road was constructed to Pete King Ranger Station and in 1921 an associaton headquartered in Lewiston was formed to get the road built. The road building was backed by governmental, community and business leaders. The highway was extended to Deadman Creek in 1923. In 1925, it was decided to build a road from the east to Powell Ranger Station before any more work was done from the west. That road was completed in 1928. Space says the State Highway Department yield to pressure to put money in other roads and no further extension were made on the western end until 1948, though a temporary line was run from Rimrick to Powell in 2930. Widening was done on the old sections with convict labor.

In 1941 a complete survey of the project was made by the Bureau of Public Lands using Forest Service pack animals. With increasing pressure by the Lewis and Clark Highway Association, there was talk of bulldozing a road through, but the Forest Service was opposd to that measure. By 1948, money was restored to project that extended it two to three miles per year. This was fast enough for interested parties, there were all sorts of publicitiy stunts used to call attention to the need to speed up the project.

In 1955, the Idaho Legislature passed a law that made a toll road permissible and the Turnpike Association was formed to study the possibility of completing it as a toll road. The study was unfavorable. About 2,000 enthusiastic people attended a meeting at Boulder Flats in 1957 in support of the road following a trek through the canyon. In the fall of 1957, a U.S. Senate investigation was held in Lewiston by Senator Gore Tennessee and the highway gained a lot of support, so much that the next legislature appropriated $4 million for the project.

At the writing of his book, Space anticipated that the public would be able to use the road in 1962.

Of late, U.S. Highway 12 has been the topic of much controversy concerning moving mega loads along the route to Montana and British Columbia, Canada.

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