Clearwater County, Idaho

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Clearwater County is a county located in the U.S. state of Idaho. Established in 1911, the county was named after the Clearwater River. As of the 2000 Census the county had a population of 8,930 (2005 estimate: 8,373).[1] The county seat is Orofino.[2]

The county is home to North Fork of the Clearwater River, and a small portion of the South Fork and the main Clearwater. The Clearwater River and Lolo Pass, in the southeast corner of the county, were made famous by the exploration of Lewis and Clark in the early 19th century. Following an arduous trek through the Bitterroot Mountains, suffering through a mid-September snowstorm and near starvation, the Corps of Discovery expedition camped with the Nez Perce tribe on the Weippe Prairie outside of present-day Weippe in 1805. With the assistance of the Nez Perce, the expedition recuperated and constructed burned-out canoes at Canoe Camp in October 1805 and then paddled down the Clearwater, Snake, and Columbia rivers, meeting the Pacific Ocean a month later at present-day Astoria, Oregon.

Elias D. Pierce and Wilbur F. Bassett made the first discovery of gold in Idaho, on Orofino Creek (Canal Gulch) in 1860, 1 mile (2 km) north of present-day Pierce. Also in the county are the Dworshak Reservoir, Dworshak State Park, Dworshak National Fish Hatchery, and the Dworshak Dam, third highest dam in the U.S. The modest Bald Mountain ski area is located between Orofino and Pierce.

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Geography

According to the U.S. Census, the county has a total area of 6,444 square kilometers (2,488 sq mi). 6,375 km2 (2,461 sq mi) of it is land and 69 km2 (27 sq mi) of it (1.07%) is water. It is part of the Palouse, a wide and rolling prairie-like region of the middle Columbia basin.

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