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Lewiston, Idaho
—  City  —
Lewiston from the north
Coordinates: 46°25′00″N 117°01′04″W / 46.4166667°N 117.01778°W / 46.4166667; -117.01778
Country United States
State Idaho
County Nez Perce
Founded 1861
Incorporated 1861
 - Mayor Doug Havens
 - City 17.2 sq mi (44.5 km2)
 - Land 16.5 sq mi (42.7 km2)
 - Water 0.7 sq mi (1.8 km2)
Elevation 745 ft (227 m)
Population (2006)
 - City 31,293
 Density 1,873.0/sq mi (695.2/km2)
 Metro 57,961
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 83501
Area code(s) 208
FIPS code 16-46540
GNIS feature ID 0396788

Lewiston is a city in and the county seat of Nez Perce County, Idaho, United States.[1] It is the second-largest city in the northern Idaho region, behind Coeur d'Alene. Lewiston is the principal city of the Lewiston, ID - Clarkston, WA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Nez Perce County and Asotin County, Washington. As of the 2000 census the population of Lewiston was 30,904 (2006 estimate: 31,293)[2]. The lowest point in the state of Idaho is located on the Snake River in Lewiston, where it flows out of Idaho and into Washington.



Lewiston is located at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers. Its main industries are agriculture, paper and timber products production at the mill owned and operated by the Clearwater Paper Corporation (until December 2008, a part of the Potlatch Corporation) and light manufacturing. Immediately west of Lewiston is the smaller twin city of Clarkston, Washington.

Thirty miles (48 km) northwest of the city is the Lower Granite Dam, the last and upper-most of the four dams on the lower Snake River. The Snake is the largest tributary of the Columbia River. It was completed in 1972 and raised the river level back to Lewiston, effectively making it the eastern end of the new reservoir, Lower Granite Lake.

Because of these dams (and their locks), Lewiston is navigable by some ocean-going vessels. The Port of Lewiston has the distinction of being the western United States' farthest inland seaport at 465 river miles from the Pacific at mouth of the Columbia River adjacent to Astoria, Oregon, and the only one in the state. Barges of timber products, grain, and other goods are shipped via the Snake-Columbia system to the Pacific Ocean.

Along much of the Snake River is a system of levees to protect against flooding. Most of the levees are maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Downtown Lewiston, at 756 feet, is only the slightly higher in elevation than that of the river, about 740 ft (230 m). Away from downtown the terrain gains elevation quickly. The heavily residential southern half of the city is referred to as "The Orchards." This area is much higher in elevation than downtown (one of the higher areas in town at about 1,400 ft (430 m) and is named for the fruit orchards that previously covered the area. There is little sign of any orchards today, although there is a wide proliferation of fruit trees in the backyards of many residences in this area of town. The Lewiston-Nez Perce County Airport is located on the southwestern edge of the plateau at 1,438 feet in elevation.


The first people of European ancestry to visit the Lewiston area were members of the David Thompson expedition of 1803. Thompson was looking to establish fur trading posts for the Hudson's Bay Company of British North America (now Canada). Thompson established the first white settlement in Idaho, MacKenzie's Post. But it soon failed as the local Nez Perce tribe's men considered trapping to be women's work, the tribe was migratory and the apparently women thought they already had enough to do. This was followed by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in October, 1805. At the future townsite they encountered settlements of the native Nez Perce tribe. Lewis and Clark passed througn the valley on the return trip from the Pacific in 1806 also.

Named after Meriwether Lewis and after Victor Trevitt's hometown of Lewiston, Maine; but people don't know that was the reason Vic Trevitt shouted the idea out. He simply stated the "Journal of Lewis and Clark" talked about being in the valley. The town was founded in 1861 in the wake of a gold rush which began the previous year near Pierce, northeast of Lewiston. The first newspaper in present-day Idaho, The Lewiston Teller began publication in the city of Lewiston, Washington Territory in 1862, and was joined by the only present newspaper, The Lewiston Morning Tribune in September, 1892. In 1863 Lewiston became the capital of the newly-created Idaho Territory. Thomas J Beall, one of the first three white settlers in Lewiston, wrote many of the Lewiston Tribune's first articles, and continued to do so until his death at the age of 89.

Lewiston's stint as a seat of the new territory's government was short-lived. As the gold rush quieted in northern Idaho, it heated up in a new mineral rush in southwestern Idaho, centered in Idaho City, which would become the largest city in the Northwest in the mid-1860s. A resolution, to have the capital moved from Lewiston to Boise, was passed by the Idaho Territorial Legislature on December 7, 1864, six weeks before the territorial legislature's session legally began, and after litigation, on a split decision decided by one vote on the territorial supreme court on geographic lines. Boise became the capital in 1866. The move was very unpopular in northern Idaho and in violation of a court order. So, the territorial governor, Caleb Lyon and the territorial secretary, secretly took the territorial seal, archives and treasury and fled from Lewiston, their territorial capital. Lyon went down river to Portland, Oregon, a trip marked by the alleged theft of the treasury from his steamship cabin. The territorial secretary departed southward for Boise to avoid the public outrage that was sure to erupt. North Idahoans were somewhat placated in 1889 when the Territorial University of Idaho a land-grant research university under the Morrill Act of 1862, and following statehood status a year later, the University of Idaho was awarded to nearby Moscow, 30 miles away. Lewiston State Normal School, now Lewis-Clark State College, was established in 1893, as was another normal school or teacher education college, now defunct, in the south. These were the first three institutions of higher education. Lewiston was the site of the first public school in Idaho, beginning in 1862. Hence, it carries the designation of Lewiston Independent School District #1. (Boise was second, opening school doors in 1865.)

Lewiston had a popular Northwest League professional baseball franchise from 1952-74. The Lewis-Clark Broncs were affiliated with various major league parent clubs, including the Philadelphia Phillies, Kansas City Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, and Oakland Athletics or As. A roster check in 1967 showed that 40% of the players and coaches of the Kansas City Athletics had been in Lewiston at one time or another. Reggie Jackson was perhaps the most famous Lewiston Bronc of all-time; Mr. October played for Lewiston in 1966. However, he was far from alone, as the Bronc's rosters included Rick Monday, manager John McNamera, Vearl ("Snag") Moore, Thorton ("Kip") Kipper, Antonio Perez, Ron Koepper, Delmer Owen, Dick Green, Loren ("Bud") Swan, Bert Campaneris, John Israel, Dave Duncan, Al Heist and as a player, later coach-manager Robert ("Gabby") Williams.

The Presto Log was invented in Lewiston in 1930.

Geography & Weather

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.2 sq mi (45 km2), of which 16.5 sq mi (43 km2) is land and .7 sq mi (1.8 km2) (4.01%) is water.

The north-flowing Snake River departs Hells Canyon and forms the state boundary with Washington, while west-flowing Clearwater River defines the northern border of the city. At their confluence at the city's northwest corner, the lower Snake River turns west into Washington, and after passing four dams, empties into the Columbia River at Burbank.

Link to local weather information from the NWS Spokane Office (National Weather Service) –

Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 66 72 78 97 100 107 115 114 103 89 77 65
Norm High °F 39.4 45.6 53.8 61.6 70 78 87.6 87.6 76.7 62 46.8 39.2
Norm Low °F 28 31.2 35.6 40.6 47 53.6 59.3 59.3 50.9 41.2 34.1 28.5
Rec Low °F -30 -15 2 20 23 34 41 41 28 15 -3 -22
Precip (in) 1.14 0.95 1.12 1.31 1.56 1.16 0.72 0.75 0.81 0.96 1.21 1.05
Source: [1]


On the city's north end, the old 11 mile highway that climbs the 2000 vertical feet (610 m) of the Lewiston grade to the Palouse is mostly out of use, except for the truly adventurous traveler and couple of businesses and several residences built for the panoramic views. Called the "Spiral Highway," the very twisty road (64 curves) was opened in 1917 and was the primary route north for 62 years. It received an award as one of the best engineered stretches of mountain highway in that era. The '50s rock hit "Hotrod Lincoln" later covered in the 1970's by Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen tells of an actual race on that hill. The lyrics of the song were changed to say San Pedro and the grapevine, but the origin is documented. At the top it joins with US 95-US 195. The newer multi-lane grade of US 95, constructed from 1975-79, yields a straighter and steeper sweeping descent to the east, then back to the southwest, and is approximately 7 miles (11 km) in length. Both grades provide excellent views of Lewiston-Clarkston and the surrounding landscape.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1870 1,560
1880 739 −52.6%
1890 849 14.9%
1900 2,425 185.6%
1910 6,043 149.2%
1920 6,574 8.8%
1930 9,403 43.0%
1940 10,548 12.2%
1950 17,479 65.7%
1960 22,371 28.0%
1970 26,068 16.5%
1980 27,986 7.4%
1990 28,082 0.3%
2000 30,904 10.0%
Est. 2007 31,794 2.9%

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 30,905 people, 12,795 households, and 8,278 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,873.0 people per square mile (723.2/km²). There were 13,394 housing units at an average density of 811.8/sq mi (313.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.14% White, 0.30% African American, 1.59% Native American, 0.76% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.51% from other races, and 1.61% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.91% of the population.

There were 12,795 households out of which 28.7% included children under the age of 18, 51.3% were married couples living together, 9.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.3% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.0% were a single person living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.88.

In the city the population was spread out with 23.3% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 17.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 95.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $36,606, and the median income for a family was $45,410. Males had a median income of $35,121 versus $22,805 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,091. About 8.4% of families and 12.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.2% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those aged 65 or over.

Population history

  • 1864 - 359 [6]
  • 1863 - 414 [7]


Lewiston is home to Lewis-Clark State College. The public secondary schools include Lewiston High School, Jenifer Junior High, and Sacajawea Junior High. The seven elementary schools are Whitman, Webster, Centennial, Orchards, Camelot, McGhee, and McSorely. Lewiston High School is a 5A school in Idaho, which is the largest (1A being the lowest). The mascot is the Golden Bengal with school colors of Purple and Gold. Lewiston has the oldest school system in Idaho, started in 1863. The Lewiston School District is Independent School District #1. In 1881, out of what is described as apparent petty jealousy, the Idaho territorial legislature authorized Boise, which began public education in 1865, to have the confusing designation District #1 also.

Civic festivals

View of Lewiston and Clarkston, Washington

In springtime Lewiston hosts the Dogwood Festival. This celebration is named for the abundant dogwood trees that are in fragrant bloom during the festival. During and shortly after the festival these pink blossoms blow through yards and streets like drifts of snow.

During late summer, "Hot August Nights" takes place. This celebration includes concerts by classic 1950s to 1980s musicians, such as .38 Special, Eddie Money, and Loverboy. There's also a show and shine for classic cars, followed by a night parade along Main Street. During the fall, a number of cottonwood trees release cotton-like clouds of seeds that blow through the air and streets, blanketing them with a snow-like cover.

The town has a large Christmas festival that includes a number of lighted displays in the downtown area. At the site of what was originally the Johann D.C. Thiessen mansion and ranch, now Locomotive Park, so named because of the retired locomotive Steam Engine 92 and Camas Prairie RR Caboose on display in the middle, large trees and pathways are decorated with lights from Thanksgiving to New Year's. These events are sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, and the displays involved are typically quite impressive and often attract many visitors.

Each year, Lewis-Clark State College, with cooperation from the city, hosts the Avista NAIA World Series in May, and the Lewiston Round Up in September. The Lewiston Round Up is a member of the Big 4 or Big Money 4 (along with Pendleton Round-up, Walla Walla Fair and Rodeo and Ellensburg Rodeo) and a top 50 PRCA rodeo.

Famous Lewiston borns

  • Owen Mounce internationally famous jockey
  • Jake Scott (guard) Professional Football Player NFL
  • Jason Schmidt MLB pitcher
  • George Thiessen (tackle) NFL Football player and NCAA record holder


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ Table 4: Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places in Idaho, Listed Alphabetically: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006 (SUB-EST2006-04-16) Accessed 16 July 2007
  3. ^ Moffatt, Riley. Population History of Western U.S. Cities & Towns, 1850-1990. Lanham: Scarecrow, 1996, 95.
  4. ^ "Subcounty population estimates: Idaho 2000-2007" (CSV). United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  5. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ 1864 territorial census, Idaho Territory via Idaho State Historical Society, 1864. Accessed 2009-05-10.
  7. ^ 1863 territorial census, Idaho Territory via Idaho State Historical Society, 1863. Accessed 2009-05-10.

Valentino Leyva (former AMA motocrosser)

Further reading

Northern Pacific Railway, 

External links

Coordinates: 46°24′01″N 117°00′04″W / 46.400245°N 117.00103°W / 46.400245; -117.00103


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