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News & Press: Community Spotlights

AIC Shines Its Community Spotlight on Juliaetta

Friday, February 24, 2017  
Posted by: Gay Dawn Oyler
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Juliaetta Community Library

Juliaetta lies on the eastern edge of Idaho’s fertile Palouse. Fields of wheat, lentils, peas, oats and barley interspersed with tree-covered ravines and forests of coniferous trees surround the city. The Potlatch River flows on the eastern edge of the city where it forms the border between Latah and Nez Perce Counties.

The Nez Perce Indian Reservation lies southeast of Juliaetta. Dworshak Dam, Reservoir and Recreation Area are 20 miles due east of the city. The city of Moscow is 14 miles northwest. Lewiston is 12 miles southwest.

Historical Tidbits

In 1805 to 1806 Lewis, Clark and the Corps of Discovery, assisted by Nez Perce Indians, canoed the Clearwater River five miles south of what is now Juliaetta. Within a few years, explorers/ trappers came into the inland northwest in search of beaver pelts.

In 1836 Henry H. Spalding and his wife Eliza, Presbyterian missionaries, established a mission among the Nez Perce several miles south of what is now Juliaetta near Lapwai.

In 1860 Captain Elias Davidson Pierce led a party of 10 prospectors into the Palouse, passing through what is now Kendrick then heading east for about 50 miles and re-entering Nez Perce Reservation land (1855 Treaty) where they found large quantities of placer gold.

At first Nez Perce tribal chiefs resisted the intrusion of the prospectors but had to relent because within a year 3,000 prospectors flooded into the area of what is now Pierce. Most of the miners came up the Columbia and Snake Rivers to Lewiston on steamers, then overland to Pierce. Even though Lewiston was technically on reservation land, it became a port for the steamers and became a boomtown.

The need for fresh food to feed the swelling numbers of fortune hunters brought the first permanent settlers to the fertile Palouse, which was not on Treaty land.

In 1878 Rupert Schupfer filed a 160-acre homestead claim and platted the town that would become Juliaetta. He named his new town Schupferville.

In 1882 Charles Snyder, another homesteader with property near Schupferville, applied to postal authorities for a post office operated out of his combination home and general store. Snyder’s application specified himself as postmaster of the post office that he named Juliaetta after his two daughters Julia and Etta.

Snyder later acquired a lot in Schupferville and built a commercial business that housed the Juliaetta Post Office. In the early years, post offices could be little more than a wood box in which the mail was placed. The mail carrier, riding a horse or buggy, came on a periodic schedule to deliver and pick up the mail. Local residents would thumb through the mailbox to find mail addressed to them. Since all mail addresses specified the name of the post office, Juliaetta became the accepted name of the community.

In the late 1880s the Northern Pacific affiliate, the Spokane and Palouse Railroad (SPR), began construction of a line from Spokane to Lewiston. However, when it reached Genesee, construction had to stop. Building a railroad down the steep and treacherous Lewiston grade was too difficult.

Genesee remained a railroad terminus for a decade while the SPR surveyed and built a new rail line from Moscow to the Potlatch River canyon and then south to Lewiston.

However, in 1890 when the railroad reached Juliaetta, the SPR again had to bring construction to a halt. The Nez Perce Indians would not approve a railroad right-of-way through their reservation. As a result, Juliaetta became a railroad terminus and railhead.

On April 19, 1892, with a population approaching 500, Juliaetta became an incorporated village. By that time Lewiston merchants who desperately wanted the railroad, cured the right-of-way problem by acquiring the rail corridor from the Nez Perce for $75,000.

Unfortunately for the railroad and the Lewiston merchants, the general economic collapse—"the Panic of 1893"—caused the railroad to delay construction for six more years. From 1890 to 1899 Juliaetta was the railroad’s terminus. During this time, the city prospered as area businesses and farmers brought their livestock and commodities to the railhead for shipment and to pick up freight.

The Community - A Worthwhile Partnership

The cities of Juliaetta and Kendrick (the Community) now work cooperatively together in achieving certain educational and municipal objectives. With just over 3 miles separating the two towns, the Community approved educating K-7 students in Juliaetta Elementary and the older students in Kendrick.

In recent years, the Community has developed a joint Comprehensive Plan. This cooperative effort is reducing redundant costs, providing better utilization of scarce resources and improving the quality of life of residents of both cities.

Amenities and Attractions Today

Juliaetta has two small parks downtown that comprise a total of one acre and Centennial Park. Centennial Park has ball fields, gazebo and restroom facilities. Centennial Park is also the Juliaetta trailhead for the bike/walking path that connects Juliaetta and Kendrick along the abandoned rail right-of-way. Juliaetta has added trees and park benches along its section of the trail.

The 850-acre Dworshak State Park is located 25 miles southeast of the city on the western shore of the 16,000 acre Dworshak Reservoir. The reservoir extends 54 miles northeast of the dam into the heavily wooded Clearwater National Forest.

The Dworshak National Fish Hatchery, located at the confluence of the North Fork and the main Clearwater Rivers about 25 miles southeast near Orofino, captures steelhead trout and Chinook salmon that are returning to spawn. The hatchery spawns the fish and raises them until they are large enough to start their migration to the Pacific Ocean.

The entire Dworshak Recreation Area is an exceptional location for boating, fishing, camping, recreational vehicles, swimming, water skiing, hunting, hiking, ATV and snowmobile riding and wildlife viewing.

Hells Gate State Park is located about 30 miles southwest, just south of Lewiston. This 960-acre park is part of the 652,488-acre Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. The Area includes North America’s deepest river gorge. This Snake River gorge forms the Idaho/Oregon border. On the Oregon side, the gorge lies more than a mile below Oregon’s west rim. On the Idaho side, the gorge is more than 8,000 feet below He Devil Peak of the Seven Devils Mountains.

The Nez Perce National Historic Park, managed by the National Park Service and partially staffed by tribal members, is located in Spalding, 20 miles south.

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