Some of the first people to inhabit the areas of Clark County were the Northern Shoshoni approximately 7,000-8,000 years ago. However, the Idaho State University Museum in conjunction with the Peabody Museum of Harvard University found human evidence in the Birch Creek Valley in the southwest corner of Clark County that is 10,000 years old or possibly more. They believe these people were the fore runners to the Northern Shoshoni. They were mostly big game hunters but also gatherers of wild food. In some areas they used natural rock outcroppings and caves as dwelling areas and places to butcher and store meat. The Nez Perce Indians also used the general area as a route taken each year from the Wallowa Valley to their buffalo hunting grounds in Montana.
This area was well traveled in the 1800's by early trappers and explorers. In 1853 Lieutenant Mullen traveled through Medicine Lodge Canyon from Montana on his way to Fort Hall. This route, also used historically by Indians, became a well traveled route to the Montana Gold Fields from Salt Lake City, Utah. Birch Creek Valley and Monida Pass were also well traveled routes. Monida Pass eventually become the main route running north and south and was traveled by freight and stagecoaches as well as the famous Pony Express. The stage stop was located near present day Spencer and called the Beaver Stage Station and was Clark County�s earliest settlement. By the 1870's Beaver was a boom town with large lumber enterprises. The early 1880�s brought the steam locomotive to Clark County as it made its way to Montana. With it came the birth of a new town. The railroad needed an area with flatter ground than Beaver offered, so began the settlement of Dubois, named after the late Idaho Senator Fred T. Dubois. By 1910, Dubois was a booming town which boasted a population of over 600 people (Historical Society, 1985). Other early towns still found on some maps but contain little more than monuments to their former inhabitants are Lidy, Winsper, Small and others.
February 1, 1919, a portion of land was taken from Fremont County and renamed Clark County. The County was named for Sam K. Clark who was an early settler on Medicine Lodge Creek. He represented Fremont County at the time Clark County was created. The city of Dubois, was designated the County seat.
© 2007 Bonnie Stoddard, Clark County Historian
Note: Bonnie and several contributors produced a book "The Settlers of the Silver Sage" which has excellent memories of residents of Clark County. It is now available online as a free digitized version.
© 2005-2013 Michael Shaw
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