Welcome to The Greater Kooskia
Chamber of Commerce …
“Gateway to the Wilderness”

Kooskia Kiosk

Kooskia welcome sign and historical informational kiosk at the crossing of the Clearwater at the entrance to town.

KOOSKIA  – – “Gateway to the Wilderness”.

The town of Kooskia, known first to settlers as Stuart, was established in 1895. The town was named after James Stuart (1863-1929) a prominent early citizen who was part white and part Nez Perce.

The Greater Kooskia area has many small settlements in its history.  Settlements such as Clearwater, Tahoe, Lowell, Stites, Harpster each had their own schoolhouse. Several schoolhouses still stand today. Visitors to the area have the opportunity to view them on historical schoolhouse field trips.

Kooskia and its surrounding communities were initially settled as a farming community. Its resources soon became an important destination to lumberjacks, trappers, and miners. Traveling Kooskia’s wilderness was not for the faint of heart, an experienced guide was an advantage. Mule and mule trains brought supplies to the area.

Most supplies were hauled into the wilderness either by pack mule or skids. Mill equipment, homesteading supplies, mining equipment, furs, and traps were carried into the backcountry. Harnesses, pack saddles, and skids were used to transport necessary, and sometimes unnecessary items,  by the sure-footed mule.

Clearwater River

Middle Fork of the Clearwater River

Around 1906 Kooskia’s own Oliver P. Robinette perfected the  Decker Packsaddle. He built many OPR style Decker Pack Saddles for the Forest Service until his death in 1945. Several of these unique saddles are on display at the Historical Lochsa Ranger Station that is maintained by the Forest Service.

If you were going to the Selway wilderness or lived in a surrounding community like Pleasant Valley or Eureka, Kooskia was the place to send or receive supplies.

Lumberjacks floated their harvest down the Lochsa, Selway, and Clearwater Rivers. Lumber is still an industry today. The last log drive was in spring of 1971. Today timber is shipped by truck or rail.

Today visitors can travel through time by enjoying a peaceful float down Clearwater River or the adrenaline-filled excitement of a guided raft trip down the Lochsa. Or perhaps a fishing expedition? Coming to the Clearwater Valley is stepping into history and the “Gateway to the Wilderness.”