Ailing from Lewis and Clark fever, Gov. Phil Batt committed the state Tuesday to buying the explorers’ Glade Creek campsite.
Plum Creek Timber Co. is selling the 160-acre campsite east of Lolo Pass to the Idaho Heritage Trust for $255,770. The trust will then donate the property to the state sometime next fall.
“We’re all kinda caught up in Lewis and Clark fever right now,” Batt said. “All of us are very proud of the need to preserve what history we have.”
As Lewis and Clark pushed west, they camped in the open meadow along Glade Creek, known today as Pack Creek, on Sept. 13, 1805.
“We followed the course of this new creek for two miles, and camped at a spot where the mountains close in on each side,” reads a passage from the explorers’ journal. “Other mountains, covered with snow, are in view to the southeast and southwest.”
The clear, sandy-bottom creek and the narrow meadow pampered by snowcapped mountains remain as Lewis and Clark saw them almost 200 years ago, said Denny Sigars, the Clearwater Unit manager for Plum Creek.
“We’re very proud of the foresters in the way they’ve managed that property for all these years,” Sigars said.
Plum Creek has owned the property since the 1950s.
The state Department of Parks and Recreation will help manage the site, which Batt said may include an interpretive center.
The Glade Creek campsite purchase comes as the state prepares for the bicentennial commemoration of the historic trek to the Pacific Ocean in 2003.
Batt said it’s crucial to preserve the Lewis and Clark trail.
He praised author Stephen E. Ambrose, whose “Undaunted Courage” became a best seller, for helping spread the fever.
“The acquisition of the Glade Creek site from Plum Creek Timber Company by the Idaho Heritage Trust is wonderful news that brings joy to the hearts of all Lewis and Clark fans,” Ambrose said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of historic campsite area