The Nez Perce word ahsahka means "forks of a river." That was the name of an Indian village that once was situated across the river from the settlement which today is called Asahka (bottom center).
Returning to Clearwater country on May 7, 1806, the Corps climbed from the canyon up onto Camas Prairie, "a butifull fertile picteresque Country." With the appreciative eye of a Virginia farmer, Lewis regarded it almost longingly: "the Soil is dark rich loam, thickly Covered with grass and herbaceous plants which afford a delightful pasture for horses." The soil he was admiring is not loam, however, for that term denotes a mixture of sand, clay, silt, and organic matter. Instead, it is old volcanic ash and basalt, which is loaded with the minerals that plants thrive on. (See The Rocks They Walked On.) Camas Prairie, like Weippe Prairie to the northeast, is indeed fertile. From the second half of the 19th century up to the present time it has produced fine crops of grain. By means of several aerial tramways located at strategic points along the canyon's rim, the grain once was delivered to steamboats and freight trains along the river for shipment to market in Lewistown.
Opposite the site of Canoe Camp, on either side of the mouth of the North Fork (Clark's Cho-pun-nish River), are fish hatcheries. The one at the bottom of the photo, with the two large rectangular ponds, produces steelhead, which are large anadromous (sea-going) trout. Opposite, across the North Fork, is a chinook salmon hatchery. (See Chinook Salmon.)
Funded in part by a grant from the Idaho Governor's Lewis and Clark Trail Committee