Steve F. Russell

Steve Russell on Bald Mountain

man wearing overalls sitting on a forest trail

© 2001 Steve F. Russell

Trail historian Steve Russell takes a break on Bald Mountain, with his feet in the deeply eroded tread of the ancient Indian trail.

Steve F. Russell is an electrical engineer on the faculty at Iowa State University. He was born in Lewiston, Idaho, and spent his youth at several locations along the Lewis and Clark trail. He has lived at Lochsa Lodge at Powell, Idaho, on the Weippe Prairie, and in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. For two decades he has returned to Idaho and western Montana each summer to conduct intensive, systematic research on the locations of the actual trail treads and campsites used by the expedition. His methods include the study of old maps, early aerial photos, pioneer survey notes, National Archives records and, of course, the expedition's journals. He has developed high-tech computer tools that apply mathematical analysis, geographic information systems and the Global Positioning system to analysis of all the courses and distances given in the journals. His approach is also unique among modern researchers in that he has actually found, hiked, and documented the exact trail tread followed by the expedition.

Steve's work has won national acclaim for its accuracy and thoroughness. Other history-related projects have included a 1989 Lewis and Clark map study and map atlas for the Bitterroot Historical Society, and a Carroll Trail mapping publication for the Meagher County News, which in 1989 won a second-place award for Best Single Centennial Story in Montana newspapers. Steve is a popular speaker and workshop instructor, and maintains a web site, Historic Trails Research .

Articles on this site by Steve Russell: