View From the Highway
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he modern highway between Salmon, Idaho, and Hamilton, Montana, speeds travelers comfortably through those "tremendious mountanes" that once made explorers and trappers shudder. It slices neatly through the fragrant forest that impressed the members of the Corps of Discovery.
An early Bitterroot Valley pioneer who had studied the journals concluded that Lewis and Clark, or perhaps their guide Toby, had become temporarily disoriented on the crest of the Bitterroot Divide, and he named the early-20th-century highway crossing "Lost Trail Pass." Now designated as U.S. 93, the highway intersects the expedition's path near the divide, but does not quite parallel the route they probably followed over the ridge and down to Ross's Hole.
Historic Ross Hole goes unnoticed by most travelers. An interpretive sign commemorates Alexander Ross's month-long residence there in 1824, but says nothing of the meeting of the Salish people with the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
See also the history of Ross's Hole and the Bitterroot Valley since those days.