Stark discovered the area in 1961 when he accepted a job with Potlatch at Camp T. He raised a family at Headquarters and explored the drainage area over a 40-year career.
The book begins with a geological explanation for the area’s steep terrain and then delves into the area’s first inhabitants, Sahaptin and Salish-speaking people living there up to 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. The book recounts archaeological surveys of the area that turned up artifacts like net weights and projectile points.
In the 1870s railroad surveyors explored the terrain as an alternate route to the Lochsa River.
“Those guys had to be tough because at that particular time going up in the North Fork there was almost no trails. They had to blaze their own trails and drag their own survey equipment. It really amazed me they were able to do that,” says Stark, who recounts surveys of the topography ultimately deemed unsuitable because of frequent winter avalanches in the steep canyons.
Trappers also found the winter hazardous and lonely. They came to the area seeking martens whose fur was in demand for luxury goods in the 1920s. Among them were Joe Fix, who has a creek named after him, and Mike (Moldy) Olson.
The book includes black and white historical photographs of people and places, including many early homesteads, logging camps and Forest Service cabins. Stark strove to detail only documented events. His sources include people who have lived in the area their entire lives, including Ira Fackenthall, who was raised on Freeman Creek and is in his 90s.
This is Stark’s first book. He will sign copies from 2-4 p.m. Saturday at And Books Too in Clarkston. The book is available at Hastings in Lewiston; and in Orofino at Glenwood IGA, the Clearwater Historical Museum, Barney’s Harvest Foods and the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Service office.
(“North Fork of the Clearwater River, the Almost Forgotten History,” by Wendell M. Stark, Xlibris,
351 pages, $29.99.)
If You Go
What: Wendell M. Stark book signing
When: 2-4 p.m. Saturday
Where: And Books Too, 918 Sixth St., Clarkston