Amenities and Attractions
The Nez Perce National Historical Park is a 38-site park managed by the National Park Service. The sites are in four states – Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Most of the sites follow the Lewis and Clark trail and the trail of the Nez Perce as they fought and fled the U.S. Army in 1877.
Many of the Idaho sites are within an hour’s drive of Nezperce. One of the sites is the park visitor center near Spaulding, 44 miles northwest on Nezperce on U.S. 95. About 16 miles east near Kamiah, is Heart of the Monster National Monument; a rock formation that, according to Nez Perce legend, represents the source from which the Nez Perce sprang.
Two Idaho State Parks are near Nezperce. The 418-acre Winchester Lake State Park has a 103-acre Lake. It is 20 miles west near Winchester. The 850-acre Dworshak State Park lies about 30 miles north on the western shores of Dworshak Reservoir. The Clearwater and Nez Perce National Forests nearby offer camping, hiking and backpacking trails, hunting and fishing opportunities.
Nezperce has three city parks; a small one in the center of town with a reader board for upcoming events, etc., another a few blocks south with playground equipment along with picnic/BBQ facilities and tennis courts, and the Nezperce Memorial Park along the banks of Long Hollow Creek, which has a large picnic pavilion, children’s large play area and a covered performance stage with storage and dressing rooms. Trees honoring departed citizens are planted in this park.
The Lewis County Fair is held in Nezperce every fall the last weekend in September. It is a four day celebration with many events for young and old alike. On the last day of the Fair the Nezperce Lions Club has sponsored a combine demolition derby, which now includes grain truck races and travel trailer races. Located only two blocks from city center, the old rodeo grounds, renamed the Cecil Hill Arena, is used for these events. Throughout the first half of the 20th century a rodeo was held annually at this arena and was considered for decades second only to the Pendleton Roundup in Oregon.
The annual Nezperce Prairie Day celebration is held every second Saturday in July. It was established in 1982 to honor and remember the past with parades, music, food, kid events and high school reunions.
Economy and Major Employers
The largest public employer with 49 employees is the Nezperce School District. Lewis County has 45 employees. The largest private employer, a light-equipment manufacturing company has 30 employees; other companies with fewer than 20 employees each are a grain warehouse, three fertilizer/chemical companies, a grass seed company and two farm equipment dealers.
The city’s commercial area consists of a grocery store, two insurance companies, a title company, barber/beauty shop, two farm-implement dealers, two bars, one restrauant, two law offices, a weekly newspaper, a hotel, two crop dusters, a bank and a credit union. Nezperce also has 5 churches, a public library and a visitor’s center along with a very active and growing senior center.
The Nezperce School District provides elementary and secondary education. Nezperce Elementary and Nezperce High School are both located in the city. Many opportunities are provided in both elementary and in the Jr. high and high school.
The nearest institution of higher learning is Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston. Also, both the University of Idaho at Moscow and Washington State University at Pullman, Washington are approximately 85-90 miles away.
Nezperce has a general medical clinic serving the Nezperce Prairie. The nearest hospital is St. Mary’s Hospital, 18 miles southwest in Cottonwood. Other hospitals are Syringa Hospital and Clinic in Grangeville, Clearwater Valley Hospital in Orofino and St Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston.
The north-south Idaho Highway 162 intersects the city. Also intersecting the city is the 16-mile-long Idaho Highway 64 to Kamiah and U.S. Highway 12. U.S. Highway 95 lies just 16 miles west at Craigmont.
Airport service for light private and charter aircraft is available at the 2,000-foot runway at Nezperce Municipal Airport. The airport is located two blocks from downtown Nezperce. The closest commercial carrier airport is Lewiston-Nez Perce County Airport, located 56 miles west in Lewiston, Idaho.
Utilities and Services
Private companies provide electricity, telephone and satellite. The City provides water and sewer services and fire protection. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office provides police protection under contract with the City. There is a modern well-equipped volunteer fire department and a volunteer EMT-staffed ambulance crew available. 2018 saw the new fire department/EMT and city hall building completed.
The Nezperce Prairie continues to have rich, fertile black soil farmland, with its capacity to produce many crops such as; wheat, barley, dry peas, grass, canola, garbanzos and others.
Vision for Nezperce
The objective of the leaders of the city and community is to protect the city’s heritage, peaceful hometown character and environment; to insure Nezperce continues as a wonderful place to work, live and raise a family. In the next decade, Nezperce will be a growing, economically vibrant crossroads community at the heart of the Nezperce Prairie. It will be a refuge that preserves and builds upon its agricultural and family heritage with a revitalized downtown and broad-based community involvement.
Original Research: AIC staff
History of North Idaho – published 1903, embracing Nez Perces, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties.
Remember When – published 1976 by Margaret Nell Longteig and Rheba Miller.
Idaho: Official State Travel Guide published by Idaho Department of Commerce