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A Bit of Main Salmon “River of No Return” History

Idaho is home to the Salmon River, which is also known as the ‘River of No Return’.  Even the name incites adventure. So why do so many adventurous families opt to go there on vacation?  What do they mean by ‘No Return’, and is it as dangerous as the name suggests? The short answer is no, but to understand this further, you need to understand a little bit about the history of the area and the river itself.

The Nez Perce and Sheepeater Indians

This area holds a lot of history starting from the Nez Perce tribe’s ancestral grounds. This tribe was one of many that inhabited the area for over 8000 years before western civilization came in and took over. Even if you visit the area today, you will be able to see the remains of some of the settlements of these ancient tribes. This river was considered scared by these tribes because they relied solely on the abundance of salmon and other fish from the river and wildlife surrounding the river for their survival.

The Miners and the Scow

In the 1860s, gold deposits were spotted along the river banks of the Salmon River. This was the initiation of the gold rush in Idaho, where miners gathered around the river in search of the precious metal. Communities and towns were built along the river banks and as they grew, so did the demand for lumber and other building materials. The best way to transport these materials along the river bank was with the use of the river itself, but, unfortunately, the river was so wild and unruly that it made it very difficult. These miners and their families had to come up with more creative ways in order to transport the lumber down the river.

Many of these men had migrated to the area from other mining area’s along other river’s but with the extreme challenges of navigating the Main Salmon River they had to create a new kind of boat for the transportation of euipment. This is where the scow with it’s sweeps for manuevering the tight chanels and raging rapids was birthed. These flat-bottomed boats were built in a way that they could carry up to four tones of wood and materials on them and just needed two people to navigate them through the water. Once these boats flowed down the river to their destinations, they were dismantled and also used as lumber along with the wood that they were carrying. These boats would never return to their origin; hence the river was given the not-so-threatening name of “River of No Return”.

Experince the History

Today, the river is used for fishing and whitewater rafting for a whole lot of family fun. The historic hikes along the river banks also make for scenic and picturesque adventures for anyone who visits the area.

If you and your family want to visit this gorgeous and historical site, let Mountain River Outfitters show you the proper way to see it! Get on a five or 6 day main Salmon River rafting trip to really get a feel of what the wilderness surrounding the area is all about. You will get to spend time on the untamed, free-flowing river and experience the power of nature completely unadulterated and at its best!

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