Wandering Lizard

An online magazine with information related to attractions, lodging, dining,
and travel resources in selected areas of Idaho

Shoshone County


Shoshone County is located in the northeastern part of the Idaho Panhandle. The county seat is Wallace. The 2010 census counted 12,765 residents. Shoshone County was named for the Shoshone Indian Tribe which inhabited the area well before any Anglo-Europeans arrived.

When Lewis and Clark passed through Idaho in 1805, it was the Lemhi Shoshone people that possessed the horses necessary for the party to cross the Bitteroot Mountains. During the negotiations with Chief Cameahwait for the horses, Toussaint Charbonneau's wife, Sacagawea, recognized the chief as her brother. (Sacagawea had been kidnapped as a child by the Hidatsas.) Following their reunion, the Shoshone provided the necessary livestock as well as a guide. Lewis promised to send them the firearms and whatever else they needed to compete with and protect themselves from their traditional enemies - the Blackfeet, Atsinas and Hidatsas when he returned to Washington. I know that Lewis made it back to Washington, but I don't know how much help the Shoshone got in return.

Although fur trappers wandered through the area in the early nineteenth century, very few Anglo-Europeans settled in the area until, late in the century, gold and silver were discovered in what became known as Silver Valley. From that point on, development proceeded apace and Silver Valley, also known as the Couer d'Alene mining district became one of the richest sources of precious metal in the entire country. It was a rough and tumble time with labor strikes, industrial sabotage, murders, and U.S. military interventions. Today, the county offers a base from which one can explore the Bitteroot Mountains and perhaps retrace part of Lewis and Clark's epic journey.