Colt Killed Creek Campsite

Fast moving river with island in the middle

Quick Facts
National Register of Historic Places, National Historic Landmark

Lewis and Clark NHT Visitor Centers and Museums

Visitor Centers (shown in orange), High Potential Historic Sites (shown in black), and Pivotal Places (shown in green) along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail

Colt Killed Creek Campsite is a High Potential Historic Site on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

By Clark’s account, September 14, 1805, was a miserable slog. Persevering through rain, hail, and snow, the fatigued expedition struggled over steep mountainsides made nearly impassable by a plethora of fallen tim­ber. They ended the day “Encamped opposit a Small Island at the mouth of a branch on the right side of the river which is at this place 80 yads wide, Swift and Stoney, here we wer compelled to kill a Colt for our men & Selves to eat for the want of meat & we named the South fork Colt killed Creek, and this river we Call Flathead River.” The horsemeat was a welcome addition to the paltry food rations. Gass wrote, “none of the hunters killed any thing except 2 or 3 pheasants; on which, without a miracle it was impossible to feed 30 hungry men and upwards, besides some Indians. So Capt. Lewis gave out some portable soup, which he had along, to be used in cases of necessity. Some of the men did not relish this soup, and agreed to kill a colt; which they immediately did, and set about roasting it; and which appeared to me to be good eating.”

The Colt Killed Creek Campsite is located on the grounds of the Powell Ranger Station, within Clearwater National Forest. The probable site of the encampment has been developed to include a helipad, parking area, and numerous outbuildings. The creek branch described by Clark was filled in by the USFS sometime after the 1950s, but the “Small Island” in the Lochsa River remains intact. There is no interpretive signage on-site. The site is a component of the Lolo Trail National Historic Landmark.

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

Last updated: November 27, 2020