Rivers and Creeks - "Lolo Creek"
Lolo Creek History
The Lewis and Clark expedition camped along Lolo Creek twice during their Corps of Discovery journey across the continent to discover the Northwest Passage. The first stop was documented in early September 1805, and they named it Travelers Rest Creek. (Today a State Park protects this site and is named Travelers Rest Campsite. The campsite was
confirmed by mercury traces excavated from
the site of the latrine used by expedition
members, who were regularly medicated
with a mercury-laced laxative assumed to
cure all ailments.)
They camped at the same site on June 30th, 1806 on their return journey. The party then split up in order to cover more territory and expand their knowledge of the surrounding area.
The naming of Lolo Creek has been given many explanations, but the most plausible
and most documented explanation is that a fur trader named Laurence was trapping the western streams of Montana as early as the spring of 1810.
Around 1850, Laurence and his wife (Nez Perce heritage) were living in a cabin up Grave's Creek canyon (which is located about halfway between the Bitterroot Divide and the Traveler's Rest campsite).
Laurence was French and the pronunciation of his name was difficult for the Native Americans to enunciate, so they created a nickname of "Lo Lo". It is believed that Laurence was killed by a grizzly bear and buried by his cabin in Graves Canyon.
Other explanations as to the naming of the creek consider the fact that in Chinook trade language the expression "Lo-lo" means to carry or load, which could apply to the actual Lolo trail which is an arduous hike/journey.
The name “Lo Lo” was officially used to identify the stream (on his map) by Captain John Mullan, who was reporting on his 1854 reconnaissance for positioning a railroad route over the Rocky Mountains at Lolo Pass.
is considered a small to medium sized stream in western
Montana, with a watershed covering 175,484
acres. It is a basin-fed mountain
stream that flows eastward from headwaters
located on the Idaho border for +30
miles to a confluence with the lower Bitterroot
River (Lolo Creek is its principal tributary).
Lolo Creek Current Day
In the past (decades ago) Lolo Creek was a known meandering stream, with many deep pools formed by log jams, which were excellent "fishing pools". In the late 1950's the creek changed due to the construction of Highway 12, which eliminated many of its meanders and as a result transformed Lolo Creek into a shorter, faster flowing creek.
Still, with these changes it is a beautiful creek to enjoy whether fishing, relaxing or hiking.