‘Idaho Experience’ Recaptures Final Log Drives on the Clearwater River

In early-1900s Idaho, timber was king. The supply of coveted western white pine seemed endless. To the newly arrived Weyerhaeuser family, it was as if money grew on trees. Although Idaho forests promised jobs, the work of cutting timber and transporting it to the mill in Lewiston across rugged, roadless mountains would take innovation and hard work. North Idaho’s Clearwater River would serve as a channel to transport the valuable timber in annual log drives that would span a half century.

Idaho Public Television’s original series Idaho Experience takes viewers along for The Last Log Drive on the Clearwater River to chronicle the 100-mile journey to Lewiston, life on the river, and the company that ran it all—plus, what caused the log drive to come to an abrupt end in 1971.

The film airs Thursday, Feb. 18, at 8:30 PM and repeats Sunday, Feb. 21, at 7:30 PM. It will be available for early streaming beginning Feb. 11 on the PBS Video app or online at video.idahoptv.org.

“These drives were hard,” says producer Aaron Kunz. “It took young, strong, agile men working all day in 37-degree water. We interviewed some of the men who worked those log drives. Their stories take viewers back to a different time in Idaho.”

Major funding for Idaho Experience is provided by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Anne Voillequé and Louise Nelson, Judy and Steve Meyer, the Futura Corporation, the Richard K. and Shirley S. Hemingway Foundation, the Friends of Idaho Public Television, the Idaho Public Television Endowment, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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