Charles S. Mellon, president of the Northern Pacific RR, gave the name Cul-de-sac to the small community. He was supposedly traveling the proposed route and remarked that this is indeed a cul-de-sac, a French term which can be roughly translated “blind alley,” “the bottom of the bag,” or a place with only one outlet.” Before Culdesac was a town site, the area was considered a “shebang.” a place established by outlaws for their headquarters. Here, many miners were robbed on their way to Lewiston from the gold fields in the Elk City Basin. Every year, on the second Saturday in June, Culdesac has a celebration called “Shebang Days.” When the railroad was being built,
there were two towns: Mellon, named for President Mellon, and Culdesac, named for his remark. The citizens of the towns applied for a post office and suggested that the name Cul-de-sac be given, spelling it as a compound word. The Post Office Department refused this name, and instead gave the name Magnolia. The people petitioned in July of 1902, that the post office be named Culdesac, writing it as one word. This was granted. The post office is still open for the citizens of Culdesac as of 2015. Culdesac is located at the geographical center of Nez Perce County at 1,687', T35N R3W sec 14. Lapwai Creek runs through town. The population of Culdesac is 380 as of December 2014.