Spalding, Idaho

Spalding is 10 miles east of Lewiston, originated in 1895 and was named for the Reverend Henry Harmon Spalding, a Presbyterian missionary from New England, who established a mission in 1836 on Lapwai Creek, near this location among the Nez Perce Indians.

          After Spalding taught the Nez Perce irrigated farming, it was the first agricultural settlement in Idaho. The first mission was actually located about 12 miles from where Lewiston now stands, 2 miles south of the mouth of Lapwai Creek. In 1838, the mission  was moved to the present location of Spalding, at the mouth of Lapwai Creek, and at that time, it was called Lapwai. The Spaldings remained here until 1847. After Mrs. Eliza Spalding died in 1850 in Brownsville, Oregon, Henry would returned to the area as a teacher. Despite his reputation as stern and unyielding, he developed a large following, baptizing over 900 Nez Perce before his death in 1874.

          Over the years Spalding became a town that had a school, stores, hotel and a post office from 1897 until1998. One resident of Spalding was Lillian Bounds, who lived there as a child and young adult. She later married Walt Disney,

        

          Spalding has been the site of picnics and family get-togethers for generations. In 1890, when the above image of the picnic took place, the Nez Perce Indian Agency was located nearby and the area called Lapwai. The building in the center background was built in 1881 as a government boarding school for Indian children and served that purpose until 1892. The building then became a lavishly furnished hotel. A thriving village had grown up around the Indian Agency, and in 1897, the name was changed from Lapwai to Spalding. In 1906, a devastating fire destroyed the town, including the hotel. The second image was taken southwest of the present Spalding Park, facing north.

          In 1936, the Idaho State Legislature established the Spalding Memorial State Park, at the site of the old mission. The grove of trees you see today was planted when the park was established. In 1965, Nez Perce National Historical Park was created by an act of Congress.

         Elevation is 800'. T36N R4W sec 22.

© 2019 by Nez Perce County Historical Society and Museum

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