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Cody Field Office
Release Date: 06/06/12
Contacts: Sarah Beckwith    

Volunteers Search for Historic Trail Routes on National Trails Day

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Cody Field Office, the Nez Perce Trail Foundation and other volunteers spent June 2—National Trails Day—searching for evidence of possible alternate routes of the Nez Perce National Historic Trail (NHT) near Clark, Wyo.

Volunteers search for evidence of alternate routes.
Volunteers search for evidence of alternate routes.
Volunteer signals the group..
Mike Neville calls the group together to look 
at something he's found.
Group looks at some possible evidence.
Dr. Larry Todd talks about the area's archaeology. Standing from left: Kyle Wright (Shoshone National Forest), Mike Neville and Lisa Marks (BLM).
The Nez Perce NHT follows the 1877 flight of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce as they tried to escape the pursuing U.S. Army. The 1,170 mile long route begins at Wallowa Lake, Ore. and ends at the Bear Paw Battleground in Montana. One section of the trail follows the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River out of Wyoming and into Montana. However, it’s possible that either the Nez Perce or the Army used routes other than the route now designated as the Nez Perce NHT.

“The goal is to identify where the alternate route was so that we can preserve and protect it,” said Jim Evans, director of the Nez Perce Trail Foundation. “This is a heritage that we need to pass on.”

Evans kicked-off the day with an educational program about the history of the trail and the partnership between the Nez Perce Trail Foundation, the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service and the public. Dr. Larry Todd of the Greybull River Sustainable Landscape Ecology non-profit discussed the area’s archaeology and the inventory technique to be employed.

Groups of participants then walked transects near the trail, hoping to find evidence of alternate routes. “If there were Nez Perce NHT variants in the Cody Field Office area, they were likely used only once, making such routes difficult to pinpoint,” said BLM Archaeologist Kierson Crume.

Volunteers were excited to find a collapsed coal mine adit, several historic debris scatters and an isolated unifacial quartzite scraper. Although none of the artifacts can be definitively correlated with the 1877 event, future research expectations have been refined. Due to the positive response from the volunteers, Crume hopes to continue the inventory effort.

Evans was happy to see a good turn-out for the National Trails Day event. “We travel the country, identifying where the trail is, and it’s nice to have local people involved,” Evans said. “Volunteers make this whole thing possible.”

Visit to learn more about the Nez Perce Trail Foundation.

For more information, contact Crume at 578-5900 or

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Cody Field Office   1002 Blackburn Street      Cody, WY 82414  

Last updated: 06-14-2012