Lewiston Hill

Lewiston Hill

Location: On Highway 95 north out of Lewiston.

History: The demand for a better road connecting Idaho from north to south began in the early 1900’s, when automobile traffic made a steep old wagon road obsolete. The inadequate thoroughfare hindered commercial transportation and economic development. So, in 1914, E.M. Booth, a Nez Perce County engineer, who later became the state highway engineer, surveyed a route up the challenging hill. It was C.C. Van Arsdol whose job it was to take this idea and make it a reality. He advanced and oversaw the Lewiston Hill project—resulting in the completion of a new road in 1917. The 2000-foot grade was designed with a series of sharp curves that let cars go 20 or 30 miles an hour—a good speed for that time. It still can be used by anyone not in too much of a hurry who wants to see an engineering model of early highway construction.

In July1975 work began on the present grade. It opened in 1979. The cost, including right-of-way, was $22 million.

Statistics: The 1917 road took 64 turns in 2000 feet. It was designed to be a 9.5-mile stretch with a four percent grade. Its initial construction costs were estimated at $50,000. The final construction cost was $100,000—twice the original cost estimate.

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