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River of No Return

The "River of No Return" refers to the Salmon River, a 425 mile long river that curves through central Idaho. It is the longest, undammed river in the Continental United States. The river flows northeast and is joined by the Lemhi River. From there, it flows west and is joined by the Middle Fork and South Fork then proceeds northward to empty into the Snake River. The river averages a twelve foot drop for every mile and ranges from a leisurely Class I to a foaming Class IV.

In 1805, Walter Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition, viewed the river and turned away from crossing it. In his journal that night he wrote "The water runs with great violence from one rock to the other on each side foaming and roreing thro rocks in every direction, so as to render the passage of anything impossible." Despite Clark's analysis of the river, later settlers, trappers and traders managed to navigate the swift waters and rapids. Many would pilot wooden scows down stream selling their wares. Upon reaching the end of the river, they would sell their scows for scrap lumber and return to Salmon City by overland trails. Because it was impossible to navigate back upstream, the Salmon River also became known as the "River of No Return."

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