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In 1895, the US government opened up 104 acres on the Nez Perce Indian reservation for the express purpose of encouraging white settlement and establishing a new town. First named Stuart after Nez Perce surveyor and merchant, James Stuart, the Northern Pacific Railroad changed the name in 1899 as the line already serviced a town by that name. Thus, since 1902, the name of Kooskia has prevailed. The name is a derivative of the Nez Perce word, “kooskooskia,” which Lewis and Clark believed to mean “clear water.” Although linguists now believe that the word actually translates to “where the waters join,” the name is still appropriate as the town is situated at the convergence of the Clearwater River’s Middle and South Forks.

In the 1900s, the town was known by avid equestrians as the home of Decker saddles. Blacksmith and packer, Oliver P. Robinett, moved to Kooskia in 1906 and built the Decker saddle. The model soon established itself as being more efficient and easier to use than other available saddles. The Decker brothers took up making the saddles, named the item after themselves, and sold them all over the west.

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