Lewiston is a city and the county seat of Nez Perce County, Idaho, United States, in the state’s north central region. It is the second-largest city in the northern Idaho region, behind Coeur d’Alene, and ninth-largest in the state. Lewiston is the principal city of the Lewiston, ID-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Nez Perce County and Asotin County, Washington. As of the 2010 census, the population of Lewiston was 31,894, up from 30,904 in 2000.
Lewiston is located at the confluence of the Snake River and Clearwater River, thirty miles (50 km) upstream and southeast of the Lower Granite Dam. Because of dams (and their locks) on the Snake and Columbia River, Lewiston is reachable by some ocean-going vessels. The Port of Lewiston (Idaho’s only seaport) has the distinction of being the farthest inland port east of the West Coast. The Lewiston-Nez Perce County Airport serves the city by air.
Lewiston was founded in 1862 in the wake of a gold rush which began the previous year near Pierce, northeast of Lewiston. In 1863, Lewiston became the first capital of the newly created Idaho Territory. Its stint as seat of the new territory’s government was short-lived, as a resolution to have the capital moved south to Boise was passed by the Idaho Territorial Legislature on December 7, 1864.
Lewiston’s main industries are agriculture, paper, and timber products, and light manufacturing. Ammunition manufacturing maintains a very important and growing presence in Lewiston, being the headquarters of ammunition makers CCI and Speer Bullet. The city is the primary regional transportation, retail, health care, and entertainment center of the surrounding area and serves as a recreation destination for the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.
Lewiston is home to Lewis–Clark State College, a public undergraduate college. Community activities in Lewiston include the Dogwood Festival, Hot August Nights, and the Lewiston Roundup.
Lewiston’s economy has historically been driven by agriculture and manufacturing activity. Lewiston’s location at the confluence of the Snake River and Clearwater River made it a natural distribution point due to its seaport.
The Port of Lewiston is Idaho’s only seaport and is navigable for barges which transport grain, legumes, paper, lumber and other goods up and down the Columbia River.
Paper product manufacturer, Clearwater Paper is the largest employer in the manufacturing sector; its pulp and paper mill began operations in late 1950. Ammunition manufacturing maintains an important and growing presence in Lewiston. Ammunition maker CCI, and Speer Bullet (both now brands of Vista Outdoor) are headquartered in Lewiston and Howell Munitions & Technology has a plant in the city as well. Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, based in Pullman, has a manufacturing facility in Lewiston.
As the metropolitan hub of the Lewis-Clark Valley, Lewiston is the primary regional transportation, retail, health care, wholesale and professional services, and entertainment center. In 2017, the Lewiston, ID–Clarkston, WA metropolitan area had a gross metropolitan product of $2.5 billion. With the presence of Lewis–Clark State College, it is also a center for education and workforce training.
Lewiston’s economy is slowly diversifying, which has helped keep the economy stable. Lewiston serves as a recreation destination for the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.