LEWISTON TRIBUNE - March 19, 1933

Why They Call It Harpster

In the picturesque valley of the Clearwater eight miles northeast of Grangeville and nine miles above Stites is the village of Harpster, protected from the cold winds of the surrounding prairie and mountains by high, encircling hills.  The town was named for Abraham Harpster, one of the early settlers of Idaho County and a pioneer of the Pierce gold rush.

Two other villages once were nearby - Bridgeport and Riverside - both located at earlier dates than Harpster, but both now are only a memory.  The post office serving the town was always at Harpster.

Harpster, established in the early '60's as a way-station on the old mining road into the Elk City country never was very large so far as its human inhabitants were concerned, yet its former "population" has spread until now its numbers exceed those of either London or New York.  And here is how it came about:

How It Spread

In the early days some Chinese conducted a saloon at Harpster.  One day a small shipment of bottled liquor arrived at the saloon.  After the box had been unpacked it was thrown in back of the saloon and its contents dumped into the Chinese garden, which included weeds which had been used as packing to prevent breakage of the bottles.

From the dumping of those weeds has come the "goatweed" which lines the Clearwater valley from Harpster to Arrow Junction, a distance of about 80 miles.  It has spread on all the non-cultivated slopes of the north bank of the river and is still spreading.  With it has spread the fame of Harpster.

The goatweeds grow from two to three feet in height, have yellow blossoms and develop brown seed.  They do not seem to thrive on cultivated lands but quickly smother out grass and other food plants on unbroken soil.  Nothing in the way of livestock will eat the weeds - unless it be goats. 

Harpster promises to be an important town on the new water-grade highway into the Elk City mining region when the road up the Clearwater is completed.  The precinct had a population of 126 when the 1930 census was compiled. 



pbc 2004-Present - Keeping Genealogy Free

If you have information to share, questions or corrections, please email County Coordinator