By Robert Lucke
One of the most interesting things to do on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is to take the Clear Creek History Tour. The tour consists of a series of signs marking historic areas of the creek not known by many people. The tour takes around three hours unless you stop and look around the sites. So pack a lunch and head out the Beaver Creek Highway until you get to an east running road clearly marked as Sucker Creek. Head up that road staying on the main road all the time until you have crossed two divides. The divides are impossible to miss as they are high and the road noticeably goes up and down when traveling over them. At the bottom of the second divide there is a main running north and south road. That is called the Clear Creek road. Take that road turning right or south when getting to it. Just not even a mile ahead of you is the first marked historic site.
This old house clearly marked with a sign on the Clear Creek roadway is one of the oldest homes on Clear Creek. The sign on the road gives the history of the house. When the Felton family sold the house and moved up the creek and founded the town of Bear Paw, the house became known as the Stringfellow House. Although it has not been lived in for years and years, folks who did live there remarked that it was the coldest house in the winter on Clear Creek. The large wreath on the east gable of the house was put up by the Fuglevand family at a reunion to honor the Felton side of their family.
Bear Paw School
Just south on the Clear Creek road from the Stringfellow/Felton house is the Bear Paw School. It is still running to this day, one of several still in operation in Blaine County. There are historic markers in the school commemorating Bill Young who was instrumental in keeping the school open and in good repair through the years and Una Young, his wife who taught at the school for many years.
The Ghost Town of Bear Paw
A couple of miles up Clear Creek and in the middle of a narrow gorge is a monument on the left hand side of the road identifying the existence of the town of Bear Paw at that spot. Not a thing is left of the town now except a root cellar over by Clear Creek west of the sign and further up the road an old log barn that marks the Mooney nightclub site and still further up the road is an old log school which is the original school for the town. Although there is little to suggest it now, there was a huge copper mine in a coulee to the east of the Bear Paw town marker and tailings from a gold mine can be seen from the road to the north west of the town marker. Strange to think now but this used to be a thriving community nestled between the walls of the gorge and Clear Creek.
Hungry Hollow Church and Cemetery
A mile or so south of the Bear Paw marker, there is a left turn clearly marked Hungry Hollow. Up that beautiful valley a little ways and right next to the road on a point above the creek is a replica of the community church that stood at that spot for years. Methodist pioneer missionary Brother Van built the church and preached there often. Across the road and up a hill is the cemetery that goes with the church. The mountain behind the church is called Echo Mountain because it is known for its fine echoes.
That ends the formal Clear Creek History Tour. There are some cautions. Remember that most all the historic spots on the tour are on private land. Get permission before hiking in the area. Also be on the lookout for rattlesnakes on some parts of the tour and mountain lions as well.