In earlier days the Weippe area was frequented by the Nez Perce Indians, who enjoyed the summer climate and profitable hunting grounds. They erected lodges, fished, hunted and dug the camas root in the surrounding area. In 1805, Lewis and Clark had their first encounter with the Nez Perce Indians on the Weippe Prairie, not far from the present townsite.
The word Weippe was originally spelled “Oy-ipe” by General Oliver Otis Howard, in his journals during the campaign against the Nez Perce and negotiations with Chief Joseph in 1877. Other spellings included Oy-iap and Wyap-p. Harry Wheeler, Nez Perce historian, believed that Weippe means a "very old place," "oy" means "all" in the Nez Perce language, but no meaning has been found for "iap". The Nez Perce also say it may have something to do with a spring of water or camas ground. The meaning of the name is still greatly debated.
Soon after the Corps of Discovery’s expedition through the region, the fur trading industry came to Idaho. Then gold was discovered in 1860 by E.D. Pierce bringing a rush to the area in 1861. The Homestead Act brought many families to the region and Weippe grew and thrived.
Weippe was incorporated in December of 1964 and is located on the Gold Rush Historic Byway, Idaho Highway 11. The Weippe Prairie is one of eight registered national landmarks in the State of Idaho and is part of the National Lewis & Clark Historic Trail. It is a level meadow fringed by forest, and through it runs Jim Ford’s Creek, named after a pioneer wood dealer from Lewiston. Come visit our Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center at the Weippe Discovery Center. Also visit our neighboring city-Pierce at pierce-weippechamber.com.