For many years, the town of Pierce enjoyed the distinction of being Idaho’s oldest town. However, later research determined that Franklin, in southeastern Idaho, was actually settled several months earlier by Mormon pioneers.
On January 8, 1861, the Washington Territorial Legislature established Shoshone County and designated Pierce the county seat. By that summer, thousands of gold seekers poured into the area, which had been set aside as a Nez Perce reservation in 1855. Pierce quickly became a boisterous mining town. Soon, roads, towns, farms, and dwellings were scattered across the landscape, and a new treaty quickly reduced the Nez Perce reservation to less than one-tenth its original size.
Initially, the county commissioners met, and court proceedings were held, in rented rooms; private citizens were paid to provide room and board for prisoners. Official county business moved to the courthouse, built in 1862. The county remained a part of Washington Territory until Idaho Territory was established in 1863. The Shoshone County courthouse in Pierce served governmental needs until 1885 when the county seat was moved to Murray.
The Courthouse is managed through a community partnership with J. Howard Bradbury Memorial Logging Museum.
Interpretive exhibits at this site tell the story of exploration of the Clearwater River area and prospecting and mining in what was then Washington Territory.