122 123 LEWISTON-NEZ PERCE COUNTY REGIONAL AIRPORT a protected valley with its own climate. There is never a deep freeze here, so there are fruit trees and even palm trees. Then, there is the outdoor recreational aspect with the rivers. This is a great place for hunting and fishing.” Lewiston was founded in 1861 in the wake of a gold rush the previous year. In 1863, it became the first capital of the newly-created Idaho Terri- tory. Its stint as the seat of government was short- lived, however, as a resolution to have the capital moved south to Boise was passed by the Idaho Territorial Legislature on December 7, 1864. “This area is the home of the Nez Perce tribe. In the 1800s, they encountered fur traders, but it was Lewis and Clark, themselves, who put us on the map,” says Morgan, “The Airport, itself, was originally about 50 acres of land purchased in 1931 by the Lewiston Chamber of Commerce. With federal funding, the City purchased the Airport in January, 1934. At the time, the Airport received extensive use by the United States For- est Service and we still have a lot of continued use by the Forest Service. It was World War II that created a large demand for the aviation activities, and the space was considered inadequate. And so, in 1942, the Airport was moved to the current location, and we now have approximately 1,000 acres. The Airport was completed in 1944.” “Historically speaking, commercial air travel in the northwest actually started here at our Air- port,” Morgan continues. “Airline service started in 1945, with the Zimmerly Air Transport serving places throughout the Idaho area. It merged with Empire Air and became West Coast Airlines. But Zimmerly was one of the first commercial airline services in the United States and was based right here in Lewiston.” West Coast Airlines, which operated Fairchild F-27s during the 1960s, merged with Bonanza Air Lines and Pacific Air Lines to form Air West in 1968, with the San Francisco-based airline be- ing renamed Hughes Airwest in 1970. Jet service arrived in October, 1969 with Douglas DC-9-10s and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s, after the com- pletion of the 6,500-foot runway. The air traffic control tower, southeast of the terminal, was commissioned in September, 1974. These days, Skywest operates service between Salt Lake City and Lewiston, four times a day, as an affiliate of Delta Airlines. The Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Air- port is jointly owned by the City of Lewiston and Nez Perce County and administered by a local airport authority. Approximately 80 percent of its focus is on general aviation. There are 160 air- craft based out of the Airport and hangars, as well as other facilities, including a mixture of built infrastructure and ground leases. Aviation-related businesses include Hillcrest Aircraft Company, Stout Flying Service, Gustin Aviation, Life Flight, Nez Perce County Sheriff’s Air Posse, Lohman He- licopter, and Skelton Air.