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South Fork Clearwater River facts for kids

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South Fork Clearwater River
Looking-glass-village-site-near-kamiah-ID-april-2011-roger-peterson-001 (5688477312).jpg
The river at the Chief Looking Glass Village site near Kooskia
Country United States
State Idaho
Physical characteristics
Main source Confluence of American and Red Rivers
Near Elk City, Nez Perce National Forest
3,901 ft (1,189 m)
River mouth Clearwater River
Kooskia, Idaho County
1,224 ft (373 m)
Length 62 mi (100 km)
Discharge
  • Location:
    Stites, about 4 mi (6.4 km) from the mouth
  • Minimum rate:
    44 cu ft/s (1.2 m3/s)
  • Average rate:
    998 cu ft/s (28.3 m3/s)
  • Maximum rate:
    13,800 cu ft/s (390 m3/s)
Basin features
Basin size 1,175 sq mi (3,040 km2)
Tributaries
  • Left:
    Red River (Idaho), Crooked River (Idaho County)
  • Right:
    American River (Idaho)

The South Fork Clearwater River is a 62-mile (100 km) long river in north-central Idaho in the United States. Draining about 1,175 square miles (3,040 km2), the South Fork joins with the Middle Fork Clearwater River to form the Clearwater River, a major tributary of the Snake River.

The river is formed by the confluence of the American River and Red River in the Nez Perce National Forest at an elevation of 3,901 ft (1,189 m). The roughly 20-mile (32 km) American River rises at 5,200 ft (1,600 m) and flows generally south to the confluence, while the northwest flowing Red River, rising at 6,100 ft (1,900 m), is about 25 mi (40 km) long. The American River is sometimes considered part of the main stem. From the confluence the South Fork flows west through a canyon followed by Idaho State Highway 14, receiving the Crooked River from the left and Newsome Creek from the right before reaching Golden, where it receives Tenmile Creek from the left. Further west the river receives Johns Creek from the left, Meadow Creek from the right and Mill Creek from the left, and the gorge deepens to a maximum of some 2,000 ft (610 m) as the river swings north near Grangeville. From there the river flows generally north, past Harpster and Stites, before reaching its mouth on the Clearwater at Kooskia, at an elevation of 1,224 ft (373 m).

Grangeville (Harpster) Dam was built on the South Fork in 1910 for hydroelectricity generation. In 1963, the dam was demolished, restoring the river's populations of Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Today, the entire South Fork and its headwater tributaries are free flowing and unobstructed by dams or major diversions.

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