full name State of Idaho
POSTAL ABBREVIATION ID
ADMITTED TO THE UNION July 3, 1890.
capital city Boise, the largest city in the state, located on the Boise
River in southwestern Idaho; population 125,738. Originally an army camp,
it was founded as a settlement in 1863 and was incorporated as a city the
following year, when it also became the territorial capital.
state name and nicknames The name "Idaho" is an artificial Indian word
invented by George M. Willing. Also known as the Gem State and the Gem of
the Mountains (the putative meaning of "Idaho").
state seal In the center is a shield showing a landscape, with the Snake
River, mountains, a fir tree, and a farmer at the plow. Above the shield is
an elk's head and the
state motto on a scroll; below it is a sheaf of wheat; to the right is a
miner; to the left a woman holding symbols of justice and liberty. Along
the bottom are agricultural symbols, including two cornucopias, the state
flower, and ripened wheat. The yellow border reads "Great Seal of the State
The western state of Idaho belongs to the Mountain states. It is bordered
on the north by Canada, on the east by Montana and Wyoming, on the south by
Nevada and Utah, and on the west by Oregon, Washington, and the Snake
River. It ranks 42nd in population and 14th in area among the states.
motto Esto Perpetua (It Is Forever)
song "Here We Have Idaho," lyrics by McKinley Helm and Albert J. Tompkins,
music by Sallie Hume Douglas.
Flower syringa Tree white pine Bird mountain bluebird Gem star garnet Horse
Appaloosa flag A blue field with the state seal in the center and below it
a red band bearing the legend "State of Idaho."
As a Rocky Mountain state, Idaho is dominated by mountain terrain, with the
Continental Divide forming Idaho's eastern border. The state contains some
of the largest stretches of unspoiled wilderness in the continental U.S.,
with a wide diversity of flora and game. Idaho also boasts more than 2,000
lakes and ten major rivers. Heavily irrigated farmland lines the Snake
River valley, the state's major drainage; Hell's Canyon, along the western
Snake River, is the deepest gorge—about one mile in depth—in North America.
elevations Highest point-. Borah Peak, Cus-
ter County, 12,662 feet. Lowest point. Snake River, Nez Perce County, 710
feet. Mean elevation: 5,000 feet
major rivers Snake, Salmon, Clearwater
major lakes Pend Oreille, Coeur d'Alene, Priest, Bear, American Falls,
Cascade, and Dworshak
temperatures (1990) The highest recorded temperature was 118°F on July 28,
1934, at Orotino. The lowest was —60°F on January 18, 1943, at Island Park
IDAHO IN HISTORY
1805 A U.S. expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
crosses what is now the Idaho panhandle en route to the Pacific
1809 David Thompson of the North West Company establishes a trading
post on the eastern shore
of Lake Pend Oreille.
1810 Andrew Henry of the Missouri Fur Company establishes a camp on
the fork of the Snake River but abandons it the following year.
1818 The United States and Great Britain agree on joint occupancy of
the Pacific Northwest, including what is now Idaho.
1834 Fort Hall and Fort Boise are constructed to aid fur traders;
these posts become stops on the Oregon Trail, which by 1845 is a
1836 Henry Spalding establishes a mission to the Nez Perce Indians at
1846 June 15. A treaty with Great Britain establishes the Pacific
Northwest below the 49th parallel as U.S. territory.
1848 August 14. Oregon Territory is created, including present-day
1855 A treaty with the Koutenai, Pend Oreille, and Flathead Indians
creates reservations for them in what is now Idaho and Montana. A
treaty with the Nez Perce establishes for them a reserve in what is
now Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
I860 June 15. First permanent settlement in Idaho, at Franklin, by
Mormons from Utah. In 1911 this day is proclaimed Pioneer Day.
1862 The Golden Age is Idaho's first newspaper and is published in
1863 March 4. Creation of Idaho Territory.
Some Nez Perce accept a smaller reservation replacing the 1855 area,
gold prospectors. Chinese violence in 1866-1867 that
leaves over a hundred dead. 1874 The Utah Northern Railroad
reaches Franklin from Ogden, Utah.
1877 Nontreaty Nez Perce led by Chief Joseph, expelled from
northeastern Oregon, are pursued
through Idaho by federal troops before surrendering in
1878 Forty whites and 78 Indians die in an uprising by Paiutes and
warfare in Idaho ends the following year. 1880 Silver is found in the
Wood River region. 1882 The Northern Pacific Railroad links
northern Idaho to the east and the Pacific
Northwest seaports. .
1884 Completion of the Oregon Short Line Railroad from Wyoming through
Idaho to Oregon.
1885 Noah S. Kellogg finds silver in the Coeur d Alene area. 1 he
Bunker Hill and Sullivan mines become the biggest in the chief lead-
silver district in the U.S., which has yielded about $2 billion.
. . Test Oath Act bars Mormons from
voting, holding office, or serving on Juries These disabilities
become part of the state constitution and remain in force until 1890
when Mormons renounce polygamy as an act of faith.
1892 Martial law is declared in northern Idaho mining towns, where the
dispatch ot federal troops helps break a miners' strike. More than
600 union leaders and sympathizers are arrested.
1896-1902 Democrats, allied with Populists, control state politics. They
also receive support from dissident Republicans who join in seeking
the remonetization of silver.
1899 Dynamiting of Bunker Hill concentrator results in the
reimposition of martial law and dispatch of U.S. troops. The Western
Federation of Miners is suppressed, and hundreds of miners are
imprisoned for six months.
1905 Women receive the right to vote.
December W. Former governor Frank Steunenberg is assassinated.
1907 Clarence Darrow successfully defends "Big Bill" Haywood and two
other Western Federation of Miners officials found not guilty of
conspiracy in Steunenberg s murder. William Borah, the prosecutor,
is elected to the U.S. Senate; he servesuntil his death in 1940.
. establishing the initiative,
referendum and recall.
1912 Voters adopt constitutional amendments
1914 Moses Alexander is elected the first Jewish governor of any
1915 Arrowrock Dam, completed on the Boise River, is, at 354 feet, the
highest dam in
the world. .
1922 Farmers are receiving less than one-third of 1919 prices
for crops and livestock. 1927 The American Falls Dam, on the
Snake River near Pocatello, provides irrigation
water for one million acres. Completion of U.S. Highway 95, the only land
connection between northern and
1931 Adoption of a state income tax and a tax on private-power
1932 As a result of the the Great Depression, average income has
fallen 49 percent since 1929. Cash income of farmers has fallen by
1934 Idaho is first among states in silver and second in lead
production. Shoshone County has the nation's largest silver mine
(the Sunshine Mine) and the three largest lead producers. The state
also ranks third in hay and fifth in wool.
1936 The Union Pacific Railroad creates Sun Valley as a ski resort.
1939 Per capita income has risen to $452 from $287 in 1933.
1942 Nearly 10,000 persons of Japanese ancestry are sent from the West
Coast to an
internment camp at Hunt.
1951 The Atomic Energy Commission's National Reactor Testing Station,
near Arco, successfully uses atomic energy to produce electricity.
Opening, at Lewiston, of Idaho's first pulp and paper plant.
1959 Completion of the Brownlee Dam on the Hell's Canyon stretch of
the Snake River.
Idaho is fourth among states in irrigated acres—2,330,000—comprising
54 percent of the state's farmland.
1965 A state sales tax of three percent is adopted.
1972 May 2. A fire in the Sunshine Mine kills 91 miners.
1973 Completion of the Dworshak Dam on the Clearwater River.
1975 Lewiston becomes a seaport with the dedication of a $344-million
deep-channel waterway linking the Snake and Columbia rivers to the
1976 June 5. The Teton Dam on the Snake River collapses, killing 11
persons and causing at least $400 million in property damage.
1980 Creation of the 2.2-million-acre River of No Return Wilderness,
the largest wilderness preserve in the United States outside of
1982 The Sunshine Mine and Bunker Hill mine and smelter are closed
because of low silver prices.
1985 Idaho accounts for 48 percent of national silver production. It
also produces all the nation's antimony and ranks second among
states in lead and vanadium production and third in phosphate rock
and molybdenum. Record potato production of over 102 million
hundredweight comprises one-fourth of all U.S. potatoes.
1986 Idaho voters adopt a right-to-work constitutional amendment
prohibiting the payment of union dues as a condition for employment.
1992 Overcoming objections from state officials and tribal councils,
the federal government ships nuclear waste to an Idaho Falls storage
center for the first time in three years.Angus!. Governor Cecil
Andrus declares a state of emergency as fires rage through the
SOME INFORMATION: The Idaho potato remains the state's most important cash
crop, followed by wheat, sugar beets, alfalfa, beans, truck vegetables, and
peas. Cattle are the main livestock. Total farm receipts were over $2.7
billion in 1989. Manufacturing in the state is centered around potato and
beet-sugar processing, lumber products, and chemicals. Silver, lead, and
zinc, sand, gravel, basalt, pumice, garnet, and phosphate are the principle
mining products. As in many Western states, tourism is one of the fastest
growing industries, as visitors flock to see Idaho's spectacular national
and state parks.
Among states, Idaho ranks high in the generation of energy from renewable
resources —mainly hydropower and woodburning. The Columbia and Snake River
system, which passes through the state, is one of the most endangered in
the nation, in part due to Idaho's heavy use of irrigation. In fact,
Idahoans use more water per capita than the inhabitants of any other state.
Among the species threatened by declining river levels is the sockeye
salmon, which is nearly extinct in Idaho.
NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES
Idaho was formerly home to the Kalispel, Nehelem, Northern Paiute, Palouse,
and Spokane tribes. Groups that continue to live there include the Bannock,
Coeur d'Alene, Kootenay, Nez Perce, Northern Shoshoni, and Western
Shoshoni. Native Americans were 1.4 percent of the population in 1990.
RELIGIONS, ETHNICITIES, AND LANGUAGES
More than half of Idaho's population was born in Idaho; the rest is drawn
mainly from the western and north central states. There is also a large
community of Basques, originally from Spain, who continue their tradition
of sheep-herding. Among churchgoers, Mormons are the biggest group,
followed by Catholics and Methodists. In 1990, 2.9 percent of the
population was foreign-born, with the majority of immigrants coming from
Mexico and Canada; 6.4 percent of the population spoke languages other than
English at home, of which the ten most common were Spanish, German, French,
Japanese, Shoshoni, Chinese, Basque, Thai (Laotian), Portuguese, and
Italian. Catholics and Methodists. In 1990, 2.9 percent of the population
was foreign-born, with the majority of immigrants coming from Mexico and
Canada; 6.4 percent of the population spoke languages other than English at
home, of which the ten most common were Spanish, German, French, Japanese,
Shoshoni, Chinese, Basque, Thai (Laotian), Portuguese, and Italian.
MAJOR MUSEUMS AND LIBRARIES
Boise Gallery of Art Idaho State Historical Museum, Boise
MAJOR ARTS ORGANIZATIONS
Boise Opera Boise Philharmonic Association
Idaho has the only state seal designed by a woman—Emma Sarah Edwards. The
seal was officially adopted on March 14, 1891.
Democrat Moses Alexander, Idaho governor from 1915 to 1919, was the
nation's first full-term Jewish governor.
Idaho's Craters of the Moon National Monument, a region of volcanic craters
and ash-strewn low hills, was used by NASA as a training ground for Apollo
The state's hydroelectric power plants, with 1 million-plus kilowatt
capacity, use less than ten percent of Idaho's hydroelectric potential.
Idaho's stretch of U.S. Highway 12 runs along the route taken by the Lewis
and Clark expedition in 1805. Only one major highway runs north-south in
the state; when that is blocked in winter, vehicular travel between the
upper and lower parts of the state is nearly impossible.
MAJOR MUSEUMS AND LIBRARIES
Boise Gallery of Art Idaho State Historical Museum, Boise
MAJOR ARTS ORGANIZATIONS Boise Opera Boise Philharmonic Association.
SHORT: Throughout the 1860’s, Idaho experienced a gold rush that drew
scores of prospectors but left a lot of ghost towns. These relics of
instant communities are found in many parts of the state. Mining? However?
Is still important. Idaho ranks first internationally in the production of
silver? Lead? Zinc? Copper and cobalt.
The famed Sunshine Mince, a long and largest lode producer of silver in the
United States? Is there. In May 1972. A fire in the Sunshine sent lethal
carbon monoxide and smoke wafting through 100 miles of workings. The death
toll of miners was a staggering 91 people.
Of all commercial activities in the state, Idaho leans most heavily on
agriculture for its economic well-being. It is the tenth largest producer
of wheat in the nation and the leader in potatoes.
The Idaho potato, like the Georgia peach, remains something of an American
institution. But it is the cattle industry that is responsible for the
largest single share in annual farm-marketing cash receipts. Tourism, now
the third-ranked industry, is one the rise, with an estimated 6 million
There are more than 25 established ski areas in Idaho, including that
dowager of winter resorts, Sun Valley.
Celebrated in song and film, Sun Valley has worn its fame well down through