Explore the Fascinating History of Idaho

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The History of Idaho

Journey Through Idaho Trivia

Welcome to our Idaho history and trivia page, presented by History By Mail. Join us as we embark on a journey through the captivating past and cultural tapestry of the Gem State. From ancient Native American civilizations to the arrival of European explorers and the modern era, we'll explore Idaho's hidden gems and challenge your knowledge with entertaining quizzes. Let's uncover the rich history and intriguing trivia of Idaho together.

Idaho, known as the Gem State, is a land of extraordinary history and diverse heritage. From the indigenous tribes who first inhabited the region, such as the Shoshone and Nez Perce, to the impact of Western exploration and settlement, Idaho holds a captivating legacy. From the breathtaking landscapes of the Sawtooth Mountains to the iconic Snake River, Idaho showcases a blend of cultures, natural wonders, and a deep connection to its Native American roots.

Join us as we unravel the intriguing history and trivia of Idaho, delving into its mining boom, the establishment of fur trading posts, the impact of the Oregon Trail, and the state's unique contributions to agriculture and industry.

Facts about Idaho

State Abbreviation: ID

Capital: Boise

Name Origin: When officials first suggested Idaho’s name, some people thought it came from a Native American word meaning “gem of the mountains.” But it turns out the word “Idaho” was actually made up!

Nickname: Gem State

Statehood: July 3, 1890 (43rd State)

State Motto: Esto perpetua (It is forever)

Idaho's Flag

The State Flag of Idaho features a field of blue with the state seal in the center. The seal depicts a miner standing on a pedestal, representing Idaho's rich mining heritage. The miner holds a pickaxe and a shovel, symbolizing the state's commitment to industry and labor. Above the miner is a banner with the state motto, "Esto Perpetua," meaning "Let it be perpetual." The motto signifies Idaho's desire for everlasting prosperity and progress.

Surrounding the seal are a sheaf of wheat and an agricultural plow, representing Idaho's significant agricultural contributions. These symbols highlight the state's fertile soil and its dedication to farming and agriculture. Above the seal, a golden five-pointed star shines brightly, signifying Idaho's reputation as the "Gem State" due to its abundance of natural resources and scenic beauty.

Idaho's Great Seal

The state seal of Idaho draws inspiration from the 1866 territorial seal design. A female figure, embodying the virtues of Justice and Liberty and representing women's suffrage, stands adjacent to a shield displaying agriculture and forestry symbols. On the opposite side, a miner is depicted, with cornucopias placed before both figures. Above the shield, an elk's head and the state motto, "Esto perpetua" ("Let It Be Perpetual"), are present. Below, a sheaf of wheat is featured.

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History of Idaho

In 1805-1806, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark embarked on an exploration of the region, uncovering the vast expanse that would later become Idaho. At that time, Idaho was part of the Oregon country, jointly held by the United States and Great Britain. However, boundary disputes were resolved with the signing of the Oregon Treaty in 1846. The first permanent U.S. settlement in Idaho was established by the Mormons at Franklin in 1860, following the discovery of gold at Orofino Creek.

The gold rush of 1860 attracted a surge of prospectors to the territory, resulting in a frenzy of activity and the emergence of several ghost towns once the gold deposits dwindled.

In the 1870s, conflicts between white settlers and Native American tribes, including the Nez Percé, Bannock, and Sheepeater, erupted as Native lands were encroached upon by increasing white occupation. This led to a series of battles between U.S. forces and the tribes.

Mining and lumbering have long been vital industries in Idaho. The state ranks highly in the production of silver, antimony, lead, cobalt, garnet, phosphate rock, vanadium, zinc, and mercury.

Agriculture also plays a significant role in Idaho's economy. The state contributes about a quarter of the nation's potato crop, and it cultivates wheat, apples, corn, barley, sugar beets, and hops.

In the 1990s, Idaho experienced substantial growth in the high-tech sector, primarily concentrated around the metropolitan area of Boise.

With the rise of winter sports, tourism has become a leading revenue generator in Idaho. The state's abundant streams and lakes offer opportunities for fishing, camping, and boating. Idaho's vast elk herds attract hunters from around the globe, while the renowned Sun Valley resort entices visitors with its swimming, golfing, and skiing facilities.

Notable points of interest in Idaho include the Craters of the Moon National Monument, the Nez Percé National Historic Park (which encompasses many sites visited by Lewis and Clark), and the State Historical Museum in Boise. Other attractions include the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area south of Boise, Hells Canyon on the Idaho-Oregon border, and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in south-central Idaho.

State Symbols

State Bird

Mountain Bluebird

State Fish

Cutthroat Trout

State Flower


State Fossil

Hagerman Horse Fossil

Star garnets are dark in color, often a dark purplish-red. - History By Mail
State Gem

Star Garnet

Threebear soils consist of three distinct layers known as horizons– a forest litter layer, volcanic ash, and loess. - History By Mail
State Soil


A white pine has long, narrow yellowish-brown cones 6-8 inches long. - History By Mail
State Tree

White Pine

Fun Facts

  • At the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, visitors can get a tuber-themed tour about one of the state’s best known crops. The museum is easy to spot—there’s a giant baked potato statue in front of it!
  • Idaho’s famous potatoes have inspired some weird treats. Made with vanilla ice cream that’s coated in cocoa and topped with whipped cream, “ice cream potatoes” look like baked potatoes with sour cream. And one candy company makes a treat called the “Idaho Spud.” It’s a marshmallow covered in chocolate and coconut!
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in central Idaho feels like a lunar walk, but it’s actually a massive, dried lava flow that formed over thousands of years. The eight eruptions that created the lava field took place about every 2,000 years … and it’s about time for another one since this volcano is dormant, not dead.
  • Sacagawea, the Native American guide for explorers Lewis and Clark, was born in what is now Idaho.
  • Bitterroot National Forest straddles Idaho and Montana.
  • The old mining town of Silver City looks almost exactly the way it did more than a hundred years ago. Today it’s a tourist stop, but in the 1860s its mines produced at least $60 million worth of precious metals. Visitors can stay in the same hotel where old-time miners slept.

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Things To Do in Idaho

  1. Explore the Natural Wonders of Yellowstone National Park: Idaho shares a small portion of Yellowstone National Park, home to breathtaking landscapes, geothermal features, and diverse wildlife. Take a scenic drive, hike along the trails, observe geysers and hot springs, and keep an eye out for bears, wolves, and elk.
  2. Enjoy Outdoor Adventures in Sun Valley: Visit the resort town of Sun Valley, known for its world-class skiing, hiking, and biking trails. In winter, hit the slopes for skiing or snowboarding, and in summer, explore the picturesque mountains, go fishing in the nearby rivers, or embark on a thrilling whitewater rafting trip.
  3. Discover the Beauty of Shoshone Falls: Often referred to as the "Niagara of the West," Shoshone Falls is a stunning natural wonder located near Twin Falls. Marvel at the cascading waters that plunge down a 212-foot drop, and enjoy picnicking, hiking, and wildlife viewing in the surrounding park.
  4. Visit Craters of the Moon National Monument: Immerse yourself in a unique lunar-like landscape at Craters of the Moon National Monument. Explore lava flows, cinder cones, and caves created by ancient volcanic activity. Take a guided tour, hike the trails, and learn about the geology and history of the area.
  5. Experience Boise's Cultural Scene: Explore the vibrant capital city of Boise, known for its cultural attractions and lively downtown. Visit the Boise Art Museum, catch a performance at the Egyptian Theatre, and stroll along the Boise River Greenbelt. Enjoy the city's diverse dining scene, browse local shops, and attend one of the many festivals and events held throughout the year.

General Map of Idaho

Idaho, often known as the "Gem State," is a captivating destination located in the northwestern region of the United States. Renowned for its diverse natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and welcoming communities, Idaho offers a wide range of activities and attractions to suit every traveler's desires.

Famous People From Idaho

T.H. Bell

(December 8, 1922 - Lava Hot Springs) - Served as the Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1963 to 1975 and later became the United States Secretary of Education.

Gutzon Borglum

(March 25, 1867 - St. Charles) - Renowned sculptor, best known for creating the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.

Carol R. Brink

(December 28, 1895 - Moscow) - Wrote several beloved novels, including "Caddie Woodlawn," which won the Newbery Medal. Brink's captivating storytelling and ability to bring characters to life have made her a cherished figure in Idaho's literary community.

Frank F. Church

(July 25, 1924 - Boise) - Served as a United States Senator from Idaho from 1957 to 1981. Church was known for his strong advocacy for civil liberties and his influential role in various Senate committees, including the Church Committee, which investigated intelligence abuses.

Vardis Fisher

(March 31, 1895 - Annis) - Renowned author and historian. His works often focused on the history and culture of the American West, particularly Idaho.

Harmon Killebrew

(June 29, 1936 - Payette) - Legendary professional baseball player. He spent the majority of his career with the Minnesota Twins and was known for his powerful hitting and impressive home run record.

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Idaho earned the nickname "Gem State" due to its diverse range of natural resources and gemstones. The state is known for its production of various precious and semi-precious gemstones, including garnets, opals, and star garnets, which are found only in Idaho and India.

Sun Valley, Idaho, is famous primarily for being one of the premier ski resorts in the United States and for its significant influence on the development of winter sports in the country.

Idaho became a territory in 1863 and later achieved statehood on July 3, 1890. It was the 43rd state to join the Union. Statehood was granted after decades of growth, development, and increased settlement in the region.

The Idaho Potato is renowned for its quality and size due to the state's ideal growing conditions. Idaho's volcanic soil, irrigation from mountain-fed rivers, and climate contribute to the production of some of the finest potatoes in the United States.

Related Resources

  1. Official Website of the State of Idaho: The official website provides information about state government services, tourism, business resources, and more. Visit: https://www.idaho.gov/
  2. Idaho Department of Commerce: Explore Idaho's economic development initiatives, tourism opportunities, and business resources. Visit: https://commerce.idaho.gov/
  3. Visit Idaho: Discover the many attractions, outdoor adventures, events, and travel information for exploring Idaho. Visit: https://visitidaho.org/
  4. Idaho State Historical Society: Learn about Idaho's rich history, access historical resources, visit museums, and explore heritage sites. Visit: https://history.idaho.gov/
  5. Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation: Discover Idaho's state parks, trails, camping opportunities, and recreational activities. Visit: https://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/
  6. Idaho Tourism: Find comprehensive information on Idaho's scenic wonders, outdoor activities, cultural experiences, and trip planning. Visit: https://www.visitidaho.org/
  7. Idaho State Archives: Access historical records, genealogical resources, and educational materials related to Idaho's history. Visit: https://history.idaho.gov/archives-research/
  8. Idaho State Museum: Explore Idaho's diverse history and culture through exhibits, collections, and educational programs. Visit: https://history.idaho.gov/idaho-state-museum/
  9. Sun Valley Resort: Discover the iconic ski resort in Sun Valley, Idaho, known for its world-class skiing, outdoor recreation, and stunning mountain scenery. Visit: https://www.sunvalley.com/
  10. Sawtooth National Recreation Area: Learn about the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains and the recreational opportunities available in this pristine wilderness area. Visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/sawtooth/recreation/recarea/?recid=5731