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43 Unusual Facts About Idaho

On July 3, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed a congressional act establishing Idaho as the 43rd contiguous state in the US. In celebration of Idaho’s 126th birthday, here are 43 unusual facts about this wonderful state.

43 Unusual Facts About Idaho

 

  1. The name, Idaho, comes from the Native American word ‘ídaahę́,’which means “the Land of Many Waters.”
  2. Running from Canada to Utah, Idaho covers two time zones, and encompasses the western side of the continental divide of the Rocky Mountains.
  3. Around one third of the potatoes grown in the US are grown in Idaho. That’s around 27 billion potatoes annually.Idaho potatoes
  4. Idaho is one of the top producers of lentils in the US. Moscow, ID is a part of the Palouse region which is known as the “Lentil Capital of the World.”
  5. The Mountain Quail, Idaho’s only native quail, is almost gone. It is identified as “Critically Imperiled” by the Idaho Fish and Game

    Mountain Quail: Photo credit: Audobon.org

    Mountain Quail: Photo credit: Audobon.org

  6. Idaho is known as “the Gem State” with good reason. It produces 72 different types of precious and semi-precious stones.
  7. There are only two places in the world where star garnets can be found in significant quantities, Idaho and India.

    Star Garnet

    Star Garnet- photo credit: Gem Select.com

  8. Idaho borders Canada and six states: Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, and Washington.
  9. Around 70 percent of commercially sold US trout is found near Twin Falls in the Hagerman Valley.
  10. Hells Canyon is the deepest gorge in the US at 7,900 feet. In fact, it is about 1,900 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

    Hell's Canyon

    View into Hell’s Canyon from the Visitor’s Center on the Oregon Idaho border

  11. Dropping 212 feet, the Shoshone Falls is known as the “Niagara Falls of the West.” They actually beat out the real Niagara Falls by about 45 feet.
  12. Heaven’s Gate Lookout can be found in the Seven Devils’ Peaks, one of the highest mountain ranges in Idaho. From here you can see into four different states all at once: Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.
  13. The largest tree in the state, the Idaho Champion Western Red Cedar Tree, can be found in Elk River. The tree is more than 18 feet in diameter and stands at around 177 feet tall. It is estimated to be over 3,000 years old.

    The base of the Idaho Champion Western Red Cedar Tree. Photo Credit: Exploring the World of Trees Blog

    The base of the Idaho Champion Western Red Cedar Tree. Photo Credit: Exploring the World of Trees Blog

  14. Idaho is the 14th largest state in the US, however, if you flatten all the mountains, the state could be nearly the size of Texas.
  15. With 2.3 million acres of rugged back country, the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is the largest wilderness area in the 48 contiguous states.
  16. Soda Springs, Idaho is home to the largest man-made geyser.

    Soda Springs man-made geyser Photo Credit: www.sodaspringsid.com

    Soda Springs man-made geyser Photo Credit: www.sodaspringsid.com

  17. Idaho is home to more soak-able hot springs than anywhere else in the US. Roughly 130 of the 340 geothermal hot springs in Idaho are the perfect skinny-dipping temperature.
  18. Many of the buildings in Boise, including the statehouse, are geothermally heated by underground hot springs.
  19. Elk Mountain Farms in Bonner’s Ferry, grows hops for its parent company, Anheuser-Busch, on 1,800 acres of land. It is the largest hops farm in the world.

    Hops in full bloom at Anheuser-Busch's Elk Mountain Hop Farm in Bonner's Ferry, Idaho Photo Credit:www.upstatechunk.com

    Hops in full bloom at Anheuser-Busch’s
    Elk Mountain Hop Farm in Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho Photo Credit:www.upstatechunk.com

  20. Idaho has many ghost towns including: Custer, Silver City and the Burke.
  21. In 1959, during an excavation of Wilson Butte Cave, artifacts that date back approximately 14,500 years were found. These are some of the oldest man-made artifacts that have been found in the US.
  22. It is said that Boise was named in the early 1800’s when French-Canadian trappers made their way into the area. They were so excited to see the forest and river that they began to shout “Les bois! Les bois!” (“The Woods”)
  23. It is illegal to fish while sitting on the back of a camel or giraffe in Idaho.
  24. In Idaho, it is illegal to gift a box of candy weighing more than 50 pounds.
  25. Bruneau Dunes State Park, located outside the city of Mountain Home, is home to the tallest single-structured sand dune in the US.

    Bruneau Dunes Photo Credit: parksandrecreation.idaho.gov

    Bruneau Dunes Photo Credit: parksandrecreation.idaho.gov

  26. Rumored to be haunted, the Idaho State Penitentiary was once featured on the popular TV show “Ghost Adventures.”
  27. In Blackfoot, Idaho is the Idaho Potato Museum, which is home to the world’s largest Pringle potato chip. It is reported to be 25 inches by 14 inches.

    Take a photo with the large baked potato outside of the Idaho Potato Museum Photo Credit: idahopotatomuseum.com

    Take a photo with the large baked potato outside of the Idaho Potato Museum Photo Credit: idahopotatomuseum.com

  28. In the mid 1920’s they entire town of American Falls, Idaho was relocated to make way for the American Falls Dam.
  29. Including the Oregon Trail, there are five historic pioneer trails that cross Idaho. To this day, there are wagon ruts visible along the dirt paths.
  30. License plates were not issued by the state until 1913. It was in 1928 that the first slogan appeared on Idaho’s license plates. The word POTATO was stamped at the bottom of the plate, in addition to there being an image of a potato.

    1928 Idaho License Plate Photo Credit:www.liveauctioneers.com

    1928 Idaho License Plate Photo Credit:www.liveauctioneers.com

  31. Sun Valley was the first ski resort to build a chairlift. First lift rides occurred in 1936 at 25 cents per ride.
  32. In 1939, Ernest Hemingway came to Idaho hoping that the mountain air and life would give him inspiration to write his now famous novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
  33. Idaho must have left an impression on Hemingway, as he returned in the late 1950’s and purchased a home in Ketchum. He lived in this home until his death in 1961.
  34. Famous poet, Ezra Pound, was born in Hailey, Idaho.
  35. The Albertsons grocery store chain was founded by Idaho native, Joseph Albertson.
  36. The oldest building in the state was constructed between 1850 and 1853. It is the Cataldo Mission.

    Cataldo Mission Photo Credit: fineartamerica.com

    Cataldo Mission Photo Credit: fineartamerica.com

  37. There was a bordello that opened in 1895 and continued to operate until 1988 in Wallace, Idaho. Today it operates as the Oasis Bordello Museum.
  38. Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of the TV, was raised in Rigby, Idaho. Rigby is now the self-proclaimed birthplace of television.

    Rigby, Idaho birthplace of the Television.

    Rigby, Idaho birthplace of the Television.

  39. Sacagawea, who became famous for interpreting for Lewis and Clark on their expedition of the Western United States, was born near what is now called Salmon, Idaho.
  40. In 1975, Idaho designated the native Appaloosa as the official state horse. The Nez Perce were said to breed Appaloosa horses and used them primarily as war animals.

    Appaloosa Stallion

    Appaloosa Stallion

  41. The Birds of Prey Wildlife Area near Kuna, Idaho is home to North America’s densest population of nesting eagles, hawks, and falcons.
  42. In 1907 President Theodore Roosevelt established the Caribou National Forest in Southeast Idaho. The area is now nearly 3 million acres. It is also home to the Curlew National Grassland.
  43. Idaho has the only state seal that was designed by a woman, Emma Edwards Green.

    The State Seal of Idaho designed by Emma Edwards Green.

    The State Seal of Idaho designed by Emma Edwards Green.

We wanted to stick with 43 facts as Idaho is the 43rd state, but there is so much more history and fun to be found. What are some of your favorite facts about Idaho?

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