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Idaho is perhaps the only state to be named as the result of a hoax. When a name was being selected for new territory, eccentric lobbyist George M. Willing suggested "Idaho," an Indian term he claimed meant "gem of the mountains." It was later revealed Willing had made up the name himself, and the original Idaho territory was re-named Colorado because of it. Eventually the controversy was forgotten, and modern-day Idaho was given the made-up name when the Idaho Territory was formally created in 1863.

History

The Lewis and Clark expedition entered present-day Idaho on August 12, 1805, at the Lemhi Pass. At that time, approximately 8,000 Native Americans lived in the region.

Idaho was subsequently part of Oregon Territory and later Washington Territory, fur trading and missionary work attracting the first settlers to the region. While thousands passed through Idaho during the California gold rush of 1849, few people settled there. The first organized town in Idaho was Franklin, settled in 1860 by Mormon pioneers. When organized as a territory in 1863, Idaho′s total population was under 17,000.

On March 4, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act creating Idaho Territory. The political stability of the territorial period encouraged settlement. Almost immediately, a public school system was created, stage coach lines were established and a newspaper, the Idaho Statesman, began publication. In 1865, Boise replaced Lewiston as capital. The 1861 discovery of gold in Idaho and the completion of the transcontinental railway in 1869 brought many new people to the territory, including Chinese laborers who came to work the mines. When President Benjamin Harrison signed the law admitting Idaho as a U.S. state on July 3, 1890, the population was 88,548. An interesting fact is that Idaho almost never became a state - in 1887, President Grover Cleveland refused to sign a bill that would have combined southern Idaho with Nevada and northern Idaho with the Washington Territory. Sectionalism in early Idaho was abated by moving the University of Idaho from its planned location in Eagle Rock (near Idaho Falls) to Moscow in northern Idaho. Idaho still operates under its original (1889) state constitution.

As Idaho approached statehood, mining and other extractive industries became increasingly important to her economy. By the 1890s, for example, Idaho exported more lead than any other state. Although Idaho′s dependence on mining has decreased, the state remains a top producer of silver and lead. Today, Idaho′s industrial economy is growing, as plants are built to process the state′s rich agricultural and natural resources. Since the late 1970s, Boise has emerged as a center of semiconductor manufacturing. Boise is the home of Micron Technology Inc., the only U.S. manufacturer of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips. Hewlett-Packard has operated a large plant in Boise, in southwestern Idaho, since the 1970s, devoted primarily to LaserJet printers.

A troubling recent development in the Idaho panhandle region was the location therein of a few right-wing extremist and "survivalist" political groups, most notably one holding Neo-Nazi views, the Aryan Nations. These groups are most heavily concentrated in the northern part of the state, particularly in the vicinity of Coeur d′Alene, a resort town. Although Idaho is a conservative state politically, the vast majority of its residents reject such hateful ideologies. Boise recently installed an impressive stone Human Rights Memorial featuring quotations from Anne Frank and many other writers extolling human freedom and equality.

In 2002 the Aryan Nations compound, which had been located in Hayden Lake, Idaho, was confiscated as a result of a court case, and the organization moved out of state.

IDAHO COUNTIES


Bannock
Bingham
Power
Butte
Caribou
Bear Lake
Custer
Franklin
Lemhi
Oneida
Twin Falls
Cassia
Blaine
Gooding
Camas
Lincoln
Jerome
Minidoka
Bonneville
Fremont
Teton
Clark
Jefferson
Madison
Nez Perce
Clearwater
Idaho
Lewis
Latah
Elmore
Boise
Owyhee
Canyon
Washington
Valley
Adams
Ada
Gem
Payette
Kootenai
Shoshone
Bonner
Boundary
Benewah

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