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Are you familiar with the Gem State?
This is one of a few Idaho nicknames! This huge state is full of many wonders and many precious gemstones, not to mention its mountains full of gold and rare minerals.
From Hells Canyon to the Shoshone Falls, we have been all over this rugged terrain and found some Idaho facts that even the most dedicated Idaho fan might not know. Did you know that the entire U.K is only just the size of Idaho? One entire country could fit into this gigantic state. We have also found some funny facts about Idaho about history and geography, have you ever heard of the Smurf Turf, or the Bear Lake Monster? Read on to find out more!
Facts About Idaho History
The history of Idaho is intrinsically linked with it's native heritage. Idaho has been influenced by a huge mix of cultures, this can be seen in the names of the cities, reservations and counties.
1. 'Esto Perpetua' is the Idahoan motto, it means "let it be perpetual", or "it is forever".
2. Archaeologists recently discovered a blade-like tool made of rock in Idaho. It turns out this tool is 13,500 years old! This is definitive proof that humans have lived in Idaho for thousands of years longer than previously believed.
3. Before Europeans arrived, there were around 8,000 Indigenous Americans living on the land that is now known as Idaho.
4. The Coeur d Alene, Kootenai, Nez Perce, Shoshone-Paiute and Shoshone-Bannock tribes still live in Idaho today.
5. Shockingly, it wasn't until 1990 that the first Indigenous American attorney general was elected in America. Larry Echo Hawk was elected and served in Idaho from 1991 to 1995. Echo Hawk went on to become the United States Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs in 2009.
6. Have you ever wondered how Idaho got its name? It was suggested by lobbyist George Willing, he said the word meant "gem of the mountains", or "the sun comes from the mountains", in the native Shoshone language. Others alleged that the name Idaho was of Apache origins, from the word 'ídaahę́' which means "enemy". George Willing eventually admitted that he made it up on the spot!
7. Idaho became a territory in 1863 and was named the 43rd state on 3 July, 1890.
8. In 1891 Emma Edwards Green, an art school graduate, entered a competition to design the Idaho state seal. She used only her initials as otherwise the entry would have been discounted and she won the competition! Idaho's state seal is still the only one in the US designed by a woman!
9. The Idaho state seal depicts a miner, a woman signifying justice and various state natural resources, surrounded by a yellow and gold band with a banner declaring the motto of Idaho.
10. During the Gold Rush of the early 1800s, one quarter of Idaho's population was Chinese. By 1870, the majority of all Idaho miners were actually Chinese.
11. From 1900 to 1920 a huge number of Basque immigrants from the Pyrenees came to Idaho to find work as sheepherders. The city of Boise currently has the largest Basque community in the United States.
12. The Appaloosa horse is Idaho's state animal. The breed was originally brought over by the Spanish. The Nez Perce tribe embraced the horse and it became entwined in the culture of the area.
13. The Mountain Bluebird is the state bird of Idaho, it can be spotted on many of Idaho's famous hiking trails.
14. Boise is the state capital and largest Idaho city, with a population of 190,000 people.
Facts About Idaho Geography
Idaho has an incredibly varied landscape, including some of the highest peaks and deepest ridges in the country. Check out these amazing facts about the geography of Idaho and what created the landscape of this enormous state.
15. Idaho is the 14th largest state in the United States. The total area covers 216,900 square kilometres.
16. The Idaho state population currently stands at 1.787 million.
17. There are more miles of river in Idaho than any other state, 3100 miles to be precise!
18. The landscape of Idaho includes dozens of mountain ranges, including The Rocky Mountains which cover the state from north to south.
19. The Bitterroot Range is a sub range of the Rocky Mountains, running along the border of Idaho and Montana. The range spans 1.3 million acres.
20. The Shoshone Falls in Idaho has been called 'The Niagara Falls of the West', and in fact, the Shoshone Falls actually drops 45 feet further than Niagara Falls!
21. The Columbia Plateau spreads across the south of Idaho. Due to the volcanic eruptions that occurred between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago, this area is almost almost totally flat.
22. Over the space of 2,000 years there were eight volcanic eruptions across central Idaho. The Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in central Idaho was formed by the dried lava flow spreading and drying across the earth.
23. Idaho is home to several young volcanoes, including the Craters of the Moon, Wapi, Kings Bowl, North and South Robbers, Cerro Grande, Hells Half Acre, and the Shoshone lava fields. Craters of the Moon is the youngest and is only laying dormant, so potentially could erupt again at some point!
24. Hells Canyon, Idaho is the deepest river gorge in North America, it reaches a depth of 7,993 feet.
25. At an amazing 2.3 million acres, The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area is the largest contiguous area of protected wilderness in the United States.
26. All of Idaho's wilderness combined spans 4.7 million acres.
27. The state's highest peak is the Borah Peak, which reaches 12,662 feet.
28. Sun Valley in southern Idaho attracts skiers from all over the world. The area started attracting tourists for ski holidays in the late '30s, thanks to Ernest Hemingway (a huge fan of Idaho!) recommending the resorts.
29. The Snake River Plain is a prominent depression reaching across southern Idaho, formed by a volcanic hot spot. The plain covers 400 miles and is arc shaped, with a northern concave side.
30. The Snake River itself is approximately 1,078 miles long, this makes it the ninth longest river in the United States.
31. Idaho is one of nine panhandle states, so called because they resemble a literal panhandle. However the northern section of the Idaho panhandle is also referred to as 'The Chimney' because of how the shape appears on the map.
32. Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and Washington are all states that border Idaho. Idaho is also right on the border of Canada!
33. The climate in Idaho is variable, with super hot summers and cold winters, although it is mostly dry.
34. Idaho is nicknamed 'The Gem State' because almost every known type of gemstone has been found in the there!
35. Over seventy two different gemstones are currently mined from Idaho.
36. The largest diamond ever found in the whole of the United States was found in Idaho, it weighed in at nineteen and one-half carats.
37. The star garnet is Idaho's state gem. There are only two places in the entire world where this stone can be found: India and Idaho! These garnets got their name because the stone causes a reflection that looks like a four or six pointed star.
38. As well as gems, the mountains of Idaho also contain veins of gold, silver, lead, zinc, cobalt, copper, and lots of other rare minerals.
39. Idaho is split into two time zones. The majority of Idaho is in the Mountain Time Zone, while the area above the Salmon River is part of the Pacific Time Zone.
Facts About The Idaho Potato
One of the most popular things Idaho is known for, is the potato! One of many nicknames for Idaho is 'The Potato State'. Idahoans tend to be proud of this fact because, not only is the potato a staple part of most diets, they also happen to be really, really good at growing them.
40. Surprisingly, the potato isn't native to the state of Idaho! They were brought to Idaho in 1836 as a gift for the Nez Perce tribe.
41. Idaho now produces a third of all the potatoes grown in the United States. This adds up to around 27 billion potatoes per year!
42. Idaho's climate makes it ideal for growing potatoes, with high altitude summer day temperatures and much cooler evenings.
43. Due to the concentration of volcanic dust in the area, the soil in Idaho is very light and has a rich supply of minerals, another plus for growing the perfect potato.
44. Idaho is home to its own potato museum, which hosts the world's largest potato chip.
45. Idaho has branched out from the baked potato into some adventurous potato themed treats, our favorite is the 'Idaho Spud', a potato shaped marshmallow treat covered with chocolate and coconut.
Fun Facts About Idaho
Ready for some Idaho trivia? Check out these random and cool facts about Idaho!
46. Have you ever heard of the Smurf Turf? The Idaho Boise State University Broncos play on a blue football field, the only one in the world.
47. The State Capitol Building in Idaho is heated by hot springs located 3,000 feet down in the ground below.
48. Idaho is home to over four hundred species of bird!
49. Sun Valley in Idaho is a celebrity hotspot, with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mark Zuckerberg being just two of the famous famous who own homes there.
50. Idaho is believed to have one of the most neutral dialects in the United States, with no specific quirks!
51. 90% of America's lentils are grown in Idaho, it's not just about the potatoes!
52. The comedy turned cult classic 'Napoleon Dynamite' was filmed in Preston Idaho in 2004.
53. The complex song and dance routine 'Born In A Trunk In The Princess Theater In Pocatello, Idaho' was performed by Judy Garland in the 1954 movie 'A Star Is Born'.
54. Ever wanted to visit a ghost town? Idaho is home to over a hundred spooky abandoned towns!
56. Idaho's state fruit is the huckleberry.
57. In 1974 Evel Knievel the motorcycle stuntman attempted to jump Twin Falls in Idaho.
58. In Idaho there is a law in place forbidding anyone to give the gift of a box of candy that weighs more than fifty pounds.
59. In the late 19th century, the Bear Lake Monster was first spotted, this was rumored to be a serpent like beast that was over ninety feet long!
60. Idaho often comes out on top in polls of the most boring states, which seems unfair based on all these amazing facts about the place!
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our Idaho facts, then check out these fun facts about Colorado and fun facts about Arizona.
Freelance writer Amy lives in Hampshire with her 3 year old daughter, who is a super energetic, chatty child, leading to Amy’s interest in all matters to do with infant and child sleeping patterns and mindfulness for adults and children. Amy’s degree was in fashion design and she loves filling their beautiful home full of interesting textiles, tiles, art, ceramics, and houseplants or, alternatively, pining over them on Instagram. When they aren’t out exploring in the fresh air they can be found cosying up at home, painting, knitting, and dancing!