Idaho History - the history of Idaho
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Vacation 2 USA   >   Idaho   >   History
Vacation 2 USA   >   History   >   Idaho History


Idaho History

Humans are known to have inhabited Idaho for at least 14,500 years. Ancient artifacts that have been found in the area, are among the oldest known artifacts in North America.

Until 1846, Idaho was part of the Oregon Country claimed by both the United States and UK. The US gained undisputed control over Oregon in 1846.

Parts of present day Idaho were initially divided between the Oregon, Washington and Dakota Territories, but in 1863 the Idaho Territory was created. The Idaho Territory included most of the present day states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

One interesting act about Idaho is it is the only state named as a result of a hoax. In the early 1860s, when a new territory was being organized in the Rocky Mountains, lobbyist George M. Willing suggested the name "Idaho" which he claimed meant "the sun comes from the mountains" or "gem of the mountains" in the Shoshone Indian language. Congress however rejected Willing's suggestion, and this new territory was named the Colorado Territory. However, in the meantime, the name "Idaho" had gained currency, even though Willing had subsequently admitted to making up the name. A Columbia River steamship was named "Idaho", and Idaho County was created in the East of the Washington Territory. And, as previously described, in 1863, the Idaho Territory (which included Idaho County) was created from a portion of the Washington Territory.

In the period following the American Civil War (1861 to 1865), Idaho became an important mining state, at one time even producing almost a fifth of the gold mined in the United States. Mining however was not without incident, and the state was plagued by frequent labor unrest, indeed, during one strike in 1892, a shooting war even developed between striking miners and company guards.

Idaho was also an important location in the Progressive political movement, adopting policies such as woman's suffrage (1896) and prohibition (1916) in advance of other parts of the country. It was during this period that the state's economy gradually moved away from mining towards agriculture. Some mining towns became deserted "ghost towns", and others transformed themselves into ski resorts.

In the post World War II period, mining was remained an important industry in Idaho. In recent years, the state was unfortunately gained a certain noteriety in certain sections of the press, because of the presence of certain extreme rightwing and survivalist groups in some parts of the state - however the vast majority of Idaho residents are opposed to such ideologies.

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Outlaw Tales of Idaho: True Stories Of The Gem State's Most Infamous Crooks, Culprits, And Cutthroats

By Randy Stapilus

Paperback (192 pages)

Outlaw Tales of Idaho: True Stories Of The Gem State s Most Infamous Crooks, Culprits, And Cutthroats
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 The frontier towns of Idaho were populated by some of the toughest and most dangerous characters in the West. Serial killer Lyda Lewis poisoned her unsuspecting husbands to cash in on their life insurance. The Eddy and Splawn families created counterfeit U.S. gold pieces. And "Diamondfield" Jack Davis, a notorious killer, even shot a child's dog. 

From Butch Cassidy to George Levy, Harry Orchard to Caleb Lyon, read about the most notorious desperados in the history of the Gem State. Through these astonishing true stories, Outlaw Tales of Idaho introduces you to a state you thought you know--and a West wilder than you even imagined. 

Roadside History of Idaho (Roadside History Series)

By Betty Derig

Brand: Mountain Press Publishing Company
Released: 1996-12-01
Paperback (480 pages)

Roadside History of Idaho (Roadside History Series)
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The best way to enjoy Idaho's rich heritage is to visit the sites where history happened. Roadside History of Idaho makes you feel like you've got a native guide at hand as it transports you to those places through well-researched, well-told stories and vivid historical photographs.

In Mountain Shadows: A History of Idaho

By Carlos Arnaldo Schwantes

Brand: University of Nebraska Press
Paperback (308 pages)

In Mountain Shadows: A History of Idaho
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Idaho is now seen as one of the most intriguing and attractive states in the Union. Any view of the Gem State is likely to be broadened and deepened by this superbly written history of it, In Mountain Shadows. Carlos A. Schwantes illustrates the extent to which Idahoans have always been divided by geography, transportation patterns, religion, and history. Although the state motto should have been "Divided We Stand," as he says in affectionate jest, it is also true that Idahoans come together on some basics—on avoiding crowds and maintaining the good life close to scenic mountains and streams.

Schwantes reaches back to 1805, when Lewis and Clark were among the first white men to enter present-day Idaho. He describes the Indians then living in the Great Basin and Plateau, and proceeds through layers of history to show how fur traders, missionaries, and overland emigrants defined the land that became a territory in 1863 and, finally, a state in 1890. The vigilantism, Indian wars, mining booms and busts, and an-imosity toward Mormons and Chinese immigrants that marked the territorial years gave way to more troubles in the early years of statehood: an economic downturn, industrial violence, political protest. The arrival of automobiles promised to end isolation, but the formidable terrain slowed the building of north-south highways, just as it had railroads. Nevertheless, future Idaho would be a product of engineering and witness the coming of irrigation systems and hydroelectric plants. Schwantes brings his history through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War, noting everyday life, colorful personalities, political and economic cycles, raging controversies, and current trends.

Southern Idaho Ghost Towns

By Wayne Sparling

Brand: Caxton Press
Paperback (135 pages)

Southern Idaho Ghost Towns
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Distributed by the University of Nebraska Press for Caxton Press

When mineral riches were found in southern Idaho "boomtowns" arose across this rugged land.  When the mining activity ceased these towns were quickly abandoned yet they still stand; a testimony to the vagaries of life in the frontier in pursuit of gold and silver.

The History Of Idaho

By John Hailey

Andesite Press
Hardcover (426 pages)

The History Of Idaho
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Product Description:

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.

Frontier History Along Idaho's Clearwater River: Pioneers, Miners & Lumberjacks

By John Bradbury

The History Press
Released: 2014-11-11
Kindle Edition (160 pages)

Frontier History Along Idaho s Clearwater River: Pioneers, Miners & Lumberjacks
Product Description:
The Clearwater River runs deep through northern Idaho's history. The Nez Perce tribe made its home along the river. Lewis and Clark's journey west took them through the Clearwater. In fact, the Nez Perce made the expedition's voyage from the Clearwater River to the Pacific Ocean possible by teaching them how to make dugout canoes from ponderosa pine logs. Fur traders like John Jacob Astor and William Ashley financed the first American commercial activity on the river, bringing trappers to the area and paving the way for the Oregon Trail. Later came the first gold rush, the Nez Perce war, statehood, homesteaders and the beginning of the logging industry. Join author John Bradbury as he recounts a time when native tribes, explorers, trappers, preachers, miners and lumberjacks made a life along the Clearwater, establishing the area for future generations.

The Story of Idaho: Millennial Edition

By Virgil M Young

Brand: Caxton Press
Other Hardcover (257 pages)

The Story of Idaho: Millennial Edition
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Distributed by the University of Nebraska Press for the University of Idaho Press

An updated edition of the classic textbook on the history, geography, and culture of Idaho. Approved by Idaho Department of Education in 2003.

The Gold Camps and Silver Cities of Idaho

By Idaho Bureau of Mines

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (186 pages)

The Gold Camps and Silver Cities of Idaho
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Mining historian Kerby Jackson introduces us to a classic mining work in this important re-issue of the Idaho Bureau of Mines publication “Gold Camps & Silver Cities: Wherein is Told the Story of the Rush of 1863 Into the Boise Basin and the Owyhee Country and of what Followed; how the Gold-seekers and Rainbow-runners Transformed a Hostile Wilderness Into Idaho Territory And, Later, Into the State of Idaho”. Originally published in 1963, this important publication on Idaho Mining has not been available for nearly fifty years. Included are rare insights into the history of Idaho's Gold Rush, as well as the mad craze for silver in the Idaho Panhandle. Documented in fine detail are the early mining excitements at Boise Basin, at South Boise, in the Owyhees, at Deadwood, Long Valley, Stanley Basin and Robinson Bar, at Atlanta, on the famous Boise River, Volcano, Little Smokey, Banner, Boise Ridge, Hailey, Leesburg, Lemhi, Pearl, at South Mountain, Shoup and Ulysses, Yellow Jacket and Loon Creek. The story follows with the appearance of Chinese miners at the new mining camps on the Snake River, Black Pine, Yankee Fork, Bay Horse, Clayton, Heath, Seven Devils, Gibbonsville, Vienna and Sawtooth City. Also included are special sections on the Idaho Lead and Silver mines of the late 1800's, as well as the mining discoveries of the early 1900's that paved the way for Idaho's modern mining and mineral industry. Lavishly illustrated with rare historic photos, this volume provides a one of a kind documentary into Idaho's mining history that is sure to be enjoyed by not only modern miners and prospectors who still scour the hills in search of nature's treasures, but also those enjoy history and tromping through overgrown ghost towns and long abandoned mining camps. Note: This edition is a perfect facsimile of the original edition and is not set in a modern typeface. As such, some type characters and images might suffer from slight imperfections or minor shadows in the page background.

Early History of Idaho

By W. J. McConnell

Released: 2016-04-05
Kindle Edition (424 pages)

Early History of Idaho
Product Description:
This Early History of Idaho, as remembered and written by a participant in that history, is part history, and part “Shoot-‘em-up” stories. — “History is not history unless it is true, and there can be no excuse for the alleged historian who indulges in flights of fancy when the truth, if written, would be stranger and more interesting than modern fiction. A great deal of interesting matter has been left out of the historical works relating to Idaho which have been published in the past. The reason for this inadvertence has not been that the writers were fearful that those of whom they would write, and their relatives, were not dead, but that they felt that those things were now past and gone, and that those acts which were discreditable to the individual or community should be allowed to slumber in oblivion. Such considerations are commendable, but they are hardly consistent with the stern duty of the historian.” ― This eBook edition of the 1913 original has been carefully edited for scanning and spelling errors, and is as true to the original as possible. [EDB Pubs]

Bound for the Backcountry

By Richard H Holm

Cold Mountain Press
Paperback (572 pages)

Bound for the Backcountry
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Heavy duty softcover edition featuring 1,000+ black & white photos (historic and current images) and more than ten maps. Unread copy. If you are into flying and the Idaho backcountry this is a must have book. – Book Description – The Idaho backcountry has the most unique mountain and canyon flying found in the lower forty-eight states. For the first time a comprehensive history of nearly one hundred of the state’s isolated airstrips has been compiled, detailing the construction and historical events of each. The most southerly airstrips included are those at the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and northward through the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Combined with the history of each individual location are fascinating stories related to homesteaders, runway owners, boaters, hikers, outfitters, hunters, firefighters, pilots, and airplanes.

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