15 Things You Might Not Know About Idaho
1. Idaho's known for its potatoes, but its official nickname is the Gem State. Some 72 different precious and semi-precious gemstones have been found there.
2. One of them is the star garnet. It's only found in abundance in two places in the world: Idaho and India.
3. Idaho also supplies the majority of the nation's trout.
4. Wondering how the state got its name? So are its residents, as a number of sources claim the name’s provenance. Lobbyist George Willing alleged Idaho meant "gem of the mountains" or "the sun comes from the mountains" in the Shoshone language. Others said the name came from the Apache word "ídaahę́," meaning enemy, or a Nez Perce phrase that translates to "land of many waters." Willing eventually copped that he totally made up the word "Idaho."
5. In 1861, Idaho wasn’t even called Idaho. Originally, Congress dubbed the land the Colorado Territory. Idaho finally became a territory all its own in 1863 and became the 43rd state in 1890.
6. The state horse, the Appaloosa, was brought over by the Spaniards in the 1700s and embraced by the Nez Perce tribe. Settlers called the spotted equines "Palouse horses" after the Palouse River, and the name stuck.
7. At 7,993 feet deep, Hells Canyon in western Idaho is the deepest river gorge in North America. In comparison, the Grand Canyon is only 6,000 feet deep.
8. Thirteen U.S. states are split into two time zones, and Idaho's one of them. The majority of the state's area and population fall under Mountain Time. The area above the Salmon River is part of the Pacific Time Zone.
9. Idaho's state seal is the only one in the U.S. designed by a woman. Emma Edwards Green entered a statewide competition for the honor in 1891 by using only her initials.
10. Also impressive: Idaho's State Capitol Building is the only one in the U.S. heated by geothermal energy. The heat comes from hot springs located 3,000 feet underground.
11. Idaho's most famous crop (the potato) isn't native to the area. The first potato in America was actually planted in New Hampshire, in 1719. A missionary named Henry Harmon Spalding brought the potato to Lapwai, Idaho, in 1836 to teach the Nez Perce tribe how to grow their own food. They were the first to cultivate and sell spuds in the area.
12. If you're curious whether someone's from Idaho, try asking him or her to pronounce "Boise." Natives and longtime residents tend to pronounce it "boy-see,” while outsiders usually say "boy-zee."
13. Firefighters call this axe-like tool a Pulaski, after the Idahoan forest ranger who popularized it. Edward Pulaski was a hero of the Great Idaho Fire of 1910, which spanned three million acres, killed 87 people, and remains the largest wildfire in U.S. history. He led 45 firefighters to an abandoned prospect mine and fought off the flames at its mouth until he passed out, saving all but five men. A year after the disaster, Pulaski combined an axe and an adze to create the perfect tool for building firebreaks.
14. If you're dog tired and traveling through Cottonwood, Idaho, you can spend the night at Dog Bark Park Inn, a bed and breakfast shaped like a giant beagle.
15. Or, here's an even bigger adventure: Sail from the Pacific Ocean to Idaho (or vice-versa) via the Snake and Columbia Rivers. You'll finish (or start) in Lewiston, the farthest inland port on the west coast.