Idaho, The Gem State

Idaho, The Gem State

by Sandra Merville Hart

Idaho’s nickname is The Gem State. The state’s mountains contain silver, gold, copper, and cobalt to name a few.

The state gem, star garnets, are usually a purple or plum color. Other rare gems found in Idaho are opal, jade, jasper, and topaz.

Idaho’s early history

The Lewis and Clark Expedition, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, arrived in the area known as Idaho in 1805. Because the expedition found thick forests, fur traders began to travel there. A Canadian company opened the first trading post in region of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington in 1809.

oregon-264458_960_720Fur traders trapped animals and exchanged with Native Americans so successfully that they greatly reduced the number of those animals by the 1840s. Two trading posts remained open. The Oregon Trail later used these two stops, Fort Hall and Fort Boise, as outposts on the Oregon Trail.

Gold discovered near Boise

Miners hurried to mining camps in 1860 when gold was discovered north of Boise on Nez Perce land, a Native American tribe. Camps sprang up above the Clearwater River and the Salmon River.

Cattle ranching

ranch-720045_960_720Idaho’s grazing land attracted both cattle ranchers and sheep herders by the 1880s.

Idaho becomes a state

Idaho became a state on July 3, 1890. The capital is Boise.

Idaho potatoes

Idaho is famous all over the world for quality potatoes. The vegetable is prepared many ways and each American eats an average of 140 pounds of potatoes a year.

Potatoes are the state vegetable.

Other fun facts about Idaho

Idaho’s Lava Hot Springs are world-famous.

Shoshone Falls drops 212 feet and is known as the “Niagara of the West.”

Thousand Springs is a group of natural springs on the Snake River.

Philo Farnsworth, inventor, grew up in Rigby, Idaho. When in high school, he is said to have submitted the principal plan for television in a science paper. This makes Rigby the birthplace of television.



Gutman, Bill. The Look-It-Up Book of the 50 States, Random House, 2002.

“Idaho,”, 2016/06/25

“Idaho,” State Symbols USA, 2016/06/25

“Idaho Facts and Trivia,” 50, 2016/06/25





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