Created | Updated Jan 7, 2012
If you see a car ahead of you on the road and its license plate reads 'Famous Potatoes', you can tell what state it comes from. Idahoans are more harmless than the rest of us, and a sixth of the population live in a single city, Boise1. Idaho's world-famous and largest industry is growing potatoes. Although much of the state is desert and/or is uninhabited, there are areas that make a name for Idaho in completely unique ways.
Origin of the Name 'Idaho'
First things first. The word Idaho doesn't mean anything in any language. It was coined by mining lobbyist George M Willing. He told the Idaho Congress it meant 'Gem of the Mountains' in an Indian language. Indian names were the rave in the late 1800s and Congress was careless enough not to check whether Idaho actually meant anything. Nobody realised that 'Idaho' was a faux until the bill to create the Idaho Territory was placed before the US Senate. By this time the word was already so popular, it was too late to change. President Lincoln signed the Idaho Territory Bill in 1863, and it became a state in 1890 on 3 July.
If you are touring the state, here are a few places you might want to visit.
Craters of the Moon is the only national monument in the state. As a result of the volcanic activity (now dormant) that once characterised this area, it is filled with one-of-a-kind rock formations. It is so unearthly that NASA had their astronauts train there, as it is (at least) as cratered as the Moon. It is Idaho's only national park.
The Boise National Forest is filled with 2.6 million acres of evergreen trees. This forest has a high fire rate, but you are not in much danger of being incinerated while visiting. One setback is repetition. When a group of Idahoans tried to find five kinds of trees in the forest, they could only find four.
The city of Boise is the capital city of Idaho.
Yellowstone National Park. Yes, Idaho has its own little bit of Yellowstone. Visit any time you like.
Congregation Ahaveth Beth Israel is the oldest synagogue in continuous use west of the Mississippi.
The Capitol Building. What more is there to say? It's the Capitol Building.
Sun Valley is a world-famous ski resort. Olympic ice-skaters perform here.
Interesting Facts About Idaho
Potato Stampede! - Idaho produces 29% of US potatoes.
Did somebody say 'Mcdonalds'? - One third of McDonalds french fries originate in Idaho.
The Star Garnet - The rare star garnet can only be found in Idaho and India.
Idaho State Details
- Capital: Boise (pronounced 'Boy-see')
- Population: 1,229,000 (1998)
- State Song: 'Here We Have Idaho'
- State Flag: Adopted in 1907
- State Bird: Mountain bluebird
- State Flower: Syringa2
- State Fruit: Black huckleberry
- State Fossil: Hagerman horse
- State Tree: Western white pine
- State Fish: Cutthroat trout
- State Insect: Monarch butterfly
- State Gem: Star garnet
- State Folk Dance: Square dance
- State Web Site: Access Idaho
- State Vegetable: Potato