Monday, March 4, 2013

How Idaho Got Its Name: The Big Fib

Posted By on Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Gaveling in its session on this, the 150th birthday of Idaho, the State Senate gave itself—and the people of Idaho—a birthday present today: a renaming of the Legislative Auditorium in the State Capitol's West Wing as the Abraham Lincoln Auditorium.

"Idaho was born out of political conflict on this day," Idaho Falls Republican Sen. Bart Davis told his colleagues on the Senate Floor this morning, prior to a noontime celebration.

Davis shared a brief history lesson with lawmakers this morning on how the Idaho Territory got its name.

"In the early 1860s, what we call Colorado today was ready to become a territory," said Davis. "A leader in that area thought up the name 'Idaho,' telling others it meant 'gem of the mountains.' He told them it was an Indian word. It wasn't. He made it up."

Davis said that some folks liked the name so much that they christened their new steamboat "Idaho," which brought miners to the Clearwater River. But before Congress took final action to name the Colorado territory, it was learned that the "Idaho" name was a fib, so they named the territory Colorado.

When it came time to name the Idaho Territory, several mining camps in the region were already being called "Idaho." The name stuck.

"Whereas, among President Lincoln's last official acts in the White House on the final day of his life was the authorizing of additional appointments to fill vacancies in office for the Idaho Territory," reads Davis' resolution. "And whereas, President Lincoln also contributed to the development of the State of Idaho through his support of the Homestead Act, the Morrill Act that established land grant colleges, and the launching of a transcontinental railway," the 2012 Legislature commemorated today's 150th anniversary of the creation of the Idaho Territory.

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