Idaho is an amazing state. It is one of the most underrated states in the union and is brimming with interesting things in its history, landscape, and culture. So, here are a few fun facts about Idaho that will surely make you want to visit.
1. Idaho’s Nickname
As most states, Idaho has a nickname and, like its southern neighbor Nevada, the Silver State, Idaho’s nickname pays homage to some of the beautiful minerals that are dug up here. What is Idaho’s nickname? It is “the Gem State”. Idaho is a great state for mining, there are precious, semi-precious, and nonprecious materials mined all throughout Idaho making it a destination for all geological enthusiasts. However, the nickname has a double meaning. For some, Idaho is the Gem State because of the beautiful scenery, awesome outdoor recreation opportunities, and all the wonderful wildlife making it a gem of the nation.
2. State Gem of Idaho
While we are on the topic of gems, let’s look at the state gem. Yes, there is a state gem. Due to its rarity, the Star Garnet has been labeled as Idaho’s state gem. The Star Garnet is found in only two places in the world (in large quantities, experts say) and those places are Idaho and India … must be something to do with the letter “I” … Either way, the Star Garnet is a beautiful deep purple gem that is used in all sorts of industries from jewelry to manufacturing.
3. State Bird of Idaho
When it comes to birds, Idaho really takes the cake thanks to the plethora of birds that call Idaho home during all or part of the year. Out of all those birds, however, the one to gain the title of state bird is the mountain bluebird. This beautiful bird can be seen in many parts of Idaho eating insects and berries.
4. State Raptor of Idaho
Like we said above, Idaho is a great place for birds and that includes birds of prey (sometimes called raptors). In fact, Idaho is such an important place in the world of falconry and raptor studies that Boise is home to the World Center for Birds of Prey, the organization responsible for saving Peregrine Falcons and now the California Condor from extinction. That being said, the Peregrine Falcon is the state raptor of Idaho which is why this beautiful bird represents Idaho on the Idaho state quarter.
5. State Flower of Idaho
Since 1931 the syringa has been the state flower of Idaho. It is a beautiful four petaled white flower that was first discovered by Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition. According to Wikipedia it is a woody bush that can grow up to 3 meters tall. These syringas are not related to the lilacs of the same name. They are native to Idaho and many of the other western states as well as parts of Canada.
6. State Capital of Idaho
The Capital of Idaho is the City of Boise. It is the largest city in the state and was once the site of the military fort, Fort Boise, and the Idaho Penitentiary. Boise was not always the capital of the Idaho state or territory. In fact, before it became an official territory of the United States the capital was moved to Boise from Idaho City, a once booming mining town.
7. Idaho’s capitol building is heated in a strange way
The Idaho Capitol building in Boise is a beautiful piece of architecture and science. Thanks to the geothermal energy that courses beneath the surface of Idaho the capitol building is heated by geothermal heat instead of electricity. It is the only state capitol with this kind of feature making it a one of a kind building.
8. State Fruit of Idaho
Huckleberries are the state fruit of Idaho and believe us when we say, they are everywhere. When you are here in Idaho you will be hard pressed to not find some sort of huckleberry product on your way to find good food. Many kinds of huckleberries are native to Idaho and are a cultural mainstay Idaho cities big and small.
9. State Song of Idaho
The state song of Idaho is the lovely “Here we have Idaho” written by Albert J. Tompkins, McKinley Helm, and Sallie Hume-Douglas. It is a beautiful folk song that sings of the pride Idahoans have in their state along with the many treasures Idaho holds. To get a taste of it, here is a part of the chorus,
“Singing, we’re singing of you,
Ah, proudly too. All our lives thru,
We’ll go singing, singing of you,
Singing of Idaho.”
10. Famous people from Idaho
One of the most famous people to come out of Idaho would have to be Joe Albertson of the Albertson’s grocery chain. Joe started his first grocery store here in Boise Idaho in 1939 on the corner of State Street and Sixteenth. He then went on to be one of the greatest names in grocery in the whole country.
Another very important figure from Idaho is J.R. Simplot of the J.R. Simplot Company. Simplot pioneered the frozen potato industry and was the one to make Idaho potatoes the standard for McDonald’s french-fries.
11. Inventions and innovations to come out of Idaho
As we wrote about earlier, potatoes are a big part of Idaho, but they aren’t everything. However, besides having delicious potatoes, Idaho is also important in the business of frozen fries, tater tots, and hash browns. In fact, the frozen potato industry was started here. Without the efforts of J.R. Simplot, it may have been a long while before you could buy quality frozen fries at the grocery store.
The television was another great invention that came from Idaho . . . well, at least from the mind of an Idahoan. Philo T. Farnsworth, the creator of the television was from a small farming town in Idaho originally where he found his passion for mechanics and inventing. The actual inventing of the television happened elsewhere, but the television is still something that Idahoans claim as something of their own.
Lastly, there is Nuclear energy. The Idaho National Laboratory near Arco is where the first nuclear power plant ever produced enough electricity to light a whole city for a sustained amount of time. It was a huge discovery, one that had all eyes on Idaho in the 50’s.
12. Idaho is home to North America’s tallest sand dune
Most people don’t think of sand dunes when they think of Idaho. Most of the time people think about mountains, rivers, pine trees, etc. While Idaho has all those things, sand dunes are not out of its realm of possibilities. Bruneau Sand Dunes are located just south of Mountain Home, Idaho off of Highway 78. The highest peak at Bruneau measures 470 feet tall which is the tallest in North America.
13. Idaho his home to America’s deepest canyon
While we are talking about geological features, we can’t forget the fact that Idaho has the deepest canyon in America: Hells Canyon. Hells Canyon stretches along the Snake River Plain in Southern Idaho and has an incredible depth of nearly 8,000 feet (7,993 feet to be exact). It is an awesome location for all sorts of sports including rafting, kayaking, and base jumping (in some areas).
14. Idaho has more river’s than you’d believe
Idaho is also home to thousands of miles of water thanks to its ever-flowing river system. It is estimated that there are over 100,000 miles worth of rivers in Idaho making it the perfect place for people who want to enjoy some water-bound adventures.
The fun facts about Idaho don’t stop there. In fact, there are more where those came from. If you want to learn more about Idaho and how you can make it your next home or getaway spot, give us a call today at the Hughes Group; we are always happy to help you.