Did you know that the State of Idaho accounts for almost 50% of all trout sales in the country? Did you know that Ernest Hemingway, famous author, and journalist, spent the last few years of his life in his second home in Ketchum? Facts like these surprise many people because, contrary to popular belief, Idaho isn’t all Bronco Football, potatoes, and Moose. Idaho, in fact, is a state with many intriguing aspects to it. The following are a few facts that make Idaho unique and that you can share with your friends when you tell them you are moving to Idaho.
Idaho is actually home to the United State’s first nuclear power plant.
The 1950s were a time of much scientific discovery and much of it was focused around the utilization of atomic energy. The world’s superpowers, namely the United Kingdom, Germany, and Russia were diving headlong into atomic research, setting their best minds to work on the subject. In the United States, however, our first successful harnessing of the power of the atom was at Argonne National Laboratory, a facility in east-central Idaho.
It was in the year 1955 when the scientists at Argonne National Laboratory were able to finally chanelle the near-infinite power of the atom and light the whole city of Arco Idaho. It was the first nuclear plant to light an entire city and has since gone down in the history books. After the breakthrough at Arco, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Germany have created nuclear power plants many times larger than the one in Arco.
Idaho’s ‘hotspots’ are not just limited to skiing and snowboarding.
Beneath most of the southern half of Idaho are large reservoirs of geothermal energy which create geysers (like in Yellowstone), hot springs, and heating for buildings. For instance, the State Capitol Building in downtown Boise, along with several other large buildings in downtown, are heated by geothermal energy. The State Capitol Building is actually the only capitol building in the nation that is heated in this manner.
Idaho isn’t just an alpine getaway.
The landscape of Idaho may be predominantly mountains, forests, and high desert, but what many people don’t know is that Idaho is actually home to the tallest sand dunes in North America. It’s called the Bruneau Dunes State Park and its greatest peak measures in at a record 470 feet tall (approximately). This gargantuan peak is not alone though, Bruneau Dunes State Park is actually made up of two small dunes and a large chain of dunes about a mile and a half long. At Bruneau Dunes State Park, visitors can sled down the dunes, play in the sand, and fish in the nearby lake.
Bruneau Dunes State Park also houses a campground with a free weekend observatory.
Bruneau State Park is so far from any large cities, so it is optimal for celestial observations without much light pollution. It is open one hour before sunset on Friday and Saturday nights during the spring, summer, and fall.
Helicopter skiing in the United States was first tried, in Idaho.
It’s no secret that Idaho has many great opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports; and resort towns like McCall, Sun Valley, and Coeur d’Alene have grown in popularity in the last fifty to one hundred years. However, part of the United State’s skiing industry history was made here in Idaho. Helicopter skiing, dropping from a helicopter to remote skiing destinations, was first tried in Sun Valley before it had been done in anywhere else in the country.
Idaho has also had a brush with the great Evel Knievel.
Besides Ernest Hemingway, other celebrities have left their mark on Idaho History. One, in particular, is the famed Evel Knievel. This 20th-century daredevil made his way to Idaho in 1974 to try to jump the Snake River Canyon just two miles east of Shoshone Falls. The jump was ultimately unsuccessful, but it brought Idaho 15 minutes of fame as well as several thousand spectators. You can still visit the Evel Knievel Jump Site today.
Idaho’s name may not mean what you think it means
Many people have wondered how Idaho got its name; wondering if it has some meaning or if it was named after a certain person. The answer, however, is far more interesting than you might think. In the 1860s Idaho was merely a territory, but it was being considered for statehood. Names were being debated back in Washington and a clever lobbyist named George M. Willing, petitioned that the new territory be named ‘Idaho’; a word he professed came from the Shoshone Native Americans that meant “Gem of the Mountains”. Later, after the name was officially in use, it was discovered that the word Idaho was one that George Willing had simply made up.
The State Seal was designed by a woman.
Idaho’s State Seal, which is also featured on the state flag, is the only one in the Union that was designed by a woman. Emma Edwards Green drew the state seal, centering its theme on equality and liberty; two of Idaho’s chief characteristics. Emma, not originally a native of Idaho, came to Boise the same year the Territory became a state and quickly fell in love with Idaho culture, environment, etc. She taught art in Boise and was invited by the State to submit a design for the state seal. She ultimately won by a landslide. To this day she is still the only woman to design a state seal.
So there you have it, 8 new facts about Idaho that you may not have known before. Idaho is a lot more interesting than many people give it credit. It is a state with both a great character, culture and history that offers unique and amazing opportunities for everyone. Come see Idaho for yourself, you’ll be glad you did, and just like Emma Edwards Green, you may not want to leave.