Idaho (probably an Araphoe Indian word, “Gem of the Mountains”), the name first suggested for the Territory of Colorado, one of the Pacific Slope States, lying like a roughly shaped rudder and stretching 485 miles south from the boundary separating the United States from Canada, with its base extending east from Oregon to Wyoming. It is bounded on the south by Utah and Nevada, on the west by Oregon and Washington, on the east by Wyoming and Montana, on the north by British Columbia. Its area is 83,779 square miles, of which over one-third is set apart as United States Government forest reserves.
PHYSICAL FEATURES, CLIMATE, ETC.—Central Idaho is a vast mountainous section, containing the Salmon River, Lost River, Saw Tooth, Boise, Seven Devils, and other ranges, which are in general well-timbered. The mean elevation of the state is about 4700 feet, its altitude varying between the extremes of 760 feet and over 12,000 feet. The Bitter Root range, a part of the great Continental Divide, forms the greater portion of the eastern boundary line of the state. In the extreme southern portion of the state are high forestless mountain ranges, the Owyhee, Goose Creek, Bear River, Portneuf, and Bannock ranges. In the great valley between these central and southern mountain ranges flows the Snake River, the largest river of Idaho and the main tributary of the Columbia River, draining over three-fourths of the area of the state. It rises in the Yellowstone National Park, flows westerly in an arch like course through the southern end of Idaho, then turning north it forms the western boundary line of the state for 300 miles. The drainage waters of a vast area of the country north of the Snake River flow out upon and are absorbed in the lava and sage-brush plains, and thence find their way beneath the lava overflow by subterranean passages into the river, or burst through the lava canyon walls in mighty springs. For 250 miles of its course not a stream flows into the Snake River from the north; the valley of the river, and most of its tributaries, is a lava plain overlaid with a soil of volcanic ash, which when irrigated produces with wonderful fertility; a large area is irreclaimable, but has an inestimable value as grazing ground in the winter for sheep, cattle, and horses, the snowfall being light and the temperature rarely reaching zero. The principal tributary valleys of the Snake River are the Boise, Payette, Salmon, and Weiser, drained by rivers of identical names; the northerly course of the river is through deep canyons, between majestic mountain ranges, and far below the great wheat land prairies, the plateau and rolling hills of Northern Idaho; the river is navigable below Lewiston, but in its course through Idaho the rapid fall of the stream and its extensive use for irrigation prevent navigation. In Idaho’s mountains are many fresh-water lakes of great depth and picturesque surroundings; the principal lakes are the Coeur d’Alene, Pend d’Oreille, Payette, and Bear, the latter extending into Utah. Many wonderful waterfalls are found in the state; the four principal ones are formed by the Snake River, and are called the American, Twin, Salmon, and Shoshone Falls—the last-mentioned being 210 feet high and 1200 feet wide and having a world-wide fame.
The climate varies according to location and elevation, the northern part of the state being in the humid, and the southern part in the arid, region. In the latter section the climate is very dry, bracing, and invigorating. In the valleys and agricultural districts zero temperature is almost unknown, and the winters are short with long growing seasons in spring and summer.
POPULATION.—According to the census returns, the population was 13,999 in 1870; 32,610 in 1880; 84,385 m 1890; 161,772 in 1900. In 1908 the population of the state was estimated at 360,000, and that of its capital, Boise, at 25,000. The cities with an estimated population of from five to ten thousand are Pocatello, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Coeur d’Alene, Sand-point, Lewiston, Moscow, and Nampa.
RESOURCES.—No state possesses resources more varied than those of Idaho. Agriculture, mining, lumbering, sheep and cattle raising, and horticulture are successfully carried on, while the lead mines of Northern Idaho produce the purest lead in the country, and supply about one-third of the total output of the United States. The Idaho mines in 1907 produced minerals valued at $22,165,191.37: lead yielded $12,470,341.74; silver yielded $5,546,553.82; copper yielded $2,241,177.17; gold yielded $1,373,031.40; zinc yielded $534,087.24. Valuable deposits of coal and phosphates exist; magnificent building stone, granite and marble, is also found in great quantities. The placer mines of the Boise basin have produced since 1863 over $250,000,000 in gold, and are still extensively mined by hydraulic plants and dredges. Railway facilities are inadequate and vast mountainous areas of mineral land are yet practically unexplored, so that the mineral resources of Central and Southern Idaho cannot be correctly estimated.
AGRICULTURE.,—The six northern counties of the state are in the humid region, with an annual rainfall of over 20 inches, and great crops of grain and grass are raised without irrigation. In the southern part of the state practically no crops are raised without the artificial application of water, and in this section there are over 300 days of sunshine in the year. Idaho has profited greatly by the provisions of the Carey Act, and has been granted 2,000,000 acres of land under that act by the United States Government, being one of the few states so favored. Enormous irrigation works have been constructed during the past five years, and still greater ones are in course of construction. In 1908 there were 4,554 miles of main canals and 5,654 miles of lateral canals constructed at a cost of $28,389,271.00, with 4,040,131 acres under canal, and 1,825,550 acres actually irrigated. Ben Davis and Jonathan apples attain perfection in the horticultural lands of the Boise, Payette, and Weiser valleys, and large quantities of prunes and pears are shipped yearly; several canning factories are in operation in the Boise and Payette valleys. The southern section of the state is noted for its melons, and the eastern section for potatoes. Alfalfa is the principal forage crop, although other grasses are grown; wheat and oats are very success-fully raised. Near Lewiston, grapes, cherries, and peaches are produced in large quantities. The enormous development going on in the State of Idaho at the present day, particularly under the irrigation reclamation projects, renders present figures an insecure basis in estimating the state’s agricultural resources, yet the statistics for 1907 show the value of farm products as over $68,000,000: wheat, the principal crop, being valued at $12,500,000; oats at over $14,000,000; alfalfa at over $7,000,000; fruits at $7,000,000.
OTHER INDUSTRIES.—The principal manufacturing industry is that of lumber; there are in the state over 60,000,000,000 cubic feet of timber, mostly white and yellow pine, with some red fir, cedar, hemlock, tamarack, and white fir; in 1907 there were 224 saw and planing mills, with an output valued at $7,000,-000. Although electric power plants have only begun to utilize the wonderful natural water-fall of the various streams of the state, in 1907 thirty-nine of such power plants were already in existence, representing an outlay of $4,500,000. In Southern Idaho, in 1908, four great sugar factories produced from sugar beets grown on irrigated lands 52,423,500 pounds of sugar; the total output of manufacturing plants in 1907 was $22,000,000, and 7,887 workmen were employed.
COMMUNICATION.,—here are four telegraph companies in the state, the Western Union, Postal Telegraph, Postal Cable, and Pacific and Idaho Northern with wires stretching over 6,888 miles. The principal telephone company is the Rocky Mountain Bell, but there are a number of independent companies; the number of miles covered is 16,616. Water transportation in the state is limited, but passenger and freight steamers ply Lakes Coeur d’Alene and Pend d’Oreille. The railroads of the state include the Harriman system, the Northern Pacific, Great Northern, the Idaho Northern, the Pacific & Idaho Northern, and the Spokane & International; there are also electric lines, Coeur d’Alene & Spokane Electric Railway, the Boise & Interurban, and Boise Valley. Great development is taking place, and much construction is being contemplated in the state. The railroad mileage in 1907 was 1,978.58 miles.
EDUCATION.—The constitution provides that the public school funds of the state shall forever remain intact, and only the interest thereon shall be used; this fund for the most part consists of the revenue derived from the sale of thousands of acres of land, sections 16 and 32 of each township in the state, and granted to the public schools of Idaho by the United States Government. These lands are sold at auction to the highest bidder, the minimum price being ten dollars per acre; no religious test or qualification is required for admission as either teacher or student to any public school; neither teachers nor pupils are required to participate in any religious services, and no sectarian or religious doctrines may ever be taught, or any distinction or classification made as to race or color. No books or documents of a political or denominational character may be used. Education is compulsory for at least three years between the ages of six and eighteen years.
Besides the public schools there is the state university at Moscow, opened in 1892, which confers the degrees of master and bachelor in arts, science, agriculture, and the degree of bachelor in music, domestic science, law, forestry, and veterinary surgery, civil engineering, mining engineering, electric and mechanical engineering. The faculty numbers fifty, and the student body about 540. There are normal schools at Albion and Lewiston, the academy of Idaho at Pocatello, and a school for deaf, dumb, and blind at Boise, all maintained by the state. In addition to these schools there are one Presbyterian, one Seven Day Adventist, and four Mormon schools and colleges, while there are seven Catholic academies and five Catholic parochial schools. In 1908 there were 2,052 teachers in the public schools, and 70,000 pupils enrolled; the total expenditure for common schools was in that year over $1,700,000. It is a notable fact that the new immigrants and settlers organize school districts and erect splendid schools, even before the erection of permanent business and residential structures.
HISTORY.—The first white man known to have visited Idaho was Chevalier De La Verandaye, Governor of Quebec; sixty-two years later the great overland expedition of Lewis and Clark, sent out by President Jefferson, traversed the state. During the next fifty years, however, Idaho was known only to the hunters and missionaries, the only settlements being fur-trading posts and missions. In 1860 placer gold was discovered in Oro Fino, and this discovery was followed by a rush to the state of miners from other Western camps; rich placer deposits were discovered on Salmon and Boise Rivers, and in 1863 there were over 25,000 miners in the famous Boise basin alone. Other placer deposits were discovered by adventuresome eager pioneers, but most of the latter left the state after the gold excitement had subsided, leaving a few settlers, who, attracted by the mild climate and wonderful soil, established themselves on ranches. These early settlers were of American stock, hardy, brave, and accustomed to the hardships of pioneer days, and were mostly literate men. The influx of population was not rapid until 1900, when the reports of new mineral discoveries and a wider knowledge of the vast timber and agricultural resources and the wonderful climate spread to the Eastern States. The gigantic irrigation projects under the Government construction and the provisions of the Carey Act attracted a large number of immigrants, particularly from the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska, and the Middle Western States; the necessity for possession of some capital in order to obtain irrigated lands secured the immigration to Idaho of a generally well-to-do class of intelligent Americans. There is but a very small percentage of foreign population in the state. Idaho was admitted as the forty-fourth state of the Union on July 3, 1890, having previously adopted its constitution in November, 1889. The main event in the political history of Idaho was the disfranchisement of the Mormons in 1883, but their disclaimer of polygamy in 1897 led to the restoration of citizenship to a large number of their body. In times past this religious organization had, and even now retains, great political influence in the state.
In 1892 and 1899 great strikes occurred among the lead miners of Northern Idaho; United States troops were called out to quell the riots, and imprisoned over 400 miners in the famous “Bull Pen”. In 1907 Frank Steunenberg, the governor during the miners’ riots, was assassinated. The officers of the Western Federation of Miners were taken from the State of Colorado, charged with his murder, but after a lengthy trial were acquitted. In 1896 the constitution of the state was so amended as to permit woman suffrage. The women are not greatly interested in political parties, but the influence of the women voters has been salutary, and has resulted in passing many morally uplifting laws, in the reform and betterment of political conditions, and in securing equitable property right laws for married women. The offices of state and county superintendents of public instruction have almost without exception since their enfranchisement been filled by women, and generally most capably filled; however, few women have occupied seats in the legislature, although other county and state offices have been filled by them.
RELIGIOUS FACTORS.—The membership of the Mormon Church in the state is 40,905. Catholics number 14,450, Presbyterians 3,839, Methodists 3,706, Christian 3,500, Baptist 2,670, Episcopalians 2,000, Congregational 1,373. The first Catholic mission in the state was founded in 1842 among the Coeur d’Alene Indians by Father Nicholas Point, S.J., and Brother Charles Stuet, S.J., although this tribe had been visited by Father De Smet, S.J., at a still earlier date. These Indians are among the finest specimens of the aboriginal American, and became intelligent and devout Catholics, handing down to the present generation a lively faith and a thrift and industry almost unique in the annals of the American Indian.
On March 3, 1858, Pope Pius IX constituted the Territory of Idaho as a vicariate Apostolic under the Right Rev. Louis Lootens, titular Bishop of Castabala. In 1885 the Right Rev. Alphonsus Joseph Glorieux succeeded him, having been consecrated titular Bishop of Apollonia at Baltimore; eight years later the State of Idaho was made an episcopal see, with Bishop Glorieux as first Bishop of the Diocese of Boise. To estimate the Catholic population of the state is difficult, because of the wonderful immigration from the Eastern and Middle Western States since 1903. In 1907 there were 11,000 whites and 4,000 Indians, but this is considerably below the present true enumeration. The white Catholics are principally of Irish and German ancestry, Spain, France, Poland, and Canada being also represented. Since 1902 about 3,000 Spaniards from the Basque and Pyrenees provinces have immigrated to the southern part of the state, finding employment in the sheep industry. Catholics prominent in the state’s history are Judge John Clark of the Idaho supreme court, Henry Heitfeld, Senator of the United States, Congressman James Gunn, Miss Permeal French, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Joseph Perrault, Territorial Comptroller, and Joseph Fallon, Commissioner of Immigration.
The first place of worship of any denomination erected in Idaho was a Catholic church, dedicated by Father Mesplie in 1867 in Idaho City, the territorial capital; Catholics also erected the first church in the present capital, Boise.
Idaho is ecclesiastically under the charge of Right Reverend A. J. Glorieux, Bishop of Boise, and about 35 priests, mostly secular, but including the Jesuits, Marists, and Benedictines. Parochial schools, academies, and hospitals to the number of seventeen are in charge of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, of St. Joseph, of the Visitation of Charity, of Providence, of St. Benedict, of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Ursulines.
The order of the Knights of Columbus instituted the pioneer Council at Boise in May, 1904, with twenty-seven members; in May, 1908, the order had increased to eight councils, with a membership of about 600.
LAWS.—The prejudice and feeling against the Mormon Church were largely responsible for the extensive reference to religion and religious worship in the Idaho State Constitution, the preamble of which reads’ “We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, etc.”. The constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion, and that no one shall be molested in person or property on account of his mode of worship. Bigamy and polygamy are prohibited in the state; the legislature is advised: “The first concern of good government is the virtue and sobriety of the people and the purity of the home, the legislature should further all wise and well directed efforts for the furtherance of temperance and morality.” Sunday is established by law as a day of rest, and practically all business is prohibited on that day; this law is generally well observed even in the mining, irrigation, and railway construction camps.
LEGAL OATHS, ETC.,—The oath of office for all officers created under the laws of the state ends with the words “so help me God“. Witnesses in all courts are sworn by an oath ending “so help me God“. Affirmation is permitted, also swearing according to the peculiar form of the witness’s religion. The use of profane language is punishable by fine and imprisonment. A chaplain is appointed by each branch of the legislature, and each day’s session is opened with prayer. Legal holidays include all Sundays, Christmas Day, and days appointed by the President of the United States or the governor for a public fast, feast, or holiday. A clergyman is prohibited from testifying as to any confession or statement made in the course of religious ministrations. Religious corporations sole can be formed, the duration of such corporations being unlimited, by a bishop or other clergyman in whom title to church property vests; rights are given to hold, sell, and rent real property, to contract, to borrow money and issue bonds, without limitation as to amount.
EXEMPTION.—Churches, chapels, and other buildings used for religious worship, together with the necessary land, furniture, and equipment, are exempt from taxation, as are also all schools, cemeteries, and hospital property not used for profit. All able-bodied males between eighteen and forty-five are liable to military duties except in time of peace, when those with conscientious scruples against bearing arms are exempt. A priest or minister of any denomination is exempt from jury duty.
MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE.,—Marriage is a civil contract which may be solemnized by any justice, judge, governor, mayor, minister or priest; no form is required, but a licence must be procured from the county recorder. The divorce laws are not strict, and many decrees are obtained, for the most part in default of the defendant. The causes for divorce are adultery, willful desertion, neglect to provide if continued for a year, habitual intemperance, insanity, conviction of felony, and extreme cruelty; for the last cause divorces are frequently granted on account of the infliction of grievous mental suffering. Bona fide residence must be shown for only six months before the court takes jurisdiction; large discretion is vested in the trial courts, but they are generally favorably inclined to the granting of divorces.
CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS.,—haritable organizations may incorporate under the laws providing for corporations not organized for profit, and may hold such real estate as may be necessary to carry out their purposes. Bequests and devises to such institutions are not valid, except when made by will and executed more than thirty days before the death of the testator, and cannot exceed one-third of the decedent’s property when he leaves lineal descendants.
SALE OF LIQUOR.—Liquor is sold under city, county, and state licences; county commissioners and city and town councils may refuse licenses, local option being thus practically given to the people. In 1009 a local option bill was passed by the legislature, but as yet no attempt has been made to test its provisions. The agricultural communities will no doubt exclude saloons and liquor selling, but the mining and lumbering communities will permit the sale of liquor under licence and certain regulations.
PRISONS AND REFORMATORIES.—The state penitentiary with 200 inmates is located at Boise; the Idaho industrial school with 70 inmates is located at St. Anthony; each county has a jail for persons awaiting trial and for punishment of misdemeanors. The industrial school is for the detention of juvenile delinquents and vagrant children between the ages of 8 and 18 years; the inmates are taught useful and honest occupations and trades. In 1909 an appropriation of $20,000 was made, and a similar amount raised by citizens for the construction of a building for the Children’s Home Finding Society, the object of which is to keep abandoned, neglected, and orphan children and those of pauper parentage, until proper homes can be secured for them (see Diocese of Boise).