Open main menu

IDAHO, a territory of the United States, situated between lat. 42° and 49° N., and lon. 111° and 117° 10' W., bounded N. by British Columbia, E. by Montana and Wyoming, S. by Utah and Nevada, and W. by Oregon and Washington. The extreme length N. and S. on the W. boundary is 485 m. and along the Wyoming border 140 m., and the breadth varies from less than 50 m. on the north to nearly 300 m. on the south; area, 86,294 sq. m. The eastern boundary line is irregular. Commencing at the north, it runs S. along the 116th meridian to the crest of the Bitter Root mountains (about lat. 47° 45'); thence it follows S. E. and E. the crest of those and of the Rocky mountains to the 111th meridian on the Wyoming border, and thence runs S. to the Utah border. The territory is divided into nine counties: Ada, Alturas, Boisé, Idaho, Lemhi, Nez Percé, Oneida, Owyhee, and Shoshone. The principal towns are Boisé City (the capital), Idaho City, Malade City, and Silver City in the S. part, each having in 1870 less than 1,000 inhabitants, and Lewiston at the junction of the Snake and Clearwater rivers. The population of the territory in 1870, exclusive of tribal Indians, was 14,990, including 4,274 Chinese, 60 colored, and 47 Indians; 12,184 were male and 2,815 female; 7,114 native and 7,885 foreign born; 897 males and 798 females were between 5 and 18 years of age, 9,431 males (3,288 native and 6,143 foreign) from 18 to 45, and 10,313 (3,680 native and 6,633 foreign) 21 years old and upward. Of the natives, 946 were born in the territory, 804 in New York, 550 in Ohio, 536 in Missouri, 479 in Utah, 416 in Pennsylvania, 400 in Illinois, 348 in Oregon, and 312 in Iowa. Of the foreigners, 1,984 were natives of Great Britain, of whom 986 were Irish, 599 of Germany, and 334 of British America. There were 553 persons born in Idaho living in other parts of the Union; 5,557 male citizens of the United States, 21 years old and over, in the territory; 3,293 persons, 10 years old and upward, unable to read, and 3,388 unable to write, including 2,872 Chinese; 4,104 families and 4,622 dwellings; 10,879 persons, 10 years old and over, engaged in occupations, of whom 1,462 were employed in agriculture, 1,423 in professional and personal services, 721 in trade and transportation, and 7,273 in manufactures and mechanical and mining industries. The tribal Indians in 1872 numbered about 5,800. The Nez Percés, 2,807 in number, occupy a reservation of 1,344,000 acres in the N. part of the territory; they are well advanced in civilization, extensively engaged in agriculture, and had two schools in operation, attended by 124 pupils. The Boisé and Bruneau Shoshones, numbering 516, and the Bannacks, 521, have a reservation of 1,568,000 acres in the S. E. part of the territory, near the Snake river. These reservations receive limited annuities from the United States, and are in charge of the Presbyterians. The Cœur d'Alênes, Spokanes, Kootenays, and Pond d'Oreilles, about 2,000 in the aggregate, occupy a reservation of 256,000 acres, 30 or 40 m. N. of the Nez Percés. They receive no annuities, and are largely under the influence of the Catholic missionaries of the Cœur d'Alêne mission.—The general surface of the territory is a table land, with an elevation of from 2,000 to 5,000 ft. above the sea, but containing numerous depressed valleys, each watered by a considerable stream, and crossed by mountain ranges or spurs, with peaks rising above the line of perpetual snow. These spurs, branching from the Bitter Root and main chain of the Rocky mountains, and traversing the whole width of the territory, are mostly named from the streams that rise in them or flow along the valleys at their base. In the north, near the international boundary, are the Kootenay mountains; S. of these is the Cœêur d'Alêne range, and further S. and along the Clearwater river and its tributaries are the Clearwater mountains. Along the upper Salmon river and at its head waters is the lofty and rugged Salmon River range, and further up the Snake from the mouth of Salmon river are successively found the Weiser, Payette, Boisé, Owyhee (in the S. W. portion of the territory), and Saw Tooth mountains. The Bear River mountains are in the S. E. corner, and along the N. portion of the Wyoming border is the Teton range. The Three Buttes are isolated peaks in the S. part, N. and W. of the Snake. The Snake river or Lewis fork of the Columbia and its branches drain the entire territory, except a portion about 120 m. long in the extreme north, which is watered by Clarke's fork, the Spokane, and the Kootenay, and a small tract in the S. E. corner, which is intersected by Bear river. The Snake river, rising in the W. part of Wyoming, after entering Idaho, flows N. W., then bends S. W., and again N. W., making an immense curve through the S. part of the territory, and strikes the Oregon boundary in about lat. 43° 40', after which it flows N. forming the W. boundary of Idaho to about lat. 46° 30', where it turns W. and enters Washington territory. Steamers ascend to Lewiston in Nez Percé co., just above the point where it assumes a W. course. For more than 100 m. above Lewiston the river is shallow and rapid, and navigation is difficult and dangerous; but above the mouth of Powder river it is again navigable for 150 or 200 m. The principal tributaries are the Bruneau from the south, the Malade from the north, and from the east the Boisé, the Payette, the Weiser, the Salmon, the Clearwater, and the Palouse. The Boisé enters the Snake just below the point where it assumes a N. course; the Payette and Weiser lie between it and the Salmon. The Salmon river rises in the Salmon River mountains near the centre of the S. portion of the territory, and flows N. along the base of the Rocky mountains, turns abruptly W., and after traversing the entire width of the territory joins the Snake near the middle of the W. boundary. The Clearwater rises by several forks in the Bitter Root mountains, and flows W., joining the Snake at Lewiston. The Palouse rises N. of the Clearwater, and empties into the Snake in Washington territory. The Spokane, flowing W. and joining the Columbia in Washington territory, forms the outlet of Cœur d'Alêne lake, a navigable body of water of irregular shape, about 24 m. long by 2 or 3 m. wide, which receives the Cœur d'Alêne and St. Joseph's rivers from the Bitter Root mountains. Further N. Clarke's fork crosses the territory from E. to W., expanding into a lake about 30 m. long and 5 m. wide near the E. boundary, called Pend d'Oreille. The river and lake are navigable by steamers through Idaho. The N. E. corner is crossed by the Kootenay, a tributary of the Columbia. Lake Kanisku, about 30 m. long and 6 m. wide, which occupies the N. W. corner of the territory, empties into Clarke's fork. Bear river enters the S. E. corner from Utah, flows N., and bending sharply S. reënters Utah, and empties into Great Salt lake. The S. W. corner is watered by Jordan creek and other affluents of the Owyhee, an Oregon tributary of the Snake. Three falls in the Snake deserve mention. The American falls are in about lon. 112° 45', and have a perpendicular descent of 60 or 70 ft. The Shoshone falls further down the stream, and just below the Malade, are surpassed only by those of Niagara and the Yosemite. The river, here 200 or 300 yards wide, is divided about 400 yards above the main fall into six nearly equal parts by five islands, and in the passage between them is precipitated 25 or 30 ft. Uniting below the islands, the water passes in an unbroken sheet over the great fall, a descent of about 200 ft. The Salmon falls, about 45 m. below the Shoshone, are 20 ft. high.—Idaho is rich in the precious metals. The principal quartz mines are in the S. W. part, in Owyhee, Idaho, Boisé, and Alturas counties. In the Owyhee mines, which are the richest, situated S. of the Snake and chiefly on Jordan creek, silver predominates. The other mines, the most productive of which are in Boisé basin, an elliptical depression in Boisé co., 25 m. long from N. to S. and 18 m. from E. to W., produce gold. Placer diggings occur in various parts of the territory; the most important are those of Boisé basin and along the head waters of the Salmon and Clearwater rivers. Gold was first discovered in paying quantities in Idaho on Oro Fino creek, a N. tributary of the Clearwater, in 1800. The Boisé basin mines were discovered in 1862, and the Owyhee mines in 1863. The product of the territory prior to 1868 is stated in J. Ross Browne's “Resources of the Pacific Slope” at $45,000,000. The subsequent yield, according to R. W. Raymond, United States commissioner of mining statistics, has been as follows: 1868, $7,000,000; 1869, $7,000,000; 1870, $6,000,000; 1871, $5,000,000; 1872, $2,695,870; 1873, $2,500,000; making the total product more than $75,000,000. Of the yield in 1872, $2,272,261 was gold and $423,609 silver; in 1873, $1,571,733 gold and $928,267 silver. The gold from Idaho deposited at the United States mint, branches, and assay offices to June 30, 1873, amounted to $18,389,785 84; silver, $300,401 74. The census of 1870 returns 254 mines, having 5 steam engines of 82 horse power and 2 water wheels of 52 horse power; hands employed, 1,692; capital invested, $1,088,640; wages paid, $503,266; value of materials, $231,763; of products, $1,989,341. Of these mines 244 were for the production of gold, of which 7 were hydraulic, 232 placer, and 5 quartz; 10 were quartz mines, producing gold and silver. The returns, however, are admitted to be imperfect. A United States assay office was established at Boisé City in 1872. There are extensive deposits of salt, coal, and iron ore.—In spring, summer, and autumn the climate is delightful; the days are never sultry and the nights are cool. The winters on the high mountains are accompanied with extreme cold and heavy snow; on the plains and lower mountains they are generally less severe than in N. Iowa, Wisconsin, or central Minnesota. The valleys are mild, visited with little snow, and cattle winter in them without shelter. The average temperature in the W. part of the territory is about the same as in central Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, and S. Pennsylvania, while in the east it is more nearly that of N. Massachusetts and S. Vermont and New Hampshire. About the sources of the rivers in the Bitter Root and Rocky mountains the fall of rain and snow is considerable, but in the lower valleys in the west it is much less, and agriculture is not generally successful without irrigation. In the extreme north the climate, though less dry, is colder and not well adapted to agriculture; but the temperature does not vary in proportion to the difference of latitude. The lower slopes of the mountains are furrowed with numerous streams, and alternately covered with forests (mostly pine, fir, and cedar) and nutritious grasses. The plains generally produce good pasturage, and the valleys contain broad stretches of meadow land, extending on both sides of the streams by which they are watered to the first rise of table land or mountain, and with irrigation producing good crops of wheat, oats, barley, and the common fruits and vegetables. The climate is not well adapted to Indian corn. The valleys of the Clearwater, Salmon, Payette, and Boisé rivers are large, and generally have good facilities for irrigation; and there are well sheltered and fertile bottom lands on the Weiser, St. Joseph, and Cœur d'Alêne, and fertile tracts on the shores of Lakes Cœur d'Alêne and Pend d'Oreille. Other important valleys are those of the Bruneau in the southwest, of Wood river in the south, and of Bear river, which contains thriving Mormon settlements. The extreme north is well timbered and has much fertile land. The basin of the Snake is of volcanic origin, and through it the river has cut a vast cañon, varying in depth from 100 to 1,000 ft. The streams that empty into the Snake for some distance below the Shoshone falls sink, and, passing under the strata of lava, fall from the sides of the cañon into the main stream. The greater portion of the basin, though much of it might be rendered productive by irrigation, is a barren waste, producing only sage brush, but along the streams are valleys containing arable land, and the surrounding foot hills are generally covered with bunch grass, affording excellent pasturage. Of the total area of 55,228,160 acres, 16,925,000, according to the estimate of the commissioner of the United States general land office, are suited to agriculture; 5,000,000 to grazing; 14,328,160 are sterile, producing only wild sage and occasional tufts of buffalo grass, but mostly reclaimable into pasture and agricultural land by irrigation; 18,400,000, mountains, including 7,500,000 acres of timber land and 8,000,000 of mineral land; and 575,000 acres are covered by lakes. In 1870 there were 77,139 acres in farms, of which 26,603 were improved. The cash value of farms was $492,860; of farming implements and machinery, $59,295; amount of wages paid during the year, including the value of board, $153,007; estimated value of all farm productions, including betterments and additions to stock, $637,797; value of orchard products, $725; of produce of market gardens, $24,577; of home manufactures, $34,730; of animals slaughtered or sold for slaughter, $57,932; of live stock, $520,580. There were 2,151 horses, 371 mules and asses, 4,171 milch cows, 522 working oxen, 5,763 other cattle, 1,021 sheep, and 2,316 swine, besides 624 horses and 49,540 cattle not on farms. The productions were 73,725 bushels of winter and 1,925 of spring wheat, 1,756 of rye, 5,750 of Indian corn, 100,119 of oats, 72,316 of barley, 64,534 of Irish potatoes, 610 of peas and beans, 14 of grass seed, 3,415 lbs. of wool, 111,480 of butter, 4,464 of cheese, 21 of hops, 11,250 gallons of milk sold, and 6,985 tons of hay. The number of manufacturing establishments was 101, having 11 steam engines of 311 horse power and 16 water wheels of 295 horse power; number of hands employed, 265; capital invested, $742,300; wages paid during the year, $112,372; value of materials used, $691,785; of products, $1,047,624. The only important establishments were 8 quartz mills (value of products, $523,100), 3 flouring and grist mills, 10 saw mills, 7 breweries, and 2 distilleries. The United States commissioner of mining statistics in 1871 states the number of quartz mills, including those not in operation, at 30, having 344 stamps and 4 arastras, and mostly run by steam; 9 were for the production of gold alone, and 21 for the production of gold and silver. There is a national bank at Boisé City, with a capital of $100,000. No railroads are in operation in the territory, but the Northern Pacific is to cross the N. part.—The government is similar to that of other territories. The executive officers are a governor and a secretary, appointed by the president, with the advice and consent of the senate, for four years; also a treasurer, comptroller, prison commissioner, and superintendent of public instruction created by local law. Legislative authority is vested in a council of 13 members and a house of representatives of 26, elected biennially by the people. The judicial power is vested in a supreme court, district courts, probate courts, and justices of the peace. The supreme court consists of three judges appointed by the president with the consent of the senate for four years, and has appellate jurisdiction. A district court, with general original jurisdiction, is held in each of the three judicial districts into which the territory is divided, by a judge of the supreme court. There is a probate court for each county, with the ordinary powers of such courts. Justices of the peace have jurisdiction of inferior cases. The assessed value of real estate in 1870 was $1,926,565; of personal property, $3,365,640; total assessed value, $5,292,205; true value of real and personal, $6,552,681; taxation not national, $174,711, of which $40,594 was territorial, $132,171 county, and $1,946 town, city, &c.; public debt, $222,621, of which $218,522 ($33,739 bonded) was county and $4,099 ($2,542 bonded) town, city, &c. The receipts into the territorial treasury for the two years ending Nov. 30, 1872, according to the treasurer's re- port, were $101,102, including $16,607 24 on hand at the beginning of the period; expenditures, $89,817 18; balance, $11,284 82. The receipts are derived from taxes on property and polls and from licenses. The floating debt at the above date, less cash in the treasury, was $58,239 73; bonded debt in coin, $65,058 51, payable Dec. 1, 1875 and 1876, upon which interest to the amount of $4,471 31 was unpaid. In 1870 there were 25 schools, of which 21 were public, with 33 teachers, 1,208 pupils, and an annual income of $19,938. In 1872 the number of school districts was 87; public schools, 32; school houses, 26; teachers, 60, of whom 26 were males and 34 females; children of school age, 1,898; number enrolled, 1,416; total expenditures, $17,219 56. The census of 1870 returns 43 libraries, containing 10,625 volumes, of which 11 with 2,860 volumes were not private; 6 newspapers (1 tri-weekly, 1 semi-weekly, and 4 weekly), issuing 200,200 copies annually and having an average circulation of 2,750; and 15 church organizations (2 Baptist, 6 Episcopal, 2 Mormon, 1 Presbyterian, and 4 Roman Catholic), having 12 edifices with 2,150 sittings, and property to the value of $18,200.—Idaho was created a territory by the act of congress of March 3, 1863, from portions of Dakota, Nebraska, and Washington territories, comprising an area of 326,373 sq. m., and embracing the present territory of Montana and nearly all of Wyoming. The region within its present limits is a portion of the Louisiana purchase of 1803, and was included first in Oregon and subsequently in Washington territory. The Cœur d'Alêne mission was established in 1842, and is situated about 15 in. E. of the lake of the same name. The permanent settlement of the territory did not begin until the discovery of gold in 1860.