Idaho was possibly named as the result of a hoax, the so-called "Idahoax", although this is disputed. The exact origin of the name remains a mystery. In the early 1860s, when the United States Congress was considering organizing a new territory in the Rocky Mountains, eccentric lobbyist George M Willing suggested the name "Idaho," which he claimed was derived from a Shoshone language term meaning "the sun comes from the mountains" or "gem of the mountains". Willing later claimed that he had made up the name himself. Congress ultimately decided to name the area Colorado Territory when it was created in February 1861. Thinking they would get a jump on the name, locals named a community in Colorado "Idaho Springs".
However, the name "Idaho" did not go away. The same year Congress created Colorado Territory, a county called Idaho County was created in eastern Washington Territory. The county was named after a steamship named Idaho, which was launched on the Columbia River in 1860. It is unclear whether the steamship was named before or after Willing's claim was revealed. Regardless, a portion of Washington Territory, including Idaho County, was used to create Idaho Territory in 1863.
Despite this lack of evidence for the origin of the name, many textbooks well into the 20th century repeated as fact Willing's account that the name "Idaho" derived from the Shoshone term "ee-da-how".
Idaho became a state 3 Jul 1890. Idaho Territory was formed from Washington Territory. Idaho is surrounded by Washington, Canada, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Oregon. Boise is the state capital.
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