Chronological History of Idaho
1743 Discovery of the Rocky Mountains somewhere in the vicinity of Yellowstone Park
made by Pierre De la Verendrye, while in search of a western sea.
NORTHWEST TERRITORY 1803-1847
1803 The Louisiana Territory, which extended west of the Mississippi to Idaho, purchased
by the United States from France for $15 million.
1805 Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark discover Idaho at Lemhi Pass, and
cross into north Idaho over the Lolo Trail August 12. Lewis and Clark sail past Spalding
October 8, meet with Nez Perce Indians at Weippe Prairie.
1806 Lewis and Clark spend more than six weeks with the Nez Perce Indians in the Kamiah
area before returning eastward across the Lolo Trail.
1810 David Thompson commences fur trade near Bonners Ferry. 1809 David Thompson
constructs Kullyspell House by Lake Pend Oreille. First establishment erected in the
Northwest, built for the Northwest Fur Company.
1810 Missouri Fur Company establishes Fort Henry near St. Anthony, first American
1811 Pacific Fur Company expedition, the Astorians, explore the Snake River Valley on
their way to the Columbia River. Led by Wilson P. Hunt, the westward journey discovers
the Boise Valley.
1812 Donald Mackenzie establishes a winter fur trading post at Lewiston for the
1813 John Reid starts fur trading post on the lower Boise River, but Bannock
Indians wipe it out in 1814.
1818 Donald Mackenzie makes first exploration of southern Idaho with his Snake
River expedition of trappers. Treaty of joint occupancy between Great Britain and
the United States leaves Oregon country (including Idaho) open to citizens of both
1820 Treaty between Spain and U.S. establishes the southern boundary of Idaho
(Oregon Territory) at 42nd parallel.
1823 Battle fought in Lemhi Valley between men of the Snake River country
expedition and the Piegan Indians.
1824 Alexander Ross and Jedediah Smith lead separate expeditions in exploring
much of the Salmon River country. Peter Skene Ogden begins trapping in Idaho.
Russia cedes Northwest Territory to United States in a treaty.
1827 Rendezvous at Bear Lake for fur trading.
1829 Rendezvous held at Pierre's Hole, now known as the Teton basin, where hundreds
of mountain men and fur trappers congregated.
1830 Rendezvous with the Indians held on the Blackfoot River, where competition in
fur trading became intensely keen.
1831 Fur trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company, led by Kit Carson, winter on
the Salmon River.
1832 Captain B.L.E. Bonneville leads the first crossing of the Rocky Mountains in
covered wagons. The company reaches the Lemhi River on September 19.
Rendezvous at Pierre's Hole. Battle of Pierre's Hole occurs July 18 between American
fur trappers and the Grosventre Indians.
1834 Fort Hall, established by Americans under Captain Nathaniel Wyeth, becomes
a hub for trails and roads to the western parts of the United States. Fort Boise
erected by the Hudson Bay Company near the mouth of the Boise River.
1836 Henry Harmon Spalding establishes a Nez Perce Indian mission at Lapwai.
1837 First school in Idaho opens for Indian children at Lapwai. First white child born
in Idaho is Eliza Spalding born at Lapwai.
1839 Henry Spalding starts publishing the Bible in Lapwai on the earliest printing
press in the Pacific Northwest. Chief Timothy, the first native Christian leader,
baptized November 17.
1840 Father Pierre Jean de Smet begins missionary work in Idaho.
1842 Father Point establishes the Jesuit Coeur d' Alene Mission of the Sacred
Heart near Saint Maries. The Mission moves to a site near Cataldo in 1846, and
is transferred in 1877 to Desmet where it stands today.
1843 Oregon Trail established in Idaho, which crossed the border near Montpelier,
passed by Fort Hall, then westward south of the Snake River to the ford below
Salmon Falls, then to Fort Boise, crossing the Snake River into Oregon.
1846 Sacred Heart Mission established on the Coeur d'Alene River. The United
States acquires all land south of 49 degrees longitude by a treaty with Great
OREGON TERRITORY 1848-1852
1848 Oregon Territory established.
1849 Over 20,000 emigrants who join the gold rush come through southeastern
Idaho on the California Trail. Heavy traffic continues on the trail for many years.
U.S. Military post established near Fort Hall.
1852 French Canadians discover gold on the Pend Oreille River.
OREGON & WASHINGTON TERRITORIES 1853-58
1853 Construction of the Cataldo Mission completed. Washington Territory
established. Idaho divided between Washington and Oregon.
1854 Twenty-one emigrants led by Alexander Ward massacred in Boise Valley
by the Snake River Indians. This event leads to the closing of Fort Boise the next
summer and Fort Hall in 1856.
1855 Mormon missionaries establish Fort Lemhi, reclaim first land by irrigation
1857 Oregon's eastern boundary (Idaho's western boundary) established by
Oregon constitutional convention.
1858 Bannock Indians attacked the Mormons at Fort Lemhi, killing two and
driving the remaining back to Utah.
WASHINGTON TERRITORY 1859-62
1859 Oregon admitted as a state, all of Idaho included in Washington Territory.
1860 Idaho's oldest town, Franklin, is founded just north of the Utah border on
April 14. Miss Hannah Cornish starts the first school for white children in Idaho.
Gold discovered on Orofino Creek in August, leads to the establishment of
Idaho's oldest mining town, Pierce. Mullan military wagon road built just
north of Coeur d'Alene.
1861 Lewiston established as a service community for Idaho mines on May 13.
Salmon River mines discovered revealing the Florence diggings causes a mining
stampede October 11.
1862 First newspaper published in Idaho is the Golden Age in Lewiston. George
Grimes and a party of prospectors establish the Boise Basin mines, leads to the
creation of Idaho City. Packer John's Cabin built between New Meadows and
McCall. Gold discovered near present day Warren.
IDAHO TERRITORY 1863-89
1863 Idaho Territory organized, capital at Lewiston. President Lincoln signed the
act establishing the territory on March 4. Soda Springs founded by Colonel Conner.
Boise News of Idaho City issues first copy September 29. Mining begins in the
Owyhees. Boise Barracks established at Moore Creek by Major P. Lugenbeel
and the U.S. Cavalry. The townsite of Boise laid out by merchants under the
lead of Cyrus Jacobs. First general election held October 31. First county
established: Owyhee County, December 31.
1864 A resolution to make Boise the capital passes December 7. Public school
system established for the territory. Julius Newburg Road completed in Elmore
County September 7. Ben Holliday establishes first stagecoach line. The Idaho
Statesman begins tri-weekly publication in Boise. Ada, Alturas, Boise, Idaho,
Kootenai, Lah-Toh, Nez Perce, Oneida and Shoshone counties created.
1865 Boise becomes the capital of Idaho. J.M. Taylor and Robert Anderson erect
bridge across Snake River near present day Idaho Falls. Boise-Rocky Bar stage
begins operations, later extended to Silver City.
1866 Gold discovered at Leesburg in Lemhi County. Survey of public lands begun,
L.F. Cartee surveyor. Congress passes Federal Lode Mining Act. State of Columbia
proposed by the Idaho legislature in a petition to Congress, to include all the lands
in western Montana, northern Idaho, and eastern Washington.
1867 Gutzon Borglum, Mount Rushmore sculptor, born in Bear Lake County
March 25. Bishop Tuttle, an Episcopal priest, arrives in Boise October 12. Idaho
Legislature repeals oath of allegiance to U.S., a riot commences and Federal
troops are called out. Lah-Toh County abolished, territory annexed to Kootenai
1869 Statue of George Washington, carved from native wood by Charles Ostner,
is unveiled on the capitol grounds at Boise. Idaho State Law Library established.
Placer gold strike made at Oro Grande. Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads
complete transcontinental railway at Promontory Summit, Utah on May 10,
improves transportation to Idaho. Chinese workers flock to Idaho mines. Fort
Hall Indian Reservation set aside by President Grant for Shoshonis and
Bannocks of southern Idaho. First telegraph office established at Franklin,
linking the town with Salt Lake City, Lemhi County created.
1870 Idaho population: 14,999 later census figure shows 17,804 as Utah-Idaho
border was not clearly established. Caribou gold rush in southeastern Idaho.
1872 U.S. Assay office and Idaho prison completed. Strike drives Chinese
labor out of Owyhee mines.
1873 Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation set aside by President Grant for the
Coeur d'Alene and Spokane Indians.
1874 First railroad in Idaho: Utah Northern, to Franklin. Idaho's first daily
newspaper, The Owyhee Daily Avalanche, issued at Silver City October 17.
Telegraph reaches Silver City.
1875 Lemhi Indian Reservation set aside by President Ulysses S. Grant for
Shoshonis, Bannocks, and Tukuarikas. Bear Lake County created. Bank failure
ruins Silver City and South Mountain Mines.
1877 National Desert Land Act passed by Congress for reclaiming land by irrigation.
Nez Perce Indian War: Warriors under Chief Joseph's command went on warpath after
the government opened to settlement the Wallowa Valley in Oregon. Battles fought at
White Bird - June 14th through 29th. Battle of Clearwater fought July 11 and 12. Fighting
then moved into Montana. The war ended on October 5 with the surrender of Chief Joseph
and the Nez Perce. Duck Valley Indian Reservation set aside by President Hayes for the
Shoshonis and Paiutes.
1878 Bannock Indian War: Bannocks led by Chief Buffalo Horn, and Paiutes led by
Chief Egan, went on the warpath when the United States Government opened the
Camas Prairie, which had been reserved for the Indians. Battles fought at South
Mountain and Bennett Creek.
1879 The Sheepeater Indian War: Renegade Bannocks and Tukuarika Indians go on
warpath. Indians hide out in the hills of central Idaho subsisting on sheep they kill
during their raids. Battles fought at Big Creek and Loon Creek. Indians surrender
September 1. Utah Northern railroad completed within Idaho on its path from Salt Lake
City to Helena, Montana. Cassia and Washington counties created.
1880 Idaho population: 32,619. Discovery of lead-silver lodes in the Wood River area,
the rush to Bellevue, Hailey and Ketchum transforms southcentral Idaho. The Boise
and Lewiston Independent School Districts created. North Idaho Annexation political
party forms to counteract the powerful "Boise Ring".
1881 Historical Society of Idaho Pioneers forms to collect and preserve a reliable
history of the early settlement of the territory. The Hailey Times begins daily publication.
Wells Fargo office established at Challis. Custer County created. Earthquake centered
20 miles east of Mount Idaho August 9.
1882 Northern Pacific railroad completed across the northern part of the Territory.
Construction began on the New York Canal in Ada County. 1883 First telephone
service in Idaho commenced at Hailey October 1. Rexburg is founded. Oregon Short
Line completed through southern Idaho.
1884 Coeur d'Alene gold rush, followed by Tiger and Polaris mines opening lead-silver
operations. The Oregon Short Line arrives in Ketchum August 19. Freight and passenger
service begins on Coeur d'Alene Lake. Oregon Short Line reaches Weiser, connecting
Idaho to the Pacific coast. Wallace is founded.
1885 The legislature approves construction of Territorial Capitol building at an expense
of $80,000. Test Oath Act adopted by legislature, designed to bar Mormons from voting
and holding public office. Legislature locates insane asylum at Blackfoot. Famous poet
Ezra Pound born at Hailey October 30. Bingham County created. Bunker Hill and
Sullivan mines begin operation.
1886 Utah Northern merges with Oregon Short Line and joins Union Pacific system.
Separate bills to annex north Idaho to Washington Territory pass each chamber of
Congress, but are not reconciled. Construction on the Territorial Capitol completed.
Nampa city platted.
1887 Electric light plant goes into operation at Hailey to supply power for territory's
first electric lights. Wardner miner's union established after wage reductions at
Bunker Hill and Sullivan mines. Compulsory education law passed. A bill to annex
north Idaho to Washington Territory passes Congress, but is not signed by President
Cleveland and does not become law.
1888 Ricks Academy, now known as Ricks College, established in Rexburg.
Latah County created by U.S. Congress.
1889 As a conciliatory move to keep north Idaho from seceding, the Territorial
legislature locates the University of Idaho at Moscow. Constitutional convention
composed of sixty-eight members meet at Boise July 4 and after laboring
twenty-eight days, forms and adopts constitution for the state of Idaho August 6.
Constitution is ratified by the people on November 5 by a vote of 12,398 to 1,773.
Fire in Hailey causes $750,000 worth of damage. Elmore county created.
STATE OF IDAHO 1890-1899
1890 Idaho population: 88,548. Idaho admitted to the Union as the 43rd state on July 3,
signed into law by President Benjamin Harrison. Great Northern Railroad completed
across the northern part of the state. Congress passes Federal Forest Reserve Act.
First legislative and statewide elections held. First session of the Idaho Legislature
1891 Great Seal of the State of Idaho, a design drawn by Miss Emma Edwards, with the
Latin motto "Esto Perpetua" adopted. Idaho forest reserves created. Boise's electric street
railway commences operation on August 22. College of Idaho opens in Caldwell October 9.
Canyon and Alta counties created. President Benjamin Harrison plants Water Oak on
1892 High freight rates and low silver prices close Coeur d'Alene mines January 16. The
Farmers Alliance and the Knights of Labor organize the Idaho Populist Party in Boise
May 26. Martial law commenced in the Coeur d'Alenes on July 14 following the dynamiting
of the Frisco Mill near Burke. University of Idaho opens October 3. Idaho Education
Association organized. Timber and Stone Act passes Congress, paving way for commercial
timber industry in Idaho.
1893 The "Panic of '93" lead and silver prices collapsed, Coeur d'Alene mines shut
down. Western Federation of Miners formed. Office of State Mine Inspector established.
Idaho State Medical Society founded September 12. State Wool Growers Association
started at Mountain Home September 25. First state game laws enacted. State
Normal Schools (Colleges of Education) established at Lewiston and Albion.
Legislature enacts state wagon roads to connect north and south Idaho. Bannock
and Fremont counties created.
1894 Albion Normal School opens January 8. Nez Perce Indian Reservation allotted
to the Indians. Congress passes Carey Act, makes possible reclamation of Snake
River Valley. Gold discovered in the Thunder Mountain country.
1895 Comprehensive irrigation law, providing for uniform use of public water, enacted on
March 9. Lincoln and Blaine counties created.
1896 Lewiston Normal School dedicated June 3. Idaho becomes first in the nation in
production of lead. Montpelier bank robbed by Butch Cassidy August 13. Idaho
Legislature calls on Congress to extend the right to vote to women. Idaho Republicans
split, Silver Republicans endorse William Jennings Bryan for President. Clashes
between sheep and cattle industries culminate in the murder of sheepherders allegedly
by "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. Cassia County created.
1897 President Grover Cleveland establishes Bitterroot Forest Reserve which includes
much of north Idaho. Legislature acts to protect bison within the state. State Board of
Medical Examiners established to regulate the practice of medicine.
1898 First Idaho regiment of military volunteers called into service for the Philippine
insurrection of the Spanish-American War. Fort Hall Indian Reservation allotted to the
Indians in parcels of 160 acres each, with the balance to be sold for the Indians' benefit.
1899 Position of State Fish and Game Warden created. Governor Steunenberg calls in
federal troops to suppress riot in the Coeur d'Alene mining district following the dynamiting
of the Bunker Hill and Sullivan concentrator.
1900 Idaho population: 161,772. New York Canal completed. Democrats, Silver Republicans
and Populists arrange party fusion for 1900 election. Idaho State Dairymen's Association
organized. Idaho Falls incorporated.
1901 The Free Traveling Library (now known as the Idaho State Library) established. The
Academy of Idaho (now Idaho State University) opens in Pocatello.
1902 After concluding that Diamondfield Jack Davis had been convicted by mistake, in a
case growing out of the most notable incident of the Idaho sheep and cattle wars, the
State Board of Pardons turned him loose. National Reclamation Act passed, provides
for federal aid for irrigation.
1903 Idaho's hunting and fishing licensing system began. The Idaho Industrial
Training School founded at St. Anthony as a reform school for children. First
Carey Act land opening at Shoshone. Miller Dam on Snake River opens Twin
Falls area to irrigated farming. President Theodore Roosevelt plants maple
tree on capitol grounds.
1904 City of Twin Falls platted. Chief Joseph dies September 21.
1905 Construction of a new capitol building in Boise authorized at a cost of
$1,000,000. Insane asylum established at Orofino. The first train arrives at
Twin Falls August 7. Sawtooth National Forest created. Former Governor
Frank Steunenberg assassinated December 30.
1906 Steunenberg assassin Harry Orchard implicates three leaders of the Western
Federation of Miners in the plot. The largest sawmill in the United States begins
operation at Potlatch. Pioneer Monument at capitol grounds erected. "Steward
Decree" adjudicates water rights along the Boise River.
1907 William E. Borah elected to the U.S. Senate, where he gains an international
reputation during thirty-three years of service. William D. Haywood is found not
guilty of conspiracy and the assassination of Frank Steunenberg, at the end of an
internationally celebrated trial, Harry Orchard sentenced to life in prison for the
assassination. Idaho State Flag adopted. Idaho Historical Society founded.
Bonner and Twin Falls County created.
1908 The Idaho revised code published. Under President Roosevelt's forest reserve
policy, one-half of the state is organized into National Forest reserves. Lake Lowell
completed . Idaho adopts direct primary and local option over regulation of liquor.
Minidoka Dam completed. State Parks established at Heyburn, Shoshone Falls,
and Payette Lake. Allotment of Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation. Provisions for
rural high school districts established.
1910 Idaho population: 325,594. Devastating forest fire consumes 1/6 of north Idaho's
forests, destroying many communities. State banking and highway district laws
enacted. Buckeye tree planted on the capitol grounds by President William Howard
Taft October 9. Search and seizure law enacted for enforcing liquor laws. Idaho State
Sanitarium (now known as the Idaho State School and Hospital) located at Nampa.
Adams, Bonneville, Clearwater and Lewis counties created. Revised revenue laws
enacted, providing a new system of assessment, equalization, levy and collection
of taxes. Constitutional amendments adopted authorizing initiative, referendum, and
recall. State Board of Education established to supervise all levels of education
within the state of Idaho.
1913 Public Utilities Commission established. Northwest Nazarene College in
Nampa founded. First motor vehicle laws enacted by the legislature.
Comprehensive system of revenue for state, county, municipal and school
purposes enacted. School for the Deaf and Blind opens in Gooding. Franklin,
Gooding, Jefferson, Madison, Minidoka and Power counties created.
1914 Moses Alexander elected first Jewish governor in the United States.
1915 Arrowrock Dam completed. Columbia and Snake River improvements
for navigation to Lewiston completed. Second Idaho Regiment of Infantry
Volunteers organized into service at the call of President Woodrow Wilson
for the Mexican Border War. The Academy of Idaho (now Idaho State University)
becomes the Idaho Technical Institute. Idaho Horse and Cattle Association
organized, later to become the Idaho Cattlemen's Association. Benewah,
Boundary, Gem and Teton counties created.
1916 Constitutional amendment for statewide prohibition ratified. State highway
program begins as part of the national good roads movement.
1917 Statewide prohibition goes into effect January 1. Workmen's Compensation
System and State Insurance Fund established. Annual state fair established at
Boise. Ricks Academy becomes a college and is accredited by the State Board of
Education. Butte, Camas, Payette and Valley counties created.
1918 Non-Partisan League takes over Idaho Democratic primary September 3,
subsequently Idaho's primary nominating system is abandoned for twelve years.
1919 Administrative consolidation enacted by legislature. Functions of fifty-one
departments, boards and bureaus placed under nine administrative departments
responsible to the governor. Bureau of Highways created to inaugurate a state
highway system. Bureau of Constabulary organized May 18, with Department of
Law Enforcement. First Music Week held in Boise. Lava Hot Springs established
by Department of Public Welfare. City of Jerome incorporated. Jerome, Clark, and
Caribou counties created.
1920 Idaho population: 431,866. Agricultural prices begin to deteriorate, creating a
crisis which continues through the 1920's. Whitebird Hill grade, connecting north
and south Idaho opens. State Capitol completed. Idaho Wheat Growers Association
formed. Constitutional amendment increases State Supreme Court from three to
1922 State budget system established. Radio broadcasting begins in Idaho with
station KFAU located at Boise High School under the direction of Harry Redeker.
1924 Craters of the Moon National Monument established. Black Canyon Dam completed.
1925 Union Pacific Railroad begins service to Boise. State Forestry Board established.
William E. Borah becomes Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
1926 The Idaho State Chamber of Commerce organized. Federal air service came
to the Northwest with a Pasco, Washington to Elko, Nevada flight with a stop in
1927 American Falls Dam completed. Perrine Memorial Bridge at Twin Falls
completed. Palisades Reservoir created. Idaho Technical Institute in Pocatello
redesignated the University of Idaho Southern Branch.
1928 Restoration of the "Old Mission" church near Cataldo begins. Commercial
radio broadcasting begins in Idaho with the purchase of KFAU from Boise High
School and renamed KIDO.
1930 Idaho population: 445,032.
1931 The direct primary restored for statewide offices. State income tax adopted.
U.S. Forest Service, in cooperation with the state Legislature, create the Idaho
Primitive Area. Legislature adopts "Here We Have Idaho" as state song, the syringa
the official flower, and the Rocky Mountain Bluebird the state bird.
1932 Nonpartisan election of judges to Supreme Court and District Courts enacted.
The Idaho Code annotated published. Six million dollar Owyhee Dam dedicated.
Association of Idaho Veterans of Foreign Wars organized. Boise Junior College opens.
1933 School Equalization Law adopted. North Idaho Junior College established at
1934 Sandpoint Bridge completed. Taylor Grazing Act passes U.S. Congress.
Central and northern Idaho experience large mining developments for gold and silver.
Idaho becomes first in the nation in silver production.
1935 Statewide prohibition repealed and State adopts Liquor Dispensary system.
Indian children begin integration into public school system. State employment service
established. Two percent sales tax enacted, but rejected by voters in referendum in
1936. Legislature provides for purchase of the site of Spalding Mission as a state
park. Martial law declared in Teton County to put down a rebellion of pea pickers.
1936 Sun Valley established as a ski resort by the Union Pacific Railway in September.
Martial law declared in Clearwater County during I.W.W. lumber strike. Celebration
held in Lewiston to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Spalding
Mission. In March, William E. Borah became Idaho's first Presidential candidate.
1937 Open primary system does away with requirement for declaration of party
1938 Paving of the north-south highway (U.S. 95) completed. Fish and Game
Commission established by initiative. Idaho Senator James P. Pope sponsors
Agricultural Adjustment Act.
1939 State Junior College district law enacted. Idaho State Police established
1940 Idaho population: 524,873. Senator William E. Borah dies January 19.
Legislation creating a position of Comptroller to be appointed by the Governor,
and taking away many powers of the State Auditor, ruled unconstitutional by the
1941 Gowen Field completed south of Boise and becomes a military air base. J.R.
Simplot food dehydrator begins operations in Caldwell.
1942 Farragut Naval Training Station established at Lake Pend Oreille. A Pocatello
army air base and gun relining plant established. Japanese-Americans placed in
internment camps at Hunt. Two anti-liquor initiatives rejected by the voters. Mountain
Home Air Base site was approved.
1944 Mountain Home Army Air Field officially opened.
1945 State Tax Commission established. Idaho's first phosphate processing plant
constructed by the J.R. Simplot Company.
1946 Most recent Idaho Code published. A teacher's retirement system established.
Election of Idaho's governor and other state officials for four-year terms begin.
Two anti-liquor initiatives and an anti-gambling initiative defeated.
1947 A state school reorganization plan enacted. University of Idaho Southern
Branch at Pocatello becomes Idaho State College. State Board of Corrections
established. Idaho State Archives established.
1948 Bureau of Reclamation begins plans to construct a Hell's Canyon dam in the
Snake River for flood control. Idaho Senator Glen Taylor runs for Vice-President on
Progressive Party ticket.
1949 National Reactor Testing Station near Arco established.
1950 Idaho population: 588,637. State Highway Department established with
provisions for nonpolitical administration.
1951 Nuclear electric power developed at the National Reactor Testing Station.
State teacher's colleges at Lewiston and Albion are closed.
1952 Anderson Ranch Dam completed.
1953 Television comes to Idaho with KIDO-TV (now KTVB) in Boise July 12. C.J.
Strike Dam dedicated. Supreme Court rules against Idaho law legalizing slot
machines and other lottery devices.
1954 Submarine reactor tested and perfected at the National Reactor Testing
Station. Voters approve initiative to regulate dredge mining.
1955 State Department of Commerce and Development established. Lewis-Clark
Normal opens at Lewiston. Lucky Peak Dam dedicated July 6. The Atomic
Energy Commission lights Arco with electricity generated by atomic energy.
1956 Construction of Palisades Dam completed. Construction in Idaho of the
National Interstate Highway System commenced. Constitutional amendment
ratified to permit a governor to succeed himself for reelection.
1958 Boise-Stanley Highway Association established. Voters defeat "Right to Work"
1959 Brownlee Dam completed on the Snake River.
1960 Idaho population: 667,191. Seven month strike at Bunker Hill Mine. July and
August forest fires in Hells Canyon and Idaho City area. State employee group
insurance system established.
1961 Oxbow Dam completed on Snake River. W.A. Harriman and E. Rolland
Harriman provided that their holdings at Railroad Ranch eventually become a state
park, providing that the state establish a professionally managed park system.
Ernest Hemingway dies in Ketchum July 2.
1962 Lewis and Clark highway (U.S. 12) in the Lochsa Canyon completed.
1963 Legislative Council established. Idaho State College in Pocatello attains
University status. Lewis-Clark Normal becomes a four year college. Horse Racing
Act, to permit pari-mutuel betting, becomes law over Governor's veto (first override
in twenty years). Idaho celebrates Territorial Centennial.
1964 Combined convention and primary system implemented, parties attempt to
restrict the number of state primary candidates appearing on the ballot. Federal
Court ends Bible reading in Boise public schools.
1965 State parks department, water resource board, and personnel system
created. Nez Perce National Historic Park established in north-central Idaho.
Boise Junior College given 4-year status.
1966 Governor Smylie defeated for 4th term. Voters uphold 3 percent sales tax in
referendum. Northern Pacific ends passenger service between Lewiston and
1967 Legislative Compensation Commission established. International Boy Scout
Jamboree held at Farragut State Park.
1968 Hell's Canyon Dam completed.
1969 Annual legislative sessions commence.
1970 Idaho population: 713,015. Voters reject proposed revision of Idaho Constitution.
Voters pass strict legislative pay initiative. National Farmers Organization stages
120 vehicle caravan to Boise to protest potato prices.
1971 Legislature enacts a stream protection law. Last log drive on the Clearwater
River. Rail passenger service ends May 1 for all places in Idaho except Sandpoint.
Fire destroys $25,000 worth of property during a riot at the Idaho State Penitentiary.
1972 New Idaho uniform probate code goes into effect. Idaho voters return to open
primary system. Sawtooth National Recreation Area established, includes the
Sawtooth Wilderness Area. Dworshak Dam completed. Constitutional amendment
adopted requiring state government reorganization into no more than 20 agencies.
Fire at the Sunshine Mine in Kellogg takes the lives of 91 men.
1973 U.S. Congress passes a bill to replace the deteriorating American Falls Dam.
Boise State College attains university status.
1974 State agencies reorganized into 19 departments. Kootenai Indians in northern
Idaho declare war on the U.S. government to gain money and land. Voters pass the
Sunshine Initiative to require lobbyist registration and political campaign disclosure.
Evel Knievel fails in attempt to ride his "Skycycle" across the Snake River canyon
near Twin Falls.
1975 Presidential preference primary to be held on the fourth Tuesday of May
adopted. White Bird Hill bypass opens June 16. Legislature passes Local Planning and
Zoning Act. New prison opens south of Boise. Port of Lewiston opens.
1976 Hells Canyon bill creates the scenic Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, and
bans construction of hydroelectric projects in the canyon. Senator Frank Church becomes
a candidate for President, the first Idahoan since William E. Borah in 1936. The 310 foot
high Teton Dam collapses in southeastern Idaho, killing 11 and forcing 300,000 people
to flee their homes. Constitutional amendment creates Citizens Committee on
Legislative Compensation. The Public Utilities Commission rejects proposal by Idaho
Power Company to build an electric coal-fired power plant between Boise and
1977 Governor Cecil D. Andrus resigns to become Secretary of the Interior. Legislature
rescinds their 1972 ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Many Idaho counties
declared disaster areas due to severe drought. Boise, Nampa, Mountain Home,
Shoshone, and Pocatello become stops on Amtrak's Seattle-Ogden line.
1978 President Jimmy Carter floats the River of No Return in central Idaho. Voters pass
initiative limiting property taxes to 1 percent of market value. Pocatello businessman Bill
Barlow wins U.S. Supreme Court decision against Occupational Safety and Health
1979 An investigation by the Idaho Statesman reveals that plutonium had been injected
into the Snake River plain aquifer at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. Senator
Frank Church becomes Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
1980 Idaho population: 944,038. An 18 hour riot at the Idaho State Prison results in $2
million in damages. Mount St. Helens erupts, covers north Idaho with volcanic ash.
Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus, by executive order, expands the Birds of Prey Natural
Area from 31,000 to 482,640 acres. Congress approves the Central Idaho Wilderness
Act, establishing the 2.2 million acre River of No Return Wilderness. Congressman
Steve Symms defeats Senator Frank Church in the most expensive campaign in Idaho
history with over $4 million spent by the candidates and independent committees.
1981 Senator James McClure becomes Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy
and Natural Resources. Keith F. Nyborg, a rancher from Ashton, is appointed
ambassador to Finland by President Reagan. "Rabbit Drives" in southeastern Idaho
create controversy between animal protection groups and farmers whose crops are
devastated by wild jack rabbits. Gulf Resources and Chemical of Houston, Texas
announced the closure of the 98-year-old Bunker Hill Mine and Smelter in Kellogg.
1982 Legislature outlaws insanity plea for defendants - first in nation. Voters pass record
eight constitutional amendments and three initiatives. Governor Evans puts most state
employees on 4-day work week for two months to lower projected budget deficit. Harriman
State Park dedicated July 17. Fugitive Christopher Boyce, convicted of selling national
security secrets to the Soviet Union, is captured near Bonners Ferry.
1983 Legislature imposes temporary 4 1/2 percent sales tax to cover state deficit. Eagle
Island State Park dedicated June 25. State Supreme Court declares current legislative
apportionment unconstitutional because it divides counties. Several north Idaho local
governments pass resolutions to secede from southern Idaho and form a new state. An
earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, kills two children and causes four million
dollars worth of damage October 28. The quake, centered in the Lost River Valley, was the
largest in the continental United States in 24 years and left a 10-foot high, 15 mile long
1984 Supreme Court imposes 42 member Senate, 84 member House in legislative
redistricting plan. Christin Cooper of Ketchum wins silver medal in the women's giant
slalom at the Olympic games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Harmon Killebrew of Payette is
inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Permanent sales tax set at 4 percent.
Legislature approves Education Reform bill, allocating $20 million to improve teacher
salaries statewide. Former Senator Frank Church dies April 7. U.S. Representative
George Hansen defeated for reelection by Richard Stallings in closest Idaho
congressional race in history - 170 votes. Populist Party sues for and obtains ballot
status on November 6 general election. Wallace celebrates centennial. Idaho Power
ompany and the State of Idaho reach agreement on Snake River Basin water rights.
1985 Shortest Legislative session in 12 years - 66 days. Department of Commerce
established. National Governor's Conference held in Boise. Jimmy Jausoro, a Basque
musician from Boise is one of 12 folk artists nationwide (and the first Idahoan ever) to
receive a prestigious 1985 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment
for the Arts. Pocatello citizens vote to remove council-manager system of city
government in June. Potlatch Corporation closes lumber mills at Lewiston and Jaype
(near Pierce), affecting 1,200 workers. Over six million acres of Idaho rangeland are
sprayed with pesticides to battle grasshopper infestation.
1986 Claude Dallas, convicted in 1982 for killing two Idaho Fish & Game Wardens,
escapes from the Idaho State Penitentiary March 30. He is recaptured March 8, 1987
outside a convenience store in Riverside, California. Voters retain right-to-work law in
referendum; also approve state lottery initiative.
1987 Permanent sales tax at 5 percent. Legislature passes mandatory daycare licensing
and tort reform legislation. Dry winter leads to severe summer drought.
1988 Voters pass constitutional amendment removing prohibition against legislature
authorizing a state lottery.
1989 First state lottery tickets sold July 19th. Worst forest fires since 1910, burn
thousands of acres in south central Idaho, partially destroying town of Lowman.
1990 Idaho Population: 1,006,749. Idaho celebrates Statehood Centennial - July 3.
Senator James McClure retires from U.S. Senate. Idaho State Senate split - 21
Democrats and 21 Republicans.
1991 Kirby Dam collapses near Atlanta, cutting off electrical power to residents and
dumping arsenic, mercury and cadmium into the Middle Fork of the Boise River. Drought
persists through fifth consecutive year.
1992 Fire on the second and third floors of the State Capitol on January 1st caused 3.2
million dollars in damage. Worst forest fire season in Idaho's recorded history. Randy
Weaver and Kevin Harris surrender to federal officials on August 31st following a shootout
and eleven day standoff at Weaver's Boundary County cabin that left one U.S. deputy
marshall and Weaver's wife and son dead. Linda Copple Trout becomes the first woman
appointed to the Idaho Supreme Court.
1993 Normal winter and spring precipitation help to alleviate the drought. Kevin Harris
acquitted of all charges and Randy Weaver convicted on minor charges following a 60-day
federal trial stemming from the 1992 shootout with federal officials in Boundary County.
1994 Ezra Taft Benson, native of Whitney, Idaho, died on May 30. Benson had served as
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1953 to 1961 and head of the Mormon Church since
1985. Summer wildfires burn approximately 750,000 acres. Picabo Street wins silver
medal in downhill skiing during the Olympic games in Lillehammer, Norway. Idaho ranks
third nationwide in percentage population growth after the state added another 33,000
1995 Phil Batt sworn in as the first republican governor in twenty-five years. Legislature
creates the Department of Juvenile Justice. Picabo Street becomes first American to win
World Cup downhill title. Nuclear waste agreement signed. First year of five years in a
row of normal or above normal water/snowpack.
1996 Major flooding in north Idaho. President Clinton visits Boise to discuss flooding.
1997 New Year's day floods in the Weiser and Payette River drainages of southwestern
Idaho. Town of Banks condemned by federal government following mudslides.
1998 Picabo Street wins gold medal in giant slalom at Olympic winter games.
1999 First shipment of nuclear waste leaves INEEL for permanent storage at the
federal Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico.
2000 Idaho Population: 1,211,537. Largest wildfires in recent history, 559,183 acres
burn in Salmon-Challis National Forest, Payette National Forest and Bureau of Land
Management, Idaho Falls District.
2001 Idaho filed suit against federal Grizzly Bear reintroduction plan. U.S. Dept of Labor
grants $1 Million to aid displaced Jaype mill workers. Twenty-four Idaho counties
declared drought disaster areas. Governor orders 2% holdback for state agencies
and 1.5% holdback for public schools in response to softening economy. Sawmill
closings in Cascade and Horseshoe Bend leave only one mill south of the Salmon
River. Largest salmon runs since 1978.
2002 Closure of the potato processing plant in Heyburn.
2003 Longest legislative session in history - 118 days. Sales tax goes to 6 percent.
Expansion of Boise municipal airport.
2004 On July 3rd Governor Kempthorne dedicates the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery.
612,786 ballots were cast in the November 2004 General Election, the highest number
ever. J.R. and Esther Simplot donate residence above Bogus Basin Road to state as
mansion for the governor, giving Idaho an official governor's residence for the first time
in 15 years. The Idaho National Guard's 116th Brigade Combat Team called up for
yearlong mission in northern Iraq, about 1,700 Idaho soldiers are part of the 4,300
2005 90 Marine Corps reservists in Company C, 4th Tank Battalion, 5th marine Division
based at Gowen Field are deployed to Iraq. About 15 Boise-based Army reservists with
the 321st Engineer Battalion based in Fort Lewis, WA are in the Middle East. 100
members of the 124th Wing of the Idaho Air National Guard, including more than 20
members of the 189th Airlift Squadron, are deployed to assignments in the Persian
Gulf. Nez Perce water agreement has passed Congress and Idaho legislature. This
legislation ratifies a 30-year agreement, which calls for the Nez Perce to drop their
claims to nearly all the water in the Snake River Basin. In exchange, the Tribe would
have annual rights to 50,000 acre-feet of water from the Clearwater River, plus $80
million in cash. Hydrologists with the Idaho Department of Water Resources say lack
of precipitation could make 2005 one of the worst on record. Sales tax reverts to 5
percent on July 1st.
2006 In January, Albertsons. Inc. agrees to sell the company to Minnesota-based Super-Valu
Inc. and CVS Corp. During the Legislative Session, homeowner’s property tax exemption is
raised from $50,000 to $75,000. In March, President Bush nominates Governor Dirk
Kempthorne to be U.S. Secretary of Interior. Following confirmation hearings in May,
Kempthorne heads to Washington, leaving Jim Risch at the helm in Idaho. In June, the
Idaho Shakespeare Festival celebrates the opening of its 30th season. In August,
Cabela’s opens its first store in Boise. In November, the Rolling Stones play a sold-out
show at the Idaho Center. Also in November, Boise State Broncos end their regular
season with a 12-0 record, landing them a place in the Fiesta Bowl.
2007 Boise State Broncos win the Fiesta Bowl. Senator Larry Craig’s arrest becomes the
biggest news story of the year. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and lawmakers temporarily halt
work on the Idaho Capital expansion until a compromise is reached to scale back the
underground wings to half their original size.
2008 Barack Obama visits Boise in February and draws a crowd of 14,000. Federal
protections for gray wolves were lifted in March, but a federal judge rules the delisting
plan flawed in July. At the end of the year the future of wolf management is still uncertain.
Sales slumped for auto dealers as gasoline prices reach $4 per gallon over the summer.
The dour economy resulted in at least 44,000 workers without jobs in November. A
record 667,506 Idahoans cast ballots in the November General Election.
Information courtesy of various sources.
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