How ‘Boise’ Got It’s Name is Cool, ‘Idaho’ Not So Much
Ah Boise, Idaho - Currently one of if not the top moved to places in the country. Yes, it's awesome here and everyone is figuring it out. It doesn't matter if you are a native local, a newbie or thinking about moving to Idaho there are somethings about the place you should know. I have a lot of great Idaho info below to check out but first lets go over how Boise found its name and how Idaho got it's name. They are starkly different but both very interesting stories.
Boise is a special place. Compared to the nearby dry deserts of southern Idaho 'The City of Trees' is a welcome and stunning contrast. So where did the name originate? I have compiled three explanations from three different sources on the origin of the cities name. My favorite description is the third coming from a man who grew up in Boise and said he paid attention in elementary school. He nailed it.
According to answertoall.com, "Boise was named by early 19th-century French Canadian trappers for the tree-lined river (French boisé, “wooded”) that provided relief for travelers crossing the desolate Snake River plain."
According to Little Cow Mountain Farm, "The trees seen by the founders of Boise were cottonwoods and willows that congregated along the river, pines, and firs miles away. The Boise River was named by French-Canadian trappers. They called it La Riviere Boisse, which translates from the French as The Wooded River."
When the question was asked on Quora, Kyle Antonini replied saying he grew up in Boise and paid attention in elementary school. What a great response.
So now that we know how Boise got its name, what is the story with 'Idaho'? Well it is not quite as fun as the Boise story, although some may find it funny.
Idaho is the 43rd state to join on July 3rd, 1890. It sounds like it could be a Native American name like some of our neighboring states but no, Idaho is a made up word. According to 24/7 Wall Street, "Idaho may sound like a Native American name, but the word is made up. “Idaho” was created by mining lobbyist George M. Willing, who insisted it was a Native American Shoshone expression meaning “gem of the mountains” for the area around Pike’s Peak. By the time it was discovered the name was phoney, it was already being used."
BoiseDev says, "In 1860 when Colorado needed a name, mining lobbyist George M. Willing presented the name “Idaho” to Congress, claiming it was a Native American Shoshone word meaning “Gem of the Mountains. Days after Congress agreed to call the area now known as Colorado, “Idaho,” they found the word Idaho wasn’t actually Native American."
So there you have it now you know a little more about Idaho and Boise, if you want to learn more, check out some more fun below.