November 01, 2009

And Here We Have Idaho

I'm a native of Idaho, born and raised here with plans to die here—hopefully not in the too near future. And because I love my state, I enjoy setting my books in Idaho. It's fun to do because not many people know a lot about this state. It's fun giving readers glimpses of Idaho, both then (in my historicals) and now (in my contemporaries).

I was at a conference in Baltimore in September, and as I was being driven to the airport for my return flight, a couple in the back of the shuttle started asking questions about Boise and Idaho. When I mentioned the population of the entire state is about 1.5 million, the driver looked at me with wide eyes. Maryland has an estimated 5.5 million people, but the area is about one-seventh the size of Idaho. I could tell that he simply couldn't imagine so few people in such a large place.

Me, I think it's getting too crowded. Maybe I shouldn't share how great it is.

There is much more to Idaho than its "Famous Potatoes." Trust me on this. Here are just a few nuggets about Idaho that I've accumulated through the years:

  • Idaho has more wilderness area that any of the lower 48 contiguous states
  • Idaho has the deepest river gorge in North America (Hell's Canyon on the Snake River)
  • More gold came out of the Boise Basin gold rush (beginning in 1862) than either the California 49er or Klondike gold rushes
  • During the gold rush of the 1860's, Idaho City was the largest city in the Northwest
  • Boise became the capital city after more or less "stealing" the government which had been located in Lewiston
  • Shoshone Falls, located near Twin Falls, plunges farther than Niagara Falls
  • The Port of Lewiston in the panhandle of Idaho is the farthest inland seaport on the West Coast.
  • Idaho was among the first states to give women the vote (in 1896, Idaho adopted a constitutional amendment granting suffrage to women, making it the fourth state in the Union after Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah)
  • Idaho elected the first Jewish governor in America, Moses Alexander, who served from 1915 to 1919.
  • The world's first chairlift was installed in Idaho (Sun Valley)
  • Idaho is called the Gem State because almost every known gem has been found here
  • The Stanley Basin in central Idaho is more often than not the coldest place in the lower 48 states, thanks to being surrounded by several mountain ranges, the Sawtooths, the White Cloud, and the Boulder. Even in summer, night time lows can hover near freezing in Stanley (population 100)
  • Some of the best white water rafting in the world is in Idaho
  • Idaho has two time zones: Southern Idaho is in the Mountain Time Zone and the panhandle of Idaho is in the Pacific Time Zone
  • Two of the largest recorded earthquakes in the lower 48 states have been located in Idaho (both of them in my lifetime)

One interesting fact that I was able to incorporate into a novel back when I was writing mass market romances in the general market had to do with loyalties to the North or South during the Civil War. Boise, a town nestled beside the Boise River on the high desert plains of southern Idaho, came into being in large part to serve as a supply depot for the bustling gold rush cities in the mountains to the north. (Prior to the western migration, of course, it had been a popular site for the Native tribes of the area.) The citizens of Boise were inclined to favor the Union, and the citizens of Idaho City, 39 miles into mountains, were inclined to favor the Confederates. There came a time toward the end of the war when the Southern sympathizers attempted to get massive amounts of gold to the Rebels in order to help fund the war. Their attempt was foiled. But if they'd been successful, who knows how history might have been changed.

Hmm. Now there's an idea. What if….

Yes, Idaho has a rich and interesting history, and I know it will provide me with ample inspiration for future books just as it has done for me in the past.

The Sisters of Bethlehem Springs Series
Sisters of Bethlehem Springs

A Vote of Confidence
(May 2009) | Fit To Be Tied (Nov 2009) | A Matter of Character (Jun 2010)

Robin Lee Hatcher began writing her first novel in the spring of 1981. That book and its sequel were released in 1984. Since then she has written more than 60 novels and novellas. Her latest releases are A Vote of Confidence and Fit To Be Tied, the first two books in the Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series. You can learn more about Robin on her web site ( and her Write Thinking blog ( She also blogs with a group of other historical authors at Writes of Passage (


Edna said...

you sound about Idaho like I do SC, there is no place like home, I have traveled a lot in the USA but always so glad to get back home.


April said...

Great post. I love your books. I am waiting to get a hold of Fit to be Tied. Blessings.

Stephen & Janet Bly said...

Robin: We LOVED your article! Thanks!

On the trail in Idaho,
Steve & Janet


Jo said...

Great article!


Martha A. said...

Idaho is one of the second best states in the US, I live in the best (it's neighbor!!= ) so I can attest it is a great place!

Tina Dee Books said...

I thought I had commented.

I just finished reading A Vote of Confidence and it was great. I'm eager to get my hands on Fit to be Tied!

Thanks for the great reads, Robin!

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Good article, Robin. I just love ypur book covers. What a great job your publisher did. They capture the eye and will make readers pick them up.

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

I forgot to say that I went to Idaho to see my neice in Sept. She lives in Idaho Falls. Small but beautiful town. I like what I saw of your state! :)