Historical Marker in
Camas County, Idaho

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Idaho was once home to one of the largest sawmills in the world. The Potlatch Lumber Company, which was based in the town of Potlatch, produced more than 2 billion board feet of lumber between 1906 and 1956.
Camas County, located in the south-central part of Idaho, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Shoshone and Bannock tribes, who relied on the abundant resources of the Camas Prairie for their sustenance. Camas bulbs, an important food source for the tribes, gave the county its name.

In the early 19th century, European fur trappers and explorers, such as Peter Skene Ogden and Jedediah Smith, ventured into the region. However, it wasn't until the late 19th century that permanent settlement began. The completion of the Oregon Short Line Railroad in 1883 played a vital role in the development of Camas County, attracting homesteaders and encouraging agricultural pursuits. The town of Fairfield, the county seat, was established in 1888 and became a center for trade and services in the area.

Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Camas County experienced significant growth and development. Agriculture, particularly sheep and cattle ranching, played a crucial role in the local economy. Farmers also cultivated crops like wheat, barley, and hay on the fertile Camas Prairie. The county saw the establishment of schools, churches, and other essential facilities to support the expanding population.

In more recent years, Camas County has maintained its rural character while embracing tourism as an additional economic sector. Its unique natural landscapes, including the Sawtooth National Forest and the Camas Prairie, attract visitors interested in outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and fishing. The county also hosts events like the Camas County Fair, which celebrates the area's agricultural heritage. Today, Camas County continues to cherish its historical roots while welcoming new opportunities for growth and development.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Camas County, Idaho.

  • 1917 - Camas County is established on February 6th.
  • 1920s - The economic boom of the 1920s brings growth to the county.
  • 1930s - The Great Depression hits the county hard, causing economic difficulties.
  • 1940s - Camas County contributes to the war effort during World War II.
  • 1950s - The county experiences a period of gradual population growth and economic stability.
  • 1960s - The construction of the Anderson Ranch Dam brings opportunities for recreation and tourism.
  • 1970s - Camas County faces challenges due to economic shifts in the agriculture industry.
  • 1980s - The county experiences a decline in population and economic struggles.
  • 1990s - Efforts to revitalize the economy and promote tourism begin in Camas County.
  • 2000s - The county continues to focus on tourism and outdoor recreation as a key economic driver.
  • 2010s - Camas County celebrates its centennial in 2017 and continues to embrace its natural beauty.