A History of the Potato in Idaho

by James W Davis
Excerpted from “Aristocrat in Burlap”
Published by the Idaho Potato Commission

Say “Idaho” and the first thing most non-residents think of is the famous potato. Any history of Idaho would not be complete without considering the history of the potato industry.

In certain ways the mighty Snake River is the mother of Idaho’s potato industry. It has, through the centuries, transported and deposited much of the silt that farmers cultivate today in lower lying fields along the river course. It provides much of the water that makes possible the growing of a plant that needs a soil moisture of eighty percent for ideal growth. As it plunges a mile downwards in elevation along its course, the Snake generates electrical energy that makes pumping from deep wells possible, and most of the potato growing areas in the state lie contiguous to the Snake River Valley as it twists its way in a 550-mile arc across southern Idaho.