Camas County, Idaho

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Camas County is a county in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Idaho. As of the 2000 Census, the rural county had a population of 991 (2007 estimate: 1,102).[1] The county seat is Fairfield.[2]

Camas County was created by the Idaho Legislature on February 6, 1917, by a partition of Blaine County. It is named for the camas root, or Camassia, a lily-like plant with an edible bulb found in the region, and used as a food source by Native Americans and settlers.

U.S. Highway 20 runs east-west through the center of the county, at an elevation of just over 5,000 feet (1524 m) above sea level. State Highway 46 runs south to Gooding, connecting to US-20 four miles (6.4 km) east of Fairfield.

The Soldier Mountain ski area, opened in 1948, is 12 miles (19 km) north of Fairfield, in the Soldier Mountains of the Sawtooth National Forest.

Contents

History

When the cavalry was stationed at Fort Boise the southern portion of the Camas Prairie was an important feeding ground for their horses. In 1869, a treaty ratified by the US Senate provided a portion of the "Kansas Prairie" instead of the "Camas Prairie" to be retained by the Bannock Indians. The error may have made by the person who transcribed the treaty. Since there was no "Kansas Prairie" in Idaho, no protection rights were given to the treaty rights of the Bannocks. When they found a few white men were allowing their hogs to feed on a valuable food source, the camas root, they objected which would become a major contributor to the Bannock War of 1878.[3] Development of the region was slowed by the heavy snows of winter and the Bannock War, but farmers and rancher soon found good water, timber, grass, and an abundance of fish in the streams. Soldier was the first town established on Camas Prairie located about four miles northeast of Fairfield. When the railroad was built across the county it bypassed Soldier and when Camas was organized as a county Fairfield became the seat and most of the population moved there. The Lava mining district lies a few miles southwest of Fairfield, which attracted miners in the 1880s, but the main attraction of Camas County has always been its agricultural lands.[4]

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