In the 1860s, Californian and Texan ranchers began driving herds of cattle into Idaho, primarily to supply the mining communities. In subsequent decades, Idaho’s excellent grazing lands continued to attract cattle ranchers and sheepherders to the region, especially as good grazing land in other states became increasingly scarce. By the mid-1880s, sheep and cattle raising had spread through much of Idaho. Crop farming developed slowly, as farmers discovered that the dry land of the Snake River valley and the Palouse plains of the Idaho panhandle produced good wheat, oat, and barley crops. Farmers also grew staples for neighboring mining towns.
Idaho’s economy developed considerably as new transportation links tied the state to the rest of the country. When gold was first discovered in Idaho, freight wagons and stagecoaches brought prospectors to the state to seek their fortune. In the 1860s a steamboat service also brought people up the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, to Idaho. However, railroad lines connecting the state’s mines to major out-of-state markets stimulated Idaho’s economy the most.
The first railroad to Idaho reached Franklin, on the Utah-Idaho border, in 1874. Construction of this line continued north to mines in Butte, Montana, in 1881, the same year that construction began on the Oregon Short Line that linked Idaho with Oregon and Wyoming. By 1884 the Union Pacific Railroad had completed a branch line across southern Idaho and tracks of the Northern Pacific Railway had been laid across the northern part of the state. The Union Pacific line opened up the mining area along Big Wood River, where large silver and lead deposits had been discovered in 1879. In 1884 the Northern Pacific actively promoted a gold rush in the Coeur d’Alene region. "Idaho" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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