On August 15, we’ll be hosting an open house at the home Nels and Emma built in 1887. It made the National Register of Historic Places last year. More details on that are available here.
In honor of Sesquicentennial Plus One, I’m devoting the Speaking of Idaho blog to my family’s history during August.
The displaced followers of Joseph Morris were escorted out of Utah and into the newly formed Idaho Territory in 1863 in the aftermath of the Morrisite War. They founded a community called Morristown, named in honor of their martyred leader, Joseph Morris.
The stop on the Oregon Trail had been called Soda Springs since at least 1859, because of several naturally carbonated springs in the area. As more settlers moved in, that town name took hold and Morristown was soon forgotten. The site where it stood is largely covered by the waters of Anderson Reservoir.
When the Morrisites first arrived a group of teenagers discovered another spring nearby. Emma Thompson was among them and wrote about it in a letter to a cousin:
“We had not been here long when a party of us young folk discovered an especially good spring not far from our settlement. People who have tasted the famed water of other countries say it is as fine as any. I don’t think anyone had ever tasted I before, for the men took the sod away and opened up the source. They have named it Ninety Percent Spring.”
I’ve never seen an explanation for the name.
Here’s a little piece that has appeared on my blog before about the mineral water from that spring:
Bottled water is ubiquitous. It’s shipped all over the world and consumed by the billions of gallons by people who usually have a faucet nearby. But before I get off on a rant, I want to say that bottling water and shipping it all over the globe isn’t a new thing. They were doing it in Idaho in 1887.
The Natural Mineral Water Co. incorporated May 17, 1887 was located in Soda Springs, Idaho. They bottled water from Ninety Percent Springs and called it Idanha. Some claim the name is an Indian word meaning something like “spirit of healing waters.” The company would sometimes spell it Idan-Ha. The Idanha Hotel, built by the Union Pacific, came along that same year. That’s the one in Soda Springs. Boise’s Idanha, named after the earlier hotel, came along later.
Idanha water was shipped to eastern markets and foreign countries. It won first prize at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The water is said to have won first place at a World’s Fair in Paris, though the date isn’t certain.
The bottling works burned down in 1895. One might wonder what would burn in a water bottling plant. Nevertheless, it did burn and was rebuilt, getting back to business a couple of years later. The plant filled a million bottles a year in the early days.
Idanha was a great name for a couple of hotels and premium bottled water. It still serves as the name of a town in Oregon. Historians agree that the town name was linked to Idanha water in some way, but no one seems to know how.