Shoshoni Indians traditionally wintered here and speared salmon at Lower Salmon Falls. It became a stage station on the Oregon Trail, and eventually had enough residents that a couple of men applied for a post office. The men were Stanley Hegeman (or Hageman—I’ve seen it both ways) and Jack Hess. They wanted to call the place Hess, but postal officials nixed it because there was already a Hess, Idaho. There isn’t one now, and I’ve found no information about where Hess was. Someone will probably come to my rescue.
Naturally, since Hess was taken, they tried for Hageman (or Hegeman). Postal officials blessed that one, but misspelled the name as Hagerman, perhaps because of poor penmanship on the part of the applicants.
You remember Dan Quayle, right? He was the vice president who infamously corrected the spelling of Idaho’s famous tuber as “potatoe” in front of a group of kids on June 15, 1992. That moment is preserved for… as long as potatoes can be preserved, at the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot. A California DJ asked Quayle to autograph a potato for him, all in good fun. Somehow the museum ended up with it.
Caribou County is named for Jesse “Cariboo Jack” Fairchild who was, in turn, nicknamed such because he had taken part in the gold rush in the Cariboo region of British Columbia in 1860. There are a lot of things around Soda Springs named after Cariboo Jack, including the ghost town of Caribou City, and the Caribou Mountains. Fairchild was born in Canada. What isn’t exactly clear is why the Cariboo region of British Columbia is spelled that way. Canadians don’t generally spell caribou differently. In any case Jack’s nickname became Caribou when it was attached to various sites in Caribou County, the last county created in Idaho.
This one is outrageous. The Treaty of Fort Bridger was, among other things, meant to preserve the right of the Bannock Tribe to harvest camas bulbs on Camas Prairie near present-day Fairfield. Unfortunately, Camas Prairie was written as Kansas Prairie in the treaty. Using that flimsy excuse white settlers let their cattle and hogs trample and root around the traditional Bannock gathering site, devastating the camas fields, and leading to the Bannock War of 1878.
Spelling matters, kids.