One result of Idaho’s shape is that we ended up with our first university in North Idaho, while most of the state’s population lived in Southern Idaho. For decades getting to Moscow from Boise, Pocatello, or Bear Lake meant taking the easier route, traveling outside the state.
Southern Idaho students wanted to take advantage of their own state school, so before World War I, University of Idaho Officials teamed up with officials from Union Pacific Railroad to create a Student Special. The train’s starting point was Pocatello. From there, the well-outfitted train—passenger coaches, baggage cars, sleeper cars, and a dining car—made stops at American Falls, Shoshone, Gooding, Bliss, Glenns Ferry, Mountain Home, Nampa, Caldwell, and Parma. Boise, Idaho Falls, and Twin Falls students took spur lines to catch the train.
The Student Special took students to Moscow in the fall and back home again in the spring. There was also a Student Special that made visiting home at Christmas possible.
The in-state students got rolling views of Oregon and Washington on their trip, some of them traveling nearly 700 miles to get to Moscow. Many states employed special trains to carry students to university. Idaho had the distinction of having the longest route.
The Student Special operated until after World War II.
I highly recommend Peterson’s new book. It’s available at local bookstores or from WSU Press.