Idaho Panhandle

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Map of Idaho highlighting Idaho Panhandle.svg
Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 58,486
1910 106,360 81.9%
1920 112,504 5.8%
1930 119,940 6.6%
1940 135,776 13.2%
1950 142,059 4.6%
1960 152,613 7.4%
1970 154,843 1.5%
1980 209,986 35.6%
1990 216,792 3.2%
2000 278,866 28.6%

The Idaho Panhandle is the northern region of the U.S. State of Idaho that encompasses the state's ten northernmost counties: Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Clearwater, Idaho, Kootenai, Latah, Lewis, Nez Perce, and Shoshone. Residents of the panhandle refer to the region as North Idaho. The southern part of this region, from Moscow south, is sometimes referred to as North Central Idaho, with the rest as North Idaho. The panhandle is bordered by the state of Washington to the west, Montana to the east and British Columbia to the north.

Coeur d'Alene is the largest city within the Idaho panhandle; however, nearby Spokane, Washington is the region's largest city and also the location of the regional airport, Spokane International Airport (GEG). Other important cities include Lewiston, Moscow (home of the University of Idaho), Post Falls, Hayden, Sandpoint, and the smaller towns of St. Maries and Bonners Ferry. East of Coeur d'Alene is the Silver Valley, which follows Interstate 90 to the Montana border at Lookout Pass.

The region has a land area of 21,012.64 square miles (54,422.5 km2), or 25.39 percent of Idaho's land area; there is also 323.95 square miles (839.07 km²) of water area. The estimated population of the Idaho Panhandle as of the 2010 census is 317,751 or 20.3% of Idaho's population of 1,567,582.[2]

The Idaho Panhandle region observes Pacific Time north of the western-flowing Salmon River in the southern part of Idaho County. The rest of the state to the south observes Mountain Time, which begins at Riggins. Though North Idaho is at the same longitude as southern Idaho, the reasons for the different time zones are: 1.) because the commercial and transportation center for the region is Spokane, Washington, (and now the media market); and 2.) there are many cross-border towns and cities that are connected, led by Spokane with Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls followed by Pullman (WSU) with Moscow (UI), and Clarkston with Lewiston. Unlike the Idaho-Montana border, which consists of a long mountain range, and much of the Idaho-Oregon border, which is the Snake River, there isn't a natural boundary between Idaho-Washington. The Panhandle is isolated from southern Idaho due to distance and the east-west mountain ranges that naturally separate the state. The passage by vehicle was arduous until significant highway improvements were made on U.S. Route 95 in North Central Idaho from 1965-95 (Lapwai Canyon, White Bird Hill, Lewiston grade, and Lawyer's Canyon). Had the border been made today, the Panhandle of Idaho would likely be part of Washington, due to local geography.[citation needed] Recognition of this disconnection has caused the Idaho government to begin significant improvements to make U.S. Route 95 a multi-lane highway to connect North Idaho.

The Automobile Association of America (AAA) separates Idaho into two parts, where the Panhandle is part of AAA Washington and the southern part is part of AAA Oregon/Idaho


North Idaho has a strong hunting culture. Residents are highly conservative and sometimes lean libertarian.[3]


Although the Coeur d'Alene area has experienced recent growth, southwestern Idaho has grown at a faster pace.[citation needed]

North Idaho has not elected a governor since the re-election of Cecil Andrus (D) in 1974. Andrus, an Oregon native, was a resident of Orofino when first elected in 1970. (Boise was his residence during his later campaigns of 1986 and 1990). The most recent member of the U.S. Congress from the Panhandle is Compton I. White, Jr. (D), last elected in 1964.



The North Idaho region is most noted for silvaculture, the growing of trees and the production of lumber through the regions 12 lumber mills.[4] The production of grass seeds and hops[5] for beer production are also significant. Nine microbreweries have brewing operations in the area, making North Idaho highly characteristic of the Pacific Northwest. There are also many cattle ranches for raising beef.

Indian reservations

Major communities


  1. Idaho population by county, 1900-90 - accessed 2011-12-07
  2. "Census 2010: Idaho - The Spokesman-Review". Retrieved May 25, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Sandpoint Community Guide: Is racism still an issue in North Idaho?". Retrieved May 25, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Inland Forest Management, Consulting Foresters". Retrieved May 25, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Idaho Hop Commission". Retrieved May 25, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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