Pop. 51,867

Located on Indian Creek and initially called New Jerusalem, the community of Nampa draws its name from the Shoshone word “nambe,” or “nambuh,” meaning “foot” or “moccasin print.” However, some historians speculate that the word is based upon a Shoshone renegade named Namp (“foot”) Puh (“big”). Regardless of its origin, the Oregon Short Line Railroad gave the community its name in 1883 when they established a station house and water tank. Alexander Duffes, a railroad promoter and land developer, homesteaded 160 acres that were bisected by the tracks. He platted the townsite and Nampa began to grow.

In 1887, the community welcomed its first post office, and three years later, the town was incorporated. Col. William Dewey, a wealthy mining gentleman, built a luxurious hotel in 1901, for $243,000. The eighty-one room, four-story hotel known as the Dewey Palace Hotel occupied an entire city block! Extensively elaborate for its time, the hotel boasted oak paneling, elevators, electric lights, a banquet hall, ballroom, bowling alley, billiard room, barber shop, saloon, and laundry services. In addition, the hotel possessed its own well and water tank, an electric generator, hot water, and radiant heat. Three months after the hotel’s grand opening in February 1903, Dewey passed away at the age of seventy-nine. The hotel closed in 1956 and was torn down in 1963 because of deterioration.

By 1903, the railroad business in Nampa had grown so popular that a new depot on Twelfth Avenue was constructed. The depot, now home to a museum, quickly established itself as one of the nicest railway stations in the entire state. It was an important railroad center for the region. Today, the town is an agricultural hub home to America’s largest sugar beet plant.

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