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Originally called Lower Boise and situated on the Boise River, Notus boasts four theories as to the origin of its present name. The first theory links the name to the area arrival of the Oregon Short Line Railroad in 1883. Officials supposedly thought the word meant “it’s all right” in some Native American tongue. Locals contend that the name is drawn from an Oregon Trail incident where some weary travelers refused to continue their westward journey, declaring, “Not Us.” Another story relates that the town is actually named after an ancient North African city. How the term migrated to Idaho is beyond explanation. The last explanation is derived from the mythological Notus figure, who was the Greek god of the south wind and the son of Eos and Astraeus. Regardless of the meaning behind its name, Notus has been an Idaho presence since the late 1800s.

From 1886 to 1887, an irrigation canal was constructed in the area that granted farmers and ranchers more prosperity than they had ever known. When the Black Canyon Dam was built nearby in 1921, the town’s popularity grew still greater, and the town gained an adequate population base to finally be incorporated into the state.

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