Latah County, Idaho

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Latah County, Idaho
Seal of Latah County, Idaho
Map of Idaho highlighting Latah County
Location in the state of Idaho
Map of the United States highlighting Idaho
Idaho's location in the U.S.
Founded May 14, 1888
Named for Latah Creek
Seat Moscow
Largest city Moscow
 • Total 1,077 sq mi (2,789 km2)
 • Land 1,077 sq mi (2,789 km2)
 • Water 0.9 sq mi (2 km2), 0.09%
 • (2010) 37,244
 • Density 35/sq mi (14/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8/-7
University of Idaho Administration Building (1909) in Moscow

Latah County (pron. /ˈltɑː/ LAY-tah) is a county located in the north central region of the U.S. state of Idaho. As of the 2010 census, the population was 37,244.[1] The county seat and largest city is Moscow,[2] the home of the University of Idaho, the state's flagship and land-grant university.

The county was created 127 years ago in 1888 and named for Latah Creek in its northwest corner. The name is Nez Perce and means "the place of pine trees and pestle," because the tribe found stones here suitable for pulverizing camas roots and shade under the white pine trees in which to work.[3][4]

Latah County comprises the Moscow, ID Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pullman-Moscow, WA-ID Combined Statistical Area.

The county comprises the majority of the eastern portion of the Palouse, famous for its rolling hills and rich agriculture. Latah County is the only county in the U.S. established by an act of Congress;[5][6][7] it was originally part of Nez Perce County, which was reluctant to lose its most populated area.[8][9][10]


Latah County has the distinction of being the only county in the United States created by an Act of Congress.[5][10] Latah and Kootenai County were first created by the act of December 22, 1864, and the two unorganized counties were attached to Nez Perce County until they were organized. The act provided that when fifty or more inhabitants petitioned the governor, he was authorized to appoint three commissioners, until an election could be held. Three separate efforts at county organization failed, due to the opposition of Lewiston, the county seat of Nez Perce County (and the former capital of the Idaho Territory).

In 1887, Fred T. Dubois, the Idaho Territory's sole delegate in Congress, was asked to introduce a bill which was passed and approved by President Grover Cleveland on May 14, 1888. The act confirmed the boundaries and named the first board of county commissioners.[11]


view from Moscow Mountain

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,077 square miles (2,790 km2), of which 1,076 square miles (2,790 km2) is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km2) (0.09%) is water.[12] It is part of the Palouse, a wide and rolling portion of the middle Columbia basin.

Adjacent counties[edit]

Major highways[edit]

National protected area[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 9,173
1900 13,451 46.6%
1910 18,818 39.9%
1920 18,092 −3.9%
1930 17,798 −1.6%
1940 18,804 5.7%
1950 20,971 11.5%
1960 21,170 0.9%
1970 24,891 17.6%
1980 28,749 15.5%
1990 30,617 6.5%
2000 34,935 14.1%
2010 37,244 6.6%
Est. 2014 38,411 [13] 3.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[14]
1790-1960[15] 1900-1990[16]
1990-2000[17] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census of 2000,[18] there were 34,935 people, 13,059 households, and 7,770 families residing in the county. The population density was 32 people per square mile (13/km²). There were 13,838 housing units at an average density of 13 per square mile (5/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 93.94% White, 0.59% Black or African American, 0.75% Native American, 2.10% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 0.77% from other races, and 1.76% from two or more races. 2.12% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 20.4% were of German, 13.5% English, 8.7% Irish, 7.8% American and 5.9% Norwegian ancestry.

There were 13,059 households out of which 27.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.50% were married couples living together, 6.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.50% were non-families. 26.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the county the population was spread out with 20.30% under the age of 18, 24.50% from 18 to 24, 26.90% from 25 to 44, 18.90% from 45 to 64, and 9.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 107.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 108.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $32,524, and the median income for a family was $46,303. Males had a median income of $34,734 versus $24,886 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,690. About 7.90% of families and 16.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.20% of those under age 18 and 5.40% of those age 65 or over. Forty percent of all workers in Latah County work for the University of Idaho or Washington State University in nearby Pullman.

Government and politics[edit]

Latah County has long been one of the most politically competitive counties in Idaho, while the state as a whole is strongly Republican.

Latah County residents voted in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections for the Republican candidate at a lower rate than the rest of the state. In 2000, George W. Bush carried Latah County with 53.3% of the vote; in 2004, this fell to 49.5% of the vote as the Democratic vote share increased from 37.0% to 48.0%. Ralph Nader, who received 6.5% of the vote in 2000, was not on the ballot in 2004. In 2008, Barack Obama carried the county over John McCain 51.9%-45.1%. In 2012 Obama carried the county with 49.6 percent, compared to Mitt Romney's 45.3 percent. In 2006, Latah County voted 55.05% against HJR 2, which amended the Idaho Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage; the measure passed with 63.35% of the statewide vote. Blaine County, a very popular ski resort area and Idaho's one Democratic stronghold, was the one other county to reject HJR 2.[19]

On the precinct level, Democrats generally carry the university city of Moscow by moderate margins, and the rural remainder of the county is strongly Republican.[20]

Flora and fauna[edit]

There are numerous species of plants and animals within Latah County. There are a variety of tree species within the county including Western White Pine.[21] Faunal species include the Clay-colored sparrow[22] and Rough-Skinned Newt.[23]


Latah county (ID) roads.PNG


Census-designated place[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Ghost towns[edit]

  • Avon
  • Blaine
  • Brickaville
  • Collins
  • Cora
  • Cornwall
  • Crescent
  • Freeze
  • Hampton
  • Lenville
  • Linden
  • Nora
  • Park
  • Pine Creek
  • Taney
  • Thorn Creek
  • Woodfell


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "Latah County". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). February 25, 1990. p. 15-centennial. 
  4. ^ - Latah County - accessed 2009-06-06
  5. ^ a b Arney, C.E. (April 4, 1937). "Latah County only one in nation created by an act of Congress; bitter Lewiston protests futile". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). p. 1-sec.2. 
  6. ^ "Latah only county in nation created by act of Congress". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). October 6, 1955. p. 7-LCSE. 
  7. ^ "Latah County established by Congress 70 years ago today". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). May 14, 1958. p. 10. 
  8. ^ Latah County - history
  9. ^ Swank, Gladys Rae (November 11, 1962). "Latah County created by Congress". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). Idaho Writers League. p. 8. 
  10. ^ a b Harriman, Peter (May 13, 1988). "Latah County has 100th birthday". Idahonian (Moscow). p. 1A. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  13. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  14. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  18. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  19. ^ Idaho HJR 2 Results by County
  20. ^ "Idaho Election Results". Idaho Secretary Of State: Elections, Campaign Disclosure and Lobbyists. Idaho Secretary of State. Retrieved 2007-05-02. 
  21. ^ Julie R. Monroe (2006) Latah County, Arcadia Publishing, 127 pages ISBN 0-7385-3133-2
  22. ^ Shirley Shurts, 2006, A Comprehensive List of Review Species Reports in Idaho
  23. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008) Rough-skinned Newt ("Taricha granulosa"), GlobalTwitcher, ed. N. Stromberg [2]
  24. ^ Lewis, Marilyn (May 14, 1988). "Ghost towns of Latah County". Idahonian (Moscow). Latah County Centennial. p. 24. 

External links[edit]