I Wonder: What’s up with Centennial license plates… 31 years later?


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In 1990, the State of Idaho celebrated a big milestone: 100 years of statehood.  Parties were held. Songs were sung. The City of Boise marked a 43-hour celebration centered on the July 3rd, 1990 event.

Now, nearly 31 years later – you might still spot an Idaho Centennial license plate – but only if you look closely.

In 1987, the State issued the specialty plate with its vibrant red, white and blue look to mark the occasion of the big birthday bash. It stood out from the simple green and white Idaho Famous Potato plate of the day — and even won a “plate of the year” award from the Automobile License Plate Collectors Association.

At the time, funds from the plate went to the Idaho Centennial Commission for a variety of projects.

The plate was so popular it was co-opted for the standard Idaho plate. “Famous Potatoes” swaps in for “Centennial” and a blue tree is missing in the standard plate.

Today, you can still opt into the plate – paying an extra $25 upfront and $15 per year, according to Reed Hollinshead with the Idaho Transportation Department.

Since the Centennial celebrations are a distant memory – where does the cash go? Idaho State Code was amended to put the cash toward your local highways instead. Hollinshead notes that 60% of the fee goes to ITD, with 40% going to your local highway district

There are about 5,000 vehicles statewide that still tout their Centennial pride all these decades later.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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