Inside Idaho: The story of how the state song won its way to fame


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Did you know Idaho has a state song? If you grew up in Idaho, you can probably hum the tune and know a few of the words. And if you’re newer to the state – we’ll give you a listen.

Here We Have Idaho officially took its place as the state song during the 21st session of the Idaho Legislature in 1931. But the song took a few years to win its way to fame.

In 1915, Sallie Hume Douglas composed the score for the future state song, naming it “Garden of Paradise. Hume Douglas hailed not from Idaho – but Hawaii. The song started out as a “Hawaiian Love Song.”

Photo courtesy: University of Idaho Library.

Then, in 1917, the University University of Idaho student, McKinley Helm wrote the words for the chorus of the song and Alice Bessee set the words to the music. This would eventually become the U of I’s alma mater.

Later, the Boise School District’s Albert J. Tompkins wrote two verses for the song – making it complete.

Finally, it became the official song.

Idaho song lyrics

[Idaho has one state fish, but it’s actually three: Inside the cutthroat trout]

You’ve heard of the wonders our land does possess,
Its beautiful valleys and hills.
The majestic forests where nature abounds,
We love every nook and rill

And here we have Idaho,
Winning her way to fame.
Silver and gold in the sunlight blaze,
And romance lies in her name.
Singing, we’re singing of you,
Ah, proudly too. All our lives thru,
We’ll go singing, singing of you,
Singing of Idaho.

There’s truly one state in this great land of ours,
Where ideals can be realized.
The pioneers made it so for you and me,
A legacy we’ll always prize.

Tompkins’ lyrics celebrate the beautiful landscape and those who paved the way for generations to come.

The song was chosen as it represents both school spirit for the University of Idaho and embodies the pride of Idaho’s citizens.

Anna Daly - BoiseDev Reporter
Anna Daly - BoiseDev Reporter
Anna Daly is a reporter for BoiseDev. She's an Emmy-winning journalist, and a professor at the College of Western Idaho. Contact her at [email protected].

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