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Latah County, Idaho facts for kids

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Latah County
Moscow Post Office and Courthouse
Official seal of Latah County
Map of Idaho highlighting Latah County
Location within the U.S. state of Idaho
Map of the United States highlighting Idaho
Idaho's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Idaho
Founded May 14, 1888
Named for Latah Creek
Seat Moscow
Largest city Moscow
 • Total 1,077 sq mi (2,790 km2)
 • Land 1,077 sq mi (2,790 km2)
 • Water 0.9 sq mi (2 km2)  0.09%
 • Total 39,517
 • Density 36.692/sq mi (14.167/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
Congressional district 1st
University of Idaho Administration Building (1909) in Moscow

Latah County ( LAY-tə) is a county located in the north central region of the U.S. state of Idaho. As of the 2020 census, the population was 39,517. The county seat and largest city is Moscow, the home of the University of Idaho, the state's flagship until 2012 and land-grant university.

The county was created in 1888 and named for Latah Creek in its northwest corner. The name in the Nez Perce language means "the place of pine trees and pestle." The tribe found shade under the white pine trees for doing their work and stones suitable for use in pulverizing camas roots to process as one of their food staples.

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; it was originally part of Nez Perce County, which was reluctant to lose its most populated area.



Settlement of the Palouse County commenced in 1871. Development of population centers at Genesee and Moscow are the earliest followed by Juliaetta and Kendrick in the 1880s. The railroad's arrival in Moscow in 1885 led to its development as the primary population center of the county. The establishment of the University of Idaho at Moscow in 1889 also was significant in the city's continued growth. Settlement of Troy commenced in 1895 with Bovill being first settled by Lord Hugh Bovill in 1899. Construction of a railroad from Moscow to Bovill was completed in 1907 with the town of Deary developing in that year on the railroad. Potlatch was settled as a company town in 1905.

Development of Cities

Moscow first shows in the 1880 census with a population of 76. It was incorporated as a village in 1887. Genesee was established as a town in 1889. Julieatta, Kendrick, and Troy were established as towns by the 1900 Census, with each incorporating as a village prior to 1910. Bovill and Deary were incorporated as villages prior to 1920. Potlatch and Onaway remained unincorporated as late as 1960. They were returned at the 1950 Census as a single unincorporated area.

County Boundary History

The Idaho Territorial Legislature established the counties of Lah-Toh and Kootenai on December 22, 1864. Lah-Toh contained all of northern Idaho west of Shoshone County between the Clearwater River and 48° north latitude. Coeur d'Alene was named the county seat of Lah-Toh County. The legislature was well aware that settlement was lacking in the area to support a county government and established that the Governor could organize the county commission upon receipt of a petition from fifty residents. On January 9, 1867, the Fourth Idaho Legislature repealed the act creating the two counties, established the northern line of Nez Perce County to coincide with the present northern line of Latah County, and placed the remaining portion of Lah-Toh within the boundary of Kootenai County. Unaware of Lah-Toh's abolishment, residents of Moscow attempted to organize the county of Lah-Toh in 1878. Initially, the Governor granted the request, but later informed the residents that they were actually located within the boundary of Nez Perce County. The Idaho Territorial Legislature failed to address creation of a county for the residents of Moscow. As a result, Fred T. Dubois successfully petitioned on their behalf for the United States Congress to create the county. On May 14, 1888, Latah County with its county seat at Moscow came into existence as the first and only U.S. county created by the United States Congress.


Moscow mountain
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. It is part of the Palouse, a wide and rolling portion of the middle Columbia basin.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

  • US 95.svg US 95
  • ID-3.svg SH-3
  • ID-6.svg SH-6
  • ID-8.svg SH-8
  • ID-9.svg SH-9
  • ID-99.svg SH-99

National protected area

  • St. Joe National Forest (part)


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%
2020 39,517 6.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2020 2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 37,244 people, 14,708 households, and 8,241 families residing in the county. The population density was 34.6 inhabitants per square mile (13.4/km2). There were 15,988 housing units at an average density of 14.9 per square mile (5.8/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 92.8% white, 2.1% Asian, 0.8% black or African American, 0.6% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 1.0% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 3.6% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 31.0% were German, 16.8% were English, 15.3% were Irish, 6.9% were Norwegian, 5.5% were Swedish, and 3.0% were American.

Of the 14,708 households, 25.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 6.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 44.0% were non-families, and 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.89. The median age was 28.3 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $36,974 and the median income for a family was $54,172. Males had a median income of $40,510 versus $31,223 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,218. About 10.4% of families and 21.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.7% of those under age 18 and 4.8% of those age 65 or over.

Flora and fauna

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. Faunal species include the Clay-colored sparrow and Rough-Skinned Newt.


Latah county (ID) roads


Census-designated place

Unincorporated communities

Ghost towns

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


See also

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