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Making history accessible for Idaho's kids: Duo creates a loveable character to help explore the Gem State

Venture through some of the most historic and hidden spots in Idaho with this iconic animal as your tour guide.

BOISE, Idaho — From July 1890 when Idaho was recognized as a state, to present day where it remains one of the fastest-growing states in the country, the Gem State has an extensive and fascinating history.

These historic, hidden tales are part of what makes Idaho an explorer's dream. However, two local creators felt these hidden gems should be acknowledged by young Idahoans, prompting them to create a fun adventure guide to teach children about the state's history.

Amber Beierle is a historian who wrote the book titled, "A While Ago in Idaho: Tour #1."  Alongside illustrator Kelly Knopp, the duo spent the last year creating a road map for children and their families living in Idaho, featuring some of Idaho's more unique and often unheard of tales.

"I found it really fun to pair historic stories with artwork, so I created this beaver character whose name is 'Belmont Beaver'," Knopp said.

"When I first saw the first rendering of Belmont I was like, 'Yep, this is the guy!'" Beierle said.

Belmont, based off 'Geronimo' the flying beaver, becomes your tour guide through different parts of the Gem State.

"He shows you the location where the historic fact originated from, and then he explains more about it," Knopp said.

Places like the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area, Payette Lake and 'Sharlie' the mythical river monster, and the City of Rocks.

"I love sharing Idaho history, and so really I think we've created a book in which we're not only making history accessible but really creating a sense of place," Beierle said. "So that they can go out and really understand where they're from or if they've just moved here learn a little bit more about their community." 

"I think this book really is the book that I would have wanted to learn more about the history and inspire me to go out and find out more," Knopp said.

The book is available for purchase here.

Belmont the Beaver is planning his next tour of Idaho. If you have your own strange or maybe a lesser-known history of the Gem State, you're encouraged to submit them for the second tour of A While Ago in Idaho.

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