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Idaho National Bank Notes… Written by Jeff Smith

If Notes Could Talk

On the web site, we have the following Idaho-based National Bank Notes (alphabetical order):

Ashton; Blackfoot; Boise; Caldwell; Idaho Falls; Lewiston; Malad City; Nampa; Parma; Preston; Saint Anthony; Salmon; Shoshone; Twin Falls; Wallace; and Weiser.

Though none listed are for cities in Bannock County (our business location), one Idaho City stands out above the rest. These National Bank Notes are from Salmon, Idaho.

Between 1863 and 1929 (the National Banking Period) Idaho had 86 National Banks that issued currency. The Citizens National Bank of Salmon, Idaho (chartered in 1909) and the First National Bank of Salmon Idaho (chartered in 1906) were two of these historic banking institutions.

Salmon is the county seat for Lemhi County, Idaho. About 30 miles southwest of Salmon lies Lemhi Pass, the area through which the Lewis and Clark expedition (1904-1806) traveled while crossing the continental divide. Their interpreter and guide from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean (and very importantly the only woman) was the famous Sacajawea – a member of the Lemhi Shoshone Nation. Sacajawea was born near Salmon. To my knowledge, there are no US currency items with a Sacajawea picture. However, in the year 2000, our US Mint issued the famous Sacajawea coin – one dollar – to honor her. The image on the coin is not the real image of Sacajawea. It is, actually, based on another Shoshone woman who posed for the artist. Unfortunately, we really do not have a true likeness of this amazing woman. In addition to the one dollar coin, the USS Sacajawea was named after her.

Lemhi County has almost 8,000 residents with 4564 square miles of land; 3,112 of these persons live in Salmon. Salmon, a small rural community, is nestled in the mountains of central Idaho, along the Salmon River, its namesake. Mining, ranching, and lumbering are three main industries here. In addition to technical innovations and light manufacturing, Salmon boasts some of the world’s best whitewater rafting and outfitting. It is, in fact, the whitewater capitol of the world and serves as a passageway, just as it did for Lewis and Clark in 1805, to mountain streams, lakes, rivers, and forests.

Come take a look at our Salmon Idaho currency.

Here is a 1902 note — $5 Plain Back– from The Citizens National Bank of Salmon.

Imagine what this note would say if it could talk? In the early 1900s when mining and railroading were peaking in Lemhi County, these notes were produced as a quick and easy way to “barter” goods and services..

If anyone out there is from or has visited Salmon (Lemhi County), Idaho, please post a comment.

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