Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s “Idaho Corps of Discovery Passport” program has expired, ending on Dec. 31, 2006, but the rave reviews are still being tallied from Idaho families who took the challenge to visit all 44 counties and get their “passports” stamped in each. The program coincided with the Lewis and Clark bicentennial commemoration.
Carl Wilgus, tourism division administrator for the state Commerce Department, said, “The program was a huge success, judging by letters received from those who actually completed the journey.” More than 50,000 “passports” were distributed; nearly 1,000 came back with all the stamps, earning their holders a certificate signed by the governor and a replica of a Lewis and Clark peace medallion.
Wilgus said in a survey of those who completed the program, travelers chose Bonners Ferry as the friendliest town they visited. Favorite historical sites and landmarks were Craters of the Moon, the Cataldo Mission and the City of Rocks.
Here are some of the comments his office received: The Smith family of Rexburg wrote, “My daughter, her son and I took your challenge to see Idaho. Jared was in fourth grade and studied Idaho history. Seeing Idaho really left an impression on him. He says he never wants to move out of Idaho. We all gained a greater appreciation of Idaho and its history.” Barbara Olmstead of Mountain Home wrote in, “I just wanted to write you a quick note to say thank you. My husband and I had the time of our lives on our quest to complete our passports. We saw so many amazing things we would have missed out on had it not been for your great program. The interesting people, weird hotels, historic marvels and road mishaps made for a lifetime of wonderful memories and fabulous stories we’ll treasure forever.”