In 1883, the landscape of what was to become Canyon County was changed forever, when the Oregon Short Line Railway (a subsidiary of the Union Pacific) made its way from Granger, Wyoming to Huntington, Oregon. The sagebrush-covered ground was cleared and leveled so tracks could be laid, providing an opportunity for safer travel to the emigrants of the east. Towns sprung up about every 10 to 15 miles along the tracks. Nampa is one such Town.
It is not know for certain where the name “Nampa ” came from, but as the Oregon Short Line was built through Idaho, unusual names were given to some of the stations. Many of these unusual names were believed to be of Indian origin. Annie Laurie Bird, Nampa Historian, concurred with research previously done by F. G. Cottingham of Nampa and others, that the Shoshoni Indian word “namb” means “footprint” or “moccasin”. Indians of the region were known to stuff their moccasins during cold weather with sagebrush. This would make their footprints larger than usual size. However, contrary to what many people thought, Nampa, Idaho, is not the only place in the world with this name. For example, there is a Town in Canada named Nampa.
Alexander and Hannah Duffes, with the encouragement of James McGee, saw the possibilities in the land east of Caldwell, and in 1885, homesteaded on 160 acres with the express purpose of creating a Town. On September 8, 1886, Duffes, McGee and James M. Stewart formed the Nampa Land and Improvement Company, dividing the property into lots. Duffes was a very religious man and dreamed of a Town with no saloon. He refused to sell Town lots to anyone who intended to build a saloon on them. This caused people to refer to the Town of Nampa as “New Jerusalem”. It is interesting to note that “The Nampa Progress”, Nampa ’s first newspaper, lists in June 1888, that there were 28 businesses in Nampa, of which three were saloons. Ironically, twenty-one years later, the Duffes home was moved and a brewery built in its place.