Rick Just worked for the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation for 29 years. He served as agency historian, and edited the book, 100 Years, Idaho and its Parks, which was published in 2008. He has read extensively on the Morrisite War, has interviewed decendants, and done primary research on the war and the resulting trial. He founded the non-profit organization Friends of Idaho State Parks in 2013 and currently serves as the organization's president.
In 1908, Idaho’s first state park was created by an Act of Congress. It was named for Sen. Weldon B. Heyburn, who famously said “[state parks] are always a subject of political embarrassment.” This presentation traces the roots of the system from the Harriman Alaska Expedition in 1899, through the war years of the Farragut Naval Training Station, to the brilliant gift deed Gov. Robert E. Smylie arranged with Roland and Averell Harriman to create a dedicated park agency resulting in today’s system of 30 state parks.
In 1863 a small group of impoverished immigrants came into the newly formed Idaho Territory under military escort. They had recently been on the losing side of the Morrisite War in Utah, a three-day siege with religious overtones. Their spiritual leader, Joseph Morris, and several of his flock were killed. The destitute Morrisites settled in a place of promise along the Oregon Trail near a famous carbonated water spring. Rick Just, a descendent of those Morrisites, will tell the little known story of the Morrisite War and how it became the defining moment for many pioneer Idaho families.