Sunday, December 10, 2006

Where did the name Imnaha come from?

I was asked today why I use "Imnaha" as my online name. I get asked that quite a bit, and no, it doesn't have anything to do with Vietnam.

Imnaha is a small town of around 30 people in the canyon lands of far northeastern Oregon, not far from Hell's Canyon and the Snake River. The Nez Perce tribe wintered in these canyons and spent time their summers in the beautiful Wallowa mountains. I grew up near Joseph, Oregon on the banks of Wallowa Lake.

When I first ventured online in the early 1990s with my newly minted 14,400 baud modem, I needed a username for the bulletin board systems I wanted to dial into. This was before Mosaic and Netscape were available to surf the nascent web.

Imnaha seemed like a good choice because to me, it epitomized a frontier and a small community like these bulletin boards. It was also a unique name that was unlikely to be used by others as I signed up for other sites. I also liked that there was a philatelic tie-in of a mail boat, called the Imnaha that traveled up and down the Snake River delivering mail to small outposts until it ran aground.

I try to make the 30 mile drive from Joseph down to Imnaha when I'm in that neck of the country visiting friends and family. I joked about buying the post office that was recently for sale on the banks of the Imnaha River, but I don't think my family is ready to live 2 hours from the nearest traffic light.

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