The first Idaho was named for the Territory created in 1863.
(Storeship: displacement 3,241; length 298'0” (waterline); beam 44'6"; draft 17'0” (mean); speed 8.0 knots; armament 6 32-pounders, 1 30-pounder rifle)
The first Idaho—designed as a wooden-hull, twin-screw bark-rigged steam sloop—was laid down in 1863 at New York by George Steers; and launched on 8 October 1864. Idaho’s twin-screw machinery was of a novel design by Edward N. Dickerson and was built by Morgan Iron Works. Idaho was commissioned on 2 April 1866, Capt. John L. Worden, of Monitor fame, in command.
The Navy, however, rejected the vessel on 25 May 1866 after trials revealed that she could not attain the contract speed of 15 knots during her period in commission (2 April—26 May 1866). A board of Naval Officers recommended Idaho’s rejection, but Dickerson appealed to Congress and obtained a resolution in February 1867 for her purchase by the Navy.
Idaho underwent conversion to a full-rigged sailing ship at New York and she was recommissioned on 3 October 1867, Lt. Edward Hooker in command. She sailed for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 1 November, the first leg of her voyage to the Far East which concluded when she reached Nagasaki, Japan, on 18 May 1868. At one point during the long passage, the ship logged a speed of 18.5 knots under sail, making her one of the fastest sailing ships of her day.
Idaho remained at Nagasaki for 15 months as a store and hospital ship for the Asiatic Squadron, shifting to Yokohama in mid-August 1869 to prepare for her homeward voyage. On 20 September 1869, she set sail for San Francisco, Calif., but encountered a typhoon the next day. The storm carried away her masts and severely damaged her hull, but the stout ship stayed afloat and was brought back to Yokohama by her crew, with the timely assistance of the German corvette Medusa, that had been battered by the same typhoon, whose crew later received the thanks of President Ulysses S. Grant.
Having been reduced to little more than a hulk, Idaho remained in the harbor until she was decommissioned on 31 December 1873. She was sold in 1874 to East Indies Trading Company.
Updated, Robert J. Cressman
27 May 2022