MOSS — Many Canyon County residents are familiar with places like Nampa, Caldwell or Melba. But a place you may not be so familiar with is Moss — even though you may drive through it every day.
When posting to Facebook or using GPS, Canyon County residents may have noticed that their location is Moss — even though they are really in Caldwell or Nampa.
If you Google “Moss, Idaho,” the location pops up in the Consignment Sales of Idaho parking lot on Nampa-Caldwell Boulevard, about a half-mile away from Moss Lane.
It’s not much today, but Moss did actually exist at one time in history.
The Idaho State Historical Society has Moss listed as a community in Canyon County about midway between Caldwell and Nampa on U.S. 30., named for A.B. Moss, a local rancher.
According to the historical society, A.B. Moss is better known for founding another town — Payette. He supplied the Oregon Short Line Railway Line with railway ties and eventually opened up Moss Mercantile Company in Payette.
The Idaho genealogy website project has the same information for Moss. There is also a link that provides latitude and longitude coordinates for Moss. If you plug those coordinates into Google, the marker shows up in the same parking lot.
It’s nearly impossible to discern why Moss exists on modern digital maps, because of the complex process required to make them.
Google uses more than 1,300 different sources to create its maps, according to a 2012 story on techcrunch.com. Those sources include local, state, national and international entities, like the U.S. Geological Survey and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, among many others.
So, what was Moss exactly?
From the looks of it, Moss was only a little stop on the Oregon Short Line Railway, a subsidiary of the larger Union Pacific Railroad.
A 1930 Rand McNally Air Trails Map on airfields-freeman.com shows a stop labeled “Moss” situated between Nampa and Caldwell. A list of Union Pacific stops on the website railwaystationlists.co.uk shows the same.
“It was not uncommon to have a little town pop up on the line,” local historian Joe Bell said. “It was probably a homestead that really never grew for whatever reason.”
Even though the town of Moss only grew to the size of a parking lot, it exists in Facebook posts and GPS locations alike — a digital ghost town that lives on.