Disclaimer - The Unfortunate Truth of Moss, Idaho…

The first time I became aware of Moss, Idaho was back in 2016. I was driving from Nampa to Caldwell (both in Idaho), and for a split second my phone’s GPS switched my location from Nampa to Moss, ID, and then back. Later that day my Facebook post said that I had posted from Moss, ID, but I had never been to Moss, only Nampa and Caldwell.

It turns out that Moss, ID was a small homestead that was a stop for trains and car travelers back in the 1930’s. In this current age though, it no longer exists.

When GPS on everyone’s phone started to become a common thing, like a digital ghost town, Moss, ID started popping up on our devices and posts, even though all that remains of Moss is a small parking lot.

But our devices still remind us that Moss, ID is there.

I like to imagine that Moss, ID exists through a portal in another parallel dimension, where it was given the opportunity to flourish and grow into an actual town.

With this project, I am illustrating little snapshots of the daily lives and random adventures of The People of Moss, Idaho. Through short visions of single instances without context of the bigger picture - and believe me, there is one - I bring you a bizarre story of what could have, and in some instances, should have been. Please enjoy.

The Truth About Moss, Idaho

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.

About the Artist

The Real Story - It’s Me Chopsy

Ryan “Chopsy” Harrison is a cartoonist and illustrator based in Nampa, Idaho.

Chopsy works mostly in ink, watercolor, acrylic and digital.

Chopsy likes to create zines and comics about the things they’re interested in, and is constantly researching new topics.

Chopsy spent several years as a designer and fine artist, creating paintings and drawing, producing prints, stickers and buttons, and tabling at shows and conventions. After some time, Chopsy started getting more into the act of story telling through comics and zines, and slowly started to abandon the fine art world.

He discovered the weird mysterious digital “ghost town” of Moss, Idaho around the same time the same time he started using 30 day drawing challenges as prompts to make weird illustrations, and thus, began the series of zines “People of Moss, Idaho”.

After focusing more and more on telling stories focusing on the inhabitants of Moss, Idaho, he decided to convert his personal art website (itsmechopsy.com) into a full blown site about Moss, Idaho. Which brings us to now.