The City of Boise

The History of Idaho, The Gem of the Mountain, by James H. Hawley, Volume I, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1920; page 687f:

Boise, the capital of Idaho and county seat of Ada County, is beautifully situated in the Boise Valley, about one hundred and fifty miles from the southern boundary of the state and a little over forty miles from the Oregon state line. The city dates its settlement from the establishment of Fort Boise, in 1863, and the following account of the way it came to be so named was published in the 'Boise Sentinel' (a newspaper no longer in existence) in June, 1897:

"Perhaps the first question that arises in the mind of a stranger in regard to this locality is why was it so named. After more than a third of a century has passed since the first human habitation was erected on the present site of the town, and after the story has been so often repeated in print, the inquiry continues to be daily made, why Boise? Briefly, this is what the ancient chroniclers tell of the origin of the name: In the summer of 1834 a party of French Canadian voyageurs, belonging to the expedition of Captain Bonneville (whose explorations and adventures were afterward immortalized by the pen of Washington Irving), in traveling across the treeless and arid Snake River plains, reached the edge of a plateau overlooking a beautiful valley, which, extending westward beyond the limits of their vision, seemed to present a continuous forest belt of trees in full foliage. Of trees, these travelers had seen but very little for several days while journeying among the vast fields of sagebrush, the essential elements of whose growth is the entire absence of water and shade; when their eyes at length fell upon the valley, and they caught glimpses of the crystal stream that wended its serpentine way westward among the groves of cottonwood trees that kept it company, they exclaimed, "Les bois! les bois! voyez les bois!" (The woods! the woods! see the woods!) Here for them were woods, real forests. With the facility with which a Frenchman brings his language into practical use, these Canadian explorers soon affixed a name to their latest discovery and called the river, whose presence was so welcome to them, "La Riviere Boise" (pronounced Bwoizay), that is "the wooded." To reach this spot they had followed an old Indian trail, which was subsequently used by explorers down to the advent of the first immigrants with their wagons, the immigrants having adopted the marks which their predecessors had made as guides across the otherwise trackless desert.

"During the month of August, 1843, nearly ten years after the valley had been named, Fremont reached it at the same point, opposite the present site of the City of Boise, and the cool, crystal waters of the stream and the grateful shade of the groves that adorned its banks drew from him a description of the scene, which has often been quoted and admired by many who have not yet even seen Idaho. Such are the circumstances that attended the naming of the river, the valley and of the spot now occupied by the fair City of Boise."


Early in July, 1863, almost twenty years after Fremont's expedition visited the valley, Maj. Pinckney Lugenbeel selected the plateau at the foot of the mountains and about a mile from the river as a site for a military post, which was named Fort Boise and later Boise Barracks. The post adjoined the trail connecting Idaho City and the Owyhee mining section and so the establishment of the post was the immediate cause of the location of the town, which followed on July 7, 1863. The townsite was covered with an unusually scrubby growth of sagebrush and presented an altogether unlikely location for building a future city, but the town was surveyed, a plat made, and in accordance with the western habit of adding "City" to a hamlet of two or three houses, the name of "Boise City" was conferred upon the future capital and metropolis of Idaho. Most of those who participated in the laying out of the town were transient visitors, on their way to or from the Boise Basin gold fields, and few had faith in the town project, but Messrs. Riggs, Agnew, DuRell and a few others were satisfied of its future and built business houses. Some years later, when it became apparent that Boise was destined to become a city, a number of these persons, almost as a matter of course, laid claim to the honor of having been the "original first settler."


The distinction of being the first actual settler upon the site of Boise has been accorded to John A. O'Farrell, who came to the place in June, 1863, nearly a month before the first survey and plat were made. Mr. O'Farrell was a native of County Tyrone, Ireland, where he was born on February 13, 1823. At the age of fifteen years he went to sea and in January, 1843, landed for the first time at the port of New York. He decided to become a resident of the United States and was employed in the navy yards at Philadelphia until the beginning of the Mexican war, when he sailed on the Lexington around Cape Horn with a supply of military stores for the Pacific Coast. The fifteen years following the Mexican war were full of adventure for Mr. O'Farrell, who was part of the time on the ocean as a sailor and part of the time in the gold fields of the West. In June, 1863, he "settled down for good" where the City of Boise now stands. The little cabin he built then is still standing on Fort Street, in the northeastern part of the city, and a few years ago the Boise Chapter, Daughters of the American Reyolution, placed upon its walls a tablet with an inscription informing the visitor that it is "the first house in Boise." Some of Mr. O'Farrell's descendants still live in the city.

O Farrell's home - First Catholic Services held in Boise were held here January 15, 1867.


Among the founders of the town were Cyrus Jacobs, H. C. Riggs, James D. Agnew, B. M. DuRell, George D. Ellis, Barrett Williams, John Lemp, Matthew H. Williams, Francis M. Davis and his brother, Thomas Davis, who had previously located a farm not far from the townsite.

George D. Ellis was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, April 10,1837. He left home when he was about nineteen years old and went to Kansas, remaining there until 1860, when he went to Colorado. In 1863 he drove a mule team to Idaho, arriving at Boise about the time the town was platted. For awhile he was engaged in mining in the Boise Basin, and afterward freighted between Kelton, Utah, and Boise for several years. He was one of the organizers of the Boise Street Railway Company, of which he was treasurer and general manager for some time; was identified with the banking interests of the city; a director in the Hot and Cold Water Company; owned a ranch near Boise, and was interested in the contracting and building business.

Barrett Williams was born in Wales on March 7, 1803, and was therefore sixty years old when he was present at the laying out of Boise. He and his two sons, Thomas and Richard, crossed the plains in 1861 and spent the following winter in Oregon. They first came to the site of Boise in May, 1862, but went on to the Boise Basin, discovered placer mines on Willow Creek and later on Dry Creek. After the City of Boise was started he built ten houses on Jefferson Street and for several years operated two sawmills in the mountains and died when nearly one hundred.

John McClellan drove an ox team from Dayton, Ore., to Idaho in the spring of 1863, arriving on the site of Bgise early in May, two months before the town was surveyed. There was at that time a large party of Bannock Indians encamped near the river, so Mr. McClellan went to what is now Owyhee County and engaged in mining. Not meeting with success, he went to Florence, where he took out about forty dollars a day for several weeks. Soon after Boise was laid out he took a claim of eighty acres adjoining the town and in the spring of 1864, with a partner named Thompson, he established a ferry across the Boise River about where Ninth Street now crosses that stream. They afterward built a toll bridge in the place of the ferry.

Christopher W. Moore came to Boise in the summer of 1863, when the city consisted of only a few log cabins, adobe houses and some tents. He was then about twenty-seven years old, having been born in Toronto, Canada, November 30, 1835. He had come to Northern Idaho the year before and from there went to Owyhee County, where he engaged in merchandising, being the first merchant in that county. In 1867 he assisted in organizing the First National Bank of Idaho at Boise, of which he was the first cashier and later president. His residence at Boise was the first house in the United States to be heated with natural hot water. He died in 1916.

Auren G. Redway came to Boise on July 10, 1863, when the city was only three days old, holding a commission as sutler at Fort Boise. He continued in that business for about five years, after which he was bookkeeper-and cashier of the First National Bank until he retired in 1896.

Frank R. Coffin, has been as thoroughly identified with building up Boise City as any man that ever made it his home, and deserves more than a passing reference. Born in Park City, Ind, in 1846, he learned while young the tinner's trade, in a manufacturing establishment owned by his father and thereby laid the foundation of his future business success. Mr. Coffin went to California in 1861 and early in 1862 came to what is now Idaho where he engaged in placer mining at Florence. In 1866 he came to Boise City and engaged in the hardware and tinware business, from which he retired in 1904, having acquired a comfortable competence and been associated with all the leading enterprises which had built up the city. Mr. Coffin has always kept in close touch with political matters and been an important factor in state and city affairs, although not an office seeker and was the first state treasurer. In 1905 he became president of the Boise City National Bank and has retained the position to the present time.

John Lemp, another of the old timers who materially assisted in building up the city, was born in Germany and come toBoise a few weeks after the town was started. In the spring of 1864 he built the first brewery in Southern Idaho and although starting on a small scale soon developed an extended business. Mr. Lemp took a keen interest in municipal matters, served as member of the city council for twenty years and was elected mayor of the city. He erected many of the business buildings of Boise and was one of the important factors in its development until his death a few years ago. His surviving children have kept his large estate together and continue to exercise a strong influence in civic matters.

Many others prominent in the early history of Boise deserve extended reference by reason of their efforts in its upbuilding, but lack of space forbids more than mention of the names of James A. Pinney, Hosea B. Eastman, David Falk, Nathan Falk, H. E. Prickett, James H. Bush, Bishop Tuttle, William Russell, Bishop A. J. Glorieux, M. H. Goodwin, M. B. Morris, H. C. Brantstetter, Ben Anderson, Lute Lindsay, B. Oldham, James H. Hart, John Broadbent, John G. Gray and Timothy Regan, whose names are all inseparably connected with the development of Boise.

To no one man is greater credit due for making Boise the center of the financial interests of Idaho, than to C. W. Moore, through whose efforts was formed the First National Bank in the late '60s, and who headed that great financial institution until his death in 1916, when his place was taken by his son Crawford Moore.

To Mr. Moore and the other great pioneer business men of Boise, Frank R. Coffin, the Falk Brothers, John Lemp, John Broadbent, Peter Sonna and others who like them expended their energies not only in the business of the moment then confronting them. but with the idea of benefiting those yet to come by paving the way for great future developments, is Boise indebted for its present prosperity.

But the one man to whose far-seeing mind Boise owes more than all others is William B. Morris, who originated the idea that the future of the city depended upon opening up the bench lands of the Boise Valley, and with his own means and at a time when the present improved machinery for such purposes was not obtainable, and when his ideas were scoffed at by most of the people, built the Ridenbaugh Canal, and made possible the real development of the Boise Valley. Followed by the New York, the Phyllis and other canals, it made homes in the close vicinity of Boise possible for thousands, and so assured the future of the city. It was these canals which made the waters of the Boise River available for irrigation purposes down the valley, gave an impetus to the agricultural development of the section immediately tributary to Boise, and changed the basis of the town's prosperity from the uncertain field of headquarters for the various mining camps in the vicinity to the more permanent field of agriculture, and so it was that the exhaustion of the rich placers of the Basin, while emptying the mining camps there of thousands of gold-seekers, and shrinking communities which once contained thousands of people to mere hamlets, had no particularly evil effect upon Boise.


For many years the best known hostelry in the intermountain regions was the Overland Hotel, at Boise. It was the building of this hotel in 1866 that made the corner of Eighth and Main streets the center of the little community, a position which it held until the tearing down of the old frame structure to make room for Boise's first large and modern office building, and the site still maintains a commanding position in the business district of the city. To the new–comer no adequate idea can ever be given of the place which the old Overland Hotel held in the hearts of the people of Idaho. It was a two-story frame structure, 100 feet front on Main Street, running back to the alley on Eighth Street, with a wide porch from the second story running all around the building and extending over the sidewalk. From this porch every public speaker of note in the early days at some time in his career addressed the citizens, and the Overland Hotel was not only the center of Boise, but became the center of all Idaho. "Meet me at the Overland" was the common expression when friends parted upon the streets or when someone from out of town would write that he was coming. (T he fame of the old hotel was not confined to Idaho, but was general throughout the intermountain and coast countries, as travelers by the old stage coaches that formed the connection between rail and steamboat transportation to the East and West, always loooked forward to the stop at the Overland in Boise as the traveler in the great desert longs for the first glimpse of the oasis which he is nearing.) Captain Griffen, the Eastman Brothers, Putnam & Childs and E. W. Johnson were its successive landlords, and each did his full share in the upbuilding of the city.

The old hotel building was razed in 1903, to make room for the large office building that succeeded it, but before its final destruction, Messrs. H. B. and M. H. Eastman, its proprietors, gave a notable banquet in the old diningroom to all the pioneers of southern Idaho that could be brought together, and proper ceremonies were had in commemoration of the occasion.

Overland Building


The first buildings erected, while the town was in the experimental stage, were of the crudest and most primitive character, some of them being mere brush shanties that afforded but meager protection against rough weather, but as time went on these flimsy structures gave place to others of a more substantial nature. Cyrus Jacobs, who was present when the town was platted, was on his way to Idaho City with a stock of goods, which he placed in the hands of H. C. Riggs and James Mullaney, "Agents for C. Jacobs & Company," a cheap building was erected and a store opened. This was the first mercantile concern.

A little later H. C. Riggs and James D. Agnew put up an adobe building on the northeast corner of Seventh and Main streets. It was used for a saloon and the firm of Riggs & Agnew also had a livery and feed stable in the rear of the saloon. This location was known for years as "Riggs' Corner." and was burned in 1879.

Cyrus Jacobs bought the first gold dust that was brought in from the mines in the Boise Basin. Two or three weeks after the Jacobs store was opened Du Rell & Moore brought a stock of goods and opened the second store. The first physician was a Doctor Holton, who was also the first justice of the peace. He had his office in a log cabin on the northwest corner of Eighth and Main streets, where the Overland Building now stands.

The first hotel was kept by Burns & Nordyke on the northwest corner of Main and Seventh streets, opposite Riggs & Agnew's place. The Central Hotel, located on the corner of Seventh and Idaho streets, came a little later. Other hotels followed, among them the Overland, on the northwest corner of Eighth and Main, where Doctor Holton's office was situated. Here the Overland stages arrived and departed and in its day the Overland Hotel was one of the best known hostelries in the Northwest. It was torn down a few years ago to make room for the modern office building, which bears the old, historic name of "Overland." With the paSsing of the Overland Hotel the last of the early houses of entertainment disappeared and sojourners in Boise are now accommodated by the Owyhee, Idanha, Bristol, Grand and other hotels equipped with modern conveniences unknown to the old time "Taverns."

Cyrus Jacobs, who was one of the most active business men among the pioneers, built the first flour mill and ground all the wheat raised in the surrounding country. He also established a packing house and cured large quantities of bacon, selling the products of his flour mill and packing house to the residents of Boise and the occupants of the mining camps. He also late in the '60s established the only distillery ever run in Idaho and run it for several years.

The first bank—the First National Bank of Idaho—was organized on March 11, 1867. with B. M. Du Rell, president, and Christopher W. Moore, cashier. A few days later the bank's advertisement appeared in the Idaho Statesman, announcing an authorized capital of $500,000. of which $100,000 was paid up, and correspondents in all the principal cities of the country. This bank has been in continuous existence since its organization.


On December 12, 1864 Governor Lyon approved an act of the Legislature incorporating Boise City. with the boundaries thus defined: "Commencing at a point one quarter of a mile east of the northeast corner of said town, on the line of the military reserve; thence westerly along said line one mile and a half; thence south one mile and one quarter; thence east two miles; thence north to the place of beginning."

The act also provided for a city election to be held on the first Monday in January of each year, at which a mayor, recorder, treasurer,marshal, assessor and five members of the common council should be chosen by the qualified voters. For some reason no municipal organization was effected under this act, the city dating its incorporation from January 11, 1866, when another act of the Legislature was approved by the governor. It seems, however, that the people were in no great haste to inaugurate their city government, as the municipal records show that the first mayor assumed the duties of the office on November 18, 1867. Following is a list of the mayors of the city, with the date when each entered upon his official duties and serving until his successor was elected and qualified:
H. E. Prickett, November 18, 1867; Thomas B. Hart, January 14, 1868; Charles Himrod, January 16, 1869; George H. Twitchell, July 12, 1870; John Lemp, March, 1874; Thomas E. Logan, March, 1876; Charles Himrod, March, 1878; Cyrus Jacobs, March, 1880; C. P. Bilderback, March, 1881 ; James A. Pinney, July 13, 1881; Solomon Hasbrouck, July 20, 1885; Joseph W. Huston, November 5, 1885; Peter J. Pefiey, July 13, 1887; James A. Pinney, July 11, 1889; Peter Sonna, July 15, 1893; Walter E. Pierce, July 10, 1895; Moses Alexander, July 15, 1897; J. H. Richards, July 12, 1899; Moses Alexander, July 13, 1901; James H. Hawley, July 18, 1903; James A. Pinney, July 15, 1905; John M. Haines, April 6, 1907; Joseph T. Pence, April 10, 1909; Harry K. Fritchman, April 8, 1911; Arthur Hodges, May 25, 1912; Jeremiah Robinson, April 15, 1915; S. H. Hays, June 5, 1916.

Boise was made the capital of the territory by the act of December 7, 1864. and an account of the litigation which followed is given in the chapters on Territorial History. Section 2, Article X, of the constitution adopted in 1889, provides that "The seat of government of the State of Idaho shall be located at Boise City for twenty years from the admission of the state, after which time the Legislature may provide for its relocation by submitting the question to a vote of the electors of the state at some general election." No change was ever made and the city is still the capital of the state.


The people of Boise early became interested in the subject of fire protection. In the Idaho Statesman of March 14, 1867, appeared the following:
"Special Notice: —Fire Company—There will be a meeting of the citizens of Boise City held at the courthouse on Friday evening at 7 o'clock for the purpose of organizing a hook and ladder company. A full attendance is desired."

The meeting was well attended and a volunteer company was formed, but its records appear to have been lost. As the city grew, the volunteers gradually gave way to a paid department, until in 1918 there were four fire stations— Central, Engine Company No. 2, and Chemical Companies No. 3 and No. 4, equipped with modern fire-fighting apparatus. Boise has always been justly proud of its firemen. and the fact that there has never been a fire but what has been confined to very narrow limits attests its efficiency.


Boise is well supplied for a city of its size with street car lines, practically all the suburbs of the city being connected with the business district and the lines being run by electric power.

An interurban system joining Boise, Nampa, Caldwell, Meridian, Star, Middleton, Eagle and Ustick, the principal towns of the Upper Boise Valley, in a "loop," has proved a great benefit to the entire valley and permits hourly communication with the main line of the Oregon Short Line Railroad. The building of this road lessened to a great extent the disagreeable features of the largest city of Idaho being on a branch railroad line and has greatly contributed to the advancement of the city.


Boise has the unique distinction of being the only city in the United States heated by natural hot water. The source of this supply is artesian wells situated northeasterly and less than a quarter of a mile from the city limits. The ground where the wells are dug is higher than the city and the water is carried in wooden pipes by gravity through the eastern section of the town and houses are heated from it. No growth accumulates in the water pipes as is usual with natural hot water so carried. The warmth of the water is well retained and the heat given out is sufficient to heat the houses using it in the unusually mild climate of BoiSe. The water is very soft and is eminently fitted for bathing and laundry purposes and over 300 residences are heated by this water.


One of the main assets of Boise is its climate. As before stated, the thermometer seldom shows in the short cold spells of winter lower than ten degrees above zero. The snow fall is very light and only sufficient for sleighing about once in every three years. Absence of wind also is a boon to the residents, the peculiar situation of Boise at the head of the valley saving the town from winds often prevailing in the adjoining sections. The fertility of the soil upon which the city is built adds much to the beauty of the city, in not only permitting shade trees of all varieties to freely grow, but enables a wealth of flowers to be raised, reminding one in that respect of the towns of Oregon and California.

The equable climate of Boise has made it the residence place of many of Idaho's citizens who have retired from actual business and the headquarters of stock men whose main interests lie in adjoining counties. These matters. added to the fact that it is official and political headquarters, and is the home town of an extended agricultural section, insures its future.


The greatest boon to Boise, but one which many at the time thought would prove her death knell, was the construction of the Oregon Short Line Railroad, as a link in the Union Pacific's transcontinental system. The road missed Boise by twenty miles, and this would probably have been the town's undoing had it not been for the construction in a very short time of the branch line connecting at Nampa.

It was at first thought that Caldwell would prove a rival for the commercial supremacy of Southern Idaho. Caldwell has grown and prospered, as have Nampa, Parma, Meridian, Emmett, and other thriving towns of the Boise Valley, but all have played an important part in the development of Boise, instead of proving rivals which would effect her undoing.

Boise has, since the building of the railroad, increased both her population and resources at a steady rate surpassing any other town between Salt Lake City and Portland, Ore., with the exception of Walla Walla, and with that thriving town, Boise has always kept abreast, and there is no rivalry between those towns. as each has its own purpose to serve.

One of the oldest school houses in Boise. Formerly located where Carnegie Library now stands.


The first school in Boise was taught by F. B. Smith in the winter of 1863-4, in a little log house, comer of Seventh and Idaho streets. This was a subscription school, each patron paying so much as tuition fee for each child sent to the school, which stood opposite the site of the old Central Hotel. There is a tradition that the first free school was taught in a small brick building on the corner of Eighth and Washington streets. It is certain that one of the first schoolhouses in the city was located on Washington Street between Eighth and Ninth, where the Carnegie Public Library now stands. It was afterward sold to a carriagemaker and used as a paint shop. As it was a one-story brick structure it may have been the schoolhouse referred to in the tradition as the home of the first free school.

In February, 1881, the Boise Independent School District was created by act of the Legislature. At that time the city was without a well–defined public school system. Under the new law a school board was elected and during the summer and fall the Central school building was erected. There were then only about two hundred children of school age in the city, and the board was severely criticized for "squandering" money to erect a building of sixteen rooms when a much smaller one would have been sufficient. The cost of the grounds, schoolhouse and furnishings was nearly fifty thousand dollars. With the completion of the new building the board engaged John W. Daniels, a graduate of Bates College of Lewiston, Maine, and a teacher of several years' experience, as superintendent of the city schools. Mr. Daniels immediately began the work of organizing the public schools. A few years demonstrated the wisdom of the school board in erecting a sixteen–room building. In 1894 more room was needed and the Whittier School, at the corner of Twelfth and Fort streets, was erected. Two years later the Lincoln School, at the corner of Fourth and Idaho streets, was built.

The Boise Independent District now has eleven school buildings, the estimated value of which is nearly one million dollars, and the people of the city are justly proud of their new high school building, which has been pronounced by educators as one of the best appointed in the entire West. Over four thousand pupils are enrolled and during the school year of 1917–18 there were employed 135 teachers.

In addition to the public schools, the Episcopal Church maintains St. Margaret's Hall, a school for girls; St. Teresa's Academy and St. Joseph's School are catholic institutions for girls and boys respectively, and Boise has a commercial college that compares favorably with similar institutions in much larger cities.


The Boise Commercial Club was first organized as the Chamber of Commerce in the spring of 1901. It was reorganized some five years later and on February 12, 1906, it was incorporated as the "Boise Commercial Club" with the following as the first board of directors: C. B. Hurtt, J. E. Clinton, Jr., Leo J. Falk, C. R. Shaw, L. G. Chapman, A. E. Carlson, L. A. Coate, W. T. Booth, William Davidson and C. J. Northrop. Since then the board of directors has been increased to twenty-one members, seven of whom are elected from the membership at large and the other fourteen from members engaged in the various lines of business—one representing the jobbing interests, one the dry goods and department stores, one the hotels and restaurants, one the manufacturing and mining interests, etc.

The officers of the club for 1918 were: Charles L. Joy, president; Karl Paine, vice president; B. E. Hyatt, secretary; W. J. Abbs, treasurer; George B. Graff, secretary of the traffic department.

The club has been active in advertising the advantages of the city and in bringing conventions to Boise and entertaining the delegates while in the city. In the summer of 1918 a suitable tract of ground was obtained in the southeastern part of the city and fitted up as a camping ground for automobile tourists. A kitchen twenty-four feet square was built, equipped with electric cooking plates, water service was installed, sinks and tables provided and sewer connections made. In this work the Commercial Club was aided by the city council, school board, the Rotary Club and a number of public-spirited business men. In the club bulletin published in the Boise newspapers of July 14, 1918, was the following:
"The idea is to extend to persons traveling through our country every courtesy possible. This is one of the best and most substantial ways to show tourists that we are not unmindful of their presence, but on the other hand that we appreciate their visit and are earnest in our efforts to provide for their comfort and welfare while they remain with us. Who knows how many may remain; how many may return, or how many may come to us and become citizens, just because some one who has shared our hospitality, saw our country, liked it and said a good word about Boise Valley to someone looking for a better place to build a home ?"

This is only a single instance of the club's activity in its endeavors to promote the material interests of Boise and its environs. The club occupies handsome and commodious quarters on the top floor of the Boise City National Bank Building, fitted up with reading, billiard and assembly rooms, and practically every progressive business or professional man of Boise is a member of the Commercial Club.


The City of Boise is well supplied with water—both hot and cold—the greater part of the supply coming from artesian wells located in the foothills near the eastern outskirts of the city, though some water is taken from the Boise River, filtered through a natural filter of sand and gravel intolarge wells or reservoirs, whence it is pumped into the mains. The waterworks system represents an outlay of about half a million dollars. C. W. Moore, the first cashier of the First National Bank, was one of the organizers of the Artesian Hot and Cold Water Company and was for years its president. His residence was the first house in the United States to be heated by natural hot water, though there are now a large number of buildings in the city heated by this method.

The Hot and Cold Water Company built the famous natatorium in the eastern part of the city, which is supplied with water having a temperature of 172° Fahrenheit when it emerges from the three artesian wells, which are 400 feet deep and supply 1,300,000 gallons of water every twenty-four hours. The natatorium is a three-story building, of Moorish architecture, and with every comfort and convenience necessary in such establishments. It contains a swimming pool 70 by 120 feet, the depth varying from two to sixteen feet, 130 dressing rooms, including tub and steam baths, and on the third floor is a gymnasium. Connected with the natatorium is an amusement park called the " White City," which furnishes various forms of popular entertainments for visitors. The property is valued at $225,000.

The plant of the Boise Gas Company was installed at a cost of nearly half a million dollars and has a storage capacity of 150,000 cubic feet. Many families of Boise use gas exclusively for cooking, coal and wood-burning stoves and ranges being rarely seen.

Electric light and power are furnished by the Idaho Power Company, which operates a number of hydro–electric plants in the state. It also furnishes power for the Boise street railway and the electric line to Caldwell, and supplies light and power to a number of towns and cities.


For twenty years after Boise was incorporated all goods were brought in by freight wagons and passengers traveled by stage. The first Overland stage arrived in Boise on August 11, 1864. In 1886 the city was connected by a branch railroad with the main line of the Oregon Short Line railway system at Nampa, an event which proved to be of great advantage, adding to the city's population and wealth.

In 1915 Boise reported an investment of $674000 in manufacturing enterprises which gave employment to 473 persons. These establishments included brickyards, stone quarries, creameries, foundries and machine shops, packing houses, ice factories, candy and cigar factories, etc. Other products manufactured in the city were canned goods, trunks, brooms, cement pipe. mattresses, tents and awnings, harness, shirt waists and soap. Five miles above the city and connected with it is the sawmill of the Boise–Payette Lumber Company which employs about four hundred men in the mill, besides an equal force necessary to operate the railroad of the company to the timber regions in Boise County and those employed in Boise County in various capacities. Two ten–hour shifts at work at this mill produce 700,000 feet of lumber.

All of the leading religious denominations are represented by church organizations, many of which own handsome edifices. Likewise the well known fraterna1 societies are represented by lodges, the Masons, Odd Fellows and Elks owning buildings which are devoted to the purposes of the fraternities and which are unusually good for a city of Boise's size. The Elks' building, completed in 1914, was erected and furnished at a cost, aside from the ground upon which it is located, of $117,000. The Young Men's Christian Association and the Young Women's Christian Association both have flourishing organizations. The Young Men's Christian Association commenced preparations in March, 1919, to erect a new building for the purposes of the association, and the citizens of Boise subscribed therefor the sum of $165,200. The social and club life of the city is further represented by the Rotary Club, the Gun Club, the Golf Club, the Country' Club and a number of other organizations of that kind.

Visitors to Boise are frequently heard to comment upon the clean, well-kept streets, the handsome shade trees and the comfortable homes of the city. Boise has a modern sewer system connecting with the Boise River about three miles below the city limits, and so built as to accommodate every lot in that portion of the city north of the Boise River. There are many miles of cement walks and the principal streets are substantially paved. The United States Land Office, the Federal Court, the State Penitentiary and the Soldiers' Home are all points of interest within the city limits and the great Arrowrock Dam, twenty-five miles up the Boise River from the city is one of the show places of the West. The population of Boise is estimated at between 25,000 and 30,000 and it is universally conceded that it is the "biggest little city" in the West. A very serious mistake made by those in charge of the city government in the past is the fact that sufficient parks have not been provided. This is a situation, however, that will probably be remedied in the near future. There are several very small parks in different parts of the city and the grounds of the Capitol Building, the County Building, the United States Assay Office and the Natatorium answer the purpose of parks to a certain extent. The Julia Davis Park, situated along the north bank of the Boise River and extending from Eighth Street bridge to Broadway bridge and containing forty acres, was a present to the city from the late Thomas J. Davis in memory of his deceased wife, Julia Davis, and the city authorities since this donation have spent considerable money in improving it so that it is becoming the real beauty spot of Boise.

A short distance above the Julia Davis Park a tourists' camping ground has been established, where automobile travelers can find comfortable camping places with all necessary conveniences furnished without cost.


In the long ago, when Boise was young, and railroads in Idaho were undreamed of, to the passenger on the stagecoach, who had traveled hundreds of miles over the waterless sage plains through which the road from Salt Lake City found its way, reaching the hills a few miles east of Boise, and looking down upon the beautiful Boise Valley, with the city at the head, a mass of foliage and verdure, it looked the most beautiful spot on earth. "Boise the beautiful" became a familiar word throughout the Northwest, and to the traveler there it was as veritable an oasis and as desirable to reach, as are the few green and watered resting places in the great Sahara Desert.

It was soon ascertained that any variety of shade tree that would grow any public improvements, and parks and public property. The mayor by virtue of his office is made commissioner of public affairs, and the others are assigned by majority vote to the several commissionerships. The mayor under this system is paid from $300.00 to $3,000.00 per annum according to population and the other commissioners $150.00 to $2,000.00. Boise, the capital city, is under the commission form of government.

The statutes also provide for the city manager plan of city government for cities with a population of over 2,500, but this plan has not as yet been tried out so as to determine its availability.

Source: The History of Idaho, The Gem of the Mountain, by James H. Hawley, Volume I, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1920:

"History of Idaho" at and Google Books

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