Boise
Pop. 185,787

Boise, meaning “wooded” in French, serves as the State Capital and is frequently referred to as the “City of Trees.” The forested area brought much relief to the French-Canadian trappers who were weary of walking over the territory’s treeless, sage-filled plains. Although there were visitors to this area as early as 1811, the region wasn’t officially named until approximately 1824.

Between 1854 and 1860, several members of Oregon Trail wagon trains were massacred on their journey west. After the occurence of the Ward and Otter party massacres, General George Wright recommended that the U.S. Army build a fort in the region as protection. In 1863 his request was put in motion by the pinpointing of the fort’s exact location. Shortly thereafter, a handful of men from the area gathered together and decided upon the location for the city of Boise. They mapped out the townsite and set to work donating choice lots to prospective businessmen, thereby attracting many new settlers to the city. After starting as a supply center for the farmers and miners, Boise continued as the hub for commercial and cultural activities in southwestern Idaho.

In 1863, one year after the gold rush reached the territory, Boise was officially founded and swiped the State’s capital title from Lewiston. The capital building was erected in 1879 with local sandstone. Additionally, some of the 400 buildings built during the first 5 years of the city’s life can still be seen today in Old Boise and Warm Springs. In the early years, engineers also devised irrigation canals and an extensive geothermal heating system using the water from the local hot springs on the east end of town. It was the world’s first heating system of its kind.

In 1887, the Oregon Short Line Railroad branched in from Nampa and provided a much needed outlet for the increasing amount of produce emerging from the Boise area. By 1910 the Diversion Dam and the New York Canal were completed, and the county was populated by nearly 11,500 farmers and included roughly 1,500 acres of irrigated land. After World War II, Boise’s population grew with the addition of two Air Force training bases.

Today, Boise is a well-rounded, down-to-earth city providing an array of cultural events and recreational activities. Hikers, mountain bikers, and skiers flock to the hills; rafters, fishermen and inner-tubers float down the river through town; and the local townspeople stroll the streets on summer evenings. Recognized as early as 1963 as a metropolitan community, Boise proclaims itself as a very safe city with a low crime rate and friendly folks all around. The state capital city serves as Idaho’s professional, business, financial, and transportation center and now includes nearly 15% of the entire state’s population.

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