How A Visit To Boise In 1937 Impacted President Roosevelt

May 11, 2016

If you haven’t heard of FDR’s hour-and-a-half stop in Boise on September 27, 1937, you probably aren’t alone. It was the first and only time he visited the city.


Almost 80 years later, there’s a local effort to have the visit formally commemorated. 

The president and his wife arrived by train that morning after a stop in Pocatello the night before and would go on from Boise to dedicate the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. But before they did, they got in an open-roof motorcade and cruised the streets of Boise. 

David Klinger says this short visit to the city deserves more attention. Klinger is retired and lives in the Northend, one of the neighborhoods FDR drove through. 

“And for close to ninety minutes," says Klinger, "that’s all they did was just simply admire this city, its neighborhoods, its trees – of course Roosevelt was a big forester and tree farmer so he had a particular appreciation for the character of these neighborhoods.” 

It was a Monday, and kids were allowed out of schools to wave as the president crisscrossed through the north and east ends, and up to the Bench. He gave a short and impromptu speech downtown, which Klinger calls a love letter to the city. In it, FDR said he would always remember his visit, and reflected on Boise’s trees and the children he saw from his car. Then he got back on the train and headed west. 

“We think it’s important that these heartfelt remarks, this love letter by Franklin Roosevelt, resonate in places in this city where people will see them.” 

Klinger wants Boise to celebrate FDR’s visit with a public memorial of some kind, in time for the 80th anniversary in 2017. He’s interested in finding out if anybody has pictures of the visit hidden in family photo albums. Klinger is also trying to locate a recording of FDR's speech. 

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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