Idaho History

Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Archives

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. 

National Life Group

Wallace, Idaho was once one of the largest and most prosperous towns in the state. Situated beside Interstate 90 west of Coeur d'Alene and less than 100 miles from the Canadian border, the old mining town boomed around the turn of the 20th century. At its height, Wallace miners produced the most silver in the country, earning it the nickname "Silver Capital of the World."

Wikimedia Commons

Members of Boise State’s Osher Institute Tuesday heard lectures linking Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch-hunts of the 1950s to Idaho. History writer Marc Johnson connected the dots between McCarthy and two Idaho elections.

AP

Anyone who knows 20th century American history knows about Senator Joseph McCarthy and his hunt for Communists in the U.S. And anyone who knows about Idaho history and politics knows about Democratic Senator Frank Church. But what you may not know is that McCarthy's fall contributed to Church's rise.

That’s the theory Marc Johnson is presenting during two lectures Tuesday at Boise State’s Osher Institute. Johnson is a former journalist, adviser to Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus and a long-time behind-the-scenes political player. Now he writes about Idaho and U.S. history.

Henry Whiting II

Nestled in the Hagerman Valley sits the only structure in Idaho designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Known as Teater’s Knoll, this artist retreat was built in 1952.

L.J. Krumenacker

New research shows that horse-sized, T-Rex-like dinosaurs roamed southern Idaho 100 million years ago. This discovery shows Idaho was home to more types of dinosaurs than previously thought.

Paleontologist L.J. Krumenacker has been digging up dinosaurs in Idaho for more than a decade. But in the past, scientists have mostly found small burrowing dinosaurs.

Working with a team of Montana State University paleontologists, Krumenacker found the teeth and small bones of three types of theropods, the family of animals that includes Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Leah Acevez / College of Western Idaho

Students at the College of Western Idaho are entering the next phase of their project of documenting rock art in the Snake River Basin outside of Melba. The Anthropology Club is going from the field to cyberspace to bring petroglyphs to researchers around the world.

Idaho State Historical Society

When you think of Boise, what names come to mind? That’s the question two local historians asked themselves as they wrote a book about Boise's highest profile people.

J.R. Simplot, Julia Davis, Joe Albertson, Curtis Stigers and Kristin Armstrong are just some of those profiled in the new book, “Legendary Locals of Boise.”

Historians Elizabeth Jacox and Barbara Perry Bauer own TAG Historical Research and Consulting. Jacox says their book covers a wide variety of people.

Friends and family of Idaho folksinger Rosalie Sorrels are raising money for a tribute album to honor her work as a musician.

“This album will be a tribute to her and her long career in folk music,” says Rick Ardinger, the Director of the Idaho Humanities Council and friend of Sorrels.

Sorrels spent more than six decades keeping folk music alive. Ardinger says he first saw her perform in the 1970s when he was a student at Idaho State University and she played in a coffeehouse.

Randy Craig / Idaho Fish and Game

Idaho’s largest fire this year burned 279,144 acres in the southwest corner of the state. That figure is from a list released over the weekend that details the Soda Fire’s impacts. The list has numbers on nearly 30 items, including 592 miles of fences burned and 68 golden eagle nests destroyed. It also says 16 cultural sites eligible for the National Register of Historic Places were burned.

Idaho State Historical Society

The University of Idaho is set to open its new law center at the renovated Old Ada County Courthouse later this summer. But university officials want to cover up a controversial mural depicting the hanging of a Native American by white settlers. Historians, though, don't want that to happen. 

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Frank Eld has made saving historic buildings his life’s work; he started after college in 1969. The historian and preservationist founded the Long Valley Preservation Society, a non-profit group that has saved much of the tiny town of Roseberry in Valley County.

If all goes according to plan, Eld will get to watch a house in Boise's Central Addition move from downtown to an empty lot on the East End Tuesday at midnight.

The Idaho Statesman

Hay fields, vegetable gardens, and slot machines: There are several milestones that mark the timeline of tiny Garden City. This four mile burg, surrounded by much larger cities like Boise, has had a stop-and-start history.

The early history of Garden City is hard to come by. We do know the land caught the eye of the U.S. Army in 1863; Idaho historian Susan Stacy says that’s when soldiers came to the Treasure Valley to build Fort Boise. And with the Army came hungry horses.

Allie Goeckner and April Mantha / College of Western Idaho

Petroglyphs found outside of Melba in Southern Idaho have been around for thousands of years, but these symbols carved into solid rock are fading. Erosion and vandalism have put these pieces of history in jeopardy. Now a student club from the College of Western Idaho is working to preserve them.

stonebraker
University of Idaho Library

William Allen Stonebraker worked and played in the rugged central Idaho wilderness at the turn of the 20th century and he's left behind a unique legacy of photographs to tell his story. That photo collection has just been released by the University of Idaho Library.

Canyon County Historical Society

In 1885, southwestern Idaho's Nampa was just a water tower and a few shacks, but that quickly changed when the railroad came to town. A new book by historian Larry Cain examines the railroad's impact on Nampa, and how the city has changed.

Cain says the trains, and their cargo, are a big reason why Nampa thrived in the early part of the last century.

Friends of the Bishop's House

A house that was once home to Episcopal Bishops and nurses, and was saved from demolition is celebrating its 125th year.

The Bishop’s House was built in 1889 and is one of Boise's oldest continuously-used buildings. It was remodeled 10 years later by well-known Idaho architect John Tourtellotte. He added several rooms, a three-story tower and a wrap-around porch which helped create the unique silhouette of the home.  

Courtesy Idaho State Historical Society

A new collection of vintage photographs is highlighting Idaho's historic old penitentiary which was home to bank robbers, assassins, horse thieves and moonshiners for more than 100 years. The fortress-like Old Pen has long been a staple in east Boise, and it's now a place for tourists instead of criminals.

historic photo, Cottonwood creek
Idaho Statesman, Boise Public Library

Since the devastating landslide hit the town of Oso, Wash. last month, people who live near hill slopes or mountainsides have been asking if something similar could happen to them. Though Boise has not seen the tragic loss of life the Oso slide brought, the city is no stranger to floods and mudslides near its foothills.

The Idaho Statesman / The Idaho Statesman/Boise Public Library

It was August, 1959. Boise was having one of its typical hot, dry summers. A fire had just burned 9,000 acres in the nearby foothills. Then on August 20, a huge storm system dumped heavy rain on the Treasure Valley. One inch of rain fell in an hour on the burn scar. 

The water overwhelmed the hills and washed away tons of topsoil. A Forest Service video made several years after the event, tells the story.

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