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Oregon Short Line Depot, Boise.

Published by the .Boise Commercial Club


United States Assay Office, Boise.

1" 76


T is the intent of this booklet to present by picture and by written word the
advantages offered the Homeseeker by the City of Boise, Idaho, and the region
tributary thereto. Its publication is actuated by no desire to nourish the pride
of those who already live there, but to unfold for the world and especially
for that large part of the world dissatisfied with its present environments and
seeking a new and better place to live such a plain, straightforward recital of
the conditions in and about Boise as will recommend it to the favorable consideration of the
prospective settler.

The time has been when the literature exploiting various communities was made
up largely of exaggerations. Times have changed, however, and without saying anything
of the truthfulness of other such publications, let it be known that the statements of this
particular booklet are in scrupulous conformity with facts. That we set forth the best
of this glorious land we do not deny. But never is the desire to make a good showing per-
mitted to lead us into enlargements upon the truth. Indeed, there is no temptation to
exaggeration. Difficult enough it is to convince the skeptical of the truth without making the
matter worse by an indulgence in falsehood.

Read the following pages then, Mr. Homeseeker, believing that what they contain in
statement and in illustration is true, and that they contain a message for you a message that
is an invitation and an appeal to come, behold and partake of the abundant opportunities that
exist in and about the beautiful city of Boise, Idaho.

For details not given in this booklet, address " Boise Commercial Club, Boise, Idaho."

Boise is surrounded by a country of great fertility and remarkable possibilities.

ranch near the city.

This view shows a fine Holstein dairy

A band of thoroughbred sheep near Boise.

Lake in Pierce Park, Boise.


A Bit of History

Southern Idaho.
was established.

HE birth of Boise was coincident with the
historic gold rush of 1862, when it was
told with bated breath that the yellow
metal, in quantities exceeding the wild-
est dreams of the prospector, had been
found in the mountain fastnesses of
Idaho City, about 36 miles from Boise,
and in 1864, only two years later,
had a voting population of 16,000. In eight years the camp
produced approximately $2(10,000.000.00 in placer gold. In
1863 Port Boise was established on the Boise River, and in
the same year Boise City was laid out on the plain between
the fort and the river. In 1890, when Idaho was admitted
to the Union. Boise, then with a population of 3,000, was
made the capital of the State, and attained, thereby, some
degree of public attention. The early years of its existence

were full of the uncertainties and the struggles that char-
acterize the development of every community in a new
land. But, surmounting all obstacles, full of faith in the
future, believing in themselves and in the glorious region
which had been given them as a rich heritage, these sturdy
pioneers builded and builded well the firm foundation of
the present fair city of Boise and the far fairer city of the
future. Upon these foundations is building a city of mag-
nificent proportions, of such beauty and such evident
prosperity that those who look back to the struggling set-
tlement of 45 years ago can hardly believe that the Boise
of 1863 and of 1908 are one and the same.

This growth, marvelous as it has been, is not the in-
flated product of any boom or transient conditions, but
is the logical, inevitable result of conditions that are as
stable as the earth itself.

Page 8


The Secret of a City's Greatness

HE secret of why a city is great is, con-
tradictorily, no secret at all, but the
working out of natural laws. Generally
speaking, a city is great because, by rea-
son of its location, it is the natural mar-
ket and distributing point for a region
of great productivity. As this tributory
region develops, so the city will develop.

Business Buildings, Boise.

Other factors may enter in, as railroads, harbors, etc., but
in nine cases out of ten a city grows as the country behind
it grows.

The question arises, then, What is the country behind
Boise? And it is a pleasure to answer that question. A
glance at the map will show that Boise is the unchallenged
industrial nucleus and distributing center for a vast ter-
ritory, bounded, roughly, by the eastern and southern
boundaries of the state, reaching up into the "pan handle"
on the north and far into Eastern Oregon on the west.
This immense territory, nearly 400,000 square miles of
potential wealth, is not excelled by any area of equal size
in America. Over the wide realm Boise reigns supreme.
Of course, there are many other thriving communities,
towns that will themselves grow to cities as large as
Boise is now; but Boise's place as capital and metropolis
is too secure to permit the question of competition ever
to arise.

Southern Idaho

I T THI<:R\ IDAHO is a rectangular sec-
tion of country about the size and shape
of the state of Kansas. It is bounded by
high and rugged mountain chains, which
store its water supply and hold it well
into the Summer season. The Snake
River rises at the northeast corner of
this rectangle, flows southwesterly for
about 200 miles, turns sharply to the west at American
Falls, and after following that course for about 150 miles,
it turns northwesterly and leaves the Southern Idaho rec-
tangle at its northwest corner. The mountain boundaries
of this section are of granite formation. During the ages

Street scenes, Boise, showing the Idaho Trust and Savings Bank building on the left, and the Sonna building on the right.

of the formation of the valley a series of volcanic craters
located along its northern boundary sent forth streams
of lava, which flowed across it to the southwest. Suc-
cessive eruptions followed, at periods of ages, and be-
tween each there was formed a layer of soil and dis-

integrated rock. Since the last overflow the glacial period
has come and gone, and the upper and lower ends of the
valley are seared with deep gashes cut by the glaciers, and
great moraines of sand and gravel have been left on the
surface of the plain. After this period various upheavals

A Boise Valley Ranch.

Pear Orchard near Boise.

Page 12


of the earth have thrown up along the borders high ranges
of lava mountains and across the center, where is now
the great canyon of the Snake River, there is a mighty
crack, through the bottom of which now the Snake River
rushes and writhes and falls over many precipices, form-
ing some of the most magnificent waterfalls and rapids
in the world.

The center of this valley is volcanic ash, mixed with
disintegrated lava, and the sand and gravel of the glacial
moraines. The lowest point in the valley in Southern
Idaho is 2,100 feet, and the highest point some 7,000 feet.
The Snake River, with its tributaries, gives the greatest
water supply for irrigation of any other equal area in
the world.

It is due to this fact that at the present time there are
here in course of construction more irrigation projects
than any other locality can boast, and all of them are
meritorious because there is water for all and to spare.
Southern Idaho has now practically 3,000,000 acres of
these rich lands under water, which will mean an area
with a productivity inferior to no state in the Union. This
fact also suggests something of the opportunity that
Southern Idaho offers the Homeseeker who is alive to the
situation. It is the successful farmer who has appreciated
such conditions in the past and made the most of them.
While Idaho does not present the same opportunity that it
did to the pioneer years ago, the opportunity of today is,
nevertheless, most attractive and, in many respects, greater
than that of the past. The newcomer today has the exper-
ience and work of the past to guide him, and when the de-
velopments in irrigation are considered, his opportunities
are almost infinitely greater than were those of the pioneer
who blazed the way for the homeseeker of today.

The Boise Valley

HE headwaters of the North Fork of the
Boise River are in Boise County, toward
the center of the state; those of the
South Fork in Elmore County. United,
the augmented current flows westward
to its confluence with the Snake. Be-
fore it empties into that tortuous stream,
the Boise checks its headlong course to
traverse more leisurely the beautiful valley to which it
gives its name.

For a quarter of a century and more this valley, with
land of the highest degree of fertility, has been under
successful cultivation. The early settlers, individually,
or by twos and threes, constructed headgates and
canals, diverting the waters of the river to irrigate their
farms. The results have been phenomenal, almost pass-
ing belief. Such crops as the new settlers had never
dreamed of were produced with unfailing regularity. All
of the elements seemed to have conspired to produce condi-
tions most favorable to plant life. Nearly all the products
of the temperate zone grow abundantly: the cereals, ex-
cepting corn; grasses, especially timothy, clover and al-
falfa; fruits, to a degree of success hardly attained ex-
cept in the few most famed districts of the Northwest;
small fruits and berries; potatoes and garden vegetables;
and, last, but far from least, sugar beets.

The development of stock-raising followed close upon
agriculture and horticulture. Sheep and cattle were
brought down from the great public ranges to be finished
on the succulent grasses of the meadow bottoms. The
dairy cow was introduced and milk in increased volume

Forest near Boise,

Page 14


and richness was the result. It was found possible to fit
hogs for market on alfalfa without a kernel of grain.
Pine horses were bred. Poultry was raised to excellent

In a word, it was found that anything that could be
done with land elsewhere could be done equally well in
the Boise Valley and many things a great deal better.
Today the valley is a highly developed agricultural region,
but it has by no means reached its highest degree of pro-

Residence of U. S. Senator W. E. Borah, Boise.

ductivity. Until the last few years general farming has
been practiced, but now it is becoming evident that the
land is too valuable for ordinary crops. So the large
ranches are being broken up into units of ten and twenty
acres, where intensified agriculture is practiced. As a
result, the population of the valley has increased wonder-
fully, and, as the movement continues, it is bound to be
doubled and trebled.

Indications point to the fact that the movement west-
ward will be accentuated during the next few years, and
with the increase in population land values will corre-
spondingly increase. It is certain that to the farmer of the
East or Middle West, dissatisfied with climatic and other
hard conditions, there will never come a greater opportu-
nity than is to be found today in the West, and especially
in this section. "Tomorrow" land values may be doubt-
less will be higher, and land more difficult to secure. The
time is NOW to go westward, and the wise man will care-
fully balance conditions before making a final choice. The
region tributary to Boise confidently puts forward its
claims because of the facts just set forth.

Later on, in this publication, the various crops and in-
dustries mentioned above will be taken up specifically
and given detailed discussion. Here the intent has been
only to produce a comprehensive outline of the conditions
in the Boise Valley directly contributary to Boise.

At the head of the Valley, nestled up against the great
hills that gird its northern boundary, is the city, capital
of the state of Idaho, seat of Ada County, metropolis of
a vast realm of incalculable potential wealth, the home of
28,000 healthy, prosperous and progressive people, proud
of their city and its place in the development of the great
Northwest, and confident of the greatness of its future.


Page 15


EYOND question, the greatest factor in
the development of the region tributary
to Boise is Irrigation. Indeed, there is
small doubt that it is the largest factor
in the development of the United States
today. To one who has lived or trav-
eled much in that vast region between
the Cascades and the Missouri-Missis-
sippi Valley, Irrigation presents nothing that is new or
strange. But to the Easterner, or the inhabitant of the
Middle West, there is much in it that is novel, if not a
little mysterious. On any one of the great transcon-
tinental lines the traveler crossing the great American
Desert beholds vast stretches of arid land, producing noth-
ing but sage brush, supporting no life but the coyote
and the buzzard. Not unnaturally he concludes that this
seeming sterility is due to a lack of fertile quality in
the soil. On the contrary, the soil is the most fertile in
the world. All that is needed to make it spring into
luxuriant vegetation is water. Sage brush thrives merely
because Nature, abhorring waste, has fashioned the sage
with the least possible leaf surface, therefore losing
the least possible moisture by evaporation to thrive in
a land where the rainfall is next to nothing. The absence
of adequate rainfall is due to the fact that the great
moisture-bearing clouds, swept eastward from the Pacific
Ocean, and coming into contact with the mountains, am
arried upward and mado to precipitate their moisture
by the increased altitude. Thus the thirsty regions lying
east of the mountains are robbed of their due proportion
of rainfall and are left arid.

Prom before the dawn of history man has under-
stood and applied the principles of irrigation. In the
valleys of the Ganges, the Euphrates, the Nile, centers
of the first great civilizations, extensive systems of
artificial watering were carried on. In South and Central
America and Mexico irrigation was practiced, and in
Arizona evidences of systems for artificial watering of
considerable magnitude have been discovered. So, in-
stead of being an experiment, it is, so far as its antiquity

Postoffice, Boise.

Page 16


is concerned, about as far from it as anything that can
be conceived of.

It is but of comparatively recent years that any con-
siderable attention has been given to irrigation in the
United States, and still more recently has it been taken
up by the United States Government. But with the occu-
pancy of practically all the humid lands, and the success-
ful application of irrigation by private enterprise, public
attention has been won, capital interested, legislation en-
acted, until now millions of acres have been seized back

Pressed Brick Plant near Boise.

from the desert, millions upon millions of capital invested
and homes provided for a million people. And this is
but the beginning. In every direction the "ditch" of the
irrigator is extending its potent arm and reaching out
tiny life-giving fingers to reclaim the soil from the desert.
The extent to which irrigation may be carried is limited
only by the available water supply. And there is no say-
ing how far, when the need arises, the engineering skill
or the mechanical daring of man will go toward over-
coming the obstacles that Nature has interposed.

Irrigation in Idaho

the State of Idaho irrigation is of pecu-
liar significance. This great common-
wealth is practically all arid or semi-arid.
On the other hand, by reason of her great
available water supply, and the topo-
graphical conditions that prevail, Idaho
provides an exceptional field for the ef-
fectuation of great irrigation undertak-
ings. The Federal Government has taken up the work,
and has launched reclamation enterprises of tremendous
magnitude, and has passed laws making it possible for
individuals or corporations to enter upon like enterprises.

In Southern Idaho alone, at the beginning of the
present year, 2,931,753 acres were under canals, and over
half that amount actually irrigated. There were 8,876
miles of canals constructed at a cost of $19,907,721.00.
And since that time projects involving hundreds upon
hundreds of tliousas'ds of acres more have been launched,
until the sum total simply staggers the imagination. More

Placer Mining in the Boise Basin.

Page 18


money has been spent in Idaho for reclamation purposes
than in any other state in the Union.

Mention has been made of federal legislation affecting
irrigation. By far the most important of these statutes
and one representing the greatest possible benefit to cap-
italist and investor alike is the "Carey Act."

The Carey Act

EDUCED to its lowest terms, this wise
and beneficent statute provides that, a
certain tract of Government land hav-
ing been determined upon as suitable
for reclamation, the corporation desir-
ing to construct irrigation works there-
on, for the purpose of reclaiming the
land under the act, files with the State
Board of Land Commissioners its application, together
with its proposal for constructing the works and all other
details as to source of water, estimate of cost of construc-
tion, terms of water rental, etc. These plans accepted by
the State Board, application is made to the Secretary of
the Interior for a segregation of the lands embraced in
the application and an adequate bond having been given,
with the final approval of the Secretary of State, the
project is authorized. The law contains further clauses
affecting the terms of sale, insuring the immediate settle-
ment and cultivation of the land, and providing an effec-
tual preventive against the speculative holding of large
tracts of land.

The stimulative effect of this enactment was immedi-
ately felt, and no state has profited so greatly as Idaho.
Already the million acres, the maximum extent to which

any one state may segregate lands under the Carey Act,
has been exhausted. The last session of Congress allot-
ted another million acres of Carey lands to Idaho.

Conspicuous among the various projects benefiting by
the Carey Act is the Twin Palls project, on the Snake
River, in Southern Idaho the largest and most success-
ful enterprise of its kind in the world. The development
of the north and south banks of the river represents a
segregation of 425,000 acres, over half of which has been
settled and over three-fourths sold. The Salmon River
and Wood River projects and others bring the total acre-
age involved up to nearly the original million.

Although this immense development is only indirectly
tributary to Boise, yet there is no denying the fact that
the city does profit tremendously by the wonderful ex-
pansion and upbuilding of the country to the south of her
confines. "Whatever helps Idaho helps Boise" is a truism.

The Payette-Boise Project

N addition to irrigation by private enter-
prise and irrigation operations under the
Carey Act, the U. S. Government, fully
appreciating the tremendous value to the
Nation of such undertakings, has direct-
ly engaged in irrigating enterprises, has
already appropriated over $30,000,000.00
for this purpose, and is preparing to ex-
pend as much more in this most profitable form of invest-
ment. In Idaho the two great government projects are the
Minidoka project, involving 130,000 to 150,000 acres, and.
of vital and incalculable importance to Boise, the Payette-
Boise project, with an irrigable area of 372,000 acres, and

Scene on the Boise River.

Page SO


every acre directly or indirectly tributary to Boise. Of
this the "South Side Division" of 130,000 acres is prac-
tically completed, this area being largely the wide bench
lands of mesas adjacent to, or a part of, the Boise Valley.
The source of the water supply is the Boise River, the dis-
charge being regulated by storage works at the head-
waters of the canals. Just completed also is the great res-
ervoir in the Boise Valley, with an area of 9,000 acres,
which will impound water sufficient to irrigate 120,000
acres of land.

Odd Felloivs' Temple, Boise.

These enterprises are so vast and the figures involved
of such magnitude that to add to them would be but tq
produce confusion in the mind of the reader. Prom these
statements, however, some comprehension may be gained
of the immensity of the irrigation projects in Idaho, and
especially in the region that looks to Boise as its indus-
trial center, market place, and distributing point.

The Practice of Irrigation

N operation, irrigation is simplicity itself.
The water is conveyed, first, in great
canals, then in laterals and further sub-
divisions to the irrigable lands. Along
the upper boundary of each field runs
the ditch or flume controlled by gates,
and from it extend transverse furrows
reaching every part of the field. When-
ever moisture is needed, the irrigator opens his gate and
permits the water to pour down the furrows, controlling
its flow by temporary gates or dams.

The immeasurable advantage that he possesses over
the farmer dependent upon rainfall is immediately evi-
dent. Entirely liberated is he from the caprice of the
weather. The operation of a lever, or a few turns of a
spade, and at his command is all the moisture that he re-
quires. More than that, he can apply or retard the mois-
ture as best suits the needs of the particular crop under
cultivation. For example, as every farmer knows, oats,
given an excess of moisture when the oat is "heading,"
will run largely to straw. This danger is obviated by
holding back the water supply at the proper time, so that
the instinct of the plant will tend to produce the fullest,

The Swan Falls Power Plant, ivhich furnishes power for Boise and for the Inter-urban electric line.

Quartz Mining in the Boise Mining Belt.


Page S

heaviest heads ; for this reason Idaho oats average 40
pounds to the bushel. Again, in the culture of the sugar
beet, the application of water is regulated, so as to pro-
duce the highest possible degree of saccharine substance.
Moreover, the farmer in the irrigated district, unlike his
brother who is the plaything of the elements, is never
harrassed by untimely rains that impede his harvests or
destroy his crops. In every way, and in a sense unknown
under ordinary conditions, he is "master of the situa-

Dry Farming

N spite of the vast scope of irrigation
projects undertaken by the government
and by private enterprises, there still re-
main immense areas of land to which
the life-giving canals do not extend. On
these lands, under certain conditions,
Dry Farming so-called is practiced
with gratifying results. "Dry Farm-
ing" is simply a name for agriculture adapted to regions
where the rainfall is slight. The government has become
interested in this new undertaking, and has established
an experiment farm, where it has been amply proved that
certain crops, properly sown and cultivated, so as to make
the most of the supply of moisture, will yield good returns.
And hundreds of farmers are making an excellent living
from the cultivation of lands without artificial watering.
Statistics are available showing that, by dry farming,
wheat will yield 30 to 61 bushels to the acre, barley 30
bushels, and potatoes 125 bushels.

Lands adapted to dry farming may be bought for a
nominal price; there is no water right to pay,, and the
expense of cultivation is less. The returns are not so
great, but the investment is less, and many scientific
farmers are turning their attention to this method of
cultivating the soil.

Soil and Products

HE soil of these districts is a disintegra-
ted volcanic ash, in which Nature has
secreted all the chemical elements of
plant life. Given this, with unlimited
sunshine, and the opportune application
of sufficient moiture, and the results are
such as are absolutely unknown and im-
possible in non-irrigated districts. And
this, too, without measurable diminution of the productive
capacity of the soil.

An authoritative statement by a government expert
contains this assertion :

"An intelligent utilization of the soil, sunshine and

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Online LibraryIdaho) Boise Commercial Club (BoiseBoise, Idaho → online text (page 1 of 4)