2019 Idaho Real Estate Blog

Canyon County Idaho History Main Idaho Real Estate Insights

Native Americans are known to have inhabited this area at least 14,000 years ago, evidence of winter villages dates back to 5,000 years ago. The bows and arrows appeared 2,000 years ago, and ancestral Shoshone populations brought pottery to Idaho within the past 500 years. Around the year 1710, Shoshone bands acquired horses that were descended from those brought to North America by the Spanish. While most trade routes have existed for hundreds if not thousands of years, mobility of Native Americans was limited prior to the introduction of horses, which resulted in greater trade opportunities among tribes. This led to the establishment of better defined trade routes, many of which later would become trails used by immigrants during America’s westward expansion of the mid-19th century.

Caldwell IdahoHistorically, the rich valley was home to a prominent equestrian band of Northern Shoshone. However, the area was visited by Bannock and Paiute, and other more distant tribes, Nez Perce, Umatilla and Cayuse, for intertribal gatherings and trading. European American settlement did not begin until 1862 after gold discoveries in the Boise Basin and the following year in Silver City and the South Fork of the Boise River. Military Fort Hall was also established in 1863 to provide protection for emigrants, settlers and miners. This marked the beginning of the end for Shoshone residence in the valley.

At this point, Canyon Hill in Caldwell, had become an important crossroads. It stood as one of only two practical locations for crossing the Boise River, the other being in Boise about 30 miles to the east. Many roads to local mining communities passed through or near the area, leading to the establishment of stage and freight lines and securing Boise’s importance. With the area’s increased population and political influence, southern Idaho leaders were successful in moving the Territorial Capital from Lewiston to Boise by the close of 1864. A treaty was negotiated with the Boise Shoshone the same year in an effort to secure land and minerals. However, it was never ratified by the U.S. Senate. Five years later, the native population was removed from the valley, without a treaty, to the newly established Fort Hall Indian Reservation. The importance of  the agricultural economy of the county was established at this time, with early farmers supplying the needs of the booming influx of miners and prospectors. This led to the development of early irrigation systems along the low lying stretches of the Boise River.

While resource industries, such as timber and mining, played an important role in early history, the county’s economic base shifted to agriculture in the early part of the 20th Century with the completion of the Boise Project, which irrigated vast acres of previously arid sagebrush plain. Agriculture’s dominance as a land use has continued to present day. During the Boise Basin and Owyhee gold rushes of 1862 and 1863, Canyon County provided highways to and from the mines. Its earliest permanent communities, founded along the Snake and Boise Rivers in the 1860's, were farming centers developed to feed the mining population. Arrival of the Oregon Short Line Railroad in the 1883 stimulated the growth of the cities of Nampa, Caldwell, Parma, and Melba and soon became the territory’s most densely populated area.

Posted by tlangford at 10/12/2018 3:27:00 AM
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