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The 'Mingled Grandeur' of the City of Trees B O I S E — ‘ T H E AT H E N S O F T H E S A G E - B R U S H ’

Photo by Dusty Parnell

Before Boise became a city, and before irrigation canals were built, the countryside was dry and dotted with sagebrush, as can be seen in the distance.

BY DUSTY PARNELL Not many major cities have an interesting story behind how they got their name. Portland, Oregon, got its name in a coin toss. Dallas, Texas, was named after, well — either the 11th vice president of the United States or just some guy named Dallas. No one’s quite sure. But Boise, Idaho? We know where that came from, and it’s a good story. The valley was frequented by the Shoshoni, or Shoshone, tribe, and the Nez Perce referred to the valley as “cop cop pa ala” or the “much-feast cottonwood valley,” according to author/historian Carol Lynn MacGregor in her book “Boise, Idaho 18821910: Prosperity in Isolation.” Early French-Canadian fur trappers called it the “wooded river,” or “la Riviere Boisse.” It was a welcome sight to anyone who found themselves wandering through 26

BOISE, IDAHO

southern Idaho. There were cottonwood trees, fish and a lot of beavers. While today’s Boise is still sometimes called a “best kept secret,” it certainly was the Shoshoni’s secret. In the fall of 1819, fur trapper Donald McKenzie met with a Shoshoni chief at a rendezvous of more than 10,000 people up and down the Boise River, according to MacGregor. McKenzie later wrote: “This immense body covered a space of ground of more than 7 miles in length [from beneath Table Rock to Eagle Island], on both sides of the river, and it was somewhat curious as well as interesting, to see such an assemblage.” But the name really came to fruition in 1833 when U.S. Army Capt. Benjamin Bonneville led an expedition across southern Idaho. As anyone knows who has driven across the southern part of the state, there’s a whole lot of sagebrush and nothing out there. They came to a high point to get the lay of the land and, lo and

“… after the long, wearisome journey Boise seemed like a bright green gem in a setting of blue … Boise had a pride in its town and people and culture, and could rightly be called the Athens of the sage-brush.” — Clarence Darrow, “The Story of My Life” (1932)

Photo by Chad Case Photo & Video

Interior of new the new Boise Metro Chamber offices in Downtown Boise features elements that make the Boise Valley special.

behold — “Les bois! Les bois! Voyez les bois!” which pretty much translates to,“Hey look! Some trees!” Even today, you can go to that spot and get an idea of what they saw. Bonneville Point, east of Boise, is now a historical spot

Profile for Boise Metro Chamber

2018 Boise Valley Spotlight Magazine  

The Boise Valley Spotlight magazine is our annual membership directory. Together with our publishing partner, the Idaho Statesman, we share...

2018 Boise Valley Spotlight Magazine  

The Boise Valley Spotlight magazine is our annual membership directory. Together with our publishing partner, the Idaho Statesman, we share...