“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Boise in Ada County, Idaho — The American West (Mountains)

Whitman Overlook

"The River Boise..." panel image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, May 18, 2018
1. "The River Boise..." panel
Inscription.  (Three Panels are found at this overlook:)

"The River Boise..."
"Descending some steep hills we came down on the river 'Boisee,' which deserved its appellation from the dense fringes of cottonwood and willow trees that border its banks. 4 Shoshones came into camp bringing che-cowish to trade with us. The cowish or Biscuit root is a small white root which when dried resembles very much in taste, our hard biscuits or crackers." - Theodore Talbot, 1843

The Boise Valley was ideal for the Shoshone people: a salmon fishery, plentiful edible plants, and generally mild climate. Wagon wheels didn't change the Shoshoni's lives at first; horses did. The Shoshones acquired horses from the southwest in the early 1700s, allowing them to hunt buffalo and travel to camas grounds to supplement their diet. When Donald Mackenzie and Wilson Price Hunt first entered the valley in 1811 they found a Shoshone camp near Table Rock, "with a great many horses grazing around it." But the Shoshone society began to decline as settlers moved to the area. Disease devastated native populations, the salmon runs
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fell as mining clouded the Boise River, and a new society displaced an older one.

"They Must Have Something to Eat"
"Our roll of 'greenbacks' which had been tucked away for three months because there was nothing to buy, was now brought forth. We however, had more flour than we could use and sold it in exchange for gold dust, receiving for it $16.00 per hundred. One of our party sold a feather bed for $1.00 per lb. His wife refused for a while to give up her favorite bed, but they must have something to eat and money to pay ferriage, so the feather bed went." -- Harriet A. Loughary, 1864

Where the Boise River spills from mountain canyons and flattens between terraces and foothills had long served as a center of commerce. Native Americans gathered for festivals along the river's bank to trade goods with one another. They were followed by trappers, starting in 1811. Fort Boise, about 45 miles west of here, was the first Euro-American settlement in this area. The city of Boise took root in 1863 after gold was discovered near Idaho City. Boise was a mining supply town. Then, after irrigation water became available and the gold supply played out, it became a center for agriculture.
Little could any of the pioneers have envisioned the transformation of the Treasure Valley, from a gathering spot where blankets and pelts
"They Must Have Something to Eat" panel image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, May 18, 2018
2. "They Must Have Something to Eat" panel
were once traded, to what it is today. Those changes may have been signaled, at least symbolically, by the sound of wagon wheels straining across the dusty landscape.

"This Beautiful River Winding..."
"To the right rose up that majestic Range of mountains, which is the source of the river below, & from which we issued yesterday -- Below, thousands of feet below, were Seen the water of this Beautiful river winding there tranquil Course & gleaming like a thread of silver in the rays of the Setting Sun. -- Winfield Scott Ebey, 1854

If wheels brought change to the Boise River Valley, water sustained it. The Boise River is far different today than the mid-1800s, when fish were so plentiful that at least one emigrant complained he could not sleep because "the salmon kept up a great noise, jumping and splashing about in the water." As mining boomed in the 1860s, the fertile farmland near the Boise River was cultivated for crops to help feed thousands of hungry miners. A large irrigation system was completed in the early 1900s, making water available to thousands of acres far away from the river banks. Once Boise became established, city streets served as the trail through part of the valley. The route of the pioneers followed that of present-day Boise Avenue. Today, water remains the backbone of southwestern Idaho's economy,
"This Beautiful River Winding..." panel image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, May 18, 2018
3. "This Beautiful River Winding..." panel
from agriculture to high-tech manufacturing. Some things haven't changed much since wagon wheels carved the ruts of the Oregon Trail more than 150 years ago; the future of the West, then as now, will be determined by the supply of water.
Erected by Boise Parks & Recreation.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureNative AmericansNatural ResourcesSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Oregon Trail series list.
Location. 43° 33.096′ N, 116° 7.296′ W. Marker is in Boise, Idaho, in Ada County. Marker can be reached from East Lake Forest Drive near Orchid Way, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5000 East Lake Forest Drive, Boise ID 83716, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Wheels of Change (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Old Oregon Trail (about 500 feet away); "Our Road Was Very Steep..." (approx. half a mile away); Ezra Meeker (approx. 0.9 miles away); Bonneville Point (approx. 0.9 miles away); Idaho's Emigrant Trails (approx. 0.9 miles away); Fort Boise (approx. 0.9 miles away); Kelton Road (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Boise.
More about this marker. This overlook is located a short, downhill, walking distance from the Whitman Trailhead in Oregon Trail Historic Reserve.
Whitman Overlook image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, May 18, 2018
4. Whitman Overlook
Boise Today image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, May 18, 2018
5. Boise Today
Credits. This page was last revised on November 4, 2018. It was originally submitted on November 4, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 333 times since then and 56 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on November 4, 2018, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.

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Sep. 24, 2023