History of Ada County - Historic Preservation

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History of Ada County

A Brief History of Ada County

Before European settlement, Ada County was home to Native Americans. In 1811, trappers crossed through Ada County in search of furs. They built Fort Boise near present day Parma in 1834, and from 1840-1860, thousands of people passed through Ada County on the Oregon Trail. In the summer of 1862, gold was discovered near Idaho City. The Boise Basin gold rush brought many miners to the area.

During the 1880’s, the railroad made its way across Ada County, spurring settlements as construction camps and mail drops were established. In the early 1900’s, technological advances started to change the landscape of Ada County. From dams to irrigation systems to lumber mills to streetcar lines, the county continued to develop. During the 1920’s, further transportation improvements brought a direct passenger trail service, a municipal airport, and an airfield used for training pilots and aircrews during WWII, which has evolved into the present day Gowen Field.

During the 1950’s, Boise started to grow towards the south, on the benches above the Boise River. After World War II, growth also returned to the smaller towns of Ada County , with agriculture providing the chief sources of income. In the mid-1960’s, the interstate and the Boise River Greenbelt were built, and Ada County began to attract new businesses. Since the late 1980’s, the area’s economic opportunities, climate, and access to outdoor recreational activities have attracted people and businesses to Ada County, helping to fuel population growth that has made the Boise metropolitan area one of the fastest growing regions in the United States.

For a more detailed history of Ada County, please visit our History of Ada County page.

As part of our mission of Preserving Ada County’s Heritage, the Council has produced the following comprehensive histories of our County.  The first is in an abbreviated graphics and text format, and the second is a timeline of events, places, and people that are significant to Ada County History.

Ada County Chronicles

Ada County Chronicles Icon

A PDF version of the Council’s PowerPoint presentation of the history of development in Ada County entitled Ada County Chronicles. This entertaining and colorful show covers the County’s history from the earliest European travels through the area to modern times. The PDF version contains two color slides per page. Simply click on the image at left to download this file (about 5 megabytes).

The animated PowerPoint show that this PDF is derived from lasts about 45 minutes. Groups interested in scheduling a showing should see our About the Council page to contact staff or a Council member about presentations of this slideshow.

Ustick: A Community on the Brink of Place

Front Cover of Ustick A community on the Brink of Place

An overview of the history of the trolley suburb & farming hamlet of Ustick, Idaho. Located on Ustick Road between Five Mile Road and Cloverdale Road, Ustick Townsite was platted in 1907 and prospered due to its proximity to the Boise Valley Railway trolley system. The townsite included Ustick School, a mercantile, a bank, and a creamery, all of which are still in existence today. The area teemed with apple orchards and at one time supported three vinegar plants. This presentation by Ted Vanegas is derived from his graduate project at BSU and includes thoughts about the future of this neighborhood.

Click here for a PDF version of Ustick: A Community on the Brink of Place.

Visit our Documents, County Treasures and Historic Site Inventories pages for additional information about the history of Ada County, Idaho and our cities and towns of Boise, Garden City, Eagle, Star, Meridian, and Kuna.