Caldwell City is situated in the Treasure Valley surrounded by the Owyhee, Weiser, and Boise mountain ranges. Due to its location, the city is loved by outdoors enthusiasts. Visitors and residents enjoy nature’s beauty through various outdoor activities such as rock hounding, river rafting, skiing, trail riding, hiking, and so much more. Caldwell is also known for its hot springs, which are the perfect way to relieve sore muscles after a day full of activity.
Besides its beauty, Caldwell is also well-known for being one of Idaho’s most historically intact neighborhoods. The Steunenberg Residential Historic District, a committee that aims to protect the area, has been established to preserve its rich architectural history.
Find out more about our fantastic city’s history below in this article by Little Cow Mountain
Oregon Trail, 1840
The Oregon Trail’s main route followed the Boise River northwest through present-day Caldwell. As immigrants sometimes cross the Boise River southwest at Fort Boise, alternate paths were created around and over Canyon Hill. Some travelers opted to stay and settle here locally along the rivers and headwaters, instead of continuing the long and arduous trek to Oregon.
Gold Discoveries, 1860
During the 1860s, gold discoveries in the Boise Basin brought various new settlers into the area seeking riches. Though a lot never made it to the mines, they decided to stay and chose to settle along the Boise River. They ran ferries, stage stations, and set up freight businesses. Some found livelihood through raising crops and selling them to the mining camps.
The Beginning of Caldwell, 1880
It was 1869 when the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads that were intended to reach the West coast were completed – 14 years before Caldwell’s foundation. The Oregon Short Railroad connected Wyoming to Oregon through Idaho. In 1883, Robert E. Strahorn paid a visit to Boise River Valley, intending to choose a railroad route. The grade into Boise City was rejected, due to it being too steep. He ended up choosing a site that is 30 miles to the West. Strahorn and his associates at the Idaho-Oregon Land Improvement Company planned the Caldwell townsite in the same year. The new town’s location provided more easy access for rail travel. It was also an ideal crossroads for local mining and ranching communities. Caldwell was named after Strahorn’s friend and business partner, Alexander Caldwell, a US Senator from Kansas.
Strahorn and his company went on and developed the townsites of Shoshone and Mountain home. Later on, they founded the Hailey, Weiser, and Payette communities.
Immediately after Caldwell was settled, Strahorn started convincing immigrants and business people to relocate to the newly developed area. In four months, Caldwell had 600 residents in 150 households, 40 operational businesses, a school, a telephone company, and two newspaper agencies. Development continued for decades, and by the 1940’s, Caldwell had built up a thriving main street area as pictured below:
The Incorporation of the City of Caldwell, 1890
On January 15, 1890, a handwritten order formally incorporating the City of Caldwell was issued by the Board of Commissioners of Ada County. It was followed by the College of Idaho’s foundation in 1891, which is still in existence until today. The following year, Canyon County established from the portion of Ada County, and Caldwell was named the county seat.
Related Post: How Boise Grew into the City of Trees Name
Caldwell’s Agricultural-based Economy
The construction of irrigation canals and waterways throughout Canyon County has provided a solid foundation for Caldwell’s agricultural economy. Most new Caldwell businesses’ fortunes were directly related to agricultural activities such as care, feeding, and livestock transport.
Caldwell has continued to be a thriving agricultural community in the treasure valley, but in modern times there’s plenty of restaurants, bars and fun things to do in the thriving city center.
The City of Caldwell has been through a lot over the years, but continues to thrive and reinvent itself, becoming stronger every year. As a community of hard workers, smart planners, visionary entrepreneurs, and influential leaders, the city of Caldwell is a nice place to call home that’s nestled between beautiful mountains and endless blue skies.
And speaking of blue skies and open spaces, I’ll close this article out with a photo taken right here on our local farm near Caldwell. Enjoy the view and schedule a farm tour soon so you can see that natural beauty the Caldwell area has to offer for yourself.