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Although the state of Idaho may be known for its spuds, the capital city is best known for its trees. In fact even the city’s name—from the French boisé, meaning wooded—makes note of Boise’s extra-green character. But it wasn’t the green that attracted many of Boise’s early settlers, it was the gold.
Gold was discovered in the Boise Basin in 1862, and prospectors quickly flooded into the region from all parts of the country. Eager to protect the mines and the hoards of miners, the United States military established a Fort Boise at the site of the present day city in 1863.
With military protection and a favorable position along the famed Oregon Trail from Missouri to the Oregon Territory, Boise quickly blossomed into the most important commercial center in the Idaho territory. As a result, in 1864 Boise was incorporated as a city and named the capital of the territory. The first Capitol building (replaced in 1912 by the current sandstone and marble edifice in between State and Jefferson streets) was completed in 1886.
Today, Boise is still the commercial and technological hub of the region and its population has grown to over 200,000. And though the gold may have dried up long ago, the city is still one of America’s greenest and deserving of its nickname, “The City of Trees.”