Old Fort Boise

Historical lithograph of Old Fort BoiseFort Boise was originally built by Thomas McKay of the British Hudson’s Bay Company in the fall of 1834 near the confluence of the Boise and Snake River. The post was a response to Fort Hall, the trading post built by American Nathaniel Wyeth a couple hundred miles upriver on the Snake near what is now Pocatello, Idaho. The Hudson’s Bay Company would soon own both forts but with the decline of the fur trade the posts served became primarily used as rest and resupply stops along the Oregon Trail for the thousands of American emigrants who were heading west.

Historical marker of Old Fort Boise"We reached Fort Boise. This is a trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company, established upon the northern side of Snake or Lewis River, and about one mile below the mouth of the Boise River. This fort was erected for the purpose of recruiting, or as an intermediate post, more than as a trading point. It is built of the same materials, and modeled after Fort Hall, but is of a smaller compass. Portions of the bottoms around it afford grazing; but in a general view, the surrounding country is barren... At this fort they have a quantity of flour in store, brought from Oregon City, for which they demanded twenty dollars per cut, in cash... At this place the road crosses the river, the ford is about four hundred yards below the fort, and strikes across to the head of an island, then bears to the left to the southern bank; the water is quite deep, but not rapid..."
-- Joel Palmer, September 2, 1845

Snake RiverFort Boise was particularly susceptible to flooding and was actually moved several times in the generally vicinity of the confluence. Both Fort Boise and Fort Hall were shut down after the Ward massacre in 1854 escalated tensions between the emigrants and the Native Americans. Boise River floods destroyed all remnants of the fort by the 1860s and today all that left is a small historical marker.

The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is found inside the Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area. Though the fort is no longer there visitors can get good views of the Snake River from the river banks where the post used to stand.

In Parma, just up the road from the original fort site, there is a replica of Fort Boise and additional historical information.