Why Is Boise The Capital Of Idaho?

Why Is Boise The Capital Of Idaho?
Why Is Boise The Capital Of Idaho?


If you’re going to Idaho anytime in the near future, it’s important to understand what the capital is. This will let you check the city out and give you a better understanding of the state!

Idaho’s capital city is Boise, which is also the seat of Ada county, and the largest city in the state. It is situated in the southwestern area, on the Snake River. It has a population of around 200,000, and it is in the Treasure Valley area. Locals pronounce its name as “Boys – ee,” while newcomers generally say “Boy – zee.”

We are going to use this article to explore where Idaho’s capital is and why it came to be, as well as some of the most significant history of Boise. We will also check out some of the top things you should do if you’re visiting this city.

Where Is The Capital Of Idaho Located? 

Where Is The Capital Of Idaho Located
Where Is The Capital Of Idaho Located

Somewhat unusually, Boise is nowhere near the center of the state. Instead, it is in the southwestern area, near the border with Oregon. It sits on the bank of the Boise river, close to Nampa and Idaho City. 

Idaho is a mountainous state, and it crosses two time zones, as well as encompassing the western area of the Rocky Mountains’ continental divide. Idaho itself is in the northwest of the US, and it’s a landlocked state that is surrounded by other states.

It has Oregon to the west, Montana to the north, Wyoming to the east, and Utah and Nevada to the south. In terms of its landscape, Idaho has some wide open spaces, stunning lakes, bright green grassy areas, and lots of farmland.

Idaho was famous for its native tribes in the past, and it is a particularly beautiful state. Boise is sometimes referred to as the city of trees, and it is shady, green, and very natural.

Brief History Of Boise

City of trees Boise Idaho with fall colors
City of trees Boise Idaho with fall colors

Boise was once inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Bannock tribe and the Shoshone tribe. It is thought that the area was used as a gathering point, and the name probably came from a group of French-Canadian explorers. It is thought that when they came over the top of a large hill, they spotted the site and shouted “les bois,” meaning “the trees.”

This led to the name “Fort Boise.” The fort was created by the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1830s, but it was not used after the 1850s until around 1863, when it was re-established by the US army in response to the Civil War effort.

The site was chosen because it was close to both the Oregon Trail and a major road to Idaho City, as well as the Owyhee mining areas, which were busy and important at the time. Fort Boise was significantly smaller than Idaho City at the time, but it grew amazingly quickly, and became a city in 1864.

Idaho’s capital at this point was Lewiston, but Boise replaced it in 1864. Idaho was also accepted into the Union in 1864. 

Gold was discovered in the area, bringing in prospectors and trade, and by 1868, the city had grown to over 400 permanent buildings. The gold boom was followed by a decline, but the citizens opted to turn their land into a farming success, and in 1925, it was connected up by the Union Pacific Depot, bringing the first railroad to the area.

When Did Boise Become The Capital Of Idaho?

Idaho state capital in the early morning
Idaho state capital in the early morning

It is thought that Boise became Idaho’s capital in December 1864 (some sources say 1865). This coincided relatively closely with Idaho becoming a recognized state. Prior to this point, it was part of the Washington Territory, but in 1863, Congress created the Idaho Territory. 

The capital was originally Lewiston, but it was moved to Boise, despite local protests and attempts to keep it in Lewiston.

Why Is Boise The Capital Of Idaho?

It is hard to pinpoint precisely why the capital is moved, except that Boise had the gold to offer and attract people to move and live there. Many people left Lewiston and moved to Boise in the hope of finding wealth.

Despite upset attempts to keep the capital in Lewiston, which garnered a surprising amount of investment, a bill to move the capital was passed. The locals even attempted to hide the territorial seal and the related documents in the Lewiston jail, but these were recovered by the territorial secretary, a man called Clinton DeWitt Smith. 

The protesting continued, but the Supreme Court for the territory upheld the move. Unrest and discontent continued and there were calls for the north of Idaho to be annexed into the Washington State territory. This bill actually passed, but President Grover Cleveland vetoed the bill by not acting on it, and eventually, the capital’s move was accepted.

Best Places To Visit In Boise

It won’t surprise you that many of Boise’s main attractions revolve around its natural beauty. The Boise River Greenbelt offers some extraordinary and stunning walks, with carefully tended parks, swimming holes, picnic areas, and opportunities for biking and roller skating. You can even do some white water practice on the river.

The botanical garden is also well worth a visit, with 15 acres of exotic and unusual plants for you to see. You will learn more about the history of Boise and see a wide range of plants and flowers, enough to satisfy any nature lover. There is a Lewis and Clark area and a lovely Koi pond.

There’s also the Old Idaho Penitentiary, which history buffs will enjoy. With a guided tour to tell you everything you might need to know about this amazing preserved building, it gives you a chance to step into the past and learn all you could want to know about Boise during this period.


Boise is the capital of Idaho, and it has a rich history of trade and farming. The move from Lewiston to Boise was an extremely controversial one that left many northerners feeling alienated and angry, but today, Boise is a thriving and beautiful city with a great deal to offer.

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!