That was nothing, though, because the Hailey News-Miner reported the first automobile to be seen on the streets in Hailey more than a year earlier, in June 1903. The paper noted that “A Hailey lad was on the race track when the auto passed. On first seeing it approach he shouted out: ‘Here comes a runaway with the tongue out!’”
By 1905, autos were common enough in the capital city that the Idaho Statesman noted the first one to be seized in a legal process.
In 1907, that same paper told about the first car to make a long, arduous journey from Boise to Horseshoe Bend. It took the car, a White Steamer, an hour and a half to get to Pearl on the way to Horseshoe Bend. On the way back they did the trip from Pearl in an hour and 20 minutes, “the car behaving so well that at no time were they compelled to stop or do anything to the machine.”
That same year the first automobile reached Silver City, giving citizens their first look at a “Buzz Wagon.” The Statesman reported that “Many young and older people here had never seen an automobile before, and there have been many visitors at Gardener’s barn to look it over.”
By 1909 cars were old hat. The Statesman ran a humorous piece about the inevitability of car ownership. “It will be recalled that the first automobile was purchased by a Boise iceman. That is in harmony with fixed conditions. Luxuries are always secured first by the wealthiest classes. Then a plumber broke in. He was logically next. The coal man was a trifle late, though third, but he purchased a machine that eclipsed all others in point of style and speed. The doctors began to purchase, followed by the undertakers, another natural sequence. A little later on the bankers bought, but they could not afford such swell turnouts as those who entered the field earlier. So it will go down the line. Somewhere, probably as a tailender, the newspaper man will get in.”
The photo, courtesy of the Idaho State Historical Society photo digital collection, is of a Buick climbing Slaughterhouse Hill in Boise. The hill was a popular place to test the abilities of cars around 1910. It was, and perhaps still is if development hasn’t shaved it off, located a little north of the end of Harrison Boulevard.