Even without a planned ceremony, Boiseans ginned up a celebration. Hundreds saw the train inching along and set out to greet it. Many jumped up on a flatcar (photo) to take that first slow ride into the depot. The Idaho Statesman reported that “On Sunday the road from town to the depot was lined with people nearly all day. The distance is about a mile, and the more fortunate rode in carriages, others in lumber wagons, and others on horseback, while hundreds of men, women, and children walked over.”
Other Idaho communities had enjoyed railroad service for some time before the trains came to Boise. Financing was a hurdle. The Statesman explained why: “Boise is probably the best town, and contains as many wealthy people as any town between the Missouri and Columbia rivers, but the wealth of her citizens is not centered in a few individuals, but in many, and there is only a limited amount of ready money; hence the building of a railroad when only a quarter of a million or even one hundred and fifty thousand dollars is required, has to find its source and support among Eastern capitalists.”
Mr. J. A. McGee was credited with the conception of the Idaho Central Railroad. The paper reported that it was he who found that Eastern money.
It wasn’t long before all the citizens of Boise were enjoying the benefits of McGee’s vision. Yes, vegetables could be shipped out, building supplies shipped in, and all manner of goods were made more readily available, but let’s talk entertainment!
Less than a month after the first train arrived, a four-block-long circus train pulled into the depot. Barrett’s Circus was the largest ever to visit Boise up to that time. The Statesman described the resulting parade with “six horse, four horse and two horse teams, well matched and in fine condition. They were escorted or rather interspersed with three bands of music. First, the brass band composed of white men, second, a colored man’s band, and lastly in the rear followed the far-screeching and terrific sounding steam calliope. The cages containing the lions, leopards and tigers had a man in each cage with the animals who appeared as unconcerned and as much at home as the animals in his cage… The elephants and camels preceded the calliope and the grinning lips of the camels would indicate, if the calliope wagon had been covered up, that they were singing the songs of the ancients in their march through Boise.”