Boise had raised $8,258.50. Caldwell, Paris, Genesee, and Lewiston had each shipped a car of flour. Payette was arranging for “a large amount of food (to be) cooked and shipped no later than tomorrow evening. It is the plan to buy out the remaining stock of canned goods of the cannery and ship it.”
The Commercial Club in Mountain Home had raised $100, and the city had matched it. The Commercial Club in Hailey raise $321.75 in an hour and a half. Blackfoot had raised $100 so far. Cambridge was ready to contribute $71.50. Sugar City had raised $250. Montpelier contributed $180.
Lewiston had already raised $2,000 with a goal of $3,000. Sandpoint was planning a ball to raise money. Coeur d’Alene had raised $300 and was putting on a benefit minstrel show. Moscow had sent a car of supplies and was planning to send more.
The CPI inflation calculator goes back only to 1913. Using that year as a base, $100 in 1906 was about the equivalent of $2500 today. Just the dollars reported on that fifth day after the earthquake would be nearly $300,000 in today’s dollars. Idaho at that time had about 165,000 residents.
The generosity of Idahoans is laudable. It’s worth noting that the earthquake brought something special to the state. For a few weeks, Riverside Park in Boise hosted the San Francisco Opera Company. How special was it? The Idaho Statesman reported that “Never until the earthquake in April could the old Tivoli company be induced to leave San Francisco. But after that catastrophe, it was recognized that there would be no room for amusements in the stricken city for many months, and the members of the company, some of whom had been playing at the historic old playhouse for many years, left the California metropolis with many fears and misgivings, all hoping that the time of their banishment might be short.”
Riverside Park paid the company $2,000 a week while they were in town. Perhaps they made some money from the engagement. There was no shortage of efforts to make a buck off the disaster. Dozens of advertisements looking for agents to sell copies of competing books about the disaster began appearing on April 27 and continued for weeks. One local ad in Boise offered six carloads of pianos that had been enroute to San Francisco that were to be “sacrificed” for $187 to $327. “Suffice it to say that no combination of circumstances has ever brought piano prices so low as appear on our price tags now.” What good luck!