150 Boise icons: Warm Springs Avenue

March 23, 2013 

Not long after the city of Boise was platted in 1863, residents were enjoying geothermal springs on the east side of Table Rock. Bathers got to the springs via a dirt wagon track - the predecessor of the grand avenue we know today.

Judge Milton Kelly (editor of the Tri-Weekly Statesman from 1872 to 1889) expanded the springs into a more commercial operation.

By 1870, the territorial prison had been built at the foot of Table Rock, increasing traffic on the road. Farms sprung up, too. The Coston and Krall families started growing fruit nearby. Streets in the area still bear their names.

In 1890, crews drilled the first hot water well near town, just west of the penitentiary. According to the Idaho State Historical Museum, this was the first documented use of geothermal heat in the U.S.

Hot water-loving Boiseans soon had an alternative to Kelly's Hot Springs. The Natatorium, a geothermal spa described in historic documents as a "Moorish pleasure palace," opened for business in 1892. Bathers could reach the pool via street car on a line that connected Warm Springs and Downtown Boise.

The avenue became a fashionable address. The mix of residents included a mining baron, an opera singer, the cousin of celebrated western painter Charles Russell, a law partner of William Borah and many others. One domestic attraction that drew residents then and now: houses heated with natural hot water.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service

Top Jobs

View All Top Jobs

Find a Home

$289,900 Boise
2 bed, 2.5 full bath. NOW is your rare opportunity to own...

Find a Car

Search New Cars