Barbara Perry Bauer guessed that the transportation materials date to about 1910, but she’s not sure.
Perry Bauer, the co-owner of TAG Historical Research and Consulting in Boise, also isn’t sure who manufactured the bricks, which would have been made especially strong so they could withstand the wear and tear of a street. Some of them are stamped “Boise.”
The manufacturer could have been the Idaho Vitrified Brick and Pipe Company or the Foster Brick Company, both of which operated out of Boise, Perry Bauer said.
Along with a few other interested people, Perry Bauer headed out to Bannock Street on Tuesday to watch Idaho Materials and Construction workers carrying out a resurfacing project. The bricks and rail lines pulled out of the ground once belonged to a streetcar network that had stops and routes throughout Downtown Boise and a depot at the corner of Bannock Street and Capitol Boulevard, she said.
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The Downtown network was part of a larger rail system known as the Interurban Loop, said Brandi Burns, a historian in the city of Boise’s Department of Arts and History. Other destinations included Middleton, Caldwell and Nampa. The railway fell out of use in the 1920s as automobiles, including public transportation buses, gained popularity.
Today’s bus system in the Treasure Valley, operated by Valley Regional Transit, largely reflects the routes and stops of those days, Burns said.
The Arts and History Department has several bricks and a few segments of the rail line, Burns said, but the city has no immediate plans to display them.
Idaho Materials and Construction legally owns anything it excavates, said Nicole Du Bois, spokeswoman for the Ada County Highway District, the agency that hired the company and controls roads throughout the county. But Idaho Materials and Construction has been letting people keep mementos, Du Bois said.
Efforts to contact a company representative for comment were unsuccessful.
Perry Bauer grabbed a couple of bricks and rail spikes for TAG to keep.
“I hadn’t ever seen that,” she said. “I mean, I’ve seen remnants of tracks, but I had never seen them in place with the brick pavers around. Interesting.”