The mad rush to Boise Basin in 1863 following the discovery of gold there on Aug. 2, 1862, created an immediate need for hotels, restaurants, retail stores of every description and, of course, lots of saloons and a brothel or two.
The golden age for building public libraries came to Idaho in the early 20th century. Multimillionaire Andrew Carnegie, through his foundation, had offered grants for that purpose since 1883, and a total of 1,689 Carnegie libraries had been built in the United States by 1929. Idaho towns received grants of $138,000 between 1901 and 1914.
Reported the Idaho Tri-weekly Statesman on June 20, 1872: “General Cartee’s grounds and improvements surpass anything this side of California.” Idaho’s surveyor general was then building a large stone cellar above ground in the rear of his house for storing some of his nursery stock and vegetables.
Lafayette Cartee was one of the most remarkable men in the history of Boise and of Idaho, credited by our late State Historian Merle Wells with making “several diverse but important contributions to the physical development and beauty of Boise.” Cartee did even more for Idaho Territory by quite literally “putting Idaho on the map” after his appointment as surveyor general in 1866.
Boise has long been called the “City of Trees,” but in 1863, when the town was platted on a dry sagebrush plain between the newly established military post and Boise River, the nearest trees to be seen were cottonwoods and willows along the river and pines and firs miles away, high on mountain ridges to the north and east.