Internal Improvements

In 1892 twenty thousand dollars was voted by congress for the improvement of Snake river, and one hundred thousand dollars for the Boise public building.

The river and harbor appropriation bill, passed by congress in April, 1896, carried twenty-five thousand dollars for the improvement of the Clearwater River, and five thousand dollars for the Kootenai between Bonner’s ferry and the British boundary. The appropriation for the Boise public building was increased from one hundred and fifty thousand dollars to two hundred thousand dollars and a building site was selected which cost seventeen thousand and five hundred dollars.

Of the special land grants to the state by the national government, aggregating over six hundred thousand acres, only one-sixth remained to be settled in 1897.

Assessed Valuation of Property

The total assessed valuation of the state in 1894, exclusive of railroad property, was $22,942,910, which was about fifteen per cent, less than that of the preceding year. The railroad assessment was about eight million dollars. The assessment of the main lines of all railroads for this year was fixed at six thousand and five hundred dollars a mile, including rolling stock; branch lines at five thousand dollars a mile, and narrow-gauges at four thousand dollars a mile. The assessment on telegraph lines was at the rate of fifty dollars a mile for poles and the first wire, and twelve dollars and fifty cents a mile for each additional wire; and telephone lines at forty-two dollars a mile.

The assessment of the various counties for 1896, as reported in August, amounted to $22,608,069.25, while the preceding year it was $22,878,500.50. For several years it had been urged upon the counties to increase the valuation of property and decrease the tax levy; but Cassia, County was the only county that had done this. The railroad assessment was continued this year the same as the preceding year. In his message to the legislature of 1897, the governor called attention to the fact that the bonded interest-bearing debt of Idaho had almost doubled since 1890, while the assessed valuation of property was decreasing. Deficiency warrants had been issued to the extent of $44,298.50.

The area of Indian reservation in the state is 1,364,500 acres, or 2,132 square miles. Indian population, 3,640, and decreasing, there being 132 deaths in 1897 and only 88 births.


Idaho has no state banking law. Incorporated banking associations are governed by general incorporation laws. There is no restriction as to classes or kinds of banking, except that a special partnership cannot be formed for the purpose of banking. Banking business is done by private parties without incorporation and without capital. There is no law regarding the organization of savings banks, and there are no such financial institutions in the state.

On July 14, 1896, Idaho had eleven national banks, whose combined capital was $725,000, and combined resources amounting to $3,187,307, the loans and discounts aggregating $1,265,434. The total liabilities were $2,925,382, while the average reserve held was 27.16 per cent.

During the year 1897 the banks practically held their status. The banking house of C. Bunting & Company, in business at Blackfoot and Dubois, was closed February 15, under an attachment of the First National Bank at Pocatello of which Mr. Bunting was president. The liabilities were placed at about two hundred thousand dollars. In the attached bank there were fifty-three thousand dollars of the county funds and nine thousand dollars of state money. The withdrawal of twenty-two thousand dollars of state funds was the immediate cause of the collapse. The assets, however, were said to be large.

This year (1897) a resumption of genera! prosperity was conspicuous.

Mineral Production

The Boise assay office reported that during the year 1893 the production of gold was 81,930 fine ounces, valued at $1,693,641; of silver, 3,455,662 fine ounces, valued at $4,457,823; and lead, 72,135,781 pounds, of the value of $2,524,753; total, $8,686,217, as against $7,814,015 the preceding year.

During the year 1894 the secretary of the interior rendered a decision, in an appeal from the ruling of the commissioner of the general land office, that “there must be a discovery upon each twenty-acre tract included in a placer location of one hundred and sixty acres; and a location made of that amount of land upon a single discovery is made void except as to the twenty acres immediately surrounding it.” The secretary indirectly laid down another rule, namely, that while a discovery must be made on each twenty acres, the work can all be done at one place.

During the year 1894 the metal output was: Gold, 111,687 fine ounces, valued at $2,308,775; silver, 3,774,349 fine ounces, valued at $7,188,630; lead, $2,605,450; total, $9,793,080, an increase of $1,108,222 over the preceding year. Flour gold, found in great quantities along Snake River, began to attract unusual attention.

In 1895 the production of gold was 125,517 fine ounces, valued at $2,594,666; silver, 4,033,180 fine ounces, of the value of $5,214,498; lead, 65,752,037 pounds, valued at $2,301,321. Some of the largest mines were shut down for some time, on account of labor troubles.

The mineral production of the state for the year 1896 was $11,751,845, of which the gold production was $2,323,700; silver, $6,474,765: lead, $2,953,380. By counties the gold production was: Owyhee, $681,095; Shoshone. $359,049; Boise, $325,995; Custer, $106,791; Idaho, $155,349; Blaine, $66,894; Elmore, $63,731; Cassia, $18,522; Ada, $27,349; Bingham, $15,528; Canyon, $10,791; Lincoln, $17,426; Lemhi, $451,411; Oneida, $13,844; Nez Perce, $3,824; and Washington, $6,801.

In 1897 the gold production was $2,500,000; silver, $7,100,000; lead, $3,500,000, an increase of over $1,358,000 over the preceding year. Receipts of bullion at the United States assay office at Boise, $1,497,146, an increase of $128,146 over the preceding year.

Agricultural, Etc.

The appropriation for agricultural education in 1 89 1 made by the general government for Idaho amounted to $33,000, of which sum $15,000 was devoted to the use of the state university at Moscow and $18,000 to experiment stations in other parts of the state.

In the autumn both the out-going and incoming governors called attention to the importance of having a system of laws for the control of irrigation-canal property which was declared subject to taxation according to the state constitution. For the purpose of facilitating the establishment of systems of irrigation, the topographical division of the geological surveying corps was employed in 1893 in gauging the streams and in other necessary work for said purpose. Of the sixteen millions of acres of agricultural lands in Idaho, three-fifths is arid.

In March 1894, the first session of the Idaho commission of the National Irrigation Congress was held at Boise and organized for work. In September the work of blasting out the rock in Whisky and Bay Horse rapids in Snake River channel was resumed, for which the government had made an appropriation of $25,000.

In April, 1896, the state horticultural inspector reported that about twenty thousand acres in Idaho are devoted to fruit culture, 6,695 acres producing apples, 5,632 prunes, 1,838 pears, 1,030 berries, 972 peaches, and 526 cherries. The rest of the acreage was devoted to other fruits. The next year he reported that the common pests in the state are the San Jose scale, codlin moth, woolly aphis, green aphis, pear-leaf blister mite, oyster-shell bark louse, apple scab, peach blight and “dieback.”

The first biennial report of the state engineer, to January 1, 1897, estimated the acreage of the state cultivated by irrigation at 315,000 acres, and the total area under ditch, or that can be covered by laterals and distributing channels from exis-canals, at 1,250,000 acres. The first withdrawal of land under the Carey act was made in January, 1897. It consisted of 66,430 acres, on Snake River, which are to be reclaimed by means of a canal leading out of it, water rates to be furnished for ten dollars an acre and the payments to extend over a period of nine years. In 1897 a large irrigation scheme was inaugurated, with a capital of one million dollars, and an immense dam was commenced on Bear river, to run a ditch a hundred miles long and irrigate half a million acres, upon 300,000 acres of which there are settlers, and 200,000 acres of it is government land.

In 1895 the state land estimator made an estimate of the timber on 39,480 acres in Latah and Shoshone counties, calculating it to be 410,297,000 feet, divided as follows: White pine, 144,219,000 feet; yellow pine, 25,791,000 feet; white fir, 49,671,000 feet; tamarack, 96,601,000 feet; and cedar, 47,129,000 feet.

Wild Game

The game law enacted in the year 1893 provided that no moose, caribou or elk should be killed prior to September 1, 1897, and after that only between September 1 and December 31. The season for deer, mountain sheep, antelope and goats was fixed from September 1 to January 1. None of these animals were allowed to be killed for their hides or hunted with dogs. The Mongolian pheasant was not allowed to be killed until August 1, 1897. The season for killing pheasants, grouse, sage hens and “fool” hens was made to be from August 1 to January 1; for quail and prairie chickens from October 15 to December 15; and for ducks, geese and swans from August 15 to April 15. No fish except salmon, salmon trout and sturgeon were allowed to be taken excepting by hook and line, and none of any kind should be taken in any way except for home consumption or breeding purposes between November 1 and October 1 of the succeeding year.

It was ascertained in 1895 that Ada County alone had paid out since 1878 $31,093.44 for rabbit scalps, at the legal rate of three cents a scalp, over a million rabbits! This was said to be a larger amount than the aggregate bounties paid by all the states in the west that had offered bounties on jackrabbits. This amount in Ada County was so large that the commissioners felt obliged to discontinue the bounty.


According to the school census of 1892 there were 27,740 school children in the state, while the per capita of the current appropriation for school purposes was fifty cents. In June the school funds apportioned had increased to $13,674.67, a large advance over the preceding year. In 1893 the amount of the school fund subject to distribution for the following year was $40,000. The school population was 31,219, an increase of 5,478 during the preceding two years. Mormon children began to attend the public schools this year, as the old prejudice against the “gentiles” began to die out. The state university at Moscow was opened in October, 1892, and by January following there were one hundred and seventeen students enrolled, but only the west wing of the university building was erected, at a cost of $34,749. This year there were three agricultural experiment stations in operation, namely, at Nampa, Grangeville and Idaho Falls, which were under the direction of the board of regents of the university, where also agriculture is taught. In December 1893, the enrollment at this university was one hundred and ninety-four. The chair of military instruction was instituted this year, and the exterior, basement and first story of the main building were completed, at a cost of seventy-seven thousand dollars. In September 1895, the university began its school year with an enrollment of one hundred and eight, an increase for that month, over the preceding year. The next year, 1897, university tuition was made free to resident pupils.

Under the law providing for normal schools, the state in 1895 made no appropriation; but at Albion the citizens, not waiting for the slow methods of the government, erected a building and opened a flourishing school.

The legislature of 1896, however, provided for the building of state normal schools, the outlay for building and maintenance being $81,521. The appropriation of 1897 for the schools was only $28,000, a difference of $53,521.

The enrollment here for the half year ending July I, 1895, was eighty-three, and the expenses $5,278.22. In anticipation of a normal school at Lewiston, the people there laid the foundation for a building. The agricultural college for the state was fixed this year, 1895, at Idaho Falls. In June, the next year, the normal schools at Lewiston and Albion were dedicated.

In 1896 the number of school children in the state was 39,288, and of the semi-annual apportionment of the public money for school purposes the distribution amounted to eighteen and a half cents per capita of the children. In 1897 the superintendent of public instruction announced, in reference to the growth of the schools, that while in 1869 there were but twenty-four school districts in the state, and fifteen school houses, in 1897 there were six hundred and seventy-one districts and six hundred and fifty-eight school-houses. In 1896 the number of children between the ages of five and twenty-one was 43,745. During the years 1895-6 the school census showed a growth in population of nearly twenty-five per cent. Four hundred and forty young Indians were attending government schools in the state, besides fifty-five in a contract school in the Coeur d’Alene reservation, for whom tuition was paid at the rate of one hundred and eight dollars a year.

Other State Institutions

The control of the soldiers’ home was vested by the legislature of 1893 in a board of five trustees, to consist of the secretary of state, commander of the department of Idaho of the Grand Army of the Republic, and three others, two of whom were to be members of the Grand Army of the Republic, and all to be appointed by the governor. An appropriation of twenty-five thousand dollars was made, to be secured from the sale of public lands given to the state by the general government for charitable purposes instead of being taken directly out of the general revenue fund, the amount appropriated to be loaned to the institution, which takes a lien on the land to secure the amount advanced.

The soldiers’ home, two miles from Boise, was completed in November 1894, the cornerstone having been laid May 23 previously. It is built of brick and cut stone, has a frontage of one hundred feet, with a central tower and a tower at each end, and the capacity of the institution is sufficient for the accommodation of sixty beds, single and double. The structure cost $13,499. In 1895 the number of inmates was twenty-seven.

Idaho deserves much credit for the provisions made for her unfortunate wards in various lines. The building of the asylum for the insane was instituted in 1885, on ground donated by L. Shilling, about a half mile from the town of Blackfoot, and the new institution was opened for the admission of patients on July 2d of the following year. Prior to this time this class of patients were cared for by the Salem insane hospital, in the state of Oregon, under contract, and they were immediately transferred to their new home, under charge of Dr. Cabaniss, the first medical superintendent of the institution. Of the number so transferred there were twenty-six male and ten female patients. The affairs of the institution are administered by a board of trustees.

A fire occurred on the morning of November 24, 1889, and the main or administration building was totally destroyed, together with the greater portion of the records. At that time there were forty-seven male and twenty female inmates, and after the fire five men and two women were missing among the patients. Of these the charred remains of one man and one woman were found in the ruins, and it is probable that others of the missing number met the same fate.

In the summer of 1890 the building of the asylum was commenced in a new location, north of the old site, where a better means of drainage was afforded. The present building is equipped with modern accessories and conveniences, and the state has reason to be proud of the asylum and its management. The original grant of land has been added to from time to time by purchase, and it now comprises 2,150 acres, of which about four hundred are under cultivation.

In 1893 the insane asylum had ninety-eight inmates at the beginning of the year. During the summer seasons many of these were employed at brick making, and during the winter at cutting cordwood. The medical superintendent called attention to the fact that the rate of insanity in this state was less than half the rate in other states: but this observation was made before the usual proportion of patients had been examined.

In 1895 the asylum for the insane had one hundred and fifty-two patients, of whom fifty-six were women. In May, the next year, the governor reported that the increase in the number of inmates was so rapid that the extra accommodations provided for by the preceding legislature would be crowded before the next session. The number, however, grew only to one hundred and fifty-eight in 1896. The next year there were one hundred and eighty-seven. The per capita cost of keeping these patients was reported this year as having diminished from eighty-five and three-fourths cents a day in 1891 to fifty-four and a half cents in 1896.

Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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