During its formative years, the town of Boise grew between the Boise River and Fort Boise. The neighborhood and park known today as “Old Fort Boise” contains some of the city’s oldest structures. The buildings found here reflect the fort's historic position on the Oregon Trail, the town's military heritage during the Spanish-American War and World Wars, and the development of healthcare for military veterans.
Between 1834 and 1854, two separate trading posts were
located west of the modern city of Boise, each known as Fort Boise. These were
built to supply the travelers of the Oregon Trail and hunters arriving to take
advantage of a booming fur trade. The discovery of gold in the early 1860s
caused a second rush of immigrants to the region, in particular to the Boise
Valley. Major Pinkney Lugenbeel was in charge of ensuring that these miners
were safe from Native American raids. Inspired by the fort he witnessed being
built in Walla Walla, Washington, Major Lugenbeel established a new Fort Boise in
1863, stretching over 40 acres. Renamed the Boise Barracks in
1879, the Fort became the center of a settlement that steadily grew throughout
the rest of the century.
The fort was used to train cavalry during the
Spanish-American War and First World War, and briefly resumed its military role
during the Second World War. However, from 1912 the War Department gradually
removed its military functions, and portions of the Fort were used by the U.S.
Public Health Service. The Fort’s facilities were transferred to the Veteran
Bureau after the 1922 Hospital Bill was passed, facilitating care for military
veterans. To this day, the Fort is managed by the U.S. Department of Veterans