BRIEF HISTORY OF DOWNTOWN EAGLE, IDAHO

Early settlers began establishing in the area during the 1860’s. The town was named Eagle and Eagle Island after the bald eagles nesting along the Boise River

Thomas-Hugh-Aikens-e1332456801652-279x300Thomas Hugh Aikens:

  • Was a Nova Scotian surveyor
  • Designated as “the Father of Eagle”
  • He moved to Eagle Island (then called Illinois Island after the original settler’s home state) in the 1870’s
  • Then bought land on the north side of the river between the river and Valley Road (now State Street)
  • The town was named Eagle and Eagle Island after the bald eagles nesting along the Boise River.

The bridge, crossing Boise River, made Eagle a desirable location to live.  But it would not have been so, except for some quick maneuvering by Tom Aiken.  When the location for the bridge was put to a vote between Eagle or Star, Aiken hired a luxury horse drawn carriage to transport veterans from the Old Soldiers Home to the polls.  Their vote carried the day and the bridge was built where it now stands.

By 1896, there were:Eagle-rd-300x225

  • About 30 homes in the Eagle area
  • At least one church
  • A Community Hall
  • And soon after, a school, grades 1-8
    • With a very small high school, about 10 students – held in the Odd Fellows Hall in about 1904

(It was a vote held with this small group of students that chose the name of Eagle for the town. It had been listed in the 1903 as Heron, after an early settler).

A blacksmith shop and small grocery store were also started in 1902 and in 1906.

The Eagle Drug Store:orville_Jackson_2

  • —Widely known as the Orville Jackson Drug Store
  • —Was the longest running business in Eagle
  • —It served customers for nearly 100 years with only three owners:
  • —L.B. Harris, 1906-1922
  • —Orville Jackson, 1922-1974
  • —Wayne and Jane Crosby, 1974-2005

At the pharmacy:

  • Jackson would fill a prescription regardless of the customer’s ability to pay
  • Additionally, Jackson stocked the store with almost anything you could ever need
  • Including a soda fountain
  • The story is told that in the days before they had a dentist in Eagle, Jackson took a neighbor that had a bad tooth into the back room and yanked it out with hog pliers

Crosby kept the store name and the one-of-everything-kind of store plus the famous:orville-jackons-sign

  • “You Can Always Get It of Orville Jackson” sign that covers the outside wall
  • It was one of the last General Stores in the country

Before the town got its own fire engine in 1948:

(a used 1931 Howe Fire Truck), the local merchants collected 50-gallon drums and filled them with water.1931-howe-fire-truck-300x200

These proved inadequate when on July 4, 1946, fireworks went awry and started a fire at the back of the Eagle Merc, located on the northeast corner of Eagle Road and State Street (the parking lot of Smokey Mountain Pizza).

Water from:

  • The drumsfire-150x150
  • A hand-operated fire cart
  • Ahose from the service station
  • And a bucket brigade from the drainage ditch south of Orville Jackson’s house (and just north of Albertson’s)

Saved the day!

The early fire department:fire-2

  • —Was all volunteer
  • —Fire alarms were taken on a special phone at the Idaho First National Bank, across the street from the fire station
  • —The banker :
  • —Would hurry across the street
  • —Blow the siren
  • —And put a message on the blackboard to inform incoming volunteers the location of the fire
  • —The first three to arrive would take the truck and others would follow in cars
  • —The firehouse was located on the south side of State and west of North Eagle Road (now the site of the Community Center) until 2002
  • —A new location was built at 966 E Iron Drive, the former site of Merrill’s Egg Farm (the back portion of which was destroyed by fire in 1988).

The grade school:eagle-grade-school-300x228

  • Was a brick building on top of the hill where Eagle grade school now stands.

The high school:

  • Was built below the hill in 1939-1940Eagle-High-300x224
  • And the old school was used for grades one through eight until it was torn down in 1959 to make way for the existing grade school.
  • The gym portion of the old high school still stands and is used as part of the grade school.
  • The high school students were later sent to Meridian High School, then to Centennial High School until 1995, when our own Eagle High School was built.
  • There were no school buses until the late 1940’s so students walked to and from school, some walking as many as 3 miles each way!

The original Bank of Eagle:

Da-Vincis-Bank-300x225

  • —Was housed in the Drug Store from 1907-1910, when the Eagle Bank was completed (now Da Vinci’s Restaurant).
  • —Photos taken in 1916 show the arched window and door openings that are still a part of the building.

One of our claims to fame is the August 11, 1924 bank robbery.

  • Two ex-cons collected $2,700 in cash before locking up the cashier and his daughter in the airtight vault (still visible in the bar of Da Vinci’s restaurant).
  • Fortunately the cashier had the foresight to keep a screwdriver and pliers in the vault and was able to open the door from the inside.
  • In their haste to make their escape, the bandits collided with the bank’s screen door and knocked it off the hinges.
  • Alert citizens called the police but due to the fact that Eagle did not have its own police force, they arrived too late to catch the bandits (three men and one woman), even though one escaped by riding the Interurban Streetcar to Caldwell then Boise.
  • Though not captured at the scene of the crime, they left behind enough clues to be apprehended by the end of the day.
  • Two months later, two escaped from jail before being apprehended again and convicted.
  • A detailed and highly entertaining version of the story can be had from the Eagle Museum.

The Post Office:

  • Was located within the Eagle Drug Store in the early 1900’sEagle-drug-store-300x244
  • Then was moved to the Valley Market which stood just west of Orville Jackson Drive Store (now Smokey Mountain Pizza)
  • It was then moved to a new site dedicated in 1959 between Orville Jackson Drug Store and the Bank building (now the location of Farmer’s Insurance Groups)
  • For a short time they moved into what is now the US Timber Building, just south of Kings until the new Post Office was built.

The Library and City Hall:

  • Was located in the building directly across the street from Orville Jackson Drug Store (now the Eagle Museum) until February 1999
  • —In 1999 the library moved to their present site, 100 N Stierman Way.
  • —A wonderful mural was painted on the wall that was missed by the young patrons when the library was moved.
  • —The flag pole that is still out front was built and donated as an Eagle Scout Project by Todd McCauley in 1985.
  • —The Mayor’s office was a tiny room on the west side of the building with the library filling (and overflowing) the east and south sides.
  • City Council Meetings were held from the librarian’s chair with attendees sitting in the aisles between the stacks of books.
  • The City Hall moved to what is now the Senior Citizen Building until 2006 when it moved to its present location.

Eagle-city-council-300x183

The barber shopbarber-shop-200x300

that stands attached to and just west of the Eagle Museum was moved from directly across the street at least before 1959.
Orville Jackson used to come in every day for a shave and a short haircut when it was needed.

Claud Evans was an old bachelor who used to wear his irrigation boots in and you had to wash his face before you could shave him.

Photos taken in the early 1900’s show a dirt road through the center of Eagle. In 19097, it became one of the stops for the Boise Interurban trolley, which made a loop through the valley connecting:

Photos taken in the early 1900’s show a dirt road through the center of Eagle. In 1909, it became one of the stops for the Boise Interurban trolley, which made a loop through the valley connecting:eagle-main-street-300x161

  • Boise
  • Eagle
  • Star
  • Middleton
  • Caldwell
  • Nampa
  • Then back to Boise

When we moved here in 1971, the road was paved but there was only a yellow blinking caution light and stop sign at the intersection of North Eagle Road and State Street.  I was driving through town on State Street the day after they put up the stop light.  I watched a farmer drive down the road from the north and without even slowing down, drove right through the red light without any recognition that it existed.  Now, most of the traffic passes by Eagle on the “bypass” opened in 1996.

In 1971, when the town was incorporated:

  • —There were only 349 citizens
    • —Or 359 depending on which “official” census you are reading

Today the population is over 20,000

From a few settlers to 349 in 11 years and then from 349 to over 20,000 in 38 years is pretty good growth and shows that Eagle is a great place to live and raise a family!

(Information gathered from newspaper and magazine articles and the Eagle Museum.) Compiled by Arlene Fielding McCauley with apologies for any inaccuracies.  January 2009.