Weiser, Idaho

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Weiser is a city in the rural western part of the U.S. state of Idaho and the county seat of Washington County.[1] With its mild climate, the city supports farm, orchard, and livestock endeavors in the vicinity. The city sits at the confluence of the Weiser River with the great Snake River, which marks the border with Oregon. The elevation is 2123 feet (647 m) above sea level. The population was 5,343 at the 2000 census. Locals pronounce the city's name as "Wee-zer."

Contents

History

The city was named after the nearby Weiser River, but exactly who that was named for is not precisely known. In one version it is for Peter M. Weiser, a soldier and member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806. Another has it for Jacob Weiser, a trapper-turned-miner who struck it rich in Baboon Gulch in the Florence Basin of Idaho in 1861. William Logan and his wife settled in the vicinity of Weiser in 1863 building a roadhouse in anticipation of the opening of Olds Ferry west of them on the Snake River across from Farewell Bend. In 1863, Reuben Olds acquired a franchise from the Territorial Legislature and began operating Olds Ferry.[2] Olds ferry business did well (as did Logan's) as it diverted much of the traffic from the old Snake River crossing point at Old Fort Boise. Increasing settlement on the Weiser River valley increased Weiser’s population. A post office was established in 1866 as Weiser Ranch. In 1871, it was renamed Weiser.[3]

Weiser reached its height of prosperity when a railroad way station was established and it became a transportation hub for travelers. Its history is well represented by the great number of original buildings from the 1890s and early 1900s that are on the National Register of Historic Places.

During the 1890s, the city had pretensions of becoming a major regional market and transportation center. The Idaho Northern Railroad was built up the Weiser River with the intention of reaching Lewiston and river transportation to the ocean. The dream ended among the lumber mills of central Idaho almost at the community of Meadows... not needing to actually go past the stock loading and lumber ponds outside the village, the terminus station was built there and a new city, New Meadows, came into being. Likewise the Union Pacific, after taking over the Oregon Short Line chose not to locate its major section yards in the flats west of Weiser—probably due to inflated prices asked by land speculators—and built at Huntington, Oregon in the narrow Burnt River valley nearby.

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