Construction crews find 100-year-old trolley rail line in Boise

Posted at 10:25 PM, Feb 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-02 00:25:59-05

A bit of Treasure Valley history has been found right beneath our feet.

Crews doing road work on State Street in Boise found a century-old rail line for the city's old trolley system. Contractors ripped up the rails while improving the intersection at State and 15th Streets.

Local historians say, from 1891 to the late 1920s, the steel rails helped the treasure Valley to grow.

"People can now live in neighborhoods, ride the trolley to work and ride the trolley in for fun. And the trolley actually built the suburbs of Boise," said local historian Eriks Garsvo.

Experts say new inventions -- like the automobile -- caused ridership on the trolley to decline, and eventually crews just paved over the rails. The Ada County Highway District says they understand the historical value of the find. The rails will be taken off-site while stakeholders decide what to do with them.

"There are some good ideas floating around," said Nicole DuBois, a spokeswomsan for the Ada County Highway District. "So, in the very near future, we'll be making a decision as to what should be done with them."

Garsvo says the rails are a piece of history that should find their way into a museum.

"We do need to preserve pieces of it -- sections that are straight. And when the city council says, 'Let's put a trolley in downtown,' it's nothing new," said Garsvo.

This is not the first time crews have stumbled their way into old rail lines. They have also been found on nearby 13th street.

A.C.H.D hopes to have construction at the 15th and State intersection complete by late April or early May.