New exhibit honors firefighters at Nampa Train Depot

Posted at 4:51 PM, Jul 17, 2023

NAMPA, Idaho — Earlier this month, the Canyon County Historical Society unveiled a new exhibit highlighting Nampa's history with fire and the history of Nampa's Fire Department. The exhibit is in one of the city's oldest buildings, the Nampa Train Depot, celebrating its 120th birthday this July.

On July 3rd, 1909, an unknown individual lit a firework inside the cigar store across from the Train Depot causing a massive explosion and fire. "A lot of people may not understand or appreciate how close the town came to being destroyed and wiped off the map," says Canyon County Historical Society President Aldis Garsvo. Around half the town was destroyed. The parking lot across the street used to be buildings that were lost in the blaze.

In true Idaho fashion, Nampa residents picked themselves up by their bootstraps and held Fourth of July celebrations the very next day. They did nix the fireworks that year.

Back then, the fire department was convoluted and consisted of mostly outlaws. However, over the years it has evolved into an all-hazards, robust force. "It's a world apart from 1909, but the fundamental principle of fighting a fire, saving a town, and saving lives is still the same," explains Garsvo.

Battalion Chief Keith Elkins says although the technology has changed, it is still important to honor the past, "Recognizing that history is not something that just happens once, it has a tendency to be cyclical and repeat itself. We've seen just studying the history some of the growing pains we've had in our department were something that early on we experienced too."

The exhibit came together as a grassroots effort of a small group of volunteers. It also features a piece of the World Trade Center from 9/11 on display. The museum is open Fridays from 11:00am to 4:00pm and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm.