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Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 5:46 pm

What’s in a name?

Caldwell was founded by the Idaho Land and Improvement Company and named for its president, Alexander Caldwell. A politician, businessman and banker, he helped develop railroads in Kansas before becoming involved with Western town building.  He visited his namesake, but never lived here.

What makes the town special? What’s the community known for across the valley?

Diversity – It was founded on agricultural roots, but also offers modern services and cultural opportunities, especially through the College of Idaho and the Hispanic and Asian communities. The  city maintains a “closely-knit” community and “small-town” feel as it grows. As citizens of the community, we are very proud that our crime rate continues to drop even though our population grows.

Five places not to miss

  • Parks – Wolfe Field, Memorial, Skate Park, Ustick, Luby, etc. Caldwell covers 294 acres, which consists of 20 existing public parks, and other public properties and related facilities. Caldwell currently maintains its service level goal, which is 6.5 acres per 1,000 people, as adopted by City Council.
  • Newly restored Indian Creek in downtown Caldwell
  • Steunenberg Residential Historic District
  • Caldwell Train Depot and Interpretive Center
  • College of Idaho Campus

What’s the town’s signature celebration and when is it?

  • Caldwell Night Rodeo, which just celebrated its 75th anniversary. It is part of a nationwide professional rodeo tour and is listed as one of the top 20 rodeos in the nation. The rodeo draws tens of thousands of visitors to Caldwell each year. This year, it will run from Aug. 17 to 21. For more information, visit
  • 8th Annual Indian Creek Festival in downtown Caldwell. It attracts thousands each year and continues to grow in events and attractions. It will start Sept. 18, but there will be a street dance Sept. 17. For more information, visit

What’s the community gathering spot?

Indian Creek is a great place to visit during any season.

Centennial Greenbelt is used daily as a place for rest, relaxation and exercise.

Who are some of the best-known families and why?

Steunenberg – Crookham: They were early publishers of the Caldwell newspaper and involved with state politics. Family members continued with major agricultural development of crops.

Gipson: Albert Gipson began publishing the Gem State Rural newspaper in 1896.  He formed Caxton’s Press in 1903, from which he still prints and publishes.

Simplot: This food processing and agricultural company has had a major impact on the growth of Caldwell with the building of the processing plant in the 1940s.

Other contenders:

Boone — founder of the College of Idaho

Sebree — builders of Saratoga Hotel, Lake Lowell Pavilion, Caldwell Interurban

Bales — lumber and builders, ties to early Idaho pioneers

Who were the first settlers?

Settlers built cabins near the river and began harvesting the wild grasses for hay.  One of the first cabins was built by Charles Black before 1865 near 5th Street and Chicago Street. Other noteworthy settlers included Dr. Junius Wright and Jacob Ham, who operated a blacksmith shop near 1st Street and Simplot Avenue.

Caldwell itself was formed in 1883 shortly before the Oregon Shortline Railroad was built. It was founded by Robert and Carrie Adell Strahorn as developers for the Idaho Land and Improvement Company and the Oregon Shortline Railroad.

Montie and Della Gwinn opened the first store in a tent.

Theo Danilson built the first general merchandise store and served as post master.

What’s a distinctive way residents help others?

Generosity. This community has a large number of community organization and civic clubs and people are concerned about their neighbors. No matter what the need, this community steps up to the plate to help each other in times of need. When this community sees a gap, they fill it.

Five historic milestones

  • The railroad arrived Sept. 6, 1883.  The interurban arrived in 1907, which completed the Boise Valley Loop.
  • Caldwell became the county seat of Canyon County in 1891.
  • College of Idaho began offering college level courses in 1906.
  • Water turned into the Deer Flat Reservoir in 1909.
  • Simplot Co. built its first processing plant in 1941.


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