History of Meridian

You can find Meridian, Idaho located on the Snake River basin plain that goes east to west. It is near the middle of the valley and sits at about 2,605 feet above sea level. The only source of natural water was provided by the Five Mile Creek that goes through the community to the east and to the Boise River.

The history of Meridian begins in 1831, this was one year after the Choctaw Indians made an agreement to leave their territories in Mississippi according to the terms of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. The first settler to come to area Meridian now sits on was Richard McLemore of Virginia. In order to get more people to the area, McLemore provided free land. The future of Meridian was official when the railroads came to the area in 1855.

Throughout the 1860s Meridian grew to a small community of fifteen families. The town then came up with a strategic geographical location for the railroads and this brought in new growth. The Confederate arsenal, the military hospital, a prisoner of war building and the headquarters of several state offices set up shop in Meridian during the Civil War.

The city’s railroads and a large part of the area surrounding it was destroyed by General William T. Sherman’s army at the beginning of 1864. Despite Sherman’s best efforts to destroy the City of Meridian, the city rebuilt the railroad tracks in 26 days and the city began to grow again. The Golden Age came to Meridian upon cotton, timber and the rails were utilized to transport them brought growth back to Lauderdale County as meridian started their progressive era.

Many of the settlers during the 1885’s lived along the Five Mile creek as there was running water year round there.

Between the years of 1890 and 1930, Meridian became the state’s largest city and the head of manufacturing. Most of the existing skyline was constructed during this time. In 1890 the Grand Opera House opened their doors. This building was three foot tall building and was an Art Deco masterpiece that turned into the tallest skyscraper in Meridian. It also contained Meridian’s Carnegie Library (now houses the Museum of Art) was built.

The city raised $4,000 and right after the Interurban rail line from Onweiler, the tracks were completed and ran to the village center. The rail line went from meridian and Ustick Roads turning east on Broadway and ending at East Second. The last car of the evening would stay overnight in Meridian and then return to Boise early the next morning with passengers and freight. In 1912, the interurban Station and Generator building were constructed. The line then continued on to Nampa through Meridian. After 1912 the Broadway tracks were not utilized anymore. In 1928 the Interurban Business came into receivership and closed. This was after 20 years of offering economical transportation to nearby towns. It was Meridian’s primary form of transportation to outside world. In 1900 the Union Pacific Railroad opened and is presently operated by the Boise Valley Railroad. It is used by several industrial customers who ship forest, agricultural and chemical products.

Eliza Ann Zenger filed for the Meridian townsite in 1893 on a homestead grant. Eliza’s husband Christian filed the lot with the county officials and named it Meridian. The Zenger's then left their land to move to Utah and several other early settlers came to their area from Missouri. The settlers traveled either by wagon or railroad car. The settlers brought their own lodging and church preferences with them. Soon after arriving in Meridian the settlers created local establishments. In 1903 the City of Meridian was incorporated as a village which had a population of about 200.

In 1897 a creamery was constructed and soon other dairy related companies followed. Due to all of that Meridian became known as the dairy center for the state. In June of each year, this part of Meridian’s history is still celebrated in the Meridian Dairy Days. This has been a community tradition since 1929.

In 1909 the city was incorporated as a city. The first city building that was constructed in Meridian was in 1893 and was the IOOF Lodge Hall. Meridian was always a nice quiet town until Boise exploded with growth in the 1970s. Compared to the population of 200 that Meridian had in 1903, the population in 1980 was about 6,658 and grew to around 9,596 by 1990. By 2005 it had grown to 40,000 in population and is now at around 95,623 people.

Meridian is a portion of a river valley and it runs across southern Idaho. The area is considered high desert and is very low precipitation with lots of sunshine. You will find snow in the surrounding mountain ranges from November to February. The creeks, rivers, and streams are filled from the spring snow melt that runs to the valley. Although the valley does get some snow it is low on average.

During the summer months, the climate is warm during the day which can get as high as the 80’s to the 90s and cold during the winters falling to as low as 30 degrees. The temperatures vary day to night. Meridian has all four seasons with comparatively mild climate and is perfect for farming, recreation and just living in general.

The present day Meridian is full of several parks and recreations. The city has 17 public parks throughout the city including Settlers Park that host many activities including movie nights in the summer times. The City also has Meridian Speedway which is located directly south of Old Town Meridian.

Located just east of meridian is Boise and to the west is Nampa. Many residents of Meridian often take joy in the recreations of sports and other activities in those cities.

No matter the reasons for learning or coming to Meridian it is full of history as well as modern recreation. It is considered a great choice and one of the most favorable puzzle pieces in the valley.

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