As you drive along the road of Middleton into the town of Middleton, a sign lets visitors know “Our citizens practice tolerance and welcome diversity.” This sign once stated “Middleton, a good place to live.” those who live in the community states this has never changed. However, the community felt the need to change the words to make it more specific. This change occurred in 2003, due to spray paint vandalism on park concession stands that may have racist epithets that residents reported. The people of Middleton, which is located just west of Star and north of Caldwell, is a community of coming together in the time of issues, need and so forth. For example, when Middleton High School caught on fire the community rallied together and handled the school district’s phone and computer systems.
Middleton was named because of its location which was old fort Boise and Keeney’s Ferry as it was the midpoint between the two locations. For those heading to Keeney’s Ferry, Middleton was a rest stop for them. Located at it was a stage station in the earlier days when the Oregon Trail was used, a post office was placed there in 1866 and a water-powered grist mill in 1871. Close by Middleton was were the Ward Massacre occurred.
Middleton is part of Canyon County and is the oldest settlement in the county. The land was parceled out in 1863 by William N. Montgomery. In 1872 the Boise River flooded turning Middleton into an island. Due to this the town then moved to a new location in the years after 1880. The city then was adopted as a city in 1910. However, the certificate showing such was not issued until 1971.
Similar to several other cities, Middleton’s historical milestones were made through mayhem. For example, the 1914 fire that destroyed the town’s two-story hotel or the bank robbery in 1854. In the bank robbery, the bandit brandished two guns and got $1,800 that was never recovered.
The mayhem that was the most notorious occurrence took place on the south side of the Boise River approximately nine years prior to Middleton setting its roots on the north side. A wagon train was attacked in August of 1854 by Indians. The wagon train was traveling from Missouri and was traveling along the Oregon Trail. The attack killed 18 of the 20 travelers. This battle was known as the Ward massacre and a monument and small park were marked at the location just east of Middleton Road on Lincoln Road.
In 1865 a ditch called the Middleton Mill Ditch was built and carried over 1,200 inches of water and supplied water to about 3,000 acres plus ran the flour mill. Due to the result of the ditch, Middleton became one of the early settled areas in the Treasure Valley. In 1876, the Middleton Water Company was created to help with the problems of water not getting through the county to get to more land. At times when the mill ditch company had to shut off the water for repairs to the ditch system or the mill. The Middleton projects provided a successful way to get water to the necessary places.
The Black Canyon irrigation project in 1948 was the biggest turning points of the town. The project was to reroute water supply to about 224,000 acres and a supplemental supply to some 173,000 acres. The Rule family was among those who gained advantages from the project.
You will find historical buildings spread throughout Middleton, which celebrates in a new self-guided tour booklet O’Meara and Moberly prepared for the 100th celebration. Some of which are the former jail and fire station that sits on a ditch bank across from City Hall. The building itself looks more like a storage shed then a safety building. The bank that was robbed in 1926 is now decorated with cowboy and cowgirl shadows and is now an Our Place Saloon.
In the history of Middleton, you would find horses grazing in a pasture simply two blocks away from Middletons City Hall. Even to this day, you can feel the rural emotions and atmosphere. It has a home, safe and secure feeling.
Although the Oregon Trail was on the other side of the Boise River from Middleton there was an alternate route straight through Middleton. Transportation has been a big part of the identity of Middleton. Between the years of 1907 and 1928, the streetcar ran from Middleton to Boise and Caldwell.
The biggest employer was the Middleton School District and Ridley’s Family Market was the biggest business employer. Over the years Middleton has grown with several new businesses and subdivisions. Most residents still maintain jobs in Boise, Caldwell, and Nampa despite this.
Currently, Middleton is growing quickly. In the last ten years, Middleton has almost doubled in the number of residents. Many of them coming from larger cities and states such as Nevada and California. The residents enjoy the isolation but the closeness to the city shopping centers.
With growth comes many concerns some of which can come at a cost of space loss and more traffic. It is hard to say if the city of Middleton can cope with the wanting to expand while keeping the sleepy bedroom community feel.
The city has a plan to update its comprehensive plan and land use map due to the growth it has had and continues to see. Individuals have been added to the city to help with this. As you drive into town currently it may seem like a city in transition as old homes and storefronts other than Ridley’s grocery store and shopping center on main street look is a little old fashion and run down and the city is trying to move away from that look and upgrade it.
Middleton is full of ethnic diversity. It currently has over 6,000 residents. You will find an old city with roots going back to the 1800’s. It has an important part of Idaho’s History. Middleton is definitely a city of combinations. It has the subdivisions and agricultural. It is an ideal mixture of green and is a brimming small town city with the charm of it.