You should never forget where you came from. History is important to not only who we are as individuals, but who we are as a culture. Once in a while it is important to get in touch with where we came from and get back to our roots. We learn and grow from the past. That is why we have put together a list of five historical sites and landmarks in Idaho that we think are worth a visit.

Photo Credit: Old Idaho Penetentiary- Sep 30, 2009

  1. Old Idaho Penitentiary, Boise– The penitentiary opened its doors in 1872 to some of
  2. the worst criminals of the West. It was a working prison for 101 years. Visit the cell blocks, gallows and solitary confinement and take in 100 years’ worth of Idaho’s prison history. There are thirty historic buildings at the Old Idaho Penitentiary site and many exhibitions are featured, such as the J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit of Arms and Armaments, which displays one of the biggest collections of historic arms and military memorabilia in the United States.  Stop by what was once the Old Pen barber shop and you will learn the history, meanings, and methods of prison tattooing through the centuries. The Penitentiary is open year-round and hosts several fun events. There are paranormal investigations, parties, cemetery tours, and much more. Open seven days a week, except for state holidays, there is a small entrance fee.
  3. Idaho State Capitol– For nearly a century, many laws have been passed, citizen’s rights protected, and issues debated within the sandstone walls of the states capitol building. In 1998, Governor Phil Batt appointed the Idaho Capitol Commission to preserve the Capitol’s history and legacy.  Visitors are welcome Monday-Friday from 6am-10pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9am-5pm during legislative sessions, and Monday-Friday from 6am-6pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9am-5pm during the interim between legislative sessions.
  4. Boise Depot–  With its white, sandstone exterior and Spanish tiled roof, the Boise Depot is truly a gem. Designed by Shreve & Lamb, the New York architects who designed the Empire State Building, the Boise Depot opened in 1925. There is an amazing panoramic view of the Boise Front from the depot, and the grounds include Platt Gardens, a sweet park with pathways, a gazebo and a koi pond. The outside of the depot is always open. The interior is open Sundays and Mondays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  5. Lewis and Clark Trail– A portion of the Lewis and Clark trail runs through Idaho with various stops and sites along its way. Visit Idaho says, “A winter campground for their famed 1805 expedition across the continent, Northern Idaho is still a natural resting point for travelers. Facing bitter winter cold and dwindling supplies, the Lewis & Clark expedition was befriended and saved by the Nez Perce tribe, who were ultimately vital to the expedition’s success. Markers point out the exact path the team took across the state, and the adventurous can still follow in their footsteps.”
  6. Arrowrock Dam–  The damn was completed in 1915 and was the tallest dam in the world at the time. The dam provided the means to store Boise River water so it would be available when needed. Arrowrock Dam is on the Boise River, 22 miles upstream from the Idaho state capital of Boise. From Interstate 84, exit onto ID 21 North. Turn east at East Spring Shores Rd., which continues as Arrow Rock Rd. and then Deer Creek Rd. Take the bend onto North Fork Boise Rd./Nat for Dev Rd. 268 and the enormity of Arrowrock Dam comes into view. Roadside pull-offs offer photograph opportunities, but the dam and the road over its crest are now off-limits. Excellent views of the dam also are available to boaters in Arrowrock Reservoir, which stretches for 18 miles up a narrow canyon.

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