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As I was passing through the Parma area last week, I took an unexpected side trip down to the Snake River to the original site of Fort Boise. I had been there before when we lived in that area, but I was drawn here today for some unknown reason. As I stood there along the river, I closed my eyes and tried to visualize how it must have been back in the days when Fort Boise was operational. Although it was a warm, sunny day, there was an eerie deafening silence. I got a chill and felt as if was being watched from the thick brush surrounding the area I was standing. There was no one else around. Although not common knowledge, many other visitors to the site have reported the same feeling of being watched. Some visitors have also reported seeing half formed, transparent figures moving swiftly around the site or watching them from the brush as they fish along the river. It is apparent that this site is so rich in history that it still hangs heavily in the air. You can almost hear the noises of the soldiers working around the fort, the sound of wood being chopped, the gentle neigh of their horses and their voices as they speak to each other. It is a very moving experience. The fort was built in 1834 by Thomas McKay of the Hudson Bay Fur Company. Initially, the fort had been used for the fur trade. Eventually, Fort Boise became a rest and supply stop for the weary travelers along the Oregon Trail. Fort Boise was moved several times in the general vicinity of the river’s confluence due to heavy flooding over the years, finally being built at the intersection of the roads connecting to Silver City, Idaho City and the Oregon Trail, which is now Boise. Any remnants of the fort had been destroyed by flooding by the 1860’s leaving behind the only reminder consisting of a small historical marker. In 1854, both Fort Boise and Fort Hall were closed due to increased tensions between the local Native American tribes and the emigrants traveling the Oregon Trail. One particular incident, known as the Ward Massacre, prompted the closures. In August of 1854, the twenty member Ward party were attacked by the local Shoshone Indians following a dispute over a horse near present day Caldwell. Following the fight, eighteen members of the Ward party lay dead while two small boys lay wounded in the thick brush nearby. U.S. Army soldiers found the small boys and took them back to the fort for medical treatment. The boys eventually did recover. U.S. Army Investigators eventually found four of the men responsible for the killings and they were tried and convicted. One prisoner tried to escape, but was shot while the other three were hanged on the spot as the gallows were built directly over the mass grave of the deceased emigrants lost in the massacre. Today, along highway 95 in a park on the east end of Parma, stands a replica of the original Fort Boise along with a museum and some statues serve as stark reminders of the history in this area. The annual Fort Boise Days celebration takes place the first week in June as a way for the locals to pay homage to the history of this close-knit community. The events include tours of the museum, a parade a car show, numerous vendors and many family oriented events, which I highly recommend attending. Despite the celebratory atmosphere, to me, the site of the replica of the fort sparks reminders of the seriousness of the events surrounding this small community, all of the blood, sweat and tears found in this one of many stops along the Oregon Trail. ~Deborah Frediani~

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