Eagle Chronicle Masthead

August 18, 2023

Vol. 1, No. 1

Eagle Back Then

Letter By Jane Kramer, Middleton, Idaho

The roads leading to Eagle back in 1990 were literally lined with miles of row crops and fields of grazing animals, along with an occasional gas station here and there. Hwy 44 and Eagle Road were the main thoroughfares. There was no bypass back then, so Hwy 44 took all travelers through the center of town. This had to be endured if you wanted to continue on to Star or to Boise.

When driving into Eagle, you initially felt like you’d left civilization and ventured into a secret, throw-back in time. Eagle was still a sleepy little farming community with a population of less than five thousand. Huge, lush Oak and Catalpa trees dotted downtown. The buildings around Eagle Rd. and Hwy 44 were charming and reminiscent of past days. Sporadic family farms still dotted areas in and around downtown. Quaint was often used to describe the town.

There weren’t a lot of amenities available to residents back then. There was no Albertson’s, no hospital, no hotel, no middle or high school. The fire department was comprised of volunteers. Doug’s Burger Den provided the only take-out option, though the old Trolly House at Edgewood and 44 offered hearty, sit-down county meals. Orville Jackson’s no longer had a soda fountain, but did offer everything from Eagle post cards to small farm implements and a pharmacy. There was a mom-and-pop grocery store, but the selection was limited. After a long day of work in Boise, you’d often drive back to Albertson’s at Gary Lane for the milk you absolutely had to have. City Hall was housed in a small portion of the newly constructed senior center building, along with a few portables behind it. The library was wedged in between the old barber shop and a restaurant. It was absolutely life changing when Smokey Mountain came to town a few years later and actually offered delivery.

While there were pockets of homes here and there, subdivisions weren’t prevalent at the time, though the likes of Island Woods, Eagle Hills and Melvin’s Eagle Point would appear just a few years later. Many people came to Eagle seeking larger pieces of land where they could build a home, have large animals, farm part of the property or just have some ‘elbow room.’ Back then, you could purchase a five acre parcel just outside of the downtown core for forty to fifty thousand dollars.

Wild asparagus used to grow along some of the irrigation ditch banks that are abundant in Eagle. Every March, many would gather their baskets and sharp knives and walk those ditch banks. They’d harvest what they found and happily take their bounty home.

In Eagle’s outlying areas, it wasn’t uncommon for folks to keep a lead rope or two in their vehicles. They came in handy when you found a stray horse or cow standing in the middle of the road, which seemed to happen a lot. If you couldn’t identify the owner, you’d tie the animal up until you could come back, or slowly walk it home to your pasture until someone came looking for it. Sometimes it took them a day or two to realize that an animal was missing. You’d have to put a sign out on the road to let folks know that you had a stray in your pasture. When the owner came to collect their animal, they’d bring some hay or a homemade treat to express their thanks. New and lasting friendships were often formed through unlikely events like this.

Eagle has obviously changed greatly in the ensuing years, but the community still holds to a lot of the values that stem from its farming heritage. Residents are fiercely loyal to their town and despite its growth, the concept of neighbor still exists. Eagle is still small enough that you can walk into a shop and be greeted by your name. It really is a great place to call home.