Kuna History

History of Kuna

Kuna is a city in Ada County, Idaho, United States. It is part of the Boise Metropolitan Statistical Area, otherwise referred to as the Boise Valley, and is located approximately 18 miles southwest of downtown Boise, the state capital. Kuna is located at an elevation of 2,694 feet above sea level.

In 1863, silver and gold ore were discovered in the Owyhee Mountains, resulting in a boom town called Silver City and a trail toward it from Fort Boise. A one way station along that treacherous route was known as Fifteen Mile Station, because it was 15 miles southwest of Boise and approximately 20 miles from the Snake River. The station was abandoned after a mine shutdown due to violence.

In 1881, when the Oregon Short Line Railway Company started building its line westward across Idaho, it bypassed Boise City due to the uneven terrain, and instead established a construction and materials camp at Fifteen Mile House station, because the Silver City road crossed the railway right of way there. Weather, accidents, and violence reportedly killed nine mine workers, followed by a diphtheria epidemic that killed 11 more.

When the line was put into operation in September of 1882 or 1883, a station was placed at that point and called "Kuna." A settlement grew up around the station and flourished. During the years 1883 to 1887, supplies for Boise City, Idaho City, Placerville, Centerville, and Silver City were transported by freight wagon from the railroad at Kuna. Hauling goods and passengers to Boise became an important local industry. The early town consisted of at least three warehouses, a depot, and a post office, which was established in 1884.

But the early settlement of Kuna was short. After the branch line from Nampa to Boise was completed in 1887, the need for a depot at Kuna was over. The settlement closed down and Kuna became just another railroad siding. Years after the original settlement, all that remains is a signboard with the name Kuna and a graveyard containing the victims of the diphtheria epidemic, now known as Pioneer Cemetery.

The cemetery is located near the original route of the Silver Trail along Stage Coach Road. Pioneer Cemetery honors the early pioneers who settled the region.

Early pioneers found themselves building shacks of basalt rock to live in, because there was no wood or even sod to build houses. The land was covered with sagebrush, which they grubbed from the fields and burned for fuel.

It took the promise of water, through the engineering marvel of irrigation, to bring new life to the region. When the U.S. Reclamation Service was established in 1902, their planned project sites included the Boise Valley. Major reservoir development began on the Boise Project, including expansion of the New York Canal system. Eventually, it ran south of Boise to the Kuna area, and extended onto Deer Flat Reservoir near Nampa.

In 1905, Mr. and Mrs. Fremont H. Teed anticipated the coming irrigation trend and filed a 200-acre claim under the Desert Land Act, where Kuna stands. Until irrigation began, water for stock and human consumption was hauled in barrels from the Snake River, 20 miles away, and later from an 18-foot well, dug in the bed of Indian Creek, which was dry most of the year, near Mora.

The Teeds re-established the post office on July 21, 1905, and that same year the town site was opened. In 1907, Teed and his brother-in-law D.R. Hubbard filed adjacent land claims, platting the area as orchard tracts. They marketed Kuna's access to the railroad as an enticement for people to homestead the land.

By the fall of 1908, the community of Kuna had enough school-age children to open its own school. The community school opened in a 16-by-24-foot tent. There were 14 pupils enrolled, with Mr. Gaylord Greene as the first teacher. In January, the school moved from the tent into the Teed home, on the site of what is now the Grange Hall on Linder Road. During the summer of 1910, the first school building was erected for $7,000.

On February 22, 1909, the first water was let into the New York Canal at Diversion Dam east of Boise. Irrigation water was now available to the Kuna region. Soon, 50,000 acres were developed and under irrigation.

In an effort to promote the area, Hubbard placed advertisements in the local Boise newspaper, the Idaho Daily Statesman, that claimed "To Build a City of Kuna ... We want 200 partners to help build a city." 200 lots were available for sale at $100 a lot. The Kuna town site was sold at public auction on May 4, 1909. A special train consisting of four coaches from Boise, Nampa, and surrounding areas brought people out. Before the drawing, 144 lots were sold, and the remainder were auctioned.

That same spring, Avalon Orchard Tracts Company was organized southwest of town. Two years later, a portion of the land was platted and placed on record as the Avalon Addition. Many of the 713 acres were planted in vineyards, apples and prunes.

On October 25, 1909, State Master D.C. Mullen met with some 15 or 20 farmers for the purpose of organizing a grange at Kuna. On May 2, 1910, the organization was completed. A charter was issued by the national organization on May 11 to "Kuna Grange No. 59," which was instrumental in promoting agriculture and various improvements.

Farmers also had to deal with hordes of jackrabbits that ate their crops. Mass hunts were organized to eliminate the pests, and dead rabbits were sold for meat by the wagon load.

In the spring of 1910, the first building, a double store with an assembly hall, office and living quarters above, was built downtown. The Kuna Mercantile was then organized. Some months afterward, the Kuna Savings Bank moved into a room and remained there until its liquidation in 1915. This building still stands today.

The first service of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was held on March 12, 1911. By October of 1916, the Methodist Episcopal Church had partially completed its building. The excavation for the Baptist Church started on May 24, 1915. The building was completed with an all-day dedication service held on December 5, 1915, making it the first completed church building in Kuna, with 14 members.

A permanent train depot building was built in 1913, replacing an old boxcar used for a waiting room that had gradually been torn apart for firewood by people waiting for trains.

In 1914, the Kuna Non-Sectarian Cemetery Association incorporated with 10 acres of land.

Kuna's first regular newspaper, the Kuna Herald, went to press on November 19, 1914, with Charles H. Shepherd the editor and publisher. The Kuna Herald was one successor for the Kuna Store News, which was printed by the business firms of the town and which served as an advertising medium as well as containing local news items.

Kuna was incorporated on September 13, 1915, in the middle of a prosperous decade of land development brought on by the opening of the New York Canal. At that time, the town site covered some 540 acres, had a population of 227, and an assessed valuation of $268,744.

In 1918, and for the next five or six summers, Kuna hosted the Chautauqua Program, a traveling variety show from the town of Chautauqua in upstate New York with singers, lecturers, and other performers.

By 1919, Main Street included the Kuna Herald building, the Kuna State Bank building, the Kuna Lumber and Coal company, a building called George's Place that hosted the Kuna Barber Shop and the Kuna Confectionary, the Kuna Post Office, the Kuna Mercantile company, the Kuna Livery Feed and Stable, and the Kuna Hardware Company. Other businesses included two blacksmith shops, a garage, restaurant, print shop, two lumberyards, an artificial ice plant, barber shop, pool hall, produce store, theatre, drugstore, planning mill, carpenter shop, milling and elevator company, butcher shop, a creamery and a millinery shop.

The Church of Christ and the Nazarene Church were formed in 1923. The Kuna school burned down in 1925 and was rebuilt. Kuna High School was built in 1924.

The construction of the gymnasium in 1947 marked the greatest major improvement in the physical plant of Kuna High School since the building of the auditorium more than 10 years earlier. The gymnasium, located on Fourth Street, is still in use today.

Kuna continued as an agricultural community after World War II and grew slowly, as it was considered to be far away in the country.

As recently as the 1970s, some major roads in Kuna were still dirt. The building of Interstate 84 in the 1960s and 1970s brought more people to Kuna, as did the widening of Highway 69 in the late 1990s. That, combined with rising land and home prices in the rest of Ada County, began bringing even more people to Kuna, fueling its rapid growth. In 1990, Kuna had 1,955 people and grew to 5,222 by 1999, 8,839 by 2003, and more than 15,000 by 2010.

SOURCE: Article published by Kuna Melba News on October 26, 2016
Kuna Melba News indicated the sources they used were as follows:

Kuna Joint School District No. 3. The Settlement of Kuna region 1900-1925; Patterns of the Past: The Ada County Historic Site Inventory. "A brief history of the Kuna area," Ada County Development Services; "A history of the Kuna Grange," Compiled by Sharon Fisher, Lecturer, Kuna Grange, 2005, from information originally written by Laura Rea (originally made available by Mrs. Ben Aylsworth of Nampa, and compiled from record books and data collected by E.G. May and B. Matthews), Lois Dustman, and Ruth Burningham. Help also provided by Wayne and Blanche Kuhlman and Florence Chaney; "A walking tour of Kuna's beginnings," Ada County Historic Preservation Council; "Ada County Chronicles: An Overview of the Development of Ada County," Ada County Development Services; "Ada County Historic Preservation Council 2006 Preservation Plan for Cultural and Historic Resources"; "Gateway to the Birds of Prey; Kuna, Idaho." Economic Development Committee, Kuna Chamber of Commerce, Sept. 1999

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