Military Reserve

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November 3, 2015

The final mild days of autumn and a new co-worker from Twin Falls, also a photo enthusiast, are occasion to walk the riparian ravine — a green stripe among beige hills — in Boise’s nearby Military Reserve.

Trail 27
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Trail 27
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22829486026

Tiny Cottonwood Creek was once home to a mule-driven sawmill built to support construction of Fort Boise beginning in 1863.¹ We see no mill today, no mules, no sign of the military maneuvers that spanned some eighty years. We point our cameras instead at leaves unsettled by the wind that whispers among dark branches above.

  1. Idaho State Historical Society, “Fort Boise” (No. 356): history.idaho.gov/…/0356
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mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/48612598853

Mike, Robert and I walked here across the old grounds of Fort Boise, now a Department of Veterans Affairs campus. Most of the original fort buildings are still standing, today surrounded by large trees, well manicured lawns and signs warning elderly veterans to watch their step.

  1. starIdaho State Historical Society image 77-180-2B: idahohistory.contentdm.oclc.org/…/1
  2. starColor restoration with DeOldify machine learning: github.com/…/DeOldify
Impermanence
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Impermanence
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22841971392

It was the Utter Massacre and its cannibalistic conclusion along the Oregon Trail, discussed earlier this year,¹ that inspired construction of a new military fort² at the previously empty intersection of the Trail and busy road connecting the boom towns of Idaho City and Silver City. Boise exists, to some extent, because of what happened to the Utter party in 1860.

The massacre was the subject of dreadful fascination for decades, headlines and popular angst now all but forgotten. Doomsayer hullabaloo about global warming, gun rights and Islamism will also be shortly forgotten except to those wanting to make a quant point about civic impermanence.

  1. Trail Image, “Swan Falls Dam to Wilson Creek via Murphy”: trailimage.com/swan-falls-dam-to-wilson-creek-via-murphy
  2. Idaho State Historical Society, “Fort Boise” (No. 356): history.idaho.gov/…/0356
Fetal photography
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Fetal photography
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22234348263

Robert recently moved with his family from Twin Falls to join our team in Boise, some 230 miles farther along the Oregon Trail. New employee hazing guidelines require his occasional contortions.

Saber rattling*
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Saber rattling*
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22841978932

After the final Indian wars, Fort Boise was redesignated Boise Barracks to house occasional army units, such as during the Mexican Border War beginning in 1916.

  1. star1917 Idaho State Historical Society image 284-26: idahohistory.cdmhost.com/…/3
  2. Idaho State Historical Society, “Fort Boise” (No. 356): history.idaho.gov/…/0356
At ease
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At ease
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22463350669

Leaves hang languid under the day’s slate sky.

Huddled masses
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Huddled masses
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22437168658
Beside the point
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Beside the point
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22437171978

As along many desert creeks and crevices, the damp path among protuberant colors seems to transport us, as if by magic, far from the pale hills that surround us.

Dubious
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Dubious
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22855514965

The Military Reserve was space for gunnery practice and other military maneuvers from 1863 to 1944.¹ Now it’s space for quiet reflections.

  1. Ridge to Rivers, “Military Reserve”: ridgetorivers.org/…/military-reserve
Fractal
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Fractal
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22866679781
Amyloid
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Amyloid
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22842000162

“Veterans of the Mexican War, Civil War, Indian Wars, and Spanish American War are interred at the reserve.”¹ It’s easy to imagine their ghosts sitting along the creek, chewing a blade of grass, watching leaves float by.

  1. City of Boise, “Military Reserve”: parks.cityofboise.org/…/military-reserve
Prospect
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Prospect
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22866686281

Elaborate stairs rise from the ravine to high desert above.

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mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22842006402
End of autumn
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End of autumn
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22855531445

At the top of the stairs I look back then wait for Robert to clear the shot.

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mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/48613151962

“And that’s the camera you choose?” I ask Robert incredulously as he pans across the horizon with his phone, SLR hanging at his side.

“It’s easier to shoot panoramas with it,” he explains with a smile.

From the bench above the stairs we can see the old Fort Boise officer quarters, blacksmith, clinic, dairy and more, still standing but crowded and obscured by trees and much larger buildings.

  1. starLate 1800s Idaho State Historical Society image 77-180-2C: idahohistory.contentdm.oclc.org/…/1
  2. starColor restoration with DeOldify machine learning: github.com/…/DeOldify
1863 to now
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1863 to now
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22463380759

We descend from the bench and begin retracing our steps, back to the future.

Ancient canal
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Ancient canal
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22855539145

A couple dogs express suspicions about us as we approach the road. “You don’t have any dogs,” their lady owner explains as she calls for them to heel. Dogless humans are sinister. We joke this will have to be a violent wolf attack in the retelling.

1939 Boise*
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1939 Boise*
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22232796334

We find a simpler, if less scenic, route along the old barracks back to our offices.

  1. starAlbertsons Library image BUJ 012-069: digital.boisestate.edu/…/2
Afternoon river
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Afternoon river
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/22842024862

I had no idea when I sought out the site of the Utter Massacre this spring¹ that it was connected to Boise’s founding. As I bicycle home at the end of the day, through Municipal Park to cross the river, I think also of the interesting past in this part of Boise.² I am glad to know these bits of history. A longer perspective keeps me from getting too wrapped up in current issues, even those I argue passionately about.

  1. Trail Image, “Swan Falls Dam to Wilson Creek via Murphy”: trailimage.com/swan-falls-dam-to-wilson-creek-via-murphy
  2. Trail Image, “Yellow Mist”: trailimage.com/yellow-mist
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mapmap http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/48614829451

From frontier outpost, established to protect those travelling farther west, this settlement grew while the several mining towns it was meant to protect dwindled. Here we have Boise.

  1. starLate 1800s Idaho State Historical Society image 81-48-39: idahohistory.cdmhost.com/…/1
  2. starColor restoration with DeOldify machine learning: github.com/…/DeOldify