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For years, the Boise Tour Train gave visitors, residents, and school-aged kids a close-up view of the City of Trees on a series of open-air train cars. Though the old-school train is no longer around (it was sold and replaced by a trolley-style bus), vintage video of the tour lives on YouTube.

User “balsamwoods” posted a video from 1992, which shows a version of Boise that’s both vintage and familiar.

“Here we are on a little hill overlooking downtown Boise, that hub metropolis,” the narrator of the amateur home video starts out over a grainy view of the city skyline. Landmarks like the WestOne Bank Plaza (now US Bank Building), One Capital Center and Idaho Power are present, but all the development of the last 30 years are missing of course… the Zions Bank Building, Inn at 500, Banner Bank building and even the Grove Hotel.

On the Tour Train

The video cuts to Main Street, with a shaky shot of 11th St. and the Idanha Hotel in the background. Before too long, the video jumps to the Boise Tour Train in Julia Davis Park.

A new narrator, now the Boise Tour Train guide, goes on to describe the sights and sounds.

  • He talks about the Boise State campus and its history as Boise’s first airport (and the home of United Airlines, founded in Boise as Varney Airlines).
  • The Fun Depot is featured, a small amusement park that used to sit in Julia Davis Park, with bumper cars, a roller coaster and Tilt-A-Whirl.
  • The tour cuts over to the St. Luke’s area. A number of older homes surrounding the hospital – which the health system has torn down in recent years, are featured and noted they used to be used for doctor’s offices.
  • The O’Farrel Cabin, Boise Federal Courthouse, Go-Fer Mart (with gas prices at $1.23), old M&W Market and more see cameos.

With kids listening in, the tour veers into a strange tale of true crime.

“Artie was a hit man from Meridian Idaho who stalked down his prey in the parking lot of that M&W Market after his buddy, his good friend of days gone by offered Artie a job by paying him one dollar to do away with his wife. Artie took the job… and stalked behind her and strangled her in the frozen foods section.”

The strange tale winds on noting ‘Artie’ killed two more and landed with a punch line – a supposed newspaper headline.

“Artie chokes three for a dollar…”

With the mini-episode of Dateline NBC passed, the Tour Train gives a glimpse of the early 1990s North End, featuring the homes of Harry W. Morrison and more.

North End, Downtown

Back downtown, you can see the city as it was. Many more empty lots, lots of facades that have changed significantly, and business names that have come and gone. The old First Security Bank, Boise Blue Art Supply, The Yogurt Way, Main Street Bistro, Downtown Child Development Center and more.

For more vintage scenes and corny jokes, you can watch the video here or below: