By Beryl Frank
The Boise, Idaho, station was considered by many to be one of the West's most beautiful. The last Amtrak train ran out of Boise in 1997. But the depot is still standing and serving the community with offices and small stores finding homes where once the railroad ran.
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The first train depot in Boise, Idaho, was built in 1887. It was a modest board and batten structure built a short distance from the present building. That first building did NOT have a clock tower.
In 1927, the clock tower chimes were given by friends in memory of Edward Henry Harriman. The bells were supplied by a New York company, and Seth Thomas supplied the clock and striking device.
In 1990, Union Pacific tried to sell the Boise depot to Intermountain Gas Industries, but this sale did not come to be. The Morrison Knudsen Corporation purchased the depot from Union Pacific. The restoration of the depot began in 1992 for Amtrak. The restored depot opened on February 5, 1993.
The clock in the tower was no longer operating. The original clock was rebuilt with chimes restored by 1992. Today, the city of Boise owns the depot, and once again the clock chimes out every quarter hour.
Time and the railroads were very well acquainted. The railroad call of 'ALL ABOARD' was usually based on timekeepers from pocket watches for the conductors to the tall clock towers at the top of the depots.