Idaho Historical Society Chairman Martain Stinnett (Documentary Photo #ff342):

The results of the investigation in the Chinatown fires were inconclusive.  They could never be connected to racism or arson.

Like most of the Western railroads, this one, pushed up by the Utah Northern Line, was built by Chinese. As the track progressed, reaching Boise in the summer of 1875, many of these laborers decided to stay and get work in construction and local mining efforts. The Chinese population climbed to 700, and a Chinatown developed at the foot of Table Rock. It became something of an attraction for anyone passing through to the Oregon coast or north to the mines around Coeur d’Alene.

Naturally, at least according to Idaho tradition, this aroused a certain amount of ire in various parts of the community. No less than three fires took down this part of town, resulting in at least twenty-four deaths. There was never an investigation, and no arrests were ever made.

Chinatown was effectively empty by the late eighteen hundreds.

Evidence at the site: none.


My Father Bob Blackburn (Documentary Photo #d3458):

I used to work with a Chinese guy, John somebody.  His great-grandma died in one of those fires, I guess.  He was a nice guy.