Welcome to Meridian, Idaho
Meridian is a city located in Ada County in the U.S. state of Idaho. As of the 2010 census, the population of Meridian was 75,092 making it the third largest city in Idaho after Boise and Nampa. Meridian is considered the state’s fastest-growing city and among the fastest-growing cities in the United States. A 2015 census estimate placed the population at approximately 90,739. With a 2018 non-census population estimate of 106,410 and a 1,000 percent increase in population since 1990, the city is currently estimated as the second largest in the state.
Living in Meridian, Idaho
The town was established in 1891 on the Onweiler farm north of the present site and was called Hunter. Two years later an I.O.O.F. lodge was organized and called itself Meridian because it was located on the Boise Meridian and the town was renamed. The Settlers’ Irrigation Ditch, 1892, changed the arid region into a productive farming community which was incorporated in 1902.
Meridian was incorporated in 1903. The information in the following sections (Irrigation, Village, Rail Transportation, and Creamery) is found on the displays in the Meridian City Hall Plaza.
Irrigation (1890– )
Early settlers arriving in the area came with no knowledge of gravity flow irrigation. Their previous homes were in areas where rain provided the needed moisture to raise crops. Irrigation soon became a necessity, since having a water source was a requirement for receiving the patent for the land from the U.S. Land Office. Irrigation districts, such as the Nampa-Meridian and Settlers irrigation districts, continue to serve the immediate Meridian area.
The original Meridian town site was filed in 1893 on homestead grant land belonging to Eliza Ann Zenger. Her husband, Christian, filed the plat with county officials and called it Meridian. The early settlers, many of whom were relatives, left their homes in Missouri to go west, either by wagon train or immigrant railroad car, bringing their lodge and church preferences with them. They established local institutions soon after arriving and filed for homestead lands.
Around the start of the 20th century, settlers established fruit orchards and built fruit packing businesses and prune dryers along the railroad tracks. Local orchards produced many varieties of apples and Italian prunes. Production continued through the mid-1940s, when it was no longer profitable and the businesses closed. In 1941, Meridian’s status changed from a village to a city.
Rail Transportation (1908–28)
Following the raising of $4,000 to lay the Interurban rail line from Onweiler (Meridian and Ustick Roads), the tracks were completed into the village center. Turning east on Broadway and ending at East Second, the last car would spend the night in Meridian before returning to Boise early the next morning with passengers and freight. The interurban Station and Generator building (west one-third of the old library at Meridian and Idaho Streets) was built in 1912, and the line continued on to Nampa via Meridian. The tracks down Broadway were not used after 1912. The Interurban Company entered into receivership and closed in 1928 after 20 years of providing continuous economical transportation to neighboring towns. It was Meridian’s main connection to the area outside the local community.
The Union Pacific Railroad spur opened in 1900 and is currently operated by the Boise Valley Railroad. Many industrial customers continue to ship forest, agricultural, and chemical products along this corridor.
The lowest days of the Great Depression brightened for area dairymen when the Ada County Dairymen’s cooperative creamery began operation in 1929. It provided milk checks to those who were members of the cooperative, enabling them to pay their taxes and provide food for their families. Other community members hauled milk to the creamery and were employed by the creamery, whose product was Challenge Butter.
The creamery ran 7 days a week for 40 years. Additions and improvements were made while the plant was in full operation. Later years saw the Wyeth Laboratories affiliate with the creamery to manufacture SMA baby formula.
After the creamery ceased local operations in 1970, the dairymen shipped their milk to the Caldwell creamery for processing.
The majority of Meridian lies on a flat plain, roughly in the north central part of Treasure Valley. There is a low bench along the south east edge of the city. The city is crossed by several irrigation canals that generally run from the south east to the north west. The Boise River runs north of the city. The Snake River runs far south of the city. Squaw Butte is visible to the north at 5,873 feet (1,790 m). Shafer Butte is visible to the north east at 7,572 feet (2,308 m). The Owyhee Mountains are visible to the far south.
Meridian’s climate is characterized as semi-arid with four distinct seasons. Meridian experiences hot and dry summers where temperatures can often exceed 100 °F (38 °C), as well as cold winters with occasional light snowfall. Rainfall is usually infrequent and light, usually averaging less than an inch (25.4 mm) per month. December is the wettest month with an average of 1.55 inches (39 mm) of precipitation, and August is the driest month with 0.24 inches (6.1 mm). Spring and fall are generally temperate.
Art is on display in the Initial Point Gallery on the third floor of the Meridian City Hall. The gallery is open to the public with free admission.
The Meridian Speedway lies within city limits directly south of Old Town Meridian.
Meridian shares boundaries with the two largest cities in Idaho, Boise to the east and Nampa to the west. Therefore, residents of Meridian often take advantage of the recreation and sports opportunities in those cities.
Eagle Island State Park is about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) north of Meridian and includes a man-made lake with a beach, equestrian and hiking trails, fishing, and a water slide. The Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area is south of Meridian.
I-84 is between Franklin and Overland. Pine is another major road that runs east/west and lies between Cherry and Franklin.
A railroad line runs east/west and lies between Pine and Franklin. Most of the city’s industrial areas are concentrated along this railroad line with some other industrial areas near the east side of the city south west of the intersection of Fairview and Eagle. The line was formerly owned by Union Pacific, but Boise Valley Railroad now owns the line, running trains on weekdays from Boise to Nampa.
A zoning map is available on the city’s web site.
Old-town Meridian centers around the intersection of Main Street and Pine Street. In the older section of the city, there are numbered streets up to 15th street to the west and up to 5th street to the east.