Party planned at Boise Depot for 'Big Mike'
Big Mike isn’t one to call much attention to himself, but when guests arrive this weekend both Mike and his home will share the limelight.
The public is invited to celebrate the historic Boise Depot and a new interpretive kiosk for Big Mike, the locomotive steam engine, at Depot Day. The public event is planned from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
ITD provided federal transportation enhancement funds to help pay for the interpretive kiosk and improvements to the Boise Depot.
The event will feature vintage autos, train stories, an art raffle, train exhibits, tours of the Depot, a slide presentation on Depot history by historian Barbara Perry Bauer, and a new MARC locomotive from MotivePower.
Admission is free, and refreshments will be available for purchase. The Marriott TownPlace Suites offers Depot visitors free parking in its lot on Capitol Boulevard. Guests can ride the free shuttle to the Depot or take a short walk up the hill.
Located at 2603 W. Eastover Terrace, the Mission-style Depot was designed by a New York architecture firm and opened in April 1925 for use as a Union Pacific passenger depot.
At 1 p.m. Sunday, Boise City Council member Maryanne Jordan will dedicate the new plaza and interpretive kiosk built for visitors interested in learning more about Big Mike and the history of steam engines in Idaho.
The kiosk, designed by Mark Baltes of Landmark Impressions and Doug Griffin of Boise Parks & Recreation, features signs that offer train facts, colorful illustrations, anecdotes, photos, maps and a chronological history of trains in the United States. A display in the kiosk includes three looping videos about how steam engines work, a history of the engine in action with original footage from the 1955 Union Pacific movie “The Last of the Giants,” and news and documentary footage of the train’s move from Julia Davis Park to a site on the east side of the Boise Depot.
Built in 1920 by American Locomotive Co., Big Mike was used as an all-purpose freight engine along Union Pacific’s main line from North Platte, Neb., to Fruitland. It was the last steam engine to operate between Pocatello and Boise.
“Big Mike” was retired by the Union Pacific Railroad and donated to the city of Boise in 1959. The engine was later moved to the Third Street entrance to Julia Davis Park; it was moved to the Depot in 2007. The train has been washed, and Boise-based Hillside Landscape Construction built the new plaza, sidewalks and a wrought-iron fence around the engine.
Big Mike’s move, the restoration, plaza and new display were funded by private donations, in-kind contributions from the City of Boise and $309,000 in federal transportation enhancement funds awarded by the Idaho Transportation Department for non-roadway improvements.
Depot Day is sponsored by the Boise City Departments of Arts & History and Parks & Recreation with support from Valley Regional Transit, ACHD Commuteride and MotivePower. For information, see www.cityofboise.org or call the Department of Arts & History at (208) 433-5670.