It's no wonder that Meridian is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Part of the greater Boise Metropolitan Statistical Area, it offers something for everyone - from the appeal of the quaint, old downtown with its unique, ethnic dining to the upscale retail and entertainment of The Village, on the edge of Meridian, bordering Boise. Families will gravitate to the excellent public and charter schools and sprawling parks with playing fields. Senior citizens may choose a planned community of single-level townhomes. All can rest assured knowing that Meridian offers award winning healthcare services and a full-service hospital.
Meridian is situated between Boise to the east and Nampa to the west, comprising the corridor of the most populated region in the state of Idaho. (Ever wonder how Meridian got its name? It’s because the city lies directly on one of the 35 principal meridians established by the U.S. Public Land Survey System.)
Incorporated in 1902, Meridian’s roots are in agriculture. The completion of the Settler’s Irrigation Ditch in 1892, which introduced irrigation to the area, changed the arid landscape to a fertile farming community. From the early 1900s to the 1940s it was a well-established fruit growing region, producing varieties of apples and Italian prunes. Many fruit packing businesses were built along the railroad, which was brought into the Village of Meridian in 1908. At a time when few people owned cars, the train was the most economical, if not the only, mode of transportation for those who wished to visit Boise or Nampa. The last train of the day from Boise would stop in Meridian for the night, before its return to the capital city the next morning.
In 1929, the Ada County Dairymen’s Cooperative opened a creamery in Meridian. Dairy farmers who were members of the co-op relied on their checks from the creamery to see them through the dark days of the Depression. And many residents were employed at the creamery, whose chief product was Challenge Butter. The Creamery was in constant operation 24/7 for 40 years. When it ceased operations in 1970, dairy producers shipped their milk to the creamery in Caldwell. The vacated creamery buildings were used for various, short-lived business ventures before they were finally abandoned.
The property on which the old creamery was located was sold to the City of Meridian and in 2006, the creamery was demolished to make way for the redevelopment of the property as the city’s new municipal complex. City Hall and all the city services are now housed in the $25 million complex in the heart of Meridian’s Old Town District.
The first Dairy Show was held on June 18, 1929 to commemorate the opening of the creamery and now, many years later, Meridian Dairy Days celebrates the community’s heritage of the days when Meridian was the dairy center of Idaho. Dairy Days is held the third full weekend of June and the full slate of events includes a parade through Meridian and many events in Storey Park. Proceeds from the celebration support 4-H and FFA clubs in the area.
In fact, Meridian’s newest city park, Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park, has ties to the dairy industry. Mr. Kleiner was a Russian immigrant to the United States and an early pioneer in the creamery business. He operated a dairy farm on the land on which the park is located, until his death in 1972. His son Eugene Kleiner donated the $25 million park to the City of Meridian.
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