Idaho Outdoor Association
Nearly 100 years ago, Boise was a main hub in the early days of commercial airmail delivery. In 1925, the US government decided that airmail would be contracted out to commercial airlines. Back then, the newly-built Boise Airport was located next to the Boise River where Boise State University sits today. Boise's Varney Air Lines (later named United Air Lines) became one of the airmail delivery contractors. Under the contract, pilots were required to fly day and night in all kinds of weather to ensure the fastest possible delivery. But this was dangerous work. Pilots flew primarily by sight, with the help of basic navigational aids such map, compass and landmarks. Radio navigation was still a decade away. To aid in nighttime navigation and inclement weather, giant arrows called Beacon Stations were built to help guide the pilots of early airmail flights across the nation. These arrows were at the base of 50 foot skeleton towers that had a 24" or 36" rotating beacon and in the early days painted chrome yellow. Where electricity was unavailable they had a generator shed on the feather end of the arrow to power the beacon. The site number was painted on one side of the roof of the shed, the other side had the airway.They pointed to the next higher numbered beacon station, directing the pilot along his route. All arrows pointed east on the west-east airways and north on the south-north airways. Approximately 1,500 were built between December 1926 and November 1932, when metal arrows became the standard.
The Boise South Arrow is a remnant of those early days of commercial airmail delivery. It was the final beacon before north-bound pilots landed in Boise. The arrow is located north of I-84 near the Eisenman interchange southeast of Boise. It is approximately a 1.5 mile round trip hike on both level ground and up the side of a small hill. From the arrow you get unobstructed views of the city, valley and the Boise and Owyhee mountains.
We'll meet at the IOA parking lot at 6 p.m. and proceed to the large dirt parking lot on the east side of the Eisenman interchange (I-84 exit 59). Some of the route is essentially off-trail so sturdy foot attire is recommended.
early airmail flight
3401 S. Brazil St. , P.O. Box 15943, Boise, ID 83715
The Idaho Outdoor Association, Inc. is a non-profit organization.