Idaho Falls - City of Destiny


Charles Swipe taught school in a railroad car at Eagle Rock during the early months of 1879. His pupils were from the families who traveled with the Utah and Northern Railroad workers. The bridge-building crew numbered seventy-five men, and there was a long stay at Eagle Rock until the bridge over Snake River was completed in June, 1879. (Edith Lovell)

In a century Idaho Falls has expanded from one Central School to many schools. School District #9, Oneida County, first included nearly all the Snake River Valley north of Franklin. In 1991 about 18 elementary and five secondary schools operated in Idaho Falls School District 91; in addition many city students live within the Bonneville School District 93, and attend one of its 10 elementary and three secondary schools. We also have several parochial schools.

School Districts. Idaho Falls Independent School District No. 1 was formed in 1894. The first graduation of Idaho Falls High School and the earliest in Upper Snake River Valley was 1899. By 1947 School District #91 was created and I. F. #1 discontinued. District 91 included Idaho Falls and certain rural areas, particularly to the south. In 1950 Joint School District 93 was created, including high schools in Ammon, Iona and Ucon, and these consolidated into Bonneville High School built in 1956.

Higher education in Idaho Falls has been available in spite of not having a college. For example in the R. L. Polk Directory for the city, 1914-1915, 38 residents were occupied as students at Gem State Business College. E. R. Underhill was president of the college located on the top floor of a building on the corner of Park Avenue and B. In the Chronology (Appendix 2), we list several events relative to obtaining a college here. In 1991 there was a major endeavor rejected by the taxpayers to establish a community college in the city.

Two retired teachers, Josephine Snell and Dora Gale have prepared a brief chronological history of the schools, which follows. In addition, a short history of the schools for developmentally disabled is included. Some of the early schools are also pictured.

For more information, see history of schools by Harold Forbush, soon to be published. See also Grace Ritchie, The Way We Were, 1976, a project of the Idaho Falls Chapter of Retired Teachers.

SCHOOLS 1882-1991

1882. Rebecca Mitchell started a school in an abandoned saloon in Eagle Rock. She used it also as living quarters and on Sunday, a Sunday School. She went from there to Reesor House.

1882. In April, Eagle Rock's School District was formed by petition and named School District #9, Oneida County. It included practically all of the Upper Snake River Valley.

1882. In December, a one room school was built south of what is now known as Bonneville Museum on Eastern Avenue and Elm Street.

1884. The town was platted this year and found the one room school building to be located in the middle of Elm Street.

Ground embracing Elm Street, Walnut Street, Water Avenue and Ridge Avenue was purchased and the building was moved to this site and another room added. It became known as Central School.

1888. C. E. Arney became acting Superintendent of the new school system and school records were first kept this year.

1892. A new Central School was built of brick with eight rooms. The door opening faced out on Water Avenue.

1894. The first independent school district of this area was formed and a high school was established.

1895. A school was founded in New Sweden area and was held in the Swedish Mission Church about 3/4 mile south of the present New Sweden School building.

1896. Public school was held in the Swedish Mission Church until 1901 when a one-room school building was built.

1899. York School was established in 1899 as a one room building and later another room was added. In 1938 the present brick building was built. It closed in 1970 as a public school and was used for Special Education classes and then became a school for migrant children.

1903. A two-story annex was built on the south side of the original Central School, the main entrance still on Water Avenue. This building housed all twelve grades.

1907. Benjamin Crandall assumed the position of first Superintendent of Central School at Idaho Falls, 1907- 1916.

1908. Riverside School, 1351 Idaho Street, was started with four rooms being used. One outside latrine was built. Girls used it the first five minutes of recess and the boys the second five minutes.

1911. Riverside School, a two story building, was dedicated. It functioned as a school until it was destroyed by fire in 1967 [alternately reported to have been destroyed in 1975].

1911. Payne Siding School, about four miles north of Idaho Falls west of the river, was built to house the smaller children. It had proven too far to ride in a horse drawn vehicle to attend Riverside School. It was closed in 1924. It is still standing and used as a farmer's granary.

1911. In February, Eastside School, 324 East 14th Street, a two story, eight room stone building was dedicated. It was closed in 1967 and torn down about six years later. It was this year that Bonneville County came into being.

1912. Dewey School, in District #34, about five miles south of the town on what is known as York-Hitt Road, was built in the early 1900's. The first eighth graders graduated in 1912. It was a one room brick building and another room was added on in 1927. It was closed in 1957 and because of "fee title" was torn down and in 1959 land reverted back to land owners.

1913. Eagle Rock Elementary School, located on South Chamberlain Avenue was built and dedicated November 1913. It was closed in the fall of 1961. It was reopened in 1962-1963 with four picked teachers, trying out several new ideas with the overpopulated fifth grade area. The children were bussed in and the next year transferred to the new Bunker School. Eagle Rock Elementary was also for Special Education and was torn down in 1972 and ground bought by the Dairymen's Association.

1914. Washington School was located just north of the "Country Club Golf Course" on Canyon and St. Clair road. A one room log cabin was built on a corner lot in the early 1900's. A small white frame one room school was built in 1910 and replaced in 1914 by the brick building. This school had a teacherage (a residence for the teacher). It closed in 1958 and as it was a "fee title", was torn down in 1959 and land returned to the owners.

1915. Idaho Falls Central High School was built on 7th and Blvd. It was finished in 1916. It was the high school from 1916 until 1952. From 1952 through 1973, Central housed various groups of students.

1952-1962. Central Intermediate with 5th and 6th graders.
1962-1964. Central Jr. High, housing 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th graders.
1964-1966. Housed 10th graders or sophomores.
1966-1973. Housed 7th, 8th, and 9th graders and known as Central Jr. High.

On April 24, 1973, it caught fire and burned.

1917. Superintendent Theodore B. Shank was hired, 1917-1919.

1919. Raymond H. Snyder became Superintendent. He remained Superintendent until 1933 when he left to become president of Albion State Normal School.

1920. Emerson, built and dedicated February 16, 1920. Later became known as the "little building." An odd thing happened when this school opened its doors. Attendance was by invitation! I imagine this was later changed.

1921. In the earlier 1900's a one room school was brought in by Utah-Idaho Sugar Company. (This company owned all the land in that area for raising of sugar beets.) In 1921 a one room school was built on what is now Osgood and Payne Road. A new brick building was built in 1928. In 1943, grades one through six remained there and the rest came into Idaho Falls.

1927. New Sweden brick building was constructed and was known as one of the most permanent school buildings in Idaho.

1930. The south part of O. E. Bell Jr. High was built on Ridge Avenue. This was the ground where the Central School was located.

1930. The second building, Emerson, a two story brick building was constructed, located at 335 5th Street. The two buildings joined to one school in 1946.

1933. Mr. LeRoy Bean completed Raymond Snyder's term as superintendent, 1933-1934.

1934. W.W. Christensen became Superintendent, 1934-1952.

1937. Hawthorne Elementary was dedicated November 11, 1937, located at 520 South Boulevard. In 1958, four classrooms, a multi-purpose room, kitchen, teacher's work room and store room were added.

1950. 1950-1954 the old Log Hut at Highland Park was used for elementary classes in connection with Riverside School.

1952. Clair E. Gale became Superintendent in 1952-1958. Superintendent Gale passed away in 1958 and William Ward, Assistant Superintendent completed his term.

1952. The new Idaho Falls High School was opened on Holmes and John Adams Parkway. The City of Idaho Falls built the Civic Auditorium adjoining the school to be enjoyed by all.

1954. Whittier Elementary School, 380 West Anderson was built and opened in September 1954. The name was changed to A. H. Bush in 1968. In 1959 the first addition was added, the second in 1976 and the third in 1986.

1955. Linden Park Elementary, 1455 9th Street, was opened September 1955, first addition in 1957 and second a library in 1973.

1955. Bel Aire Elementary, 850 Cleveland, was opened September 1955. In 1968 the name was changed to Dora Erickson Elementary. First addition was added in 1959 and the second in 1976.

1957. Longfellow Elementary at 2500 South Higbee, was completed October 1957, first addition in 1969 and the second addition in 1988.

1958. Edgmont Gardens Elementary, 1240 Azalea Drive, was completed in October 1958, the first addition in 1966. Later a library and trailer were added.

1958. Superintendent John Tucker was hired, 1958-1962.

1958. Templeview Elementary, 1500 Scorpius Drive, was opened in September 1958. Classrooms were added in 1989.

1962. Clair E. Gale Jr. High, 955 Garfield, opened January 1962. No additions to the building.

1962. John I. Orr became Superintendent, 1962-1964.

1963. Theresa Bunker, 1385 E. 16th Street, opened in September 1963, and was dedicated November 1963. In 1969 three classrooms were added on the north end. Later these two rooms were used for Special Ed. children.

1964. Superintendent Robert Shreve was hired, 1964-1966.

1965. Ethel Boyce Elementary School, 1875 Brentwood, was opened in September. First addition of three classroom stations were added in 1970.

1966. Jay Casper became Superintendent, 1966-1977.

1968. Skyline High School, 1767 Blue Sky Drive, opened in September 1968. The first addition, a gym, was added in 1991 to be finished in 1992.

1976. Eagle Rock Jr. High opened September 1976 at 2020 Pancheri Drive. A trailer was added in 1990.

1977. Dr. James Parsley became Superintendent, 1977-1980.

1979. Westside Elementary opened September 1979, at 2680 Newman Drive. The first addition was added in 1988.

1980. Jerry Jacobson became Superintendent in 1980 and is still in that capacity at this date.

1991. In 1991 two elementary schools and one junior high are being added: an elementary and junior high south of Idaho Falls on the east side, and one elementary on the west side. These are to be completed by 1992.

Time line compiled and submitted by Dora Gale and Josephine Snell, retired teachers.
Material taken from "Historical Committee of School District #91", Eva Stanger and Mildred Rushton teachers, Joe Marker, the Post Register and Warren Bybee, photographer. Some material gathered other places: news of Washington School by June Curnutt, whose father, Abe Beasley, came on the School Board when Washington School came into Idaho Falls; Leland Lott for news of Dewey School. Editorial consultants, Edith Lovell and Harold Forbush.

Schools for Developmentally Disabled

Sage Creek School for Retarded Children

Antecedent to the Child Development Center was the Sage Creek School for Retarded Children, renamed St. Leon Opportunity School. (It was housed in Sage Creek School, a school from the early 1900s, located a few miles north of the city on the east side of the river.)

Etta Lee, school nurse, wrote: With the physcial, financial and emotional help of many people, the Sage Creek School opened its doors to a few mentally handicapped children, March 6, 1950. This was the first such school in Idaho, and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. With the encouraging words from Dr. J. O. Cromwell, Supt. of State Hospital South, "You can do it. We'll help," the interested, hopeful group forged ahead. After proving themselves, the school qualified for state school funds, moved to a larger St. Leon School and was renamed "St. Leon Opportunity School."

By 1958 Idaho had 27 special schools, and in 1960-61 special needs children were integrated within the regular school system.

Submitter: Mary Jane Fritzen
Sources: Mae Tomblison, "The Sage Creek School for Retarded Chilren," in Beautiful Bonneville, p. 90. Etta Lee.

Child Development Center

Prior to 1965, the only programs that existed for the developmentally disabled (DD) in the Upper Snake River Valley were programs that had been started by concerned parents. They did the teaching themselves. These parents who had started programs included Stella Bell in Rexburg, and Mae Tomblison, St. Leon School in Idaho Falls. The Bonneville Day-Care Training Center was set up; it's first board members were: Mrs. Russell Swenson (LaRue), Sterling Roberts, Mrs. Max Sargent (Beth), Ivan Burden (I.F. Civitan Club), and an advisory board of 23 members.

In 1965, several parents of children with DD along with other interested people created an organization known as Eastern Idaho Health & Social Services. The purpose of this organization was to raise funds and ensure the construction of a facility that would provide for the education and training of the growing number of handicapped children. The members of this organization were successful in securing a federal grant. This, along with funding from the Idaho Legislature and canvassing door to door throughout the Upper Snake River Valley, funded the construction.

The construction was completed in July 1969 and the doors opened for services to 16 adults and 12 children. By 1972, the Center was inadequate to house the burgeoning number of children needing services. So the legislature, with assistance from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, constructed and provided equipment in the building known as the Development Workshop, Incorporated (DWI, Inc.). Within a year, it was determined that a sheltered workshop could not operate under a state bureaucracy. The building was leased to the DWI Board of Directors.

The CDC leased St. Leon and York School buildings to provide services to school age DD children between 1971 and 1975, when the responsibility was transferred to the public schools.

In 1975, the CDC focused more heavily on preschool children and contracting services for adult DD clients. The preschool population continued to grow until 1989 when Public Law PL99-457 transferred the major responsibility of the 3-5 year old population of children to the public schools and assigned the Infant/Toddler DD population to the CDC.

In 1990, the Idaho Falls CDC served 45 children, age 3-5 and 30 children age 0-2, as well as monitoring the programs of 325 adults with disabilities.

Submitter: Elizabeth Straka
Sources: Files of Adult/Child Development Center, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.



Begin Here
Introductory Comments
Chap. 1 - Agriculture
Potatoes, grains, sugar beets, livestock, irrigation.
Chap. 2 - Business and Industry
Banking, Chamber of Commerce, Rogers Brothers Seed.
Chap. 3 - Amusements, Arts and Music
Amusements: dancing, circus, baseball, theaters, Heise Hot Springs, War Bonnet Roundup, parades. Arts: painting, drama, dance, music, symphony, opera theatre.
Chap. 4 - Communications
Newspapers, telephone, broadcast.
Chap. 5 - Celebrations
Centennials and Jubilees, Pioneer Day, Intersec.
Chap. 6 - Churches
Chap. 7 - City Government
Mayors, City Hall, Public Library; Departments of Electricity, Fire, Police, Building and Planning, Parks and Recreation, Public Works.
Chap. 8 - Courthouse and Federal Post Office
Chap. 9 - Historic Preservation Efforts
Bonneville County Historical Society, Idaho Falls Historic Preservation Commission (Historic buildings, places, homes), Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
Chap. 10 - Schools
Chap. 11 - Clubs/Fraternal Organizations
Lodges, Sportsmen's Association, American Legion and other Veterans Associations, Boy Scouts.
Chap. 12 - Transportation
Railroad, Automobiles, Aviation.
Chap. 13 - Medical Practice &Amp; Hospitals
Chap. 14 - Native Americans
Chap. 15 - Snake River
Bridges, Greenbelt, Temple.
Chap. 16 - Tourism and Hotels
Chap. 17 - Lawyers and Judges
Chap. 18 - War Efforts
Red Cross, World War I, World War II.
Chap. 19 - Population Growth
Chap. 20 - INEL
Appendix 1 - Bibliography Guide
Appendix 2 - Chronology