Idaho Falls - City of Destiny


No better way to find the history of Idaho Falls than to read of the various commemorative celebrations held here. At least eight were directly concerned with city history:

1934. Post-Register golden jubilee.
1937. U. S. Constitution sesquicentennial.
1941. 50th anniversary of naming of Idaho Falls.
1963. Idaho Territorial centennial.
1976. United States bicentennial. Intermountain Science Experience Center (Intersec).
1979. Dedication of Time Capsule at Intersec. Introduction of joint U. S. Senate and House bill to make Constitution Day a national holiday in 1987. Formation of Bonneville Tricentennial Commission.
1985. "Centennial Plus 20," marking the anniversary of Taylor's Toll Bridge.
1987 to 1991. U. S. Constitution bicentennial.
1990. Idaho Centennial.
1991. Idaho Falls name centennial.

1934: Post Register Golden Jubilee.
The special edition of September 10, 1934 had these headlines: CITY TO ENTERTAIN HUGE JUBILEE CROWDS. Big Street Parade to Usher in Celebration Program Wednesday. Riot of Color To Be Feature Gigantic Parade.

"A three day Golden Jubilee celebration--honoring the coming of the first newspaper to Idaho Falls in 1884--will be ushered in at 11 o'clock Wednesday morning with a huge street parade in which the bulk of Idaho Falls business houses, fraternal and civic organizations will take part. A second parade is planned for 11 o'clock Thursday morning....

"Gala Atmosphere Prevails Today; City Decorated. Idaho Falls...togged in holiday prepared to entertain the largest crowds in its history....

"Plans for the general celebration, which includes two big street parades, a three-day rodeo, races, carnival features, dancing, addresses by Gov. C. Ben Ross, and other notables, went forward with a zest Monday as Parley Rigby, general chairman, issued final instructions....At every place the sign "welcome" hangs out....City schools will close all day Wednesday."

Whisker judging contests will award prizes to the winners among the 3,000 entrants, the large Jubilee edition proclaimed. It included congratulations from President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House.

Traditionally Idaho Falls has noted Constitution Week, and 1937-1939 noted the 150th anniversary of the U. S. Constitution and inauguration of the first President.

1941. "50th Forgotten Birthday of Idaho Falls." So the Salt Lake Tribune reported: "Idaho Falls will observe its 50th "forgotten" anniversary under the name July 22, Barzilla W. Clark, several times mayor and former Idaho governor, reminded citizens Thursday. "The anniversary has never been observed or recalled, although at the time the community's name was changed from Eagle Rock to Idaho Falls, much squabbling ensued, Mr. Clark recalls.... "In 1890, real estate promoters succeeded in changing the name of the post office with the argument Eagle Rock sounded too barren to interest prospective eastern investors in election was held and citizens voted 64 to 2 to change the name of the town to correspond with the post office." Clark said that after the railroad moved shops and some houses from Eagle Rock to Pocatello, Eagle Rock's population dwindled. He said, "They realized they had to do something. A survey of resources convinced them that the fertile land of the valley was their greatest asset and much vision and literary talent went into a widespread advertising campaign. After changing the name they flaunted headlines about...`Idaho Falls, the City of Destiny!'...Idaho Falls was first planned as a farmer's town.... `Idaho Falls' was chosen to signify water in abundance, though there were no falls on this part of the river until the municipal power plant was built [in the early 1900s]." 1963. Idaho Territorial Centennial.
To remember the creation of the Idaho Territory by President Abraham Lincoln, March 3, 1863, the Bonneville County Centennial and Historical Commission was organized 10 Feb. 1960 by the Board of County Commissioners--Evon Huntsman, Alma Owens, and John Burtenshaw. Delbert Groberg was named chairman and Paul Peterson, vice chairman. In 1963 they published the book, Captain Bonneville's County, by Edith Haroldsen Lovell. That year, also, Joe Marker first published a photo brochure, "Eagle Rock U.S.A." 1976. United States Bicentennial.
For this great celebration the Bonneville Bicentennial Commission was instituted May 1, 1973 by act of the Bonneville County Commissioners and the Mayors within the county. It was the first such commission in the Northwestern United States. (Following the celebration, it was renamed on July 29, 1976, Bonneville Tricentnnial Commission, the first of its kind in the U. S., to be effective through July 4, 2076.) Delbert V. Groberg was named chairman.

Activities began more than a week before July 4th with a 3-day softball tournament and Shrine Circus.

July 1. Dedication of Intermountain Science experience Center (INTERSEC) in Freeman Park. (See separate story.) This unique facility was a community effort as a lasting monument to the Bicentennial.

July 1. Arco, Moore, Mackay and the Lost River area presented their patriotic production, "Uncle Sam's Songs," in the Civic Auditorium for the public.

July 2. Rodeo sponsored by Iona Posse at Sandy Downs.

July 2. Colonial Ball, 9 p.m., Intersec Building.

July 3. Chuckwagon breakfast 6 a.m., Tautphaus Park.

July 3. 10 a.m. Parade. Theme: "A Past to Remember--A Future to Mold--Liberty 1976." Skydivers landed at pin-point targets west of reviewing stand across from Community Hospital. There were games and Water Skiing in the afternoon. 7 p.m. The people had a choice of tennis and softball tournaments, swim meet, and rodeo, or a patriotic extravaganza in the Civic Auditorium, "Wake Up America--It's Your Birthday," sponsored by North Idaho Falls L.D.S. Stake.

July 5. 9 p.m. Band concert on river. 10 p.m. Fireworks display from Keefer Island.

July 24. Pioneer Day parade. (See topic, Pioneer Days.)

1979. Time Capsule buried and dedicated at Intersec.
D. V. Groberg spoke at the dedication, Sep. 17. "So far as we know, this is the first in America by the first Tricentennial Commission, this commission born of faith in the future with plans and hopes for a glorious Tricentennial in the year 2076. Won't that be special!" Contents included items of present and yesteryear interest and historic value.

Senator Frank Church had introduced in the U. S. Senate and House a bill to make Constitution Day a national Holiday, Sep. 17, 1987. Our other legislators also supported it:

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that September 17, 1987 shall be designated Constitution Day and shall be held and considered to be a legal public holiday within the meaning and substance and the title of the United States code."

This was based on our Bonneville County Tricentennial Committee's original resolution:

"Whereas we have just celebrated the biggest bicentennial ever dedicated to the birth of freedom and human rights, and whereas July 4 is observed as a national holiday because it is directly and exclusively the birthday of the first of the two most important inspired proclamations of religious and political principles ever declared as the foundation of a new nation; whereas the first, the Declaration of Independence, opened the way for the second, the Constitution of the United States; and whereas the Constitution made the magnificent principles enunciated in the Declaration a living reality, and became a great and far-reaching step in creating our nation, a land of liberty, a land choice above all lands; and whereas September 17, 1987, will be the 200th anniversary of the adoption of that treasured document of freedom, the United States Constitution; now therefore be it resolved that the Bonneville County Tricentennial Commission, the first such commission in the United States of America, recommends herewith to the President and to the Congress of the United States, commencing with the bicentennial anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution, that Constitution Day be celebrated as a patriotic legal holiday in America, and celebrated as such from that day forward each September 17."

1985. "Centennial Plus 20." Theme: "From the Toll Bridge to the Atom," to celebrate Matt Taylor's Toll Bridge built in 1865. John Christofferson was chairman, and year-round activities, especially in July and August.

1987 to 1991. Bicentennial of the U. S. Constitution.
Bonneville County became an officially designated Bicentennial Community on April 15, 1987, by authorization of the national Commission on the Bicentennial of the U. S. Constitution, chaired by Warren E. Burger. The Bonneville Tricentennial Commission, in essence, represented the state of Idaho after 1988, when the state organization became defunct. Delbert V. Groberg, chairman; Thomas J. Wadsworth, Executive Director; Lisa Hansen, Executive Secretary, were assisted by many in its purpose to instill love, respect and understanding for the U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, among all citizens especially the youth.

1990. Idaho Centennial.
From the report by Beverly Branson, chairman:

A delegation of 15 people came from our Sister City, Tokaimura, Japan, along with four from Washington, D.C., to help us celebrate Idaho's 100th birthday. They participated in the Statehood Day festivities--picnic in the park, ringing of the bell 100 times, Centennial Ball and horse races. They were also here for the Fourth of July activities, rode in the parade as honored guests, and attended the Snake River Settlers Festival. Governor Andrus was Grand Marshall for the parade. We had boat races, barbecues, art festival along the river, fireworks to music, Symphony in the park, and planted a tree in the future Japanese Garden.

Bonneville County Centennial Committee encouraged every citizen to do something special for the Centennial. The Lasting Legacies for Bonneville County were identified and some of them have been completed. The Beautiful Bonneville Centennial book was completed in 1989 (with Alice Horton, editor, and a staff including Joe Marker, who wrote the chapter on Idaho Falls). The River Parkway Greenbelt and Centennial Trail is partially completed. Eagle Rock U.S.A. is built at Bonneville County Museum.

1991. Centennial of the naming of Idaho Falls.
The City gave a grant for the production of this history volume, which also resulted in building of a bibliography and files for study at the Bonneville Museum Reading and Reference Room.

A four-day celebration on the banks of the Snake River featured West One Bank's art exhibit, "Spirit of the West, and culminated August 26 in a Western barbecue for 5,000 at a cost of one-hundred cents per plate, followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

Also sharing in the celebration, our "Sister City," Tokai- mura, Japan, presented and installed two large hand-carved stone lanterns in Pedersen's Sportsmen's Park. Idaho Falls Rotary Clubs and sister Rotary Club in Tokai were instrumental in this project, the first stage of establishing an international peace park with Japanese gardens.

Submitter: Mary Jane Fritzen
Sources: Files at Bonneville Museum, including the following: Post Register articles; Idaho East, 1975; reports from Beverly Branson, D. V. Groberg, Lisa Hansen; Edith Haroldsen Lovell, Captain Bonneville's County.

Pioneer Day Celebrations

For many years the biggest parade in Idaho Falls was on Pioneer Day, which commemorates the arrival of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. It also pays tribute to the settling of East Idaho. It was a major celebration in Idaho Falls for many years, with a big parade, rodeo, and for over 25 years a stage musical production also. In 1979 when the Pioneer Day Parade had eclipsed the 4th of July, local LDS leaders withdrew these events, in order to focus more community attention on the 4th of July. Instead of one grand celebration by combined stakes, each stake would celebrate on a smaller scale. Two years later they revived the stage musical.

The history of Pioneer Days dates back to early Idaho Falls when all settlers cooperated as in canal-building, characterized by fellowship and tolerance. The early rodeos were held at what is now Tautphaus Park. Art Suitter, an early chairman, had to round up wild horses, cattle and calves from the Arco Desert. Later Crystal Brothers of Rigby raised the rodeo stock. This "stampede" became the largest non-professional rodeo in the West. Later local LDS and others built a rodeo grounds at Sandy Downs. Karl Homer headed the rodeo committee for eight years and Zane Hall for four. After 1979 the rodeo continued with other sponsors.

Parades in the 1950s had horses, tractors and combines, but no floats. In about 1959, the requirement was set for decorated units only. The parade quickly grew until 125-135 entries competed for prizes. By 1975 it was said to be the state's largest parade.

The 1963 celebration honored Idaho's territorial centennial with the following schedule of events:

July 22-24: Civic Auditorium: "Papa and the Playhouse."

July 23, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.--Civic Auditorium: Nuclear Space-o- rama, showing through Aug. 3.

July 24. 9 a.m. Junior horse show at the Tautphaus Park rodeo grounds; Swim event and water show at Municipal pool on Elm and So. Boulevard.

2 p.m. Air Force Academy Band concert, high school stadium.

5 p.m. Pioneer Day Parade, including Air Force band.

8 p.m. Papa and the Playhouse. Rodeo

From the parade program notes we read:

Hats off to the stalwart pioneers of Idaho! Each pioneer family, each church, lodge, and civic group...has a story to tell. Posse: Fur traders, cattlemen, explorers, cavalrymen and farmers. All their stories are stories of men and their horses. Bands: The rhythmical beat of the drum as the bands pass in review reminds us of the beat of every heart in the 1880s and 1890s as it throbbed to the rhythm of "Idaho Falls City of Destiny."

In 1976 the Pioneer Days committee pledged 21 floats from LDS wards and stakes to help insure a big July 4 parade. The same committee also donated $3,000 for July 4 fireworks. Of the July 24, 1976, celebration, Chairman Harold Davis said, "It is an open effort to communicate with the total public. We hope that others gain a broad appreciation of our life style and beliefs." He said thousands who are not LDS participate in the events.

The Broadway musical tradition began in 1956 with "Oklahoma" by Idaho Falls Stake, directed by Francis Stoddard. The next years the stakes combined to produce the following and other shows: "Showboat," "South Pacific," "Annie Get Your Gun," "Red Mill", "Music Man", "The King and I," "Brigadoon," "Student Prince," and "My Fair Lady." They also have produced musicals with religious themes: "Promised Valley," "Sand in Their Shoes," "The Order Is Love," "Joseph and His Brothers," "Threads of Glory," "A Day a Night and a Day," "Saturday's Warriors", and "Rockwell." Directors included Lyle Watson and Lynn Benson from Ricks College, and Crawford Gates, composer-conductor. The City with the Sounds Choir presented in 1991, "The King and I."

Submitter: Mary Jane Fritzen
Principal Sources: Bonneville Museum files, including the following:
Idaho East, Summer, 1975.
Latter-day Trumpet, July 1981.
Post-Register, July 2, 1976.
Pioneer Day Celebration: Idaho Centennial, 1963.

The Intermountain Science Experience Center (INTERSEC) was a Bicentennial project of Idaho Falls. It was to have been more than a science museum; it would provide a center for scientific education and technological interpretation for the community. Through the years, however, the original concept has been supplanted by the growing and ever-changing needs of the people of Idaho Falls. Besides its museum exhibits of early years, it has housed Music Club activities, flute concerts, Bluegrass concerts, Community Education offices, health fairs, lectures, Chamber of Commerce, and even church services, to name a few.

Presently housing University of Idaho, Idaho Falls Center for Higher Education, the building is now called University Place, with offices for Idaho State University, BYU-Ricks and other institutions. INTERSEC no longer exists. However, the original dream is still intact--a Bicentennial project dedicated to learning and to the future.

One of ten largest Bicentennial projects in the nation, INTERSEC opened July 1, 1976. The idea of a science center was conceived more than a decade before it was built; originally proposed as a nuclear museum. The science education theme was expanded to provide a variety of science exhibits, classrooms, resource materials, and nature trails with outdoor exhibits, including special trails for the blind.

The 1.8 million dollar project was a "grass roots" project from the beginning. In 1972, the president of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce, William T. Holden, appointed Joe Hunter to head a select task force on the Bicentennial Committee. This committee was just the beginning--other community leaders became involved in the planning. The Chamber of Commerce pledged $50,000 toward the construction of the center, and the Idaho Operations Office of the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission provided $600,000, a special grant by Congress. This sparked the initial funding effort; much of the funding coming from private contributions and grants. L. Tom Perry, a member of the National Bicentennial Commission, drove the big earth moving tractor and was the official at the groundbreaking event.

Volunteer staffing was the rule. INTERSEC had no professional staff. Board members were carefully chosen. Executive Director was A. C. Worley, retired AEC executive,; Mrs. Robert C. Hammond, planning; Mrs. R. R. Smith, executive vice president; Mrs. Jay Kunze, education program. From this small beginning, the list of volunteers is endless: J.R. Simplot, Energy Research and Development Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, National Park Service, U.S. Navy, Idaho Falls Garden Club, to name a few of the participants and financial supporters. Many of the local contractors worked at cost; and much of the time and materials were donated.

The three-level building includes a big room plus office space and auditorium on the main level; office space and temporary exhibit hall, terraces and balconies on the second floor; and workspace and classrooms on the lower level.

Memorable events and exhibits held at INTERSEC include the U. S. Navy submarine periscope that extended through the top of the building, the Teton Flood (June 5, 1976) display, and the Constitution Day dedication (September 17, 1979), of a time capsule destined to be opened in the year 2076. T. J. Wadsworth, Executive Director of the Bonneville Tricentennial Commission, has a record of contents of the capsule.

Submitter: Karen Sackett
Sources: Bonneville Museum Files
See also chapters on Chamber of Commerce; Centennial celebrations.



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