Idaho Falls - City of Destiny

City of Idaho Falls


Since Idaho Falls became a "city of the second class" (a statutory designation in effect at that time) in April, 1900, the city has had 19 elected mayors.

Prior to that time the community was governed by village boards. Nathan H. Clark was the first village board chairman beginning his tenure on March 9, 1895, by Robert Anderson.

Thomas B. Shannon became village board chairman April 13, 1897. He was followed by George Chapin on April 12, 1898. Then Joseph A. Clark, the father of Nathan Clark, became village board chairman, April 12, 1899.

FIRST MAYOR. On April 6, 1900, Joseph A. Clark became the first mayor when Idaho Falls became a city of the second class with city councilmen, two being elected from each of the city's wards. Citizens also elected by ballot a city clerk and a city treasurer.

Clark, who operated a mercantile store, was elected with 269 votes, having defeated Frank M. Bybee, a grocery store operator, who garnered 225 votes. The mayor's salary was set at $250 for the ensuing year.

Edward J. Wilkinson was elected city clerk with 299 votes, defeating R.L. Hensley with 164 votes. Emma Hurst was elected city treasurer with 244 votes over Emma Reesor with 237 votes.

COUNCIL. Elected to the first city council from the First Ward were William James Thomas with 117 votes and W. A. Tyler with 99 votes. They defeated Robert Anderson who received 43.

In the Second Ward Louis Elg with 82 votes and Christian Plen with 80 votes, were elected. Plen won his post by a straw vote over J. A. Senter who also received 80 votes in the municipal election. The other candidate defeated in the Second Ward was Ed Fanning who received 75 votes. Fanning's son, E. W. Fanning, served as mayor in more recent years.

Voters chose Frank T. Martin with 125 votes, and James Wierman with 102 votes, as councilman in the Third Ward. They defeated Edward P. Coltman with 89 votes and B. J. Briggs with 88 votes. Coltman later became mayor and upon his death, the then president of the City Council, Louis Elg, took over the mayorship.

C. D. Chapin was elected city engineer with 459 votes. Carlyle L. Pelot with 243 votes was elected police judge over H. L. Rogers with 229 votes.

City clerk records show the new city officials were officially sworn in April 13, 1900, by W. H. Holden.

SALARY. Councilmen's salaries were set at $25 for the ensuing year.

Those serving as mayor after Joseph A. Clark and the date they assumed office were:

Bowen Curley
April 11, 1902
A. T. Shane
April 17, 1903
E. P. Coltman
E. P. Coltman
April 23, 1909
Louis Elg
Sept. 2, 1910
Bowen Curley
April 21, 1911
Barzilla Clark
April 18, 1913
George W. Edgington
May 22, 1915
Henry W. Kiefer
August 3, 1917
Ralph A. Louis
Jan. 8, 1918
W. A. Bradbury
May 16, 1919
Ralph A. Louis
May 20, 1921
Barzilla W. Clark
May 16, 1927
R. B. (Whitey) Ewart
Dec. 29, 1936
Chase A. Clark
May 7, 1937
E. W. Fanning
Nov. 1, 1940
Thomas L. Sutton
April 8, 1949
E. W. Fanning
April 6, 1951
John B. Rogers
April 6, 1956
William J. O'Bryant
May 1, 1959
S. Eddie Pedersen
Jan. 12, 1964
Tom Campbell
Jan. 5, 1978

Tom Campbell is serving as mayor at this writing (1991).

Both Barzilla W. Clark and his brother Chase A. Clark later were elected governors of Idaho. They were sons of the first mayor, Joseph A. Clark. Barzilla's son, Ferris H. Clark owned and operated the Westbank Motel for many years.

All of the mayors were prominently identified with the growth and development of the city and were vitally interested in civic affairs. And their leadership helped to spurt the city along and make it one of the most progressive communities in the Gem State.

Submitter: Joe Marker
Sources: Post Register July 3, 1976
Edith Lovell, Snake River Echoes 14/2 1985

City Hall

Before the present City Hall was constructed, city hall was located on the southwest corner of Broadway and Capital Ave. The fire station was on 451 Park Ave., and the police station on the 2nd floor of 365 Park Ave. Barzilla Clark was mayor when S.H. Kress Co. wanted to buy the fire station property in 1928. The mayor and city council caught this opportunity to finance a new fire station, then police station, and--wonder of wonders--a new City Hall!

No special bond election was held. (Although these years are considered the Depression, in June 1928 the city had voted in favor of bonds to build a dam and power plant. Other city improvements 1928-30 included extending the light and power system.) Money from the sale of the old fire station to Kress, when added to city revenues from the municipal power plant, financed the City Hall.

The city council discussed feasible locations for the fire station and city hall in July 1928, and recommended purchase of Elk's corner, owned by Idaho Falls Lodge 1087, B.P.O.E., on Shoup and C at $9,000. In December S.H. Kress paid the city $29,572. for the Park Ave. property, and for a while the city was their tenant. The city council consulted with city attorney Ralph Albaugh, and added the sum to the general fund "as an item to be known as "Fire Station Building and Grounds."

L. E. Fisher, a local architect, was employed to draw plans and specifications, and in October, bids were opened for excavation of the basement. Soon the plan was extended to include a police station, and then city hall.

The building was built in sections as finances allowed. In August 1929, the council acted to "determine if it is advisable to make arrangements at the new Fire Station for the City Hall to move there." Two weeks later the city decided to move their offices to the new Fire Station building.

On May 7, 1930 bids were opened for the construction of the new City Hall unit. C. S. Crabtree, a local contractor, had bid $38,483.35, to include everything but brick and tile work. May 8, the Finance Committee, Building Committee, architect and city attorney recommended that the bid of C. S. Crabtree be accepted and H. P. Nielsen's bid for $9,7688.90 for brick work and laying terra cotta. Aspects of the building, such as plumbing, heating, tile, concrete, etc. were contracted separately by the city council, who frequently met in special session for these purposes.

On June 6, 1930 C. S. Crabtree "addressed the council regarding the plans of the new City Hall building, stating that he would like to have it stated explicitly which set of plans he was working under, whether it was the old set or the set to be revised, and if he is to work under the latter that they be drawn up at once according to specifications." This was done.

Many council meetings worked out details, such as obtaining adjoining property west of the City Hall belonging to Smith-Hart Co. "in order to clear it off and use the same for a park." In October sidewalks were put in east and south of the building, and janitor aplications were taken. Formal opening was Nov. 16; on Nov. 21, it appears, final claims were paid to the architect and contractor.

Costing only $200,000, the building has served to the present with no major structural changes, although the use of many of the rooms has changed. Other groups which have met within the hall include American Legion, War Mothers, Music Club, and others.

In her description of the architecture, Jolynn Wyatt has written: "The design was in Beaux Arts tradition. This can be distinguished by the formality and symmetry of the building and by such features as the double Ionic columns in front of the main doors, the wide steps leading up to the doors and the outset wings on either side.

"The city building is two story and is constructed of reinforced concrete. The entire building is faced with pressed brick in varying shades of brown and is ornamented with bands of ivory and light blue glazed terra cotta that cap the roof line and demark the attic story and the outset watertable. On the south side, over the main doors, is a legend in ivory and light blue terra cotta that reads `City Building.' This is flanked on the outset side wings by sculptured terra cotta eagles on a field of light blue...In the center of the building, between the north and south sections, there was originally a light court with a large skylight in the roof." It has since been reroofed.

The jail is now in the new county building and that space has been remodeled as well as many of the other rooms. The steps were repaired in 1952. The mayor's office was enlarged in 1986 by removing a concrete wall. A plaque inside the building credits the mayor and city councilers who served when it was built. 1928: Mayor Barzilla Clark; councilmen: Fred Driscoll, Carl Shippen, H. Schwarz, J.A. Coy, W.L. Shattuck, W.P. Holmes,R.B. Ewart, and F.A. Randall. Harry H.K. Payne was City Clerk, and T.R. Peters, Purchasing Agent. In 1930: J.A. Coy, Parley E. Rigby, W.P. Holmes, Harry Rhule, Axel B. Anderson, R.B. Ewart, Joseph Brandl, and F.A. Randall.

Submitter: Mary Jane Fritzen
Sources: Bonneville Museum files, including the following: Jolynn Wyatt, "The Idaho Falls City Building," a paper for ISU course in Architectural History, 1990.
City Council Minutes, 1928-1930. City Clerk's office.
Interview with Jack Packer, who assisted during the construction. Post Register: Sep. 10, 1934.

Idaho Falls Public Library

The large and spacious public library we now enjoy had very humble beginnings. In 1883, Rebecca Mitchell opened a small reading room in the basement of the Baptist church. The room was supplied with books and magazines which Mitchell had acquired through donation--largely from her friends back east. The railroad shop workers especially enjoyed the room as a place to read and relax on cold, winter evenings.

In 1885, the Women's Christian Temperance Union built up a small library in a rented hall on Eagle Rock St. Their collection consisted of about 400 books. Due to lack of funds to maintain and replenish the reading room, the project was abandoned five years later.

Several other attempts were made to establish a library, but none were successful, until 1905 when local women's clubs began a campaign to build a library. Finally, in 1909 the Carnegie board agreed to supply $15,000 for a new library to be built. The cornerstone of the Carnegie Library, as it was first called, was laid in 1914. The library, located on the corner of Eastern Ave. and Elm St. was completed in 1916.

The public was proud of their library and patronized it enthusiastically. Not only did the library contain 2000 books, 60 magazines, and 5 newspapers when it first opened, the basement was also converted to a public assembly hall. Marion Orr was librarian from 1917- 1954.

The building was refurbished and an addition was built in 1939 and 1940 to accommodate its increased use and collection. The library and the Public Works Administration funded the remodeling. Edith Lovell said that for many years county rural people could not check out books. Librarian Dorothy Hickey brought a new concept-- that the library is for the use, as well as enjoyment and education of all citizens. Reed Hansen was able to work out a city-county financial solution, whereby every rural residence in Bonneville County is taxed an extra $15.00 each year, which goes to the library (1991). In 1974, residents passed a $2.6 million bond to construct a new media center on Broadway. The new library was complete in 1977. The building which had housed the Carnegie Library was later converted into a museum by the Bonneville Historical Society.

Submitter: Anny Fritzen
Sources: Files in Bonneville Museum
Fea George, manuscript, history of library and of Marion Orr Second Stories, by Cheryl Cox and Lexie Ann French, pp. 50-52 Idaho Falls Daily Post, Peace and Prosperity Edition c. 1919
Post Register--May 18, 1990
Post Register--Sept. 10, 1934
Note: See library scrapbooks; I.F.P.L., glass cabinet

Civic Auditorium

The Idaho Falls Civic Auditorium was built through a bond passed in December 1949. The building was completed in 1952. It is performing arts facility with a proscenium stage theatre and a seating capacity of 1892. The auditorium has hosted a wide variety of activities including opera, symphony, ballet, dance, concerts, conventions, religious services, and lectures. Traditional series of the Idaho Falls Symphony and Community Concerts are held here. The musicals, both Broadway and religious, have been presented annually to the public. Many of the schools hold musical performances and commencements at the "Civic."

A large spectrum of performers have presented their talents on the stage through the years. Some of the performers were Burl Ives, Roger Williams, Chet Atkins, Doc Severensen, Louie Armstrong, Buck Owens, Johnny Cash, Fred Waring, San Francisco Opera, Ballet West, Utah Symphony, and American Festival Ballet.

The Civic Auditorium has evolved into the show place for the upper Snake River valley.

Many major improvements and additions have been made to the Auditorium in the last few years. These include sound system in about 1975; handicapped ramp, 1978; orchestra pit, 1984; baffles, 1989, lighting system, 1989; black curtains, 1990, stage floor, 1991. Money was raised through community organizations for a new Steinway Concert Grand, 1987, and Rodgers Organ, 1991.

The Civic Auditorium is one of the finest performing facilities in the Intermountain area.

Submitter: Roger Ralphs, Civic Auditorium manager Sources: Civic Auditorium records; Bonneville Museum files.

Electric Light and Power Generation

Owning an electric utility has benefitted the citizens of Idaho Falls for many years. Initially it brought electricity to residents much sooner than surrounding areas. Idaho Falls was one of the first communities in the nation to have electric street lights.

Over the years property taxes have been kept down by revenues from the Electric Division transferred to the City's general fund. The low electricity rates, especially in later years, have always been a direct benefit to Idaho Falls consumers and businesses.

The city of Idaho Falls first began to consider construction of electric generation facilities in the 1890s when local citizens approached the City Council and urged them to do so. At the same time several petitions were being submitted by private individuals and companies to build and maintain light plants for the City. Apparently the community had more confidence in the local government providing this service; however, bond elections to finance construction of a plant were defeated in 1896 and 1898.

In March of 1900 a bond election was passed and the first plant was constructed by a Mr. D. Swineheart for $4650 at 10th Street and South Boulevard and powered by water from an irrigation canal. The City officially took over commercial operation of this plant on October 22, 1900 and has continually operated an electric utility since that time. [From 1901 until 1914, City Canal ran down Boulevard. See separate story, Idaho Falls Canal, Chap. 1, Agriculture.)

The only demand for power in these early years was for lights and the plant was run only in the evenings, starting at 4 p.m. in the winter months on cloudy days, and 4:30 on clear days. Residents were charged a monthly fee of 50 cents each for the first two lights, 40 cents each for the next two lights, and 30 cents each for all additional lights.

Only a year after the first plant was completed the need for more power facilities became apparent. The plant capacity was enlarged in 1902 and additional sites were studied beginning in 1903. In 1904 the City acquired land at what would come to be the Lower Plant Site. A bond election for a plant was passed in 1906, but it was not built by the City.

On April 27, 1909, Mayor Coltman asked the Electric committee to secure a site on the river for a new plant location. That set in motion events that led to the construction of a power plant just below the Broadway Bridge at the site now known as the City Plant. This plant was put into commercial operation on September 6, 1912. The electric rate was amended shortly thereafter to .07/kWh. This new plant essentially replaced the original plant which was gradually dismantled and torn down in 1914-1915. Various additions and upgrades were made on the City Plant to keep up with growing demand in 1919, 1921, 1923 and 1925. The City also purchased power from Idaho Power & Transportation and Utah Power to keep the City's needs supplied during this period.

On November 4, 1927 a preliminary survey was authorized for a power site four miles north of the City. This put into motion construction of the Upper Plant which was completed in 1929. The plant consisted of an 1850 HP generator and was financed through a $100,000 bond issue.

By the mid 1930s more power facilities were again needed and the City undertook studies of the Anderson Dam project and the Mesa Falls project. These plans were abandoned when the City was able to negotiate the purchase of the Lower Plant in 1937 from Utah Power & Light for $50,000. Additions and upgrades were made to this plant in 1938 and 1939.

These three power plants supplied the majority of the City's electricity needs until about 1943. At that time an agreement was entered into with Utah Power & Light to purchase the balance of the City's electricity requirements. This agreement essentially continued until 1963; however, when Palisades Dam was completed in 1956 the sale was conducted through the Bureau of Reclamation.

On October 15, 1963, the City signed an agreement with the Bonneville Power Administration to supply the balance of the City's electricity needs because their wholesale power costs were lower than UP&L's. Also, prior to this time a transmission line was not available to wheel BPA power. The City was actually able to lower its rates to its customers following this change.

By the early 1970s, the City's plants were deteriorating rapidly and the machinery was quite outdated. When the Teton Dam flood hit in 1976 it did extensive damage to all three plants. The Upper Plant had to be closed and the City and Lower Plants operated on a limited basis.

A bond election was held and passed in 1978 for the demolition of the old plants and construction of new bulb turbine plants at each of the three existing sites. Each plant has an 8MW capacity and the total project was constructed for $40 million, being completed in 1982. The new plants were able to supply about 1/3 of the City's needs when initially completed.

A fourth plant was constructed south of the Lower Plant at a site originally developed in 1910. The Gem State plant was completed in October 1988 and has a 23.5 MW capacity. Even with the addition of this large plant, because of the rapid growth in the City's loads, the plants still produce about 1/3 of the City's electricity needs.

Submitter: Van Ashton, Electric Division
Sources: Minutes from City Council meetings, 1895-1940; September 10, 1934 Post Register; July 10, 1980 article in Post Register; Electric Light & Power Division Annual progress reports 1964-1969.

Idaho Falls Fire Department

1885. Eagle Rock experienced a fire that burnt out nearly all of the frame shacks on what was then Eagle Rock Street.

Leading citizens of the community met at the Brewery Saloon and organized the first fire department.

Twenty volunteers paid $1.00 each to belong to this fire department and Ed Winn was appointed as Fire Chief.

That year a New Year's Eve dance was held to raise money and $150.00 was made by this event.

This $150.00 was used to purchase a hand hose cart with 300 feet of hose. (Each fire engine today carries 1500 feet of hose.)

The railroad company agreed to install three hose plugs to supply water for fire protection. (We presently have approximately 1200 hydrants within the City.)

1885. The first fire station was located at Broadway and Capital. The station as well as all equipment was owned by the volunteer organization.

Later the station was moved to Park Avenue.

1907. The man-drawn cart was replaced by a horse-drawn wagon. Cost of the vehicle was $1,950. Julius Marker was appointed driver of this vehicle. He later was appointed as Fire Chief.

1909. Two men were paid by the City to man the fire equipment. The fire station was relocated on Park Avenue to where the Kress Building is.

Volunteers were notified by ringing a large bell. This bell is now on display at the Bonneville County Museum.

1916. After a fight lasting over two years the decision was made to replace the horse-drawn vehicle with a motorized fire apparatus which was a 1916 American LaFrance pumper. Two men plus the Fire Chief were paid by the City.

1930. In 1930 the now motorized fire department was moved into present City Hall.

The fire bell was replaced by a siren as a means of notifying the volunteers of a fire.

A 1928 American LaFrance Hook and Ladder was received by the City for the sum of $13,850. This truck was displayed at the 1929 World Fair as the "state-of-the art" in motorized fire fighting equipment.

This 1928 ladder truck is still within the fire department and used in parades.

During the first 10 years of operation, the operation costs averaged $35 per year. This was for fuel, repairs, etc.

1945. Twelve men in the department and three engines.

1950. Manpower increased to 18 men.

1953. Station #2 on 8th Street completed.
Lot $5,000
Building $76,500

1955. Manpower increased to 33 men.

1960. Manpower increased to 40 men.

1963. Manpower increased to 44 men. Pitman Snorkel Truck purchased for $57,080. The truck was rebuilt in 1985 for $50,000.

1964. $587,000 General Obligation Fire Department Improvement Bond approved.

1965. Station #3 at Grandview and Skyline was built.
Land $10,450
Building $102,979

21 additional men hired.

1966. Two 1966 Seagrave pumpers purchased for $34,814 each. These two trucks were rebuilt in 1985.

1975. Station #4 built on Lincoln Road. City agreed to pay 2/3 of costs and Bonneville County Fire District 1/3 of cost.

Total lot cost $3,000.
Building, $209,348.

1988. Our latest fire apparatus purchased. 1988 Pierce Pumper which cost $174,049.

1989. Ground purchased for Station #5 at St. Clair & Sunnyside. Approximate building costs will be $400,000 to $600,000.

Submitter: Richard Hahn, Idaho Falls Fire Chief Sources: Department records, City of Idaho Falls Fire Division

Idaho Falls Police Department

"The Idaho Falls Police Department with radio patrol cars and radar has come a long way from the days when `Peg Leg' Ellis walked board sidewalks and dusty streets in the late 1890s in Idaho Falls. Technical developments have brought the department to a new level of efficiency. The automobile, telephone, and radio have all profoundly affected the police department and the citizens of Idaho Falls. Then as now the department depends upon its personnel, the patrolman who walks the beat, does the leg-work and is irreplaceable to the department." (Post-Register, June 3, 1959)

How has the Police Department evolved? Let's reminisce.

1895. Minutes of the Village Council meeting May 17, 1895 noted the appointment of D. H. (Dan) Cline as the Village Marshall, the first law enforcement appointment found in early records. Since then the following have been appointed and served as Chief of Police:

1. Dan. H. Cline 1895 2. Jay D. Boice or Boyes 3. George N. Rhodes 4. Charles Johnson 1904 5. Robert "Bob" Oley 6. Jack Hayball 7. Ira Fisher 1908 8. ? Clokentaker 9. George Harris 10. C. A. Carlson 1920-- 11. Larry Hansen 12. Orin Hansen 13. C. A. Carlson --1950 14. Joseph Carboneau 1950 - 1951 15. Captain Forrest Perrin 1951-1957 16. Captain A. Lowell Cramer 1957-1958 17. Lieutenant John Putman 1959-1962 18. Milton C. Jones 1962-1964 19. Captain Robert Pollock 1964-1987 20. Captain Monty Montague 1987

1900s. In early 1900s, the mayor and council appointed day police, night police, special police, village marshalls, city marshalls, assistant police, and finally Chief of Police. Minutes of the weekly meetings reflect a high turnover with appointments, dismissals and salary changes. For example:

May 3, 1901: "It appearing to the Council from information received by the Mayor, from the Railroad Company, that the Railroad Company wished to retain the City's night Police in his present duties at the depot, and would add to his present salary $5.00 per month. It was moved and seconded that we make the salary of the night police $40.00 per month and he is to collect from the railroad company $20.00 per month as his due for services rendered them in addition, and that we make the salary of the day police $5.5.00 per month and that both day and night police shall work in harmony. Motion carried."

Feb. 28, 1903: "The Mayor declared the office of City Marshall or Chief of Police to be vacant on February 28, 1903 and gave as his reason that the officer had neglected his duties and had shown a disregard to the wishes and instructions of the Mayor and Council."

March 13, 1903: "Mayor reported G. L. Topham would not accept the position as City Marshall at the salary of $40 per month."

March 23, 1903: "Moved and seconded that the Mayor be instructed to employ such assistance for the night police as he may deem necessary at a salary of $60 per month."

April 24, 1903: "Moved and seconded that the salary of the City Marshall be fixed at $75 per month, and that we fix the salary of the night watchman at $75 per month.

Some traffic laws were similar to today's. The officer enforced laws against riding horses or mules at a reckless speed in the city. This was a forerunner of the modern traffic division. Another ordinance prohibited the riding of bicycles or tricycles on sidewalks.


Council minutes of 1900 indicate a need for a new jail. The jail committee considered whether to move the present building, but found that impossible without destroying the building. In May, 1902 "Mr. Clyne reported that he and the City Marshall had the promise of the use of the coal house of 'The City Transfer' free of charge to be used as a City jail and that to make it secure it will necessitate the expenditure of about $20 to line it with another thickness of boards." This action was approved.

In June, Police Judge H. L. Rogers appeared before the Council with a complaint that the Police Officers of the City make arrests and after keeping the prisoners in jail overnight turn them loose and order them out of town. However City Attorney Briggs stated that the Police Judge only has jurisdiction after the person is arrested.

That August the jail committee recommended building a two-room stone building, but had difficulty selecting its location. Sep. 19, 1902, minutes recommended that the jail be located at the rear of the City Hall and facing the adjacent alley. This action was approved.

Officers. July 19, 1904: President Chamberlin stated the principal object of the meeting to be, to consider what action the council should take in the matter of Policeman Oley, being arrested for assault on Martin Elward, which Mr. Oley claimed was done in the discharge of his duty after an assault by Mr. Elward by the use of strong and abusive language.

A 1934 Post Register article stated, "Officer Oley, an early 1900 police officer and later Chief of Police stated, `when he first took office as policeman, there were many "tough" characters in town. These men had never been compelled to abide by law, and provided excitement for the city officials....'"

Gambling and liquor laws were not easy to enforce.

Headquarters. In 1909 C. A. Carlson, later to serve several terms as Chief of Police, went to work for Chief Ira Fisher. At the time the Chief and three men had headquarters over what is now A.G. Edwards and Associates, 365 Park Ave. In 1920s the Police Department was located on the southwest corner of Capital Ave. and Broadway. In about 1930 the Police Department moved into the new City Building, 308 "C" Street, where they remained until January 16, 1978, 48 years. They moved to 585 No. Capital Ave., known as the Law Enforcement Building.

Beats, lights, and vehicles. During the middle 20s the City provided a car for the police department. Prior to this time the Police Department was given permission to use the Fire Department's car for night calls. Patrolmen were required to work twelve hours per day in the 20s. Since there was no way to contact the officers walking the beats, beat lights were installed at five locations in the downtown area. When an officer was needed, the desk officer in the station flipped on a light and the officer walking the beat saw the light and would contact the station. As the 30s ended the department now had 15 employees.

In 1933, Paul Crowder rode a motorcycle north from California and liked this country so well he decided to stay. He got a job with the police department, and Idaho Falls had its first motorcycle officer. Due to his aptitude for electonics and gadgetry, he set about updating the department. He became the department's radio officer, and Idaho Falls became the first police department in the state to have a radio communication system.

In the 1940s a second car was added for police department use.

Civil Service. In the mid 40s, to remove politics from the police department, the state legislature passed a law to establish the Civil Service Commission. Idaho Falls quickly passed an ordinance establishing the Idaho Falls Civil Service Commission, to review hiring, firing, disciplining and promoting police and firemen. A police retirement program for officers serving 25 years or more was adopted, the city's first such retirement plan. In the early 1940s the Idaho Falls Police Association was formed. At the end of the decade the city was being watched over by 24 policemen with their days divided into three 8-hour shifts.

Highlights after 1940s. The 1950s began a new era for the department, influenced by the development of the Atomic Energy Site. During the 50s policemen had varied duties, including to shake doors of downtown businesses, turn off lights, and stoke the furnace if needed. They also directed prisoner work gangs. Vagrancy, drunk and disorderly conduct were common arrests, and often the defendant was ordered to "get out of town and not come back." In such cases police were often called to provide escorts to the City limits.

In 1958 the department was demoralized by a burglary scandal. Several members were arrested, convicted and sent to prison. The department was reorganized. As the 50s ended, the department had 50 employees. As a result of a department evaluation, Milton C. Jones, from Michigan was appointed Chief of Police in 1962. Many changes were undertaken and a new look emerged. The uniform was changed. A patch depicting the forebay of the river with the falls and the L.D.S. Temple in the background was adopted and remained in use until 1987 when a new patch was designed.

Training became the first priority and Lieutenant Robert "Bob" Pollock was assigned as the training officer. Another priority was upgrading police records.

In 1964 the department moved into new offices in the basement of City Hall. Officers were better equipped and morale improved. During the 60s the first policewoman was hired, Doris L. Evans, who served as a juvenile officer until 1975. The Miranda law changed how police made arrests in the 1970s. Training was mandatory by state law, and financial assistance provided by the federal government. Police vehicles gained their alternating blue and red lights. The Police Department took over the County Animal Shelter responsibilities. In 1974 the department joined the AFL&CIO Laborer's Union, and went on strike in 1974 and 1975 to improve salary and benefits.

In January 1978, when the department moved into the "Law Enforcement Building," the City no longer had its jail, "Municipal Court," nor a bright shining neon light pointing to "Police Department." The County was responsible for all prisoners. Judges became state employees. In the 1980s additional technology was employed, and officer's safety became of prime concern. Air conditioning was added to patrol cars, the 911 emergency services were updated, and the department took on City/County Fire Dispatch and ambulance dispatch. The department continues to develop.

Submitter: Faye Holm, Administrative Secretary to Chief of Police. Sources: Post Register, City Council Minutes, Paul Crowder interview, Idaho Peace Officers Magazine; Ms. Holm's experience in the department since 1960. List of Police Chiefs prepared with help of the late Chief Carlson and early city council minutes.

City Planning

The first city planning commission in the state of Idaho was convened in Idaho Falls on February 12, 1946, by Mayor E. W. Fanning. Members were Gordon Boyle, A. W. Brunt, Wallace Burns, B. L. Harris, R. T. MacNamara, Gilbert St. Clair, K. P. Slusser, George Watkins, and Leonard Wright. Soon after the first meeting, the Commission hired S. R. DeBoer and Company, city planning consultants from Denver, to develop and submit "a complete plan to govern the future growth of the City of Idaho Falls."

By September 1947 DeBoer had completed and submitted to the Planning Commission a series of planning studies covering subjects ranging from a civic center to sanitation and health, to tourist attractions. The City Plan for Idaho Falls, Idaho was submitted for Council and public review in the Fall of 1947. At the same time the Planning Commission was also developing a new zoning ordinance with the assistance of DeBoer.

The 1947 City Plan, Summary and Conclusions contained 160 pages and 16 graphs and maps delineating and illustrating recommendations for the City's growth. The following are among the ideas generated, much of which still applies.

  1. Idaho Falls has in the beautiful Snake River an asset not surpassed by any city. This should all be developed into riverside parks with park roads.
  2. In Tautphaus Park, "a small but well maintained zoo."
  3. The main highways through the city will form the basis of the main traffic arteries. These should be designated as through streets with the character of freeways.
  4. Highway entrances into the city should be beautified, and city directories added.
  5. Additional downtown parking must be provided for the economy of the city and the merchants. Parking is recommended along railroad tracks, in the interior of blocks and in every other available place.
  6. The swimming lake with dressing rooms near Tautphaus Park is difficult to keep sanitary and clean; therefore it should be replaced by more conveniently located concrete pools.
  7. Several large irrigation canals in the southern and eastern part of the city should be made into attractive parkways with parallel roadways on each side.
  8. Memorial Drive should be extended to North Jefferson Avenue; Holmes Avenue should be widened, and a New Underpass on 17th Street built for the proposed U. S. Highway 20.

Within a few years after S. R. DeBoer completed Idaho Falls' first comprehensive plan, the Atomic Energy Commission built its Operations Office to administer the National Reactor Station (later named Idaho National Engineering Laboratory). This construction stimulated a growth spurt of 73% for the City between 1950 and 1960. The population grew from 19,218 in 1950 to 33,161 in 1960, and the territory of the City almost doubled from 1947 to 1964. In 1965, in response to such growth, the city contracted with Clark, Coleman, and Rupeiks, Inc., city and regional planning consultants, to prepare the second comprehensive plan. The plan was completed in March 1966 and submitted to the Mayor and Council for approval.

The 1966 Idaho Falls Comprehensive Plan was based on the residential neighborhood concept in which residences housing 3,000 to 6,000 persons were grouped around a school or open space area. Residents were to be within one-half mile of the school-park area, and connected with the school by bicycle paths. Arterials (main streets) or collectors on the fringes of the neighborhood would carry its vehicular traffic.

Some of the recommendations of the Rupeik plan echoed DeBoer's earlier plan. In summary, they are as follows:

  1. The City is to develop as much of the river front property as possible for boating and other recreation.
  2. Strengthen the downtown central business district. Bridges, loop roads, off-street parking, and a downtown mall are suggested to attract shoppers back to the C.B.D. (Central Business District).
  3. Emphasize residential rather than commercial development on the arterials (thoroughfares).
  4. Encourage manufacturing industries in the north and west locations.

Submitter: Renee' R. Magee, Assistant Planning Director/Zoning Administrator, City of Idaho Falls Sources: Minutes, Idaho Falls Planning Commission, 1947-1950, 1963-66.

Urban Renewal

During the years 1968 to 1975, the Urban Development Renewal Agency was established with Leonard P. Callan, director. Eugene E. Carr was also a director of the Urban Planning office, who consulted with an Idaho Falls Citizens Advisory Committee. Much thought and discussion went into the development. It centered on the area known as "Eagle Rock," the original town. The study considered whether to restore the old section as a pedestrian mall. History was traced from the first center near the two bridges--the wagon and the railroad crossings. Main business centers were successively Capital Ave., Broadway, and then Park Avenue.

Urban renewal during 1973 and 1974, while S. Eddie Pedersen was Mayor, brought downtown improvements. This area was given a facelifting which included streets, sidewalks, lighting and beautification, to give the city a new look. In 1975 the city's new electrical building was built on Capital Avenue. In 1979 the new Idaho Falls Library was under construction on Capital Avenue in the urban renewal area. A new sewage treatment plant was opened one and a half miles south of Idaho Falls on South Yellowstone, and methods of mass transportation were studied.

Submitter: Mary Jane Fritzen Sources: Post Register, July 2, 1976; Bonneville Museum files, including Post Register articles. Scrapbook of subject, 1968-75.

Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation

Idaho Falls is beautified by about 25 parks, maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department. Anyone should be able to walk to a park or else a school ground within about six blocks of his home without crossing a main arterial. (Arterial roads dividing the city east and west include Hitt, Woodruff, Holmes, Boulevard, Yellowstone, Skyline, and Bellin; North-south arterials include Sunnyside, 17th, First, and Lincoln.)

In addition the Parks and Recreation department maintains off- ramps from the Freeway and small park areas that beautify city streets, rodeo grounds, the two cemeteries, and weed control. They have a joint-use agreement between the city and schools. A few city parks are within the county rather than city limits. Two parks include facilities for camping, on the north and south of town.

In the spirit of cooperation Idaho Falls pioneers planted trees for parks in the early days. A 1923 brochure said, "A number of beautiful and well-kept parks may be seen in the city." Pioneers included John Lingren, who planted a tree nursery and provided Highland Park; the Village Improvement Association, who purchased land for Kate Curley Park, and C. C. Tautphaus, who leveled the land, dug canals, and planted trees that became Tautphaus Park.

Many more parks and recreation areas have been developed since then. A recreation center was built 1935-38. It is now on 520 Memorial Drive, formerly the Armory building. First park director was Kevin Nelson; he was succeeded in 1963 by Ernest Craner; in 1984, John Johnson; in 1990, Dave Christiansen.

Highland Park

Idaho Falls' first public park also lays claim to several other firsts -- the first picnic grounds, first tree nursery, first ball diamond, first zoo, first swimming pond, first skating rink, first bandstand, and first dance pavilion. The park, located on West Elva, was established by pioneer, John Lingren. Lingren immigrated to America from Sweden in 1863 and came to Eagle Rock in 1879. At this time the town consisted of three homes, a boarding house, hotel, and blacksmith shop. Lingren first worked for Jack Anderson, earning $40 a month as gate keeper for the toll bridge.

Lingren bought a quarter section of land just above town on Willow Creek in 1882. He built a home on this land as well as a nursery with a large variety of trees, and raised vegetables and fruit. This land provided almost all of the trees of the city. In 1893, Lingren donated to the city by deed land comprising two city blocks. He designated this donation to be used as the first public park in the city. This land developed into Highland Park which Lingren named in honor of his native Sweden.

The people took advantage of the beautiful, shady area and enjoyed the various amusements Lingren made available there, including swimming, boating, dancing, picnicking, playing ball, and even ice skating in the winter. Former Mayor Eddie Pedersen recalled in 1977, "It [Highland Park] was the only place we could lie around and curl up in the shade." The center of the park was a bandstand where organizations and church groups congregated for various get-togethers. To celebrate the event, participants were often treated to Sarah Lingren's home-made ice-cream.

Before Lingren died in 1915 he petitioned the city council to buy the property and convert it into a park and playground. Two years later the city purchased additional property to enlarge the park and develop a ball park and grandstand.

Highland Park has changed a great deal since Lingren was proprietor. The fruit trees are no longer, and many of the other trees and vegetation, even Willow Creek, have been changed. The park is home to a log cabin -- now the Eagle Rock Art Gallery -- which was once used to accommodate tourists. Also, McDermott Field, a modern baseball stadium, was erected in 1977 as part of Highland Park. But Highland Park is still the pioneer park of Idaho Falls, made possible by John Lingren, a pioneer himself, who possessed vision and ". . . realized the worth of the natural things of life" (Eddie Pedersen, oral history 1977).

Russ Freeman describes the acquisition of land for Highland Park:

After Lingren's initial 1893 gift, the city, in 1915, with Ralph Lewis the mayor, purchased several more lots from the Lingren family from tax deeds mostly for $50 and none more than $100 per lot. In 1919 the ball team bought the adjoining land which was a beet field, and developed it for a ball field. The first baseball game May 19, brought about 4500 people who sat on the ground. Only a few bleacher seats were then available. Bleachers were built later and the field renamed McDermott Field.

Highland Park submitter: Anny Fritzen.
Sources: Bonneville Museum file, including Elaine Lingren, manuscript history; Post Register articles; Eddie Pedersen, oral history; City Parks and Recreation Department, Russ Freeman correspondence.

Kate Curley Park

The Village Improvement Society used money from back county taxes to purchase the block bordered by 9th and 10th streets, Emerson and Higbee Avenues. They raised potatoes on the land for several years to help pay for the park's development. Kate Curley, a leader in VIS, died of cancer in 1903. Her husband Bowen Curley, a banker, carried on the park project in her name. Trees were planted according to plans by Charles and Maude Shattuck. Shattuck was a retired professor who at one time had been head of the forestry department, U of Idaho in Moscow. (Lis Williams, in Post Register, undated, photo by Robert Bower; she used materials from Mrs. Eugene (Carol) Wright in a 1947 history for Roundtable anniversary meeting.) The City purchased the ground in about 1918.

Tautphaus Park

On the south end of town a large park with varied uses welcomes visitors. To children and parents it is known for the zoo and playground. But it has changed its name at least three times. Requesting the name be returned to Tautphaus, John A. Senter wrote to the city in 1943:

About 1886 C. C. Tautphaus came to town. He and his family filed on four sections of land just south of Eagle Rock. With equipment and work stock he built a large barn and house. He next built a canal from the Snake. It took three years of labor. When the gates were opened it formed a lake. He leveled the land and planted trees when there were few trees in the county. "How those trees did grow! We began calling this spot `Tautphaus Park.'" (Senter, 1943 letter.)

Joe Marker tells us in Beautiful Bonneville that the park was opened to the public for Pioneer Day 25 July 1910. The 1934 Post Register Golden Jubilee edition recorded, "City park, formerly known as Reno park, is being made into a recreation center at a cost of about $672,000." Rodeo facilities, roads and grounds were to be improved and pasture fenced for elk and deer.

C. C. Tautphaus had many claims to fame, including building what was probably Eagle Rock's first flour mill. Russ Freeman wrote that the name was changed to Reno Park as people didn't pronounce Tautphaus correctly. In the 1940s the name was changed back to Tautphaus Park.

Describing early Tautphaus Park, Freeman wrote that the pioneer built a lake for boating and planted shade trees. "There were about 38 acres in the original Tautphaus Ranch. In later years Mr. Tautphaus sold the ranch to the Reno family. The Renos later lost the ranch to the American National Bank under a mortgage, then June 13, 1935, the American National sold the property to the city for $13,500 to be developed as a City Park.

"The race track had been constructed and a grandstand built, and Rodeo (War Bonnet) was held for many years inside the track. Rodeo probably called War Bonnet because of the use of many Indians in the Parade. We discontinued the lake, making it into the lighted softball field, also placing ball fields in the track area. 16.48 acres were purchased in about 1948, and the Lilac Circle planted."

Tautphaus Park on Rollandet Ave. is now 80 acres. As well as a zoo, it contains ball diamonds, horseshoe courts, picnic shelters and tables, play equipment, rest rooms, tennis courts, concession buildings, football field, artificial ice and hockey rink, and other facilities. The zoo includes caged animals and hoofed animals, foul, and fish. There are buildings for the superintendent, offices and utilities.

Sportsmen's Park

Pedersen's Sportsmen's Park is located at the site of the first toll bridge. When the city built a diversion dam for power in 1911, this dam caused the water to completely surround this pile of rocks and made it a small island. A 1969 history describes the park's development: "In the early 1920s, a small foot bridge was built to the island and they began taking dirt across the bridge in wheelbarrows. After several years, the island began taking shape. The Forest Department brought in Idaho's native trees and shrubs in 1927. The island gradually became a park. As the park began to develop, Peter Pedersen's Museum was started.

The museum was opened to tourists. On one side of Sportsmen's Park, the Sportsmen raised from thirty to sixty thousand rainbow trout a year. (1969 article by Wendy Hinckley, Becky Parkinson and Joann Green, from interviews of S. Eddie Pedersen, mayor, and Orrin Myler)

The Sportsmen Association beautified the island and by 1934 reported that hundreds visited each day during the summer months. (Post Register, Sep. 10, 1934). The Swinging Bridge was a delightful access to the park, until it was removed after the Teton Dam flood in 1976, and a sturdier bridge built. The park, now named Pedersen's Sportsmen's Park, contains an island of nearly one acre with fish, wild life and picnic tables.

One interesting tid-bit, which probably is just as well forgotten, is that the island for a time was the city's red light district. The Village Improvement Society was responsible for its demise, whereupon Eagle Rock Street became known for that pusuit, well into the 1930s.

Freeman Park

Who would remember this was the old city dump? Now containing 57 acres, it was partially acquired in 1915, 1929, 1932, and 1946. Later the dump was buried and covered, then planted with grass and trees. It was named for Russ Freeman, city councilman, who was active with the Parks and Recreation. With a scenic route along the river, it has parking lots, shelters, and play equipment, and has a diversity of use. A band shelter was constructed during the 1980s.

Riverside Drive

This includes the city area both east and west of the Snake River, and may be called the Greenbelt. In 1934 the Post Register Golden Jubilee edition wrote: "The City already has several beauty spots, including Kate Curley Park, the island park south of Broadway bridge, Highland Park, Memorial Drive and others.

"Another park project of the city is the Riverside Drive. Plans call for the beautification of the water front from the Broadway bridge to the John's Hole bridge, with a boulevard running along the river bank....It would be impossible for the best landscape artist to place the Snake River in a more convenient place for the beautifying of the city."

Russ Freeman wrote later: "We purchased from Barzilla Clark entire ground Porter Canal to the river as far North as River View Motel for $10,000. Was a dumping ground....only foot path to John Hole bridge. War prison, German, where Clark's Westbank Motel is now. Used the big German farm boys in construction, moving dirt to cover the rocks, planting from city nursery.

"East side or Memorial Drive, filled in and planted, with irrigated system throughout. Bought this ground as we could, over period of many years. Chamber of Commerce committee brought pressure (then my committee) on the city's 8 councilmen to get this river front developed. Finally put me on the council as easier way to get things done. More favourable comment concerning river dcevelopment than any other city project, because it could have still been a city dump."

By 1991, the "Greenbelt" was being extended from Johns Hole Bridge south to W. 17th Street (Pancheri Drive.)

Other Parks:

Poitevin Park, 1935.
Liberty Park, also known as Elm Street Park and South Boulevard Splash Pool Park, 1937.
Northgate Park, 1934, provides overnight camping. Another campground park is in the rest area just south of town.
Municipal pool on Elm St., 1945. It was used until about 1984 when Aquatic Center was built. Another swim pool is located at Reinhart park. Rollandet was built on land used for war prisoner bunkers. There is a park on 20th Street; tennis courts on Wabash and 7th Street.
Parks from the 1950s include John Adams Parkway, Civitan, Willowbrook, and Antares. In the 1960s, Riverside, Sand Creek rodeo grounds, 150 acres, 1963; and Reinhart.
Additional parks include Russet Noise Park, 400 acres, west on Arco Highway; Lincoln Park, 6 acres on Lincoln Rd.; Sugar Mill sub- station, 6.5 acres, East Kearney St.; Esquire Acres, 11 acres, Moonlite; Interstate, 11 acres, Broadway and Grandview; and Gem Lake south of town. Other Parks include Central, Antares, North Tourist, and West Drainage area. Sand Creek Golf Course was later built. Recent parks are Community Park on Holmes Ave., and Sunnyside Park, 17 acres on Sunnyside Rd.

Submitter: Ernest Craner and Mary Jane Fritzen. Sources: Parks and Recreation Department; Bonneville Museum files.
An area map showing the parks is for sale at the Chamber of Commerce.


Regarding Pinecrest, the first golf course in Idaho Falls, long-time golf professional George Orullian commented, "When I first came here no one thought this place would ever become famous in the U.S." But what began in 1935 as a sand greens and dirt fairways golf course evolved over the years into one of the top three public courses west of the Mississippi, according to a 1952 issue of Life magazine.

In 1935 the city bought the golf course located on East Elva from the Idaho Falls Country Club. Under the Works Progress Administration, the land was improved and developed into a beautiful 18-hole all grass golf course complete with trees and a clubhouse. In 1964, the municipal course was renamed, "Pinecrest Golf Course." The course is enjoyed by many residents as well as tourists.

George Orullian was hired by the city in 1936 to assume the position of golf professional at Pinecrest. He worked as golf pro for 38 years. During his administration he helped build the popularity of golf and also helped Pinecrest gain prestige. Orullian was the first to establish a junior golf program which successfully increased the interest in golf in Idaho Falls. He also taught many golf lessons to people of all ages.

Pinecrest has been host to various golf tournaments including the first Idaho Open Golf Tournament and Idaho State Amateur Tournament. The course also has attracted some of the best Professional Golf Association pros including Sam Snead, Harold McSpadden, and Billy Casper. To maintain the quality and beauty of Pinecrest, a new computerized irrigation system was installed in 1989.

As golf grew in popularity there was a need for another course. Land was purchased by the city and in 1978 Sandcreek Golf Course on Hackman Road was opened. In 1991 a third public course is under construction. Additionally, Idaho Falls is home to a private golf course, the Idaho Falls Country Club.

Submitter: Anny Fritzen
Sources: George Orullian, Pinecrest and George Orullian, First Golf Professional, published 1986.
Interview with George Orullian, by Mary Jane Fritzen. March 26, 1991. Notes in Bonneville Museum Reading and Reference Room.
Robert Premeaux, Post Register article, June 18, 1990 Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce

Water Works

W. H. B. Crow developed the first system to supply water to the early settlers of Eagle Rock. His water system consisted of a pump house in the Snake River with piping to hydrants and to a few homes. The reliable method for water was a barrel in the yard which water haulers would fill several times a week. In 1885 Eagle Rock Water Works Company constructed another water system--the pump powered by a windmill with a boiler for reserve. The population of 250 consumed 35,000 gallons. Mr. Crow then purchased the water system and in 1899 the Eagle Rock Water Works was sold to Idaho Falls for $5,000. Water supply was from the Snake River and considered safe.

On January 5, 1909, City Engineer O. D. Chapin reported to City Council the Water Works system consisted of 15.8 miles of pipe ranging in size from 3/4 inch to eight-inch diameter and included 46 fire hydrants. The population was then about 4,000.

The first deep well was drilled at 10th and Boulevard in 1926. Well #2 is located on I Street by the river, and Well #3 is located beneath the elevated storage tank. Both the elevated water tank and Well #3 were placed in operation during 1937. The city's only elevated storage tank holds 500,000 gallons and is still in use in 1991.

By 1949 the water system had four deep wells and could produce 12,700 gallons per minute for approximately 18,000 residents.

By 1962 the system had eight operating deep wells with 112 miles of pipe distribution system to serve a population of 35,000. In this year each of the existing wells was equipped with chlorine detention tanks and these large concrete tanks were then included with each new well developed.

In 1980 the first of three emergency generators was installed at selected well sites. In case of a general power outage, these generators can provide the 1991 domestic water needs of the entire city.

The current 1991 water system has 15 operating deep wells with two additional wells under development. The water supply is controlled by a computer and can produce 89 million gallons per day. There are over 220 miles of pipe lines in sizes up to 24 inch diameter, with about 1600 fire hydrants. In general the City has constructed a high quality water works system, designed to grow as the needs increase.


In 1895 trustee minutes mention a Village Engineer, and in 1900, a council minute entry approved a City Engineer's salary of five dollars per day. Since this salary appears abnormally high for the time, this could be for a consultant's pay on a day basis. Records are not clear on the name or tenure of all early Engineers, but one meeting of 1909 Council minutes shows C. D. Chapin as City Engineer. It is not known how long before or after he served. Also in 1912 a minute entry refers to Frank Beach as City Engineer. From 1927-1958 Claud Black served; 1958-1962, Donald F. Lloyd; 1962- 1964, Don Ellsworth; 1964-1966, Robert E. Sanderfield; 1966-1980, Joe Laird; 1980-1991, Ed Turner.

Since the early 50s the Idaho Falls Engineering Department has ranged from 15 to 22 employees, and from one to three professional engineers. The department is responsible for design investigations, preparations of cost estimates, preparation of plans and specifications, and inspection and accounting of construction. These steps are necessary for all City projects which involve new facilities or extention or improvements of existing facilities. Consultants are used when special skills are needed or the work load is beyond the capacity of the staff.

Engineering is a service department for the entire city, and operates with four functional sections: 1. Design, 2. Survey, 3. Inspection, 4. Signing and Striping. Each of these sections has qualified personnel and excellent equipment to serve the City's needs.

Public Works

Public Works is public service. This organization was created to produce and maintain the facilities and services which our modern urban living require. Its purpose is to coordinate the interrelated activities which have the common characteristic of public service.

Public Works organizations vary in size and make-up from city to city, but generally include the departments currently in the Idaho Falls Public Works Division: Engineering, Streets, Water, Sanitation and Sewer.

The Public Works Director is responsible for establishing technical standards, methods and procedures, planning, design, construction, maintenance, repair and improvements of the public facilities.

It was March 1962 when the City Council passed an ordinance creating a Public Works Division for Idaho Falls. However, for some time previous, all the elements of Public Works existed and were being implemented by the City Engineer. The very first indication of need for Public Works was an election conducted by the Board of Trustees for the Village of Idaho Falls. A Road Overseer, W. G. Ellis, was approved by a three to two vote on April 15, 1895. The village, at that time, had less than 500 inhabitants.

In 1900 the village became a city of second class and boasted a population of 1262. In that same year, the City council voted to pay a Road Superintendent $60 per month and a City Engineer $70 per month. These are the first real elements of what was later to become a Public Works Organization. Idaho Falls has had only two Public Works Directors: 1962-1985, Donald F. Lloyd; and 1985 - present (1991), Chad Stanger.

Submitter: Artie Lee Gardner and Donald F. Lloyd Sources: Idaho Falls City records, Public Works

Streets and Bridges

In 1895 the Village Board elected W. G. Ellis as the first "Road Overseer" (a forerunner to the Street superintendent). In that same year Mr. Keefer was awarded the first contract for sidewalk, street and alley crossings at a cost of 30 cents per lineal foot and $19 per thousand feet of lumber.

On August 1, 1905 Engineer Kelsey (from Salt Lake City) presented preliminary estimates for macadamizing downtown streets called LID #1. This includes three blocks of Broadway and two blocks each of Shoup, Capital and Park. A month later, September 7, 1905, the City Council declared its intention to create LID (Local Improvement District) #1 to macadamize the streets.

On August 23, 1912 the City Council passed a resolution to create a street LID for "Downtown." The City Engineer at this time was Frank Beach.

An excerpt from a letter dated July 1, 1931 states, "The Business section has all been paved, contracts completed, the kind of paving being Bitulithic."

A 1923 promotion of Idaho Falls claimed 26 miles of paved streets, 60 miles of concrete sidewalks and 50 miles of graded, drained and gravel surface highways connecting farming communities. In 1933 the City purchased its first snowplow, and in 1949 the City claimed its 40 and one-half miles of paved streets were more than any other city in Idaho.

A little chronological history is included:

1950. Highway 20 to the desert (INEL) was opened. City population was 19,000.

1953. City has 48 miles of paved streets.

1961. City operates street sweepers on 102 miles of paved city streets.

1962. Freeway I-15 opened to Idaho Falls. It stopped at the northern edge of the city.

1972. Massive downtown street renovation program.

In 1991 there are over 200 miles of paved streets in Idaho Falls which require cleaning, repairing, patching and snow removal from the Street Department. Generally, new construction and seal coating is accomplished by contractors.

Submitter: Donald F. Lloyd Sources: Idaho Register, The Post Register, Pioneer Memories, City Council Minutes, City of Idaho Falls and Public LIbrary files.


The history of Sanitation (garbage collection and disposal) begins when people gathered together in Eagle Rock. The first recorded information is a note in the Post Register to the effect that the "City decided to fill two blocks on the west side of the rail road tracks and a large hole on the rail road right-of-way with garbage." The article was dated during World War One when the Idaho Falls population was between six and seven thousand.

It is not clear when the city started garbage collection, but the first efforts were made by men lifting 50 gallon drums into an open truck, probably in the early 30s. These trucks were then emptied at various dump sites which were usually holes or low areas in or around the City. In more recent years, the area lying between the I-15 Freeway and the airport and Freeman Park were both previous dump sites and are two examples of reclamation efforts.

The first major innovation in garbage collection was the use of compactor trucks in the early 50s. The equipment has improved through the years in both efficiency and capacity and allows fewer employees to handle the city's ever-increasing quantities of garbage.

Containers for commercial garbage collection were introduced in 1963 with the purchase of 30 units of three and four cubic yard bins. Truck units were adapted to lift and empty the containers with a single operator. The success of this method prompted the expansion of the container system into the residential area in 1981. The system is still being expanded and may some day include the entire city.

In 1977 the City purchased its first tilt-frame truck to handle 30 and 40 cubic yard containers. These containers were placed in commercial and industrial centers and could be picked up, hauled, emptied and returned with a single operator. Today the City operates three tilt-frame trucks with 68 thirty-cubic yard containers. The City now owns six container trucks servicing 1400 three-yard containers, and seven rear-load compactor trucks for hand loading. The City of Idaho Falls has provided an excellent garbage collection system at a reasonable cost to the citizen.


On January 20, 1905, City Engineer C. D. Chapin and a Salt Lake consultant submitted a report to the City Council recommending sewers be constructed on Capitol, Shoup, and Park Avenues. A citizens committee endorsed the recommendation. The Council then passed an ordinance declaring intentions to construct a sewer system (about 13,000 feet of pipe at an estimated cost of $28,500). This early sewer effort took place when Idaho Falls had a population of about 3000 and was the beginning of today's modern sewer system. The sewers emptied directly into the Snake River, and the street drainage was also directed into the sewers. While the sewers were adequate for sanitary sewerage, they would tend to overload during rain storms.

As the population grew and the city area expanded, Local Sewerage Improvement districts were formed. The sewer systems were installed to handle the current need, and the cost of installation was assessed back to the property which was benefited. The second such district was approved by the City Council over the Mayor's veto on December 20, 1912. The population then was over 5000.

As development moved east, it became necessary to use Willow Creek and Crow Creek for surface drainage. Drainage was a problem partially handled by a hodge-podge of sanitary sewers, creeks, ditches, and "dry wells." A dry well is a hole bored into the underlying lava until a large crevice area or caverns are found. These "dry wells" would carry away huge quantities of surface water and sometimes sewerage.

During the 30s a tunnel was started at the river (end of Short Street) and constructed beneath the street system. This tunnel ended near Highland Park. The original purpose of the tunnel is not clear but parts of the structure have been renovated and are currently being used for drainage.

Sanitary Sewers were constructed by the LID method as the City expanded. In about 1958, the City constructed a series of interceptor sewers for the purpose of removing raw sewage from the Snake River. The bond issue which funded the interceptors also funded a primary sewerage treatment plant, which was located on the east side of the Snake River, south of Sunnyside Road. A primary plant removes the solids from the sewerage to a digestor and cooks it into a sludge. The effluent is then clorinated and is then placed back into the river. This primary plant served the City well until 1971, when environmental requirements demanded the construction of a secondary sewage plant. A secondary plant removes the biological oxygen demand of the effluent from the primary plant.

In 1981 a drainage pond was developed on the west side. The surface drainage from a large area was directed to the pond for temporary storage to avoid street and basement flooding. When not in a flood situation the area can be developed into a park or playground. Ten years later (1991) 27 such drainage ponds were existing or under development, each consisting of one to two acres.

In 1990 the treatment plant area was again expanded to handle the increased quantities of sludge. The treatment of sewerage is a costly operation, requiring a modern processing plant with many skilled operators. A tour of the Idaho Falls treatment plants can be rewarding.

Submitter: Donald F. Lloyd and Artie Lee Gardner Sources: City records



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