Idaho Falls - City of Destiny


History includes people and events. In large part it concerns the men and women who sacrificed to build our land, and we wonder what they thought and felt. But history also records the events that affected people's lives. Our purpose in this book is to reconstruct major events in the city's growth.

More than 50 willing contributors have written short histories on topics of their expertise. Grouped under general headings and edited, these form the 20 chapters in the book. Their complete texts are available and can be copied and purchased at the Bonneville Museum and used with the writer's permission. The name of the submitter and other sources are lsited after each chapter.

We have, of course, made no effort to be comprehensive, yet the many significant historical sketches provide a useful balance of what was important, with emphasis on once-important institutions which could soon be forgotten. Our main thrust was to reconstruct institutions which have endured, although a few have changed their form.

To explain accuracy, we quote from another locality history:

"A strong effort was made to find the right date, and if possible to verify it. As a result many dates or data previously published have been corrected; this is particularly true in the Basic Chronology section at the end. We are hopeful that any errors will be insignificant and that, in turn, future publications will contain newly-discovered materials to correct us." (Newell Hart, Hometown Album, Preston, Franklin County, Idaho, 1973).

Hightlights of the first 50 years of the city's history are emphasized. One of several exceptions is a history of INEL by Ben Plastino, chapter 20.

In connection with preparing this history we have also assembled Idaho Falls topical files at the Bonneville Museum reading and reference room.


Photo illustrations are from Bonneville Museum collections, including a beautiful set of photos taken in about 1909, which were published in promotional brochures by Oregon Shortline Railroad and others during 1910-20. The photographer is unknown.

Chapter 7 shows how departments of city government have developed. This is the heart of the book.

Chapter 9 contains nominations for National Register of Historic Places, including several old stone homes.

Chapter 12 includes a photo history of the railroad.

Chapter 19 contains a population growth chart.

Appendix A is a brief bibliographic guide which has been compiled at the Bonneville Museum.

Appendix B is a basic chronological outline of some significant events in the city's development.

As we proceeded in the chronology from A to Z, we appropriately began with Agriculture, first in importance as well as in time. Agriculture includes water, the lifeblood of the development. Irrigation and canals from the Snake River and adjoining creeks provided the hard-working settlers their primary blessings. From the first irrigation canals and dams, to the bulb turbines, water beckoned people to live here and it provided electrical power. Water powered the generators and brought the magic of the name change from Eagle Rock to Idaho Falls. While Eagle Rock signified dryness, the new name of Idaho Falls awakened hopes for nourishing the fertility the water resources would bring.

The mood of optimism, enthusiasm, and community spirit greet the reader of early local publications. Idaho Falls has shown growth in every decade. It was a "City of Destiny." This was envisioned in a brochure published in Idaho Falls in about 1920, from which the following is quoted. (Headings have been added.)

CULTURE AND COMMERCE. "Bright with the resplendence of culture, throbbing with the life-blood of industry and commerce, which seeks only to find a more liberally and more widely extended expression is Idaho Falls, Idaho, the commercial center of a great commonwealth which numbers among its people the best and most progressive...."

CHARACTER AND SPIRIT. "To the attractiveness of nature are added the grace of architectural design, and the solidity and substantial character of municipal improvement....The advancement of Idaho Falls has been marked with conservatism; its growth has been steady and permanent....It is old in years but new in vigor. Along with the commercial expansion goes hand in hand the spirit that has conquered the great Northwest....

AGRICULTURE AND TRADE. "It is in the center of one of the greatest irrigation districts of the West, and the trade center for 1,300,000 acres of irrigated lands, exclusive of hundreds of thousands of acres of dry farming, grazing and forest lands.

"[Among businesses] located in this city might be mentioned the largest sugar factory in the West, grain elevators, feed mills, wholesale grocery houses, three strong and successful banks, wholesale potato houses, bonded warehouses, cheese factory, bottling plants, bakeries, oil distributing plants, some of the finest garages in Idaho, planing mills, steam laundry, one of the largest wholesale seed pea companies in the world, honey shipping house, several lumber yards, cream buying stations, ice cream and candy factories, two of the best equipped newspaper and job printing plants in Idaho, one exclusive job printing plant, many retail houses of the highest order, carrying as complete and up-to- date stocks as may be found in any city in Idaho and other lines of business too numerous to mention." (brochure c 1920)

Mary Jane Fritzen



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