Idaho Falls, Idaho: Wikis


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Idaho Falls
—  City  —
Idaho Falls Greenbelt

Idaho Falls is located in Idaho
Idaho Falls
Location in Idaho
Coordinates: 43°29′30″N 112°1′57″W / 43.49167°N 112.0325°W / 43.49167; -112.0325Coordinates: 43°29′30″N 112°1′57″W / 43.49167°N 112.0325°W / 43.49167; -112.0325
Country United States
State Idaho
County Bonneville
Founded 1864
Incorporated 1891
 - Mayor Jared Fuhriman
 - City 17.4 sq mi (45.0 km2)
 - Land 17.1 sq mi (44.2 km2)
 - Water 0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2)
Elevation 4,705 ft (1,434 m)
Population (as of 2008)
 - City 57,133
 Density 2,972.2/sq mi (447.2/km2)
 Metro 122,995
Time zone Mountain (UTC-7)
 - Summer (DST) Mountain (UTC-6)
Area code(s) 208
FIPS code 16-39700
GNIS feature ID 0396684

Idaho Falls is a city in and the county seat of Bonneville County, Idaho, United States, and the largest city in Eastern Idaho.[1] As of the 2000 census, the population of Idaho Falls was 50,730, with a 2008 metro population of 122,995.[2]

Idaho Falls is the principal city of the Idaho Falls, Idaho Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Idaho Falls-Blackfoot, Idaho Combined Statistical Area. Idaho Falls is the third-largest metropolitan area in the state behind Boise City-Nampa and Coeur d'Alene, but the second-largest independent economic and cultural center, due to Coeur d'Alene's reliance on and connection with the larger Spokane, Washington. In the past decade, Idaho Falls proper has been surpassed in population by the Boise suburbs of Meridian and Nampa, making it technically the fifth-largest city in Idaho.

The city is served by the Idaho Falls Regional Airport and is home to the Idaho Falls Chukars minor league baseball team and the Museum of Idaho. Its sister city is the town of Tokai-Mura, Japan.

Idaho Falls borders on Ammon, Idaho and serves as a hub to all of eastern Idaho and much of western Wyoming, including several surrounding communities such as nearby Ucon and Iona, as well as the larger communities of Shelley, Rigby, Rexburg, Blackfoot, and resort town Jackson, Wyoming.



Taylor's Bridge circa 1870

What became Idaho Falls was the site of Taylor’s Crossing on the Montana Trail, a timber frame bridge built across the Snake River. The 1865 bridge was built by Matt Taylor, a Montana Trail freighter, who built a toll bridge across a narrow black basaltic gorge of the river that succeeded a ferry nine miles upstream by a few years.[3] Taylor’s bridge served the new tide of westward migration and travel in the region that followed the military suppression of Shoshone resistance at the Bear River Massacre near Preston, Idaho in 1863. The bridge improved travel for settlers moving north and west and for miners, freighters, and others seeking riches in the gold fields of Idaho and Montana, especially, the boom towns of Bannack and Virginia City in western Montana. A private bank (the fourth in Idaho), a small hotel, a livery stable, and an eating house also sprang up at the bridge in 1865. By 1866 the emerging town had a stage station and mail service postmarked “Eagle Rock” as the area was already known by the name of the earlier ferry crossing upstream and to the north called Eagle Rock.[4] The town changed its name to Eagle Rock in 1872 after the rock island in the river that was the nesting site for numerous eagles seven miles (11 km) north.[3]

There had been a few cattle and sheep ranchers in the area for years. In 1874 water rights were established on nearby Willow Creek and the first grain harvested but settlement was sparse consisting of only a couple of families and small irrigation ditches. The first child of European descent was born at Eagle Rock in 1874.

The winds of change blew in the form of the Utah and Northern Railroad that came north from Utah through Eagle Rock to cross the Snake River at the same narrow gorge as the wooden bridge. The U&NR was building its road to the large new copper mines at Butte, Montana with the backing of robber baron Jay Gould as Union Pacific Railroad had purchased the U&NR only a few years prior.[5] Grading crews reached Eagle Rock in late 1878 and by early 1879 a wild camp-town with dozens of tents and shanties moved to Eagle Rock with the usual collection of saloons, dancehalls, and gambling holes. The railroad company had 16 locomotives and 300 train cars working between Logan, Utah and the once quiet stage stop. A new iron railroad bridge was fabricated in Athens, Pennsylvania at a cost of $30,000 and shipped, by rail, to the site and erected in April and May 1879.[6] The bridge was 800 feet (240 m) long and in two spans with an island in the center. The camp-town moved on but Eagle Rock, the little town at the wooden bridge, now had regular train service and was the site for several of the railroad’s buildings, shops, and facilities expanding and completely transforming the town.

Utah & Northern Bridge circa 1880 with railroad shops in background. View is looking north or upriver.

Settlers began homesteading the Upper Snake River Valley as soon as the railroad came through. The first of the new settlers carved out homesteads to the north at Egin (near present day Parker) and at Pooles Island.[7] Large scale settlement ensued and in a decade there appeared roads, bridges, dams and irrigation canals that brought most of the Upper Snake River Valley under cultivation. In 1887, following the construction of the Oregon Short Line, most of the railroad facilities were transferred to Pocatello but Eagle Rock was fast becoming the commercial center of an agricultural empire.

Idaho Falls on the Snake River with the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple in the background

In 1891 the town voted to change its name to Idaho Falls, referring to the rapids that existed below the bridge. In 1895 the largest irrigation canal in the world, named the Great Feeder, began diverting water from the Snake River and aided in converting tens of thousands of acres of desert into green farmland in the vicinity of Idaho Falls. The area grew sugar beets, potatoes, peas, grains, and alfalfa and became one of the most productive regions of the United States.

In 1949, the Atomic Energy Commission opened the National Reactor Testing Station in the desert west of the city. On January 3, 1961, the site was the scene of the only fatal nuclear reactor accident in U.S. history. A main nuclear control rod was removed from a reactor and broken during the process, causing one of the world's largest and most toxic nuclear meltdowns ever. Three people died in the reactor room, and when rescue workers arrived to recover the bodies, they emitted 500 R/hr. The force of the meltdown was so severe that one melted body had to be removed from the ceiling. The three men were buried in lead coffins and that entire section of the site was buried.[8]

In spite of the accident, the Idaho National Laboratory, as it is now known, remains a major economic engine for the city of Idaho Falls, employing more than 8,000 people and functioning as an internationally renowned research center.


Shilo Inn along the Greenbelt

Idaho Falls serves as a regional hub for health care, travel and business in southeast Idaho.

The community's economy was mostly agriculturally focused until the opening of the National Reactor Testing Station in the desert west of Idaho Falls in 1949. The city subsequently became largely dependent on high-income jobs from the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), known locally simply as "The Site." The laboratory made several cutbacks in 1993. Since then the town has added call centers, a growing retail, entertainment, and restaurant sector, a regional medical center, and added funding for small businesses. In May 2006, Inc. magazine ranked Idaho Falls eighth on its list of "Hottest Small Cities" in the U.S. based on the region's job growth rate over the prior 10 years. Idaho Falls was also listed #2 on MSN Real Estate's list of top ten best smaller cities in America, in terms of job prospects, quality of life and cost of living.[9] Idaho Falls is becoming a regional business hub. It hosts the headquarters of the United Potato Growers of Idaho and District 7 of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. It is also the home to several small to medium sized national corporations such as Melaleuca, Inc and Press-A-Print.

The median home price in Idaho Falls was $224,800 in January 2007.[9]

Idaho Falls, Idaho / U.S. avg:[9]

  • Area population 122,995 / 647,500
  • Median home price $224,800 / $235,000
  • Cost-of-living index 99.8 / 100.0
  • Unemployment rate 2.7% / 4.6%
  • Job growth—5 years 18.84% / 4.90%
  • Job growth—1 year 2.74% / 1.66%
  • Median household income $47,719 / $46,326


Idaho Falls has established itself as a regional cultural destination. The Willard Art Center, The Colonial Theatre and Civic Auditorium[10] are home to year-round, diverse musical concerts, plays, and events. The greenbelt along the Snake River hosts many community events, such as the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration (on the Fourth of July),[11] the Roaring Youth Jam, and the Farmers' Market, among others. The successful Museum of Idaho[12] is a regional attraction which showcases local artifacts and history, but also makes use of traveling exhibits bringing such things as dinosaur bones, ancient documents, and primitive guns to town.

Downtown Idaho Falls once struggled while many businesses moved as the city expanded eastward, but has been revitalized due to the efforts of local business owners, the City of Idaho Falls, and other organizations such as the Downtown Development Corporation[13] and Grow Idaho Falls.[14] It is home to many locally owned shops, stores, restaurants, galleries, and theaters.


Idaho Falls has an extensive greenbelt, or riverbelt, along miles of the Snake River that flows through the center of the city. It is maintained by the City of Idaho Falls, and often receives donations and grants which allow for occasional expansion.

A recent proposal suggests building a footbridge over the river and falls, as well as downsizing Memorial Drive to one Northbound lane, allowing for a new park and baseball diamond to be built.


downtown Bonneville Hotel
  • Historic Downtown - Recently under re-development, cafes, eateries, wineries and shops are popping up downtown. Many events occur downtown, such as Alive After Five, Fourth of July fireworks, and the Farmers' Market. Residential units are in high demand downtown, hence the recently completed Marriott Residence Inn, and several proposed condo buildings.
  • The Numbered Streets - The numbered streets were the first neighborhood in Idaho Falls. They run west and east between South Boulevard and Holmes Avenue. Traffic on the odd-numbered streets travels east, and on the even-numbered streets, west towards downtown. This area has recently become a desirable location because of the re-development of Historic Downtown. The streets are tree-lined. Kate Curley Park is located in the neighborhood, as is the Wesley W. Deist Aquatic Center.
  • West Side - Across the Snake River to the west, this area has more of a small-town feel, as it lacks the congestion and activity of the east side. The north portion of the west side was established in the 1960s with homes, and saw more overall growth up until the '80s. Today, the west side is expected to boom in population and commercial developments because of re-developments such as Taylor Crossing and Snake River Landing along the river, as well as the Areva uranium enrichment facility planned west of the city. The west side also houses Idaho Falls Regional Airport as well as the entirety of I-15's brief jaunt through the city.


The elevation of Idaho Falls is 4,700 feet (1,400 m).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.4 square miles (45.0 km²), of which, 17.1 square miles (44.2 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.8 km²) of it (1.67%) is water.

Climate data for Idaho Falls, ID
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 57
Average high °F (°C) 30
Average low °F (°C) 13
Record low °F (°C) -29
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.25
Source: [15] September 3, 2009


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1880 300
1890 938 212.7%
1900 1,262 34.5%
1910 4,827 282.5%
1920 8,064 67.1%
1930 9,429 16.9%
1940 15,024 59.3%
1950 19,218 27.9%
1960 33,161 72.6%
1970 35,776 7.9%
1980 39,739 11.1%
1990 43,929 10.5%
2000 50,730 15.5%
Est. 2007 53,279 5.0%

The 2000 census[18] reported there were 50,730 people, 18,793 households, and 13,173 families residing in the city, though MSN real estate reports an area population of 110,220. The population density was 2,972.2 people per square mile (1,147.4/km²). There were 19,771 housing units at an average density of 1,158.4/sq mi (447.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.09% White, 0.62% African American, 0.76% Native American, 1.05% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 3.81% from other races, and 1.61% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.18% of the population.

There were 18,793 households out of which 37.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.5% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.9% were non-families. 25.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.21.

In the city the population was spread out with 30.3% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 97.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $40,512, and the median income for a family was $47,431. Males had a median income of $39,082 versus $23,001 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,857. About 7.8% of families and 10.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.7% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.

The top five ethnic groups in Idaho Falls are:[19]

  • English - 22%
  • German - 16%
  • Irish - 7%
  • Mexican - 5%
  • Swedish - 4%

Higher education

Despite originally being selected as the site for both the University of Idaho and Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho), according to a USA Today article, Idaho Falls is now the largest city in the United States without a traditional college.

Idaho Falls is, however, home to various higher ed options, including Eastern Idaho Technical College, established in 1969 as a vocational-technical college. The school proposed changing its name to "College of Eastern Idaho" in 2003 in a bid to increase its scope, but the measure was rejected by the state legislature.

The city also has a unique campus, University Place, which features dual enrollment for students in both Idaho State University and University of Idaho. In fact, students may earn a variety of degrees, both undergraduate and graduate, at University Place without ever leaving the city. Enrollment at University Place continues to rise.

As a third option, Utah-based Stevens-Henager College also recently opened an education center in Idaho Falls. Despite the current lack of a traditional college, a relatively high percentage of residents hold advanced degrees and perform significant research, largely thanks to the presence of the Idaho National Laboratory. Residents continue to hold out hope for a future with a full-fledged free-standing college or university.

K-12 Education

Idaho Falls is home to two public school districts, 91 and 93. District 91 is considered to be the primary school district covering much of the area of urban Idaho Falls, and District 93 covers most of the eastern metropolitan area including Ammon and Iona, and even bringing in high school students from areas such as Swan Valley and Irwin.

Idaho Falls has four major public high schools; Idaho Falls, Skyline, Hillcrest, and Bonneville. The city's middle schools are: Clair E. Gale, Taylorview, Eagle Rock, Sandcreek, and Rocky Mountain. Idaho Falls also houses two alternative high schools, Lincoln and Emerson.

Each fall, the varsity football teams from Idaho Falls and Skyline high schools compete in the Emotion Bowl in Idaho Falls's Ravsten Stadium, which is shared by the two schools[20] The winning team and its fans have traditionally painted the goalposts of the stadium in their school colors (blue for Skyline or orange for I.F.).[21]

The Idaho Falls area is also home to a public charter school, Taylor's Crossing, as well as three private and 24 public elementary schools.

Famous residents

Sister city

Idaho Falls has a sister city, as designated by Sister Cities International:


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ Table 4: Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places in Idaho, Listed Alphabetically: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006 (SUB-EST2006-04-16) Accessed 16 July 2007
  3. ^ a b MD Beal, A History of Southeastern Idaho, 1942, p. 218.
  5. ^ Colorado Rail Annual No. 15, 1981, pp 31-39.
  6. ^ Deseret News, 1879-07-17 p. article "Utah and Northern" describes the scene at Eagle Rock and describes the new railroad bridge
  7. ^ The Snake River Fork County, Louis J. Clements and Harold S. Forbush, 1972 pp 25-27.
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c "10 low-cost locales where jobs are plentiful". Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  10. ^ Civic Auditorium
  11. ^ Melaleuca Freedom Celebration
  12. ^ Museum of Idaho
  13. ^ Downtown Development Corporation
  14. ^ Grow Idaho Falls
  15. ^ "Average Weather for Idaho Falls, ID - Temperature and Precipitation". Retrieved September 3, 2009. 
  16. ^ Moffatt, Riley. Population History of Western U.S. Cities & Towns, 1850-1990. Lanham: Scarecrow, 1996, 94.
  17. ^ "Subcounty population estimates: Idaho 2000-2007" (CSV). United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  18. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  19. ^ Idaho Falls - Idaho Falls - Ancestry & family history - ePodunk
  20. ^ "The Emotion Bowl". Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  21. ^ "2008 Great American Rivalry Preview: SKYLINE VS. IDAHO FALLS". Retrieved 2009-05-23. 

External links

Simple English

City of Idaho Falls
—  City  —
Coordinates: 43°29′30″N 112°1′57″W / 43.49167°N 112.0325°W / 43.49167; -112.0325
Country United States
State Idaho
County Bonneville
Founded 1864
Incorporated 1891
 - Mayor Jared Fuhriman
 - City 17.4 sq mi (45.0 km2)
 - Land 17.1 sq mi (44.2 km2)
 - Water 0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2)
Elevation 4,705 ft (1,434 m)
Population (as of 20082008 ]])
 - City 57,133
 Density 2,972.2/sq mi (447.2/km2)
 Metro 119,980
Time zone Mountain (UTC-7)
 - Summer (DST) Mountain (UTC-6)
Area code(s) 208
FIPS code 16-39700
GNIS feature ID 0396684

Idaho Falls is the biggest city of Bonneville County in the state of Idaho, United States. It is the county seat of Bonneville County.

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