Idaho Falls
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The first residents of this area were Shoshone-Bannock and Northern Paiute Indians. White settlers began arriving in the early 1860s when Harry Rickets constructed and operated a ferry across the Snake River. At the same time, James M. “Matt” Taylor was a hand for Ben Halliday’s Overland Stage line between Salt Lake City and Virginia City, Montana. As Taylor was riding his horse one afternoon along the Snake River, he noticed a river section that was narrower than most places. Taylor concluded a bridge could be constructed there, and he rode to Montana to find supporters. After rallying the support of Ed Morgan and Bill Bartlett, Taylor began building his bridge. They worked during the winter of 1865, which allowed them access across the ice to work on both sides of the river. A sixty-foot long Queen-truss style bridge was their accomplishment.

Taylor’s toll bridge was an instant success, and he and his partners took in nearly $3,000 each month in tolls. The miners and other settlers who landed on the east embankment of the river adopted the names of Taylor’s Ferry, Taylor’s Bridge, and Anderson’s Bridge for the small town. In 1872, rumors of a forthcoming rail line persuaded Taylor to sell his bridge to the Anderson brothers. When the line did arrive, railroad officials renamed the town Eagle Rock. Some suggest the name is a reflection of the nearby Eagle Rock ferry, while others claim the name was chosen after a large rock resting in the middle of the river where bald eagles were known to nest. In either case, the railroad built its own bridge over the river just 150 feet downstream from Taylor’s bridge, and the Andersons gave away104 acres in Eagle Rock for use as a railroad administrative site. The site’s presence boosted the town’s population to 670 in 1882. Times would soon change, though.

The railroad moved its headquarters to Pocatello just five years later. In addition, the gold in the mines was running out, and Eagle Rock’s population was dwindling. Realizing the undeveloped potential resting in the small community, Chicago developers convinced the townsfolk to change the name to Idaho Falls in 1891, despite no actual falls being located on the river at that time. In 1911, the city justified its name with the construction of a diversion dam and power plant that created a twenty-foot waterfall. This event helped ensure the future of Idaho Falls, and the area was developed into an agricultural center. Incorporated in 1900, Idaho Falls has boasted postal services since 1866 and was at one time the third largest city in the state.

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