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In the spring of 1860, thirteen Mormon men and some of their families arrived in present-day Franklin. Although the colonizers believed they were in Cache County, Utah, and the town was incorporated as a Utah village in 1868, an 1872 survey revealed that Franklin was in fact not part of Utah at all. Unbeknownst to them at the time, the first settlers had actually founded Idaho’s very first permanent white community. It was named after Franklin Richards, a prominent Mormon apostle.

Franklin grew rapidly between 1873 and 1878 when the Utah Northern Railroad established the community as the end of the northern line running from Ogden, Utah. A pit sawmill and later a steam-powered mill was important in providing continous building materials to the city, wooden railroad ties for the railroad, and thousands of board feet of wood used in constructing Salt Lake City’s ZCMI building. The area’s flour mill provided local residents with a necessary cooking staple and played an integral role in allowing residents to trade surplus flour for Native American buckskins.

As a result of its founding date, Franklin enjoyed several Idaho firsts. The community received the state’s first railroad line and first telegraph connection, as well as the first telephone service. Today, Idaho’s first town has preserved several of its original buildings and pioneer relics while standing as a mecca of Mormon history.

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