In Their Own Words

Early Idaho Falls residents’ thoughts on life in the river city

Published online: Nov 24, 2020 Looking Back
Viewed 2107 time(s)

“Black Rock Canyon is ideal for camping because there are no mosquitos.” 

--James Madison (Matt) Taylor, 1860s (Black Rock Canyon was the former name of the spot where Taylor built his toll bridge, thus founding the city)


“I earned a dollar a day to cook for Jack Anderson. It went up to $40/month when I was gatekeeper at Anderson’s toll bridge.”

--John Lingren, 1880s


 “Eagle Rock was too much of a godforsaken place to even bury a cowpuncher.”

--unnamed judge in Blackfoot, 1880 


“Not a tree, nor bird, nor blade of grass was to be seen. Only sand. Everywhere there was sand, which when the wind blew, became unbearable.”

--Rebecca Mitchell, 1882


“It was a sorry-looking town to me. Just sand, sand, sand.”

--Isabel Heard, 1882


“We need to clear the sagebrush from the town – it is a fire hazard.”

--Robert Anderson, 1887


“I came to Eagle Rock from my home in Nephi, Utah, and was favorably impressed. I made up my mind to go home and sell out and return to Idaho with my wife and eight children. I bought one in Willow Creek.”

--Jabus Nowlin, 1889


“The metropolis of Idaho Falls is growing by leaps and bounds as evidenced by the hiring of four teachers for the coming school term.”

--George C. Chapin, 1893


To two cowboys shooting out street lights: “You break any more of those lights and I’ll shoot your heads off.” (done and done)

--Dick Chamberlain, 1900


“Indians come to Idaho Falls to the slaughterhouse and take all the scrap meat and entrails to dry . . . Mother used to hire an Indian woman to help her clean house.”

--Anita Else, c.1903


“To go to Heise, we had to go up from Idaho Falls and cross the river on the ferry. That river was really something in those days . . . I can remember that the town was just full of farmers on Saturday.”

--Anita Else, c.1904


“We offer $2.50 to the fellow who gets the first team of horses to the fire station to hook up the fire wagon after the fire bell sounds.”

--Fire Chief L.G. Jackson, 1905


“We contemplate division of Bingham County with Idaho Falls, the new county seat of the new county and the building of a handsome county courthouse.”

--Idaho Falls Register editor William Wheeler, 1909


“New Sweden was bleak, with dust and sagebrush. I was lonely for Sweden but there was no money to go back. I had to stay.”

--Nanny Beckman, 1911


Click here to read more of the November isssue.

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