Walking Tour of Things That Are Gone

Published online: Nov 13, 2020 Looking Back Jeff Carr
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There are fantastic walking tours of downtown Idaho Falls available on the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Council’s website, as well as a historic building scavenger hunt on the Museum of Idaho’s website. But a lot of our early history isn’t there anymore—at least, not in the same way. Presenting a downtown Idaho Falls walking tour of things that are gone:

  • Taylor’s Toll Bridge

    • The bridge that started it all didn’t last very long. J.M. (Matt) Taylor built a log bridge on this spot in 1864-65 to accommodate travelers between the cities in Utah and the mines in Montana. By that first winter, several buildings had popped up, and the town was born. But the first bridge washed away in 1866. Others replaced it soon enough, but the current footbridge—same shape, different material—was built in the early 1990s.

  • Sportsmen’s Island

    • Yes, Sportsmen’s Island is there. But it didn’t used to be an island. It became one in 1911 when the city built a diversion dam for power, causing water to surround this piece of land entirely. And yes, it’s definitely something now—home to the gorgeous Japanese Friendship Garden. However, former island establishments that are now gone included a museum, zoo, fish hatchery, sheriff’s office and brothel. Those last two were here at the same time. 

  • The first cemetery (Capital Ave., near Idaho Falls Power building)

    • The town’s first cemetery was here, with graves going back to 1865. The cemetery was owned by saloonkeeper Dick Chamberlain, who ran the operation somewhat haphazardly, with grave markers that did not withstand the elements. After he walked away from the land in 1892, the remains that could be found were moved to Rose Hill Cemetery.

  • Eagle Rock Street (Idaho Falls Public Library parking lot)

    • This modest monument is all that remains of Eagle Rock Street, the town’s first main drag. Coming straight out of Taylor’s Toll Bridge, this was the Wild West town’s center of activity, with general stores, saloons, hotels and more. A fire in 1885 destroyed most of its frame buildings, and in the 1970s, demolition crews destroyed their stone and brick replacements—some of the oldest buildings in town.

  • Railroad station (Constitution Ave. and Yellowstone Ave.)

    • A large railroad station served the city from this spot from 1911 to 1964, when it was demolished in order to widen Yellowstone Ave. An earlier railroad roundhouse not far away also blew down in a windstorm, prompting—along with labor disputes—Utah & Northern Railroad to move its local headquarters to Pocatello in 1887.

  • One-room schoolhouse (middle of Elm St. near Museum of Idaho)

    • A one-room schoolhouse stood on this spot from 1882 to 1884, when the town was platted, and the school moved to make room for Elm Street. The school was moved just east to the spot where Alturas International Academy’s parking lot now sits. The first larger school, an eight-room building that eventually became the first Idaho Falls High School, was later built there in 1892. 

Click here to read more of the November isssue.


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