Taylor's Crossing began as a wooden toll bridge over a narrow spot on the Snake River for travelers along the Old Montana Trail. By 1883, it was known as Eagle Rock, a dusty outpost for railroad workers, bullwhackers, and miners. "We can not claim an orderly town," the newspaper reported. "The reckless firing of firearms at all hours of the day and night is a nuisance that should be stopped." When the railroad pulled out its shops, the town almost died. Following statehood and another name change, Idaho Falls transformed itself into an agricultural center and outfitting point for visitors to Yellowstone Park. In 1949, the Atomic Energy Commission arrived, and the nearby desert became a training ground for the nuclear navy, the test site for a new "inherently safe" boiling-water reactor design and the location of the world's first fatal nuclear accident.
About the Author
This retrospective relies on newspaper and Museum of Idaho archives and local family histories. Author William Hathaway is a newspaperman and fourth-generation eastern Idahoan whose ancestors were teamsters on the Old Montana Trail, canal-builders, and homesteaders. Recently he supervised the Idaho Falls Post Register's 125th-anniversary history project. This book is an extension of that project.
Table of Contents
The Railroad Transforms Eagle Rock 9
The Struggle for Law and Order 25
A Frontier Newspaper 39
Eagle Rock Becomes Idaho Falls 47
Civilization Comes by Train 61
Churches Arrive Early 75
Civic Service and Philanthropy 81
Agriculture and Business 101
Idaho Falls and the Military 115
Science in the Desert 119