Founded in 1889, Pocatello is known as the “Gateway to the Northwest.” As pioneers, gold miners and settlers traveled the Oregon Trail , they passed through the Portneuf Gap south of town. Stage and freight lines and the railroad soon followed, turning our community into a trade center and transportation junction.

Pocatello is a city located in Bannock County, with a small portion in neighboring Power County, in southeastern Idaho. It is a scenic and small city. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 51,466. The city is the county seat of Bannock County and the home of Idaho State University. Founded as an important stop on the first railroad in Idaho during the gold rush, the city later became an important center for agriculture. It is located along the Portneuf River where it emerges from the mountains onto the Snake River Plain, along the route of the Oregon Trail. The name comes from Chief Pocatello, a chief of the Shoshoni who granted the right-of-way for the railroad across the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.

The area of the city along the Portneuf River was inhabited by the Shoshoni and Bannock peoples for several centuries before the arrival of Europeans into the area in the early 19th century. In 1834, Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth, a U.S. fur trader, established Fort Hall as a trading post north of the city. The post was later acquired by the Hudson's Bay Company and became an important stop on the Oregon Trail, a branch of which descended the Portneuf through the present-day location of the city. A replica of the Fort Hall trading post is now operated as museum in southern Pocatello.

The discovery of gold in Idaho in 1860 brought the first large wave of U.S. settlers to the region. The Portneuf Valley became an important conduit for transportation of goods and freight. In 1877, railroad magnate Jay Gould of the Union Pacific Railroad acquired and extended the Utah and Northern Railway, which had previously stopped at the Utah border, into Idaho through the Portneuf Canyon. "Pocatello Junction", as it was first called, was founded as stop along this route during the gold rush. After the gold rush subsided, the region began to attract ranchers and farmers. By 1882, the first residences and commercial development appeared in Pocatello.

In 1962 Pocatello absorbed nearby Alameda and became for a time the largest city in Idaho. Pocatello remains one of the state's largest cities.

Pocatello: The Gate City
Pocatello, initially a treeless sagebrush plain, carved from the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, settled by railroaders, owes its location directly to its geographic setting at the gateway to the Snake River Plain. Its layout was dictated by the railroad, around which the town was built. Its politics have reflected a never-affluent, pluralistic blue-collar town at the edge of Mormon country. These inherent internal conflicts have repeatedly stymied Pocatello's efforts to become prosperous. It has been a town without an upper class. In Idaho in the 20th century, things traditionally have come to Pocatello last. Now, in the 1990s, the prospect of growth and prosperity have returned.

Early Pocatello: The Townsite and the Indian Reservation
The early community of Pocatello, from 1882 until 1888, had to exist within the confines of the Oregon Short Line right of way because the Fort Hall Indian Reservation surrounded the area. Houses were erected along the west side of the railroad right of way, with prefabricated buildings moved in from railroad settlements at Omaha, Nebraska, and few from Battle Creek, Idaho, (north of Preston). Some were moved from Eagle Rock (Idaho Falls), to Pocatello in 1887. The townsite was too small and trespass on the Reservation was practiced by many. It was a tense situation.

There were not at first any churches in the community. A railroad official, who was a Mason, arranged for a school to be established in one of the railroad houses during the day; upstairs at night the first Masonic chapter in the area met and on Sundays a Congregational Church service was held.
The Stanrod House
The Standrod House

A majestic house on the west side of Pocatello is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in classical revival style, the two-story, turreted castle cost around $12,000 to build in 1902, at a time when a dollar was a dollar. The 16 room structure is faced with stone which was quarried in the McCammon area. After a period of little use, the City of Pocatello acquired the house in 1974 and it was available to rent for special events until 1995. Because it was not handicapped-accessible it was sold in 1995, and is presently occupied as a personal residence.

The Standrod House was built by Judge D.W. Standrod. Standrod was born in Kentucky in 1858, and lived first in Idaho in Malad City where he was associated with banks. He was a member of the drafting committee for the Idaho Constitutional Convention in 1889. While he ran for several political positions, he was never elected (he was a Republican from a Democratic city). He was, however, a power in Republican politics in eastern Idaho. He served as a district judge in Pocatello.

The Standrod family was prominent in civic and cultural affairs. Mrs. Standrod was active in women's clubs. A daughter who was active in school activities and a leader of her class died at 16, to the great distress of the family. A son, Drew Standrod, Jr., lived in Pocatello for many years and died in 1937. A veteran of World War I, he was a well-known attorney, was musical and a leader in community cultural activities.

The judge died in 1942. The castle passed to his wife, who died in 1946, and the house passed to Drew Jr.'s wife who lived in it for a few years, then moved to the east, boarding up the house. It was sold in 1957 to Mrs. Madelyne Roper who lived in it until she sold it to the city.


Naming the Streets of Downtown

The matter of naming the streets tells us something of the political character of the early town. At the outset, streets paralleling the railroad were named for presidents, beginning with the current president, Harrison, next to the right-of-way, and moving westerly by earlier presidents in a reverse order, that is, Cleveland, Arthur, Garfield and so forth. The equivalent streets east of the railroad were given number designations, viz. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. East-west cross streets on both sides of the tracks were given letter designations, A, B, C, etc.

By 1906, the growing municipality felt the need to require the numbering of buildings to facilitate "free" mail delivery and to give some streets more appropriate names. The east-west street designations were changed from letters to the names of early explorers, trappers, generals, railroad officials and the like, which names they still bear. One American president was slighted in the naming of Pocatello's streets. As already noted, the street next to Harrison was Cleveland. In 1906, a Republican city council responded to a petition signed by every merchant along Cleveland Avenue by changing its name to Main Street. Not only that, but in later years a plat annexed to the north side of town bore the names of the presidents following Harrison, and although the next president in time was Cleveland, the new plat picked up the president names with McKinley, so that the man who was president twice does not have a street named after him in Pocatello.

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