Bannock County is served by both the east-and-west and the north-and-south main lines of the Oregon Short Line of the Union Pacific System. Some excellent irrigation projects and lands are found along the Portneuf river, the Bear river, the Marsh Creek valley, and a large area of non-irrigated farm lands near Soda Springs and Bancroft; but, in general, the resources are railroads, livestock growing, and some mining. The Fort Hall Indian Reservation embraces some of the best irrigable lands along the lower Portneuf and the Snake rivers, and that has been backward in development. No point in the county is under 4,200 feet above sea level.
There is a total of 525,160 acres of the county area taken up in the three National forests lying partly within Bannock County--the Caribou, Cache, and Pocatello reserves. Some of this area is well forested, especially the part near the east end of the county. All is available for grazing, and immense flocks of sheep and some cattle are grazed there throughout the summers. Much of the range stock is shipped from Soda Springs, the shipping station nearest to the Caribou reserve, which was for many years one of the greatest stock-shipping stations anywhere on the Union Pacific System. The development of non-irrigated farming cuts down the stock ranges, but is bringing in a much larger number of people and a far larger tonnage for market. There was a total of 366,000 acres of unappropriated public land in Bannock County in July, 1914, including mountainous, grazing and agricultural lands; all that is available for farming is easily tributary to the Union Pacific System. Information as to what is open for settlement can be had from the Blackfoot land office.
Pocatello, the county seat, has practically half of the county population. The Oregon Short Line has its general shops here, and an annual payroll of close to $1,500,000, and is just completing a $250,000 passenger depot. A brick factory, mills and several wholesale houses, are some of the local industries. The State has the well-equipped Academy of Idaho here and the city schools are of the best. The federal court holds in Pocatello four times a year. Pocatello has grown steadily and rapidly during the past ten years. There are four banks, with total resources of approximately $1,500,000, excellent schools and a number of churches. There is everything to make a prosperous and permanent city. The Railroad Y. M. C. A., with a membership of 1,500 and property worth $100,000, is one notable indication of clean civic life.
The state owns a fine group of springs at Lava Hot Springs, in Bannock County, on the Oregon Short Line of the Union Pacific System. The place is leased, under State control, and is becoming a notable health resort.
Soda Springs, near the east end of the county, is a great stock-shipping point; more sheep and wool go from here than from any other point on the Oregon Short Line. Some valuable phosphate deposits are located near by, and promise to be the basis of a great industry. Non-irrigated farming promises to make this an important agricultural center. The natural mineral springs at this point are of national reputation.
At Grace, on the Bear River, 8 miles from Alexander on the Oregon Short Line of the Union Pacific, is the largest hydro-electric plant west of the Mississippi dam at Keokuk. It develops 46,000 horsepower. Some good non-irrigated lands lie along the foothills of the Bear River, and some excellent irrigated lands are in the valley.
At Bancroft is an extensive non-irrigated farm section, which is becoming prosperous from its production of wheat. Only a small portion of this, however, has been designated as open for entry, under the Enlarged Homestead act (320 acres).
McCammon, Downey, Swan Lake, and Marsh Valley, on the Oregon Short Line, south from Pocatello to Salt Lake, are flourishing agricultural localities. Immense grain crops are produced, and dairying is an important industry. The elevation is above 4,500 feet, limiting the production of fruit or any crops requiring the longest seasons to mature. Lands are worth from $45.00, upwards, with good water rights.
BEAR LAKE COUNTY.
Bear Lake County, in the extreme southeast corner of the State, has one of the highest average altitudes of any county in the State; there is no portion as low as 5,500 feet above sea level. It is traversed by the Union Pacific System from Pocatello to Granger, which follows the course of the Bear river. The Bear, rising in Utah, flows northward through the southwest corner of Wyoming and into Idaho, and makes a great detour to flow again southward into Great Salt Lake. It and its small tributaries form the water system for Bear Lake County. Connected with Bear river by an artificial channel, is beautiful Bear lake, one of the most wonderful bodies of water in the West. The lake lies partly in Utah and partly in Idaho, and is to be used as a storage reservoir for a great hydro-electric plabt at Grace, in Bannock County, that will develop 46,000 horsepower.
The precipitation is enough to make irrigation less necessary than in the lower altitudes, though much land is irrigated. Land is worth from $60.00 upward. Small grains and grass form the principal product; pasture grasses
do especially well, and dairying is the most promising industry.
Some of the
finest dairy herds in the State are found in Bear Lake County.
Immense deposits of phosphate have been found in Bear Lake County, and are to be developed under a recent ruling of the United States government, which had held them under reserve. It promises to free the United States from the necessity of importing phosphate for fertilizer. Some lime deposits are also found. The Caribou Forest reserve, with headquarters at Montpelier, reaches into Bear Lake County; the grazing industry is most important.
Paris, the county seat, is at the terminus of the branch road of the Oregon Short Line from Montpelier. The town has 800 inhabitants; bank, newspaper, good schools, the Fielding Academy, county buildings and a considerable contributing territory. There are several small towns in the county--St. Charles, Fish Haven on Bear lake, and Bloomington; and, on the main line, Dingle, Pegram and Georgetown. The county has a population of 12,000, mostly rural.
Montpelier, a freight division point on the Oregon Short Line of the Union Pacific System, has 2,100 people, and a monthly pay roll of from $20,000 to $30,000. There are two banks, with resources of about $800,000, a newspaper, a public library, a flour mill, municipally-owned water works, six churches, schools with 700 pupils and a fine railroad men's club room. The place is the business and social metropolis of the county. Irrigated farm lands along the Bear River valley are worth from $40.00 an acre upwards; nonirrigated lands sell for less. The forest reserve comes close enough to the town and the valley to make it a boon to the settler who wants firewood or pasture range. The Caribou reserve covers 718,000 acres; there is probably no homestead land anywhere within its borders, because of its elevation.
There is still some good non-irrigated land to be filed on in Bear Lake County, though it is being taken up rapidly. Lumber is worth from $25.00 per M. upwards. Water for domestic purposes can be had readily throughout most of the farming section. All the small streams are filled with trout, and there is good hunting back in the mountains, at the head of the Blackfoot river. Bear lake is one of the finest boating and bathing resorts in the State. There is a well-equipped hot springs sanitarium on the east shore of the lake.
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