Rexburg Idaho

Potato Barn, rexburg idahoThe city of Rexburg located in the Southeast corner of Idaho on the edge of the greater Yellowstone Eco-system and has a population of over 17,000. At an elevation of 4,865 feet, Rexburg has cold winters and warm summers. Rexburg's proximity to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and the world famous fly-fishing river the Henry's Fork of the Snake River provides endless outdoor recreational opportunities. Rexburg covers just over 5 square miles. Fertile farmland and rich green acreage surround the city.

Rexburg is home to a university student population of over 11,000 most of the year, and welcomes "Sunbirds" in the summertime, retirees who enjoy the warm summer days and cool summer nights.

In the late 1870's men pushed into Montana hoping to mine the precious ore from the mountains. But the mining operations needed support; they needed a railroad to bring in equipment and food for miners. As a consequence of the railroad and mining activities, many men were exposed to the fertile Snake River Valley. Later some of these men returned to the valley and claimed land, a privilege granted by the Homestead Act of 1862.

Farm north of Rexburg IdahoRexburg area in its infancy revealed a much different picture than we see today. It was very sparsely settled with only a few fur trappers and an occasion cattle operation. The first known white men into the area were fur trappers. One man who continued trapping in the Rexburg area was the colorful Richard Leigh otherwise known as "Beaver Dick".

Interest in the Rexburg area seemed to quicken in 1879, however, when a man named John Poole spent some time hunting around Menan while employed by the Utah Northern Railroad. Poole returned to Utah and told of good farmland in the area. Mormon Church people heard Poole's praises and in 1882 the Mormon President, John Taylor, instructed W. B. Preston and Thomas E. Ricks to make a trip to the Upper Snake River Valley to scout out a site for a settlement.

Additionally, a group of young Mormon men from Cache Valley, Utah, was organized to form a settlement in the area. Among these men was Thomas E. Ricks, founder of both Rexburg, and Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho). In February 1883, they cut logs for building a community in the spring. In March the men met at the present town site of Rexburg and constructed the first log house. The settlers first decided to call their town Ricksburg after their settlement leader, Thomas E. Ricks. However, since the German ancestral name of Ricks is Rex the town's name was changed to Rexburg.

Idaho barley farmWhile the settlers worked on their log houses most of them lived out of dugouts or tents pitched on the banks of the Teton River. Many settlers called it "Mosquito Flats" because of the hordes of mosquitoes from the nearby sloughs.

Thomas E. Ricks began the first mercantile located just across the street from the courthouse and in 1884 Thomas E. Ricks and Company Flour Mill began operations just four months after he publicly stated they needed one. The original mill burned down and another was built to replace it.

Henry Flamm was also a prominent figure in Rexburg. He was the founder of a commercial enterprise known in those difficult early days for its lenient credit policy. Flamm was Rexburg's chairman for two terms 1893 and 1894 and became the first Mayor when city status was achieved in 1903.

The residents of the village of Rexburg under the direction of Ricks and his associates seemed to accomplish more in two years building canals, roads, schools and general improvements than was usually accomplished in five years anywhere else.

Average temperatures in Rexburg during January are 27.6 degrees (high) and 10.0 degrees (low). During July, the hottest month, average temperatures range from a high of 83.4 degrees to 49.9 degrees at night.

Average precipitation during June, the wettest month, is 1.77 inches, and .77 inches in August. Annual precipitation including melted snow is 13.77 inches. Annual snowfall is about 66 inches.

The area's major industry is Agriculture with grain, hay, and potatoes as the chief crops. Although the economy of the area revolves primarily around agriculture, other industries such as construction, trade, and services have had a significant effect on the area's economy. The trade industry employs an average of about 3,800 persons in 300 business establishments. The Island Park and Teton Basin area, adjacent to Yellowstone Park on the east, are major tourist attractions with 35 resorts, lodges, inns, and dude ranches. The area has three potato processing plants that operate nine to ten months each year. There are also 11 fresh market potato warehouses.

Idaho sunset

Pastoral landscapes, exquisite chocolate highlight Idaho visit

I've never really thought of Rexburg, Idaho, as a travel destination. For me, it's just home.

My family moved to Rexburg from Cedar City when I was 5 years old. We lived in an unincorporated area surrounded by pastures and fields about 10 miles outside of town but my address said "Rexburg" and I went to school in town from 6th grade through high school.

I even got my associate's degree in journalism from Ricks College, the Rexburg-based junior college that became the four-year Brigham Young University-Idaho a few months after I graduated. My first job - freelance sports photographer - was for The Rexburg Standard Journal.

Though my journalism career began in Rexburg, when my editor, Todd Seifert, suggested I do a travel column on Rexburg I questioned the idea. Is Rexburg really that interesting? Sure, it's a good gateway to Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole, which are all less than two hours away, but is it a destination itself?

When I visited my family there last week I decided to try and look at it in that light. So here's an insider's guide to Rexburg, Idaho.------------------------> More

Idaho Landscape Photography by Daryl L. Hunter
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