The early history of Chubbuck begins in the early 1800's with trappers and hunters visiting the area and trading with
the Indians. The Bannock and Shoshone Indians had long since made the area their home, but it was not until the quest for furs
brought trappers into the area that the white man became aware of it. In 1832, Captain Benjamin Bonneville visited the region
to hunt and trap, and shortly after that Nathaniel J. Wyeth established the Fort Hall Trading Post.
It was not until 1843 that John C. Fremont visited the area and found it to be suitable for agricultural production. While
the area is suited to agriculture for many years, it was bypassed in favor of lands in Oregon and California.
In 1878, the Utah and Northern Railroad constructed
a narrow gauge railroad from Utah, near the Bear River northward to Gibson
Jack area and Tyhee. In 1881, a Cessation Agreement was signed by 269
Shoshone males giving right-of-way land to the Oregon Short Line, and
construction was begun on a track from Granger, Wyoming to Huntington,
Oregon, to pass through Dempsey (Lava Hot Springs), McCammon, Pocatello,
American Falls and on west. The ideal spot, although small in area, for
the headquarters station would have been at the junction of the Utah and
Northern Railroad and the standard gauge Oregon Short Line at McCammon.
The McCammon site was selected but due to problems over land ownership the
location of the headquarters was moved to Pocatello, which had a great
influence on the future of both Pocatello, and Chubbuck.
I had always been led to believe that, like Pocatello and other city names in
this vicinity, the name Chubbuck was of Native American origin, but apparently this
was not the case. According to an account by John Valenty, a railroad
conductor named Earl Chubbuck, who lived in Blackfoot, was in charge of
loading railroad cars with agricultural produce from the area. Since sugar
beets were the principle crops of the area and were loaded onto the trains
at Chubbuck Siding, it became known as the Chubbuck Beet Run. It was
later changed or shortened to Chubbuck.
The original town
site was owned by two persons, Mr. Abe Pierce, who homesteaded one hundred
and sixty acres on the north side of what is now West Chubbuck Road, and
Mr. Lindquist whose holdings were south of West Chubbuck Road. Each
homestead was acquired in a land rush when the Indian Lands were opened to
homesteading through the Homestead Act.
Before Mr. briscoe dug the
first well in this area, water for culinary purposes had to be hauled in
from somewhere else. This was done generally by loading wooden barrels
that contained 40 gallons of water onto a wagon drawn by a team of horses.
Water was too precious to be used for laundry purposes, so the house wife
usually dipped her water for laundry from the irrigation ditch and allowed
it to settle over night before heating it on the wood burning stove to do
the washing. In those days, the wash was not designated by such fancy
names as laundry but was simply known as the weekly wash. It was of course
done with a wash board and scrubbed by hand and then rinsed twice in clear
water. If a woman was lucky, she had bluing to put into the second rinse
to help whiten the clothes. If she did not have bluing, she relied on the
sun or frost to help bleach and whiten the clothes. When a good well
finally became available, it was indeed a cause for rejoicing, especially
by the women.
A railroad man by the name of Kearns is said to have
built the first store at the intersection of what is now the Yellowstone
Highway and West Chubbuck Road. Later this store along with ten acres of
ground was purchased by L.M. Young. Mr. Young probably did the first
subdividing in the area as he divided his ten acres up into one acre plots
to sell. He ran a pipeline from the well at the store to these lots to
furnish culinary water. It was some years later when he finally drilled a
well. This was after he had sold the store property to Ed brennan. Mr.
Young bought four old houses in Pocatello and moved them onto four of his
acre lots off of West Chubbuck Road
Walt Nelson, who was a
brother-in-law of the Stuarts, built the house at 310 W. Chubbuck Road and
sold it to Jim Crow a railroad engineer in 1924 or 1925. Sam Burley who
was a conductor for the railroad lived near the railroad tracks. The
Kirkpatrick family lived along Yellowstone for years. South of West
Chubbuck Road on what was originally the Lindquist homestead the Merritt
family and Fenwick family owned property. In 1927 John Roueche and his
family moved to West Chubbuck Road. The winters were hard then and I have
heard the Roueche girls tell of being snowed in for days at a time and
having to walk out to the highway in order to catch a ride to town to get
to work in Pocatello.
Hiline Road was the highway north prior to
Yellowstone Highway that was being built. When the Hiline Canal was
relocated, the state highway was relocated to the present location of
Yellowstone Avenue. In the summer of 1925, the State began construction of
a 24-foot wide concrete highway, which came from McCammon or Inkom on the
south and then ran to Idaho Falls. This road remained until the State and
City of Chubbuck constructed Yellowstone Avenue.
In February 1949
we experienced the heaviest snow storm in our history. It snowed for at
least a week, so they had to close all of the roads into and out of
Pocatello. The rail and truck traffic also came to a halt for that
duration. Snow drifts were higher than a semi-trailer at the intersection
of Yellowstone and Chubbuck.
In the early 1950's the Village Board
annexed the area of land which lies east of Yellowstone, north of Evans
Land and south to the highway and overpass on Quinn Road. This annexation
included the Union Pacific Railroad property. The Railroad protested and
in a court decision won approval to be removed from the annexation. The
ordinance was not written properly and it did not contain the one sentence
?if any portion of this ordinance is declared invalid the remainder of the
ordinance is ?valid.? The city fathers at the time were promoting liquor
by the drink and slot machines in the city. They decided there were too
many people in the area who could vote against the initiative, so they
would lose the slots and liquor. A few months later, the City of Pocatello
did annex this area, creating the difficult boundary between Chubbuck and
Pocatello east of Yellowstone Avenue.
Twice a year Chubbuck Road
became a sheep thoroughfare for several weeks. Sheep herds were trailed to
the hills for summer grazing in the spring, down to the beet fields in the
fall, and then over to Paul and Rupert to the desert winter range. These
sheep migrations were part of the life blood for the small store in
In 1925 after the Yellowstone Highway north was
completed, Walter Nelson built the Blue Moon.For many years it was quite a
popular place of entertainment for the young. Young people came from miles
around especially from Pocatello.
In the old west or early day
frontier communities, towns usually sprang up along well traveled trails,
river crossings or at intersecting trails where there was a real need for
them. The necessary establishments were the store or trading post, the
drinking or gambling house (commonly called a saloon or the red light
area), the livery stable, blacksmith shop, hotel, and later the church.
One can readily understand the necessity for each of these businesses.
They served as a source of supply, entertainment, and a care center for
horses and equipment. In the old days a man was usually more concerned for
the care of his horse than for himself. This is understandable since the
horse was his only transportation. Often his lift depended on his horse,
so if his horse was not in reasonably good condition, he did not go far.
The church was concerned with the morals and spiritual guidance of the
inhabitants, the blacksmith shop with the shoeing of horses and repair of
equipment, and lastly the hotel afforded a place to stay on the trail. The
modern town often follows the same pattern except that the old saloon is
replaced by the bar or tavern, the livery stable by the service station,
and the hotel by a motel.
A necessity of frontier towns was also a
camping place for wagon travelers. The modern day campgrounds see the
advent of the rest stop along the highways with the covered wagon replaced
by the trailer, camper, motor home, etc. Chubbuck has had most of these
elements. The original store of Mr. Kearns was operated in turn by L.M.
Young (for a short time) then by Ed brennan. Mr. brennan ran his store as
a grocery and hardware business, later converting too strictly hardware as
other grocery stores made their advent.
Mr. brennan has paid
tribute to our Indian neighbors and the part they played in the success of
his business. It was a common sight to see an Indian family driving down
the Yellowstone Highway or Chubbuck Road in their horse drawn wagon, first
in the high wheeled variety and later in the Hoover or rubber-tired ones.
Often there was one or two tied up at brennan's store with the men and
women bargaining for their needs
Another family that has added
much to the employment of Chubbuck is the Sam Valenty family. After living
and farming on the Tyhee Flats for quite some time, the Valenty family
started working with Ed brennan in 1936. The intentions were to purchase
his business, but the deal fell through and they decided to establish
their own business across Yellowstone from the brennan holdings. They
purchased five acres of land and built a grocery store and service station
with living quarters in the basement. There was also a bar in the north
end of the building with room to dance. According to their records they
commenced operating these enterprises on February 2, 1937. In 1947, the
Valenty family built a new grocery store directly north of their other
building. It has been in continuous operation since it was first
completed. Most of the time it has operated under the name of Bill's Food
Center. The first potato cellar in Chubbuck was built by Valenty which was
later gutted by fire. They also built a blacksmith shop which was in
operation for a time.
We bought some acreage from L.M. Young in the
spring of 1937 and moved to Chubbuck. Before that, we lived on Poleline
Road in one of S.M. Nixon?s places, which we had bought in the spring of
1929. When we moved to Chubbuck, Freemon Cutler and Glen Bennett were
already living on some acreage that had been owned by L.M.
It was in 1939 that Alfred and Vera Mingo sold their home in
Tyhee and purchased the Blue Moon Dance Hall from Walt Nelson. They held
one dance there which ended up in a brawl and that disenchanted them with
the dance hall management, so they converted the building into a cold
storage plant, apartment and grocery store. There was only one other cold
storage plant in the area and it was in Pocatello. Alfred and Vera also
had a very good relationship with the Indians. Vera recalls Chief Ballard
storing a trunk in their building and making periodic visits to it. She
stated that they never knew all that the trunk contained but it did hold
the Chief?s eagle feather ceremonial head dress. She also recalls that he
took several thousand dollars worth of securities from the
Adjacent to the Nelson property that Alfred and Vera had
purchased was the Allen Hurt Dairy. They bought the property and turned
some of the buildings into a slaughter house. After a short time, it
became apparent that Mr. Mingo?s health would not tolerate his further
operation of the cold storage plant, so he sold it and the grocery
business to Kennedy who later leased the business to Wayne Purrington.
They sold the other buildings on the property to John Marker for a
furniture refinishing business.
I do not know when the original
Green Triangle was opened, but it was owned and operated by Ernie
Stallings. It was in 1940 that R.C. Hillman moved to Chubbuck and took
over management of the Triangle from Mr. Stallings. At that time, the
building was much smaller and stood a little north of its present
location. When Mr. Hillman started in business, it was illegal to sell
liquor in Chubbuck. In Mr. Hillman's own words he states, I went into
Pocatello because it was legal to have whiskey there and get a license.
When Chubbuck finally legalized liquor sales, Mr. Hillman was able to free
the Green Triangle from Pocatello?s jurisdiction through a loop hole in
The Orson Talbot Blacksmith Shop and home were located
where Figaro's Pizza and the Soup and Sandwich Shop is now located. Mr.
Orson often would work on farm machinery all night so the farmer could
work the following day. A local rancher and former World Champion Rodeo
performer, Harry Hart, often came by the Talbot home (Talbot?s had a
severely disabled daughter) and carried the crippled girl to his pickup
and drove all over his ranch and other locations. Harry Hart donated the
land to the City of Chubbuck where our Water Tank Farm is now
It was about 1938 when Willis Ward built his potato
cellar. He also constructed an attractive stucco home which stood on the
property that now contains the Key Bank building. Mr. Ward also
constructed the service station on the southeast corner of East Chubbuck
Road and Yellowstone.
In 1946, Ed brennan moved his old wooden store
building to the back of his lot and constructed a new multi unit building
which housed his grocery/hardware business, and for a time, a cafe. Later
it was a service station, and then for a short time it was a drug store.
The branch bank of the Idaho Bank and Trust occupied the north unit of the
building later until the new bank building was constructed and opened for
business in 1975. Through the years since its construction, there have
been a variety of businesses housed in the building at various
Orson Talbot started his blacksmith shop in 1947, but it was
not until 1948 that he purchased the present Talbot holdings.
the Yellowstone Highway between Chubbuck Road and the Green Triangle, Earl
Thompson lived for a time on the east side of the highway and operated
part of the Cream Top Dairy business before it was moved south of
For many years Chubbuck had a reputation as a rough area
with lots of dance halls and saloons which catered to drifters and
transients. This reputation still persisted until the late 40's and early
70's. For many years perhaps the most profitable of the businesses were
the bars and the night clubs. It was the desire of these businesses to
have slot machines and sell liquor by the drink that first sparked the
idea of getting Chubbuck incorporated as a Village. It was in 1949 that
the decision was made to work for incorporation because slot machines and
liquor by the drink were not legal unless the establishments were located
in an incorporated village. In order to be incorporated there had to be a
total of 125 qualified voters within the village boundaries. In the area
these businesses desired to designate as a village it was found that this
number of qualified voters did not exit, so they went about meeting this
basic requirement by moving in trailers and otherwise housing residents.
The forces who opposed slot machines and liquor by the drink learned of
the plans of the nightspot operators so they called a meeting to marshal
their forces and get a larger area incorporated as the Village of Chubbuck
as they felt by so doing they could better work for the outlawing of slot
machines and liquor by the drink. Workers were organized by this faction
and went about getting petitions signed for the larger village.
many years the most profitable of businesses were the bars and night
clubs, which were Valenty's, Elaine's Place, the Show Bar, Myrtle's Place,
the Five Mile Inn, and the Redwood Gardens. Some of these are still in
operation today. I do not think Elaine?s Place was ever licensed to sell
liquor. It was the desire of these businesses to have slot machines, which
were legal in Idaho at that time. The selling of licensed liquor by the
drink first sparked the idea of getting Chubbuck incorporated as a
village. It was in 1949 that the decision was made to work toward
incorporating because slot machines and liquor licenses could not legally
be sold to businesses unless they were in an incorporated village. In
order to be an incorporated village there had to be a total of 125
qualified voters within the village boundaries.
As it so happened
both petitions reached the county commission at the same time so the
commissioners accepted the petition for the larger village as they
contended that the larger village would better serve the needs of a
greater number of the area residents. The advocated of the smaller village
were not satisfied with the decision of the county commission so they took
it to court and Judge Thatcher reversed the decision claiming that since
the petition for the smaller area bore the earliest date it should be
accepted and he so ruled. The opposing faction was not to be out done so
they raised money and took it to a higher court which, after due
deliberation upheld the original decision of the Bannock County Commission
and the incorporation of the larger village was duly entered upon the
The village was formed and incorporated and while
the advocates of the larger village were victorious, they still lost their
try to have the slot machines and liquor outlawed. In a local election the
forces of the business men in favor of slot machines and liquor won
April 24, 1951 was the first official election of Board
Members. The elected Board Members were Enoch Cox with 138 votes; John
R. Valenty, 130 votes; Arthur Fenwick, 115 votes; George Gianinnia, 112
votes; Willis Ward, 103 votes. On Saturday, April 28 the newly elected
Board Members were sworn into office by Chairman J.O. Cotant and were
officially pronounced to be the new trustees for the Village of Chubbuck,
John R. Valenty was appointed as temporary Chairman until he
was elected permanent Chairman of the Board of Trustees. W. R. Ward, Art
Fenwick, and Chairman Valenty were appointed to serve four year terms.
Enoch Cox and George Gianinnia were appointed to serve two year terms.
Charlotte Kennedy was named Clerk of the Board and was then sworn into
office by Chairman John R. Valenty. John Black was temporarily retained as
Attorney for the Village of Chubbuck by a carried motion. The second
Tuesday of each month was kept as the regular meeting time of the Board of
Trustees and since the village did not yet have a permanent building, the
office of Willis R. Ward was named as the temporary meeting place of the
Charlotte Kennedy was the first Justice of the Peace in
Chubbuck. Jimmy Valenty followed and was in office until the state changed
to the Magistrate System in about 1972. In the early 1970's Vera Armstrong
was the City Clerk and was the best attorney the city had at the time.
Jordan Stuart was a maintenance foreman and did most of the work himself.
Arnold Stone was Police Chief and was soon joined by Jerry
The Village of Chubbuck suffered intense growing pains. It
was known to be the fastest growing village in the State of Idaho, if not
in the whole country. At the time of incorporation the population was
about 170 and then by 1960 it had jumped to 1,300 at almost a phenomenal
rate. The population in 1999 is approximately 10,000.
It was in
1955 that the Parrish family moved to Chubbuck and commenced their
business. They also have a housing subdivision and a mobile home court
where they sell the lots for placement of mobile homes.
community church on Valenty Street has been in operation for years. A
group purchased land from the Mingo's for the building of the Primitive
Baptist Church. There was a large population of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) members in the community who attended church
in Tyhee. It was not until the early spring of 1966 that their half
million-dollar building on Whitaker Road was completed and dedicated for
use. The church membership did most of the construction work and financing
of the building.
It was about 1965 that serious planning for the
community really commenced. It was under the administration of Willis Ward
as Village Board Chairman that a decision was reached that something
should be done to regulate the Village growth and do some planning for the
future. Before that time the Board Chairman had been J.O. Cotant,
appointed by the Bannock County Commissioners in December of 1949 with the
first elected Board Chairman being John R. Valenty in April 1951.
Following Valenty the Board Chairmen in order of their appointment or
election was Larry Davis, May 1959; D.T. Worsencroft, January 1964; Willis
Ward, August 1965; R.G. Hillman, January 1967. Mr. Hillman contended that
he was the first appointed Mayor, although he was never elected to the
post. His appointment as Mayor came in August 1967. Following Hillman the
elected Mayors in order were Boyd N. Twiggs, who left the community in
April 1968 after having been elected mayor, then Leslie Henry was
appointed to fill the vacancy. He served until January 1969 when John O.
Cotant, Jr., was elected by a write-in campaign, which he has served as
Electric power to the Chubbuck area originally came
from the north, about September 29, 1903 from the Blackfoot Light and
Whites Limited, a subsidiary of Idaho Power Company. A substation was
built in the vicinity of the Green Triangle. It was years before
individual telephone service arrived. Originally just a couple of through
lines north comprised the service.
The Yellowstone Highway north
was the old Hiline Road and when the Hiline canal was relocated, the
roadway had to be changed. The concrete highway from Inkom to Idaho Falls
began construction in 1924 or 1925. The new interstate highway practically
replaced the old highway, but when it was built it was a real boom to the
people of this area.
Under John O. Cotant, Jr., the Board, and
planning and zoning commissions, the city has increased its service
tremendously. Garbage pickup was commenced and a water system has been
installed. Plans are underway to build a million and a half gallon water
storage tank. A very few years ago it was not thought to be feasible for
Chubbuck to have a sewer system, but with federal help, one has been
installed. The Mayor and Board feel that the next item of pressing
business is the development of more streets and roads. At the present time
there are only four roads in Chubbuck, Yellowstone, Chubbuck, Hawthorne,
and Hiline. The traffic on these thoroughfares is tremendous and the plans
of the State are to make East Chubbuck Road a four-lane road.
times have changed! I do not remember the date that West Chubbuck Road was
surfaced but prior to that it was just gravel. It seemed a cloud of dust
constantly hung over the road and roadsides. The gardens that we planted
were adversely affected, with their growth being stunted from the dust.
Housekeeping was a real problem to with all the dust. What a difference it
made after the road was improved. The state plans to convert Yellowstone
Avenue into a four-lane highway. It will be interesting to follow the
development of more streets and roads in the city.
New business and
industry are locating here. Most of the businesses necessary to the
development of the community are present. The city even has a dentist
since Dr. Gregory E. Romriell located his business here. As far as I know,
a medical doctor has not yet located a business here.
There is two
elementary schools in the city : Chubbuck Elementary and Ellis. Children
of Junior High School age have to be bused elsewhere and the high
schooler's attended Highland and Pocatello High Schools.
addition to the community is a very attractive branch library building.
Until its construction, Chubbuck was served by a bookmobile from the main
The Chubbuck Police Department consisted of five
officers and patrolmen. The first Police Judge for the community was James
Valenty. He was forced to retire because of deteriorating health, so
Charlotte Kennedy succeeded him and served for years.
Fire Department is a volunteer force. The firemen train with the Pocatello
City firemen regularly. The first Chubbuck Fire Truck was furnished by the
Snake River Insurance Company. The fire station was built to house the
Fire Truck with the Police Headquarters located there. The first police
officer was a man by the name of Williams with a Mr. Blondell to assist
him. It was not long until Carl Hensley took over as Constable and was the
first to occupy the apartment in the upstairs of the new Fire Station. Mr.
Hensley served as Chief Police Officer for a total of 17 years before his
retirement in late 1969 or early 1970.
The Chubbuck city offices
were established in a Quonset building at 5160 Yellowstone. After being
remodeled and added to, it has become quite an attractive and commodious
municipal building. In 2004 the City offices were remodeled and expanded.
The onld Quonset building was torn down to make way for the new offices.
Chubbuck has a very attractive and well maintained municipal park
which was named after our current Mayor John O. Cotant, Jr., Cotant Park
where our recent Chubbuck Day's celebration was held.
One of the
chief affairs of the Chubbuck Lions Service Club has been the annual
Christmas celebration and party for the disabled. They also join with the
other area Lions Clubs in raising finances for the blind.
has annually joined with the Pocatello Cutter Association in hosting the
yearly International Cutter Races and competitions. Our local participants
are usually very high in the competitions.
Chubbuck City now has a
full time City Engineer which many of the businessmen in the area have
long felt to be a necessary requirement for the orderly growth of the