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Mountain Home History

native americans

Mountain Home stands on land acquired under the “Desert Entry Act” of the 1880s. Commodore Jackson of Rattlesnake Creek filed on the 320 acres on which the town sits. The town was started in the fall of 1883, when the first railroad was completed in the territory on July 7, 1883. Origination of the name goes back to the days of travel by horse-drawn stagecoaches.  One of the stops (for meals and change of horses, etc.) was located about 10 miles northeast of current Mountain Home, at the foothills of the mountains and near Rattlesnake Creek. It also was a post office on the mail line, however with the arrival of the railroad, mail was to be carried on the train.  So Commodore moved his post office to its present site, taking the name with him. It was two years before the U.S. government knew the exact location of Mountain Home. When the town was laid out in lots, the first street was named after Jackson and today is the dividing street between South and North sections of Mountain Home.

Elmore County was formed March 13, 1889, following a political fight in the state legislature of seven years duration. The old Alturas County was divided into several smaller counties. Rocky Bar was the county seat of Alturas County and continued as the county seat of the new Elmore County until 1890 when it was moved to Mountain Home.

Glenns Ferry, Hammett, Pine/Featherville, Smith’s Prairie, Atlanta, King Hill, Mayfield and Rocky Bar are other communities in the county, named in the order for size of their population.

Agriculture was soon to become a mainstay of the area. In 1892, the Mountain Home Irrigation District was completed; Camas, Long Tom and Mountain Home Reservoirs began to irrigate approximately 4,000 acres. Due to former creek beds and run-off areas, there is a high water table in Mountain Home. Early in the 1900s, the bustling little village became an oasis in the desert and a gateway to the mountains as well as a strategic point on the major travel route across the state. Soon, it became the second largest sheep shipping station in the Northwest, which attracted many Basque immigrants to settle in the area. Kitty Wilkins was a famous “horse woman” who shipped horses all over the world. The mining and timber industries also contributed to the growth and economy of the area.

By 1910, a three-story brick school had been built and several substantial businesses, including mercantile stores, two opera houses, three banks, and a Carnegie library. Two large three-story hotels and several boarding houses accommodated many travelers and those seeking to remain in the area. A courthouse was under construction. Lovely residential homes were built along the tree-lined streets.

air force

Ten percent of the county population served in World War I. Carl Miller Park was dedicated to the first local boy killed in combat. World War II brought long-range changes to the community. In 1943, construction was finished on an Army airfield located 14 miles southwest of town. Mountain Home trained hundreds of aircrews during the war. Following that conflict, the base was closed and several years later, the newly formed United States Air Force reactivated the facility. The Base has experienced many changes and remains a well-trained and sophisticated arm of the military. It has also brought a variety of cultures to Mountain Home that have enriched the community.

The early 1950s were a time of building; a hospital, churches, schools, municipal swimming pool, additional parks and new businesses were added. The area slot machines were removed due to local and state legislation. Streets were paved, some buildings torn down or moved and the livestock industry began to decline. However, the strong spirit of family and industry joined together to make Mountain Home a pleasant place to live. In the dawn of the 21st century, we still see that same pioneer spirit dealing with challenges in a place where “Past meets the Future.”

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