Rexburg in the 1900's


From those early, small farms established by the pioneers in Rexburg, the cultivated land in Madison County has grown to over 206,300 acres. Another 30,000 acres are pasture and range land. There is an additional 12,645 acres of forest and woodland on the eastern side of the community. 

Throughout the whole century, agriculture has been the main economic provider. Canals have wound their way through the whole area to bring much needed water. A sugar beet factory was constructed northeast of Rexburg in 1903.  This brought about the creation of Sugar City.

A major change came to the community in 1900 as the St. Anthony Railroad continued its way through the valley all the way to Yellowstone Park after coming to Rexburg in November of 1899. This railroad established a valuable marketing service to the agricultural community. By 1915, a "loop" rail line was built to the west and the east of Rexburg to better serve the outlying areas.

Community leaders saw the potential of an economic boom as early as 1913 when they organized to improve the highway between Pocatello, Idaho and Yellowstone Park.  Today, this is the most traveled road to bring tourists to this national park.

Steady growth characterized the community as the college grew and a few industries came into the area. Most industry was associated with the agricultural business. However, in December of 1951, a 32-bed community hospital established its services in town.

A modern airport was constructed on the western edge of the town in 1961. An extension was made to the runway in 1972, making it useful to the Ricks College aeronautical training program.


A major shock to the community came in 1976 with the collapse of the Teton Dam and the resulting flood. Water has been an important issue in the Rexburg area since its beginning. One of the solutions was seen to be the building of a dam on the Teton River, about 15 miles northeast of Rexburg, which would supply needed water for the agricultural season.

Interestingly, the flood seemed to act as a stimulus to growth. Instead of losing population, there was an increase of activity. The economic boom was the result of all the rebuilding. An 18-hole golf course was built. The highway leading out of town to the north became a business center with the addition of malls and new stores. Housing on the fringes of the community began to eliminate farms.

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