1810 Major Andrew Henry crossed a pass to enter that northeastern point
of Idaho that is surrounded on three sides by Montana and Wyoming. He
camped at the lake that was later to share his name. He followed the South
Fork (Henry's) of the Snake River to enter the valley and built a fort
just north of present Rexburg.
This was the first American fur post west of the Rocky Mountains. He stayed
just a year, but through his descriptions of the streams and the abundance
of beaver the area became a crossroads of many future trappers. Word spread
as to the worth of the hunting and trapping that could be had along the
Teton River which flows through Rexburg, and the two forks of the Snake
River flowing to the north and south of the town.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Church was having
tremendous growth in the late 1800s. Thousands were pouring into Salt
Lake City and Church officials were on the lookout for promising places
to encourage the immigrants to move to.
leaders of the Church chose Thomas E. Ricks to select the site for a town
and to become the spiritual leader, Bishop, of all who would follow. Surveyor
Andrew S. Anderson was with the first group of seven sleighs to arrive
in the Rexburg area. The town was named Ricksburg after the Bishop. The
name was changed to Rexburg, the German stem name for Ricks, before it
arriving and homes were being constructed. With many hands a log house
could be erected in a day and the town began to take on the shape of a
community. A typical pioneer brought seed for crops, seedlings for fruit
trees, and food supplies for a year. By June 14, the city canal was begun
to bring water to the town.
Grain was the primary crop in the early settlement period as it provided
food for both man and beast. It also provided a money crop for the settlers.
In 1898, dry farm wheat was grown on this land opening up a change that
led to huge farms of potatoes in the 1900s.