West Pocatello, Idaho

Real Estate and Community Information

Pocatello, Idaho, the county seat of Bannock County, is the fifth largest city in the state. It has been ranked twentieth on Forbes list of Best Small Places for Business and Careers. It is nestled in the foothills of the Rockies, offering unique history and attractions designed for residents and visitors alike.

History of Pocatello
The area was first inhabited by the Soshoni and Bannock people. In 1834, Nathanial Jarvis Wyeth established a trading post in Fort Hall in what is now the northern section of the city. It was later acquired by the Hudson Bay Company and became an important stop along the Oregon Trail. Gold was discovered in Idaho in 1860, bringing a large number of settlers into the area. In 1877, railroad magnate, Jay Gould of Union Pacific railroad, extended the Utah and Northern Railway into Idaho. The railroad traveled through Portneuf Canyon and Pocatello Junction, as it was known, became a stop along the route. The city was actually named for Chief Pocatello of the Shoshoni tribe. The chief permitted the railroad to cross the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. Interestingly, the chief actually went by the name of Tondzaosha, an Indian word meaning “buffalo robe.” According to his daughter, he preferred that name as Pocatello actually had no meaning. Later, the city became an important agricultural hub when farmers and ranchers migrated to the area after the gold rush.

The railroad cuts the town in half in a south-easterly to north-westerly direction. Streets in the town were configured by following the railroad which has resulted in confusion over the years. The Southeast section of town is often referred to as South Pocatello while the Southwest section of the city is known as West Pocatello. In effect, the railroad created two distinct villages which often competed with each other, something that was common during the early years of the United States. Today, although the town is now one city, many people still refer to South and West Pocatello.

Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation in Pocatello are governed by the Parks and Recreation Department. There are many parks in Pocatello. Lower Ross Park, located in West Pocatello includes the Ross Park Aquatic Center, the Pocatello Zoo, Pleasure Land Playground and the Band Shell, where summer concert series are held. The park also includes the Brick Thompson Horseshoe Complex, baseball fields, a barbecue and picnic areas. Fields in the park are on a first-come, first-served basis, but may be reserved for larger groups by contacting the Team Sports Department at 208-234-6235. There is also a skate park, covered pavilion and volleyball poles where park visitors can put up their own net for a game. Anyone interested in using the horseshoe complex should contact Brian Poole at 208-239-3326. The park is located at 2695 South 2nd Avenue.

Brooklyn’s Playground, named for Brooklyn Fisher, a Pocatello resident with spina bifida, is a community-wide project planned for West Pocatello. Through donations, local community groups are working to build a playground designed for children of all abilities. The playground will benefit the 11 percent of students in Pocatello/Chubbuck School District by providing an all-inclusive playground. More information on the project is available at the Brooklyn’s Playground website. more information on Lower Ross Park, as well as other parks in Pocatello, may be found on the Parks & Recreation website or by calling 208-234-6232.

Attractions and Activities
One of the most unique attractions in Pocatello is the Kizuna Garden, which can be found in front of the Pocatello Regional Airport terminal. The garden links the community not only to the rest of the world, but also to our sister city, Iwamizawa located in Japan. The word “kizuna” represents a bond or link in Japanese. The garden features over 100 unique rocks, lanterns, water formations and plants.

Residents and visitors also enjoy the Pocatello Zoo, one of only two zoos in the country to specialize in animals that are native to the Intermountain West, including bison, cougars, eagles, pronghorn and grizzly bears. The Pocatello Zoo also offers many exciting events like Ice Cream Zoofari and Zoo Boo throughout the year.

For those who enjoy live theater, Pocatello offers options that include themed dining experiences as well as theatrical plays and productions. The Westside Players Dinner Theater is located in Pocatello’s historic warehouse district and Old Town Actors Studio, an intimate setting with 30 seats, is located in the Main Street Plaza.

One attraction found in Pocatello that is not found anywhere else is the Museum of Clean, created by Don Aslett who began collecting cleaning objects after visiting the Edison Museum on a boy scout trip. His collection grew to the point that he decided to open the Museum of Clean as a way to display cleaning items dating back to the 1800s. He purchased a brick building that had been built in 1916, renovating the space for five years until it opened in 2011. Exhibits include vacuums, an old store with intriguing cleaning products, old city, restoration and other items specifically geared toward cleaning. The museum is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM until 5 PM. For more information email contact@museumofclean.com or call 208-236-6906.

Each month, Pocatello holds the First Friday of the Month Art Walk. Residents and visitors can stroll through Old Town Pocatello, visiting art galleries as well as the city’s only outdoor art gallery, located on the corner of North Main and West Lander. Pieces in the gallery change quarterly with the seasons, so attending more than one art walk is highly recommended.

In March, Pocatello holds the Annual Gate City Brewfest that includes the Shamrock Shuffle 5K/10K Fun Run/Walk as well as “stops” throughout the event where attendees can enjoy local craft brews. In 2015, almost 30 brewers participated in the event.

However, one event held in Pocatello actually has a beginning rooted in history. In 1948, after a particularly difficult winter, Mayor George Phillips and City Council passed an ordinance that made it illegal not to smile while in the town. Known as the “Smile Ordinance,” the legislation was passed as a tongue-in-cheek way to raise the spirits of residents who had suffered tremendously over the harsh winter months. In 1987, a reporter wrote about the ordinance, drawing the attention of the American Bankers Association, who then used the law in a campaign designed to convince Congress that banking laws were antiquated. The mayor at the time, Richard Finlayson, invited representatives of the American Banking Association to Pocatello and, in 1987, the organization declared the city the United States “Smile Capital.” This prompted a week long event known as “Smile Days” which included a poster contest for elementary students, mock arrests of those who refused to smile a smile contest and a community celebration which continues today as “Smilefest.”

A visit to Pocatello will demonstrate why it is a great place to live and work. It is difficult to be unhappy in a town where it is illegal not to smile. For more information on relocating to Pocatello, contact Gina Call to learn more about real estate available in the area. Consider a visit or a move to the Smile Capital of the United States with a single contact, Gina Call, who can provide you with all the information you need.