~Lincoln County~





Lincoln County was created by the Idaho Legislature on March 18, 1895, by a partitioning of Blaine County, which was created earlier that month by a merger of Alturas and Logan Counties. Lincoln County itself was partitioned on January 28, 1913, with a western portion becoming Gooding County and an eastern portion becoming Minidoka County. The county assumed its present borders on February 8, 1919 when a southern portion became Jerome County.

  Lincoln County is named after President Abraham Lincoln. The Idaho Territory was created in 1863, during the Lincoln Administration of 1861–65.

Cities: Dietrich, Richfield, Shoshone



  Shoshone - In contrast to the Shoshone Native American tribe for which it is named, the city's name is correctly pronounced "Show-shown," with a silent 'e'.

  Shoshone was laid out in 1882 in anticipation of the soon to follow Union Pacific short line railroad. Shoshone became not only the town with the widest main street in the world, but also one of the wildest towns in the West. Even before being formally established it was filled with miners from Hailey, railroad men and sheep herders.

  By 1883, reportedly 10-15 arrests were being made daily. Offenders were placed in a hole in the ground. The bars were guards with Winchester rifles, who were ordered to shoot at any head sticking above the rim of the hole. Prostitution was legal until the mid-1950’s, when it was rumored to have been abolished by the mayor’s wife (while the mayor was out of town).

   It was said in an attempt to stabilize the town & attract families, the townsite company gave two building lots to churches and the business owners donated $75.00 toward the building fund of any church or school. The Methodists & Catholics were the first to take up the offer. They were followed quickly by the Espiscopalians.


The Union Pacific RR Station, located in Shoshone, was built in 1929 and is brick and adobe construction. It is no longer used as a train station, but is still in use by Union Pacific for its rail crews stationed out of Shoshone. Stations built like this can be seen in many television shows and movies.



   By the turn of the century Shoshone was a major railhead for sheep ranchers. The 1920’s and 30’s brought bootlegging. The 40’s brought celebrities on their way to Sun Valley or staying in the area to hunt. Since its wild beginnings, Shoshone has seen all the changes that created many ghost towns. Perhaps shaped and inspired by the surrounding desert, residents have always adapted and found new ways of life to keep the town alive.

  Shoshone has long been considered the main railroad station in Idaho's Magic Valley region. The much larger community of Twin Falls 26 miles to the south never developed a strong railroad presence due to the logistical issues presented by its location south of the Snake River Canyon. For many years Shoshone was the only Amtrak stop in south central Idaho.


Lincoln County Court House

Governor’s Mansion


   The Lincoln County Court House (111 West B. Street) was completed in 1904. The original oak furniture has been restored and is still in use. Inside you will find a display case containing some of the early items used in the court house. Early pictures of the area are also displayed on the walls. The jail in the basement is reported to be the last remaining “flat-iron” jails in existence in the West.

   The Governor’s Mansion (West C. Street & South Greenwood), now a Bed and Breakfast, was built by Frank R. Gooding, Governor of Idaho from 1901-1905. The Gooding family immigrated to the United States from England in the 1800’s. After trying their luck in Michigan and California, the family settled in the Shoshone area where Frank and his brother became known as “Sheep Barons”.


Bethany Lodge #21, A.F. & A.M.

Episcopal Church


   Sometime before October 1886, when Idaho was yet a territory, 10 Masons living in the Shoshone area sought to form a lodge. A dispensation was issued for Bethany Lodge UD (112 West B. Street) located at Shoshone, Alturas County, Idaho Territory on October 12, 1886. The meetings were held in a building belonging to the Knights of Labor located somewhere behind the present Manhattan Café. On September 18, 1887 a charter was issued to Lincoln Chapter No. 42, Order of the Eastern Star. Both groups have had close fraternal relations ever since. The present building known as the K of P Hall was purchased from R.J. Watkins for $1,000.00 in October 1934. This has been the meeting place for Bethany Lodge and the Lincoln Chapter since. Many meetings both public and private have been held in the building over the years.

   As early as 1886 occasional Espicopal services were held in Shoshone. The first records of an organized congregation are from 1889. The Episcopal Church (110 West B. Street) was formally established in November of 1889. The church building was constructed in the summer of 1902. A fire in 1960 caused considerable damage to the interior requiring remodeling to its present form. The Jennings Parish House located next door was at one time the residence of the rector. In recent years the Episcopal congregation has invited the E.C.L.A. Lutheran Outreach to jointly use the church.


Zech House

Geil Home


   Called “Colonial” at the time (Zech House, West C. Street & South Apple), this large square two story frame house has hip-roof dormers. There is a porch across the front, also hip-roofed, and a bay window on the South side. Detailing is “Colonial” only in Tuscan porch posts and three ox-eye windows in the second story. Fancy cut shingles add textural interest to the dormers and porch. The exterior is unaltered. The house was purchased in 1986 by, and is the current residence of Dr. and Mrs. Terrill W. Zech.

   Geil Home (311 North Cherry) – The land was originally purchased by William L. Richards on October 20, 1884. He purchased the land from the United States Government at the Hailey Land Office of Alturas County, Idaho Territory. The land was later purchased by Sarah Brown, whose husband was Justice of the Peace in and for Alturas County, Idaho Territory. J.C. and Sarah finished building the house in 1886 as moted on the keystone above the front entrance. J.C. and Sarah resided here with their two children until Sarah’s death in 1894. As bricks were not manufactured locally until 1902, it is said that the bricks were shipped in from Boston, Massachusetts by railway. The hard wood flooring and other building materials were likewise shipped.


Sundae Matinee

Manhattan Café


   Sundae Matinee (South Rail Street) - The Hotel located above the Movie Theater and ice cream parlor was the last known residence of Shoshone’s last Madam. Referred to as “Whispering Ted”, because she was reported to never speak above a whisper. This eccentric was said to abhor baths, ate every meal at the Manhattan Café (133 South Rail) for years and was noted as having the classic “heart of gold”.


United Methodist Church



   Although locally accepted as the oldest building in Shoshone, United Methodist Church (West C. Street & South Apple) actual date of construction is a debated topic. Church records approximate construction between late 1890’s and 1903. The Methodists and Catholics were the first to formally establish congregations in the area, in the early 1880’s. Two other buildings were used prior to the completion of this building. Local lore reports that a lot of volunteer help was offered in the building of the current lava rock structure. The building in use by the church, at the time, was considered a local eye-sore. Building funds were started with a donation of $75.00 given by town businessmen.

   Listed in the Historic Register as a “Boarding House”, no memory or evidence exists that Doncaster (109 North Greenwood) ever served that purpose. Rather during Prohibition it was known to be a “Speak-Easy”. In World War II, it was the hottest club in town, known as the “Sunshine Club”. Following that time the building was Mrs. Coffee’s Animal Museum for over 10 years. The Doncaster is listed on the National Historic Register as the, “Galo Boarding House”. It is a lava rock structure.


Whistle Stop

Soloaga Basque Boarding House


   Although the actual age of this building is not known, Whistle Stop (104 South Rail) appears in town photos from the early 1900’s. The store was leased by the JC Penny Company and opened as store #46 on April 5, 1913. The store operated from 1913 to May 18, 1957. Sales performance was never out standing, in 1928 sales were just over $100,000.00. During the depression in 1932 the store actually operated at a net loss with sales below $50,000.00. After the store’s closure in 1957 it was purchased and re-opened by its manager, Mr. Douglas H. Hansen, who continued it’s operation as a department store for a number of years.

   The Soloaga Basque Boarding House (201 East Avenue A. Street) was recently purchased and is being restored by Jann M. Thomsen and her two sons Joe and Matt. Built from 1904 to 1907, by the grandparents of Jack Soloaga, prominent Basque Sheep ranchers. This two-story white stucco building has 28 rooms. The private quarters for the family and the hotel-keeper are found on the first floor, towards the back of the building near the kitchen. The second story contains dormitory-style rooms for boarders. It is said to be haunted by Nuns, who were unhappy with the goings on in the hotel as it serviced “all” the needs of the Basque sheepmen.

   Shoshone has long been considered the main railroad station in Idaho's Magic Valley region. The much larger community of Twin Falls 26 miles to the south never developed a strong railroad presence due to the logistical issues presented by its location south of the Snake River Canyon. For many years Shoshone was the only Amtrak stop in southern Idaho.

   A few miles north of Shoshone are the Shoshone Ice Caves, hollow subterranean lava tubes that stay cool enough for the ice inside them to remain frozen throughout the summer.

  Shoshone, located in Central Idaho at the junction of U.S. Highway 93, 26 and scenic State Highway 75, is the Gateway to Idaho’s High Desert, the Sawtooth Mountains wilderness and famed Sun Valley Resort.

  The town is a small friendly rural area, where agriculture is the main economical base and a gateway leading to many  natural wonders such as:  Shoshone Ice Caves, Mammoth Caves, Craters of the Moon, Malad Gorge, 1000 Springs Scenic Route, Natural Hot Springs, Fossil Beds, City of  Rocks, Balanced Rock, Oregon Trail, Shoshone Falls, Snake River Canyon and much more!  Such as the many State Parks, Museums, Ski Resorts, Lakes, Rivers and Dams. The outlets to scenic sites, tours and a variety of activities for everyone!


Shoshone Ice Caves



  Shoshone Ice Caves is located 16 miles north of Shoshone on Highway 93. This natural wonder is actually a subterranean lava tube that is 1,000 ft. long and varies between 8 and 30 ft. in height. It remains cool enough for the ice inside to remain frozen throughout the summer.

  In the days before refrigeration, this feature, coupled with the railroad, made Shoshone popular with travelers as "the only place for hundreds of miles where one could get a cold beer."

  These caves are one of the natural wonders of the world. Trained guides explain the geologic, volcanic, and historical background in these large lava ice caves. A museum contains Indian artifacts, gems, and minerals of local and world interest.

  Take a tour and explore the trails, but be sure to dress warmly, even during the summer months.


Source: Elmore County Press, Shoshone Historic Walking Tour, Summer in El-Wyhee, & Wikipedia.


City of Shoshone