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Rexburg Early History

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In 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) 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.

The 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 was registered.

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People started arriving and homes were being constructed. With many hands, a log house could be erected in a day. In a short time, 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, construction on the city canal commenced in order 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.

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