If you plug the name Alridge into Google Maps the app will tell you to follow US 91 north from Blackfoot nearly to Firth, then take a right on Wolverine Road. Follow that almost to Wolverine Canyon for about 10 and a half miles. Take Blackfoot River Road to the right when you come to that and drive four more miles. At about the point where the road crosses Cedar Creek you’ll find a little fenced in area where descendants of homesteaders Clifford and Daphne Jemmett erected a marker some years ago (photo). Not much else is there anymore to tell the story of Alridge.
Clifford Jemmett’s parents, Henry and Lizzy, had their place in the Blackfoot River Canyon just below Alridge where a wide curve in the river left a strip of land where an orchard could be planted and cattle pastured. That area is called the Cove.
The Alridge Post Office, originally inside the Clifford Jemmett home, operated from 1915 to 1950. It was necessary because people were filing homestead claims on property in the area for the purpose of growing dryland grain. For a time, before the Great Depression, weather conditions were just right for that activity and grain sold for a good price. Deteriorating market conditions took away some of the incentive to farm. Cars and trucks shortened the distance between larger towns and Alridge, so there was less reason to live there. The community faded away, but dryland farms, now much larger, still operate on the benches above Cedar Creek.
While the community thrived, a school was a necessity. The tidy one-room Alridge School was built in 1915 and painted white with red trim. That color combination found its way to some other buildings in the little community, giving it a unique character. The school closed in 1948, but that wasn’t the end of its story. In 1999 the Alridge School was moved to North Bingham County Park near Shelley, where it serves today as an education museum, a typical example of a one-room school. Photos and stories inside the school help resuscitate Alridge a bit.
This article first appeared in the Monday, March 4 2019 edition of the Blackfoot Morning News.