Aberdeen was named after the town in Scotland. Springfield was probably named after the town in Illinois. Pingree was named after a Salt Lake City developer who platted the townsite. Fort Hall was named for Henry Hall, the partner of Nathaniel Wyeth who built the first trading post in the area.
Gibson, which is north of Fort Hall, was named after one of the men, John Gibson, who ran the Ferry Butte Ferry. By the way, what you may know as Ferry Butte is officially Gibson Butte, for the same reason.
I couldn’t find anything on the origin of the names Rockford or Rose. Riverside, meanwhile, is named—wait for it—because the town is beside the river. Ditto, Riverton.
Moreland is a similarly practical name. One of the first settlers found that the area had “more land” for homesteading than anywhere else. Residents there were ready to name the place “Bryan” if William Jennings Bryan won the presidential election in 1896, perhaps becoming the first town to be named after him. Bryan lost and Moreland became Moreland.
Groveland had a lot of groves. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Alridge was so named because of the nearby ridges. Basalt is named for basaltic formations nearby, though residents pronounce the name with emphasis on the first syllable and with a hard A.
Atomic City was once called Midway, since it was midway between Blackfoot and Arco. When it was incorporated in 1949 citizens thought it appropriate to change the name in honor of its proximity to what was then called the Atomic Energy Commission site.
Firth was named after early settler Lorenzo Firth. Thomas has another Lorenzo, Lorenzo Thomas, to thank for its name. Shelley was named for early settler John F. Shelley. Goshen was named for the biblical land of Goshen
Wapello seems to be the only settlement in the county with an Indian language name. Wapello, meaning something like “dawn,” was said to be a Fox chief. That begs the question, why name a place in Idaho after a chief from the Midwest?
Presto, which once had a post office, was named after Presto Burrell, the first settler on the Blackfoot River in that area.
My apologies if I have missed a community or former community. Many of those listed have long since lost their post offices, which were most often the reason for naming a town in the first place.
This post originally appeared as a column in the Blackfoot Morning News.