In January, 1956, the Associated Press fed a story to their wire service subscribers about Murphy, Idaho’s solitary parking meter. Murphy had only 31 residents, which probably made it the county seat with the smallest population in the country. Since then, the population has skyrocketed to nearly 100 people.
But about that parking meter… Kenneth Downing, then the county clerk, thought it might be a good gag to install a parking meter in front of a wire gate at the courthouse that people were always blocking with their cars. It seemed to cut down on the pesky parking, but it didn’t raise a lot of money. It didn’t even work, at first. City fathers, or city jokesters, or someone later repaired it so they could collect coins. Theoretically.
Downing appeared in the AP photo that accompanied the story tying his horse up to the meter. The article pointed out that there were probably more horses in the county than cars, anyway.
You can still visit Owyhee County’s only parking meter today, more than 50 years later, making this one long-running joke.