As we continued with our summer travels, we left Twin Falls and drove to Pocatello (pop 55,000) for a one week stay. Truthfully there wasn’t a lot to do in Pocatello, but we relaxed and killed time waiting for the weather to warm up at Yellowstone National Park. Pocatello is home to Idaho State University.
Over the years on the road we have learned how to sniff out unique places. One day we drove an hour to Soda Springs to see their geyser. Soda Springs has approximately thirty mineral salt springs. Early trappers and pioneers called the area “Beer Springs” because of its natural soda water. They documented people drinking the soda water in large amounts while the Indians refused to taste it. Women used the water to make bread and documented it as being great light bread similar to yeast bread.
Captive Geyser in Soda Springs is a carbon dioxide geyser controlled to erupt every hour on the hour. The town made the geyser into a tourist attraction with a viewing area. I was surprised to see on a weekday afternoon the small town geyser had attracted a small crowd.
The geyser is said to be the world’s only “captive” geyser. In 1937 some people in Soda Springs were trying to locate hot water for a community swimming pool. They drilled into the ground and unleashed the 100 foot geyser roaring like a dragon. They were surprised to say the least! For most of the night the town was enveloped in a mist of steam water running down Main Street and threatening to flood businesses.
The Secretary of the Interior sent a telegram to Soda Springs asking the City to turn off the geyser because it was taking attention from the world famous Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone. Today a timer on a valve permits the eruption of the 72 degrees water every hour on the hour throughout the year.
Also at the viewing area is a Ground Observer Corps Skywatch Post used from 1956-1959. It was manned due to concerns about the growing capabilities of the Soviet Union to launch surprise air attacks against the United States.
On the way home we were on a hunt for Oregon Trail wagon ruts. As many as 350,000 pioneers and tens of thousands of covered wagons traveled the Oregon Trail between 1840 and 1870. In certain areas of the west, wagon ruts are still visible and we had read they were visible in this area. We stopped and tried to see the ruts but it would take some imagination to see them.
We also did some geocaching. One place we stopped for a cache was at Sheep Rock which towers 1,200 feet above the Bear River. Sheep Rock was a prominent landmark described in many pioneer journals as they traveled west on the Oregon and California Trails. Sheep Rock received its name from the pioneers because of the sizable flock of bighorn mountain sheep which occupied the rocky ridge above the river throughout the year.
On June 17th we moved to Idaho Falls (pop 57,000) for a three night stay. Our travel day was cold, rainy and windy. When we left Pocatello around noon the temperature was 44 degrees with rain and 20 mph winds. When we arrived at Idaho Falls it was 43 degrees, raining and 20 mph winds. We were so glad to get set up and turn on the furnace! Meanwhile the Yellowstone National Park area was getting some late season snow.
We had a short time in Idaho Falls but we did want to see the falls. The Idaho Falls waterfalls are created by a diversion dam for a hydroelectric plant. The original dam was created in 1909. The dam today was constructed in 1982 as part of a hydroelectric power development project.
Next up: Yellowstone National Park at last!!