History of the City of Richfield

The History of Richfield, a book published in 1995 by Alice Crane Behr and Maureen Hancock Ward, is now available for download for personal use and may not be reproduced for financial gain without written permission of the authors. The document can be downloaded here.

The Oregon Short Line RR entered Shoshone in February 1883 and Hailey in May of 1883. “Tent towns” appeared along the route – Marley, Alberta, Pagari, Tikura, Priest, Piabo, Gannett, Bellevue and Hailey.

Settlement in this area came about through both the Homestead Act, with ranches along the river, and through the Carey Land Act, which was designed to reclaim desert lands. Earliest identified water rights belonged to Elias S. Morley (1883). Morley, a civil war veteran from Vermont, lived along the Little Wood River. The area was later referred to as “Marley.”

The tents of the 1890’s turned to black shacks and by 1906 some into wooden buildings. The official christening of Alberta took place in June of 1907. Alberta was the shopping point for all material to be used in the construction work on the dams and irrigation system. Development continued, and the name of the town was changed to Richfield on October 1, 1908.

The Land Opening conducted by the Idaho Irrigation Company took place on Tuesday, June 24, 1907, in Alberta at the Land Office. Within a week, close to 10,000 acres of farm land and more than 100 town lots had been sold. Residence was required within six months after water was ready for delivery, and final proof made at any time within three years. Water from Magic Dam was turned into all canals on the Richfield Tract in April 1910.

When Rafe Lemmon arrived with his family in November 1908 the town consisted of five dwellings, two stores, the Burton livery barn, shacks for the lumber yard, the bank and office building and the Alberta Hotel.

In the early years, water was pumped from the Little Wood River for residents living in town. The 500 foot deep city well was dug in 1913.

Richfield was incorporated in 1909. The village marshal was instructed to stop the horse racing on the streets in 1911. The speed limit for motor vehicles was set at 12 miles an hour in June 1914.

The first school was taught in the fall of 1907 and a lava rock structure was built in 1909. Enrollment in September 1912 was 85 pupils. Hot lunches were first offered in the fall of 1913. “Each child is required to bring his own bread and butter, and the mother may add such other things as she may wish. We furnish two dishes – a regular luncheon dish such as a soup or a baked dish and some simple dessert at a cost of ten cents per pupil per week. Menu of Tuesday: Mush and milk, chocolate pudding.” (RR Oct. 30, 1913)

Richfield businesses over the years have included: Alberta Bank (First Interstate Bank), Ed Feindle’s Blacksmith Shop; Byrnes Store, Brush Drug, Elevator, Ethel’s Beauty Shop, Fairview Poultry, Johnson Café, Lemmon Bros. Hardware, Lumber Yard, Paulson Motor Service, People’s Motor Service, Peterson’s Cash Store, Piper’s, Pope’s Automotive Service, Rex Theater, Richfield Hot, the Richfield Recorder (1909-1931), Sinclair Service, Texaco, Youngkin Implement Co., Ward’s Cheese (now Glanbia), Wood River Inn & Dining Room.

Richfield’s first Outlaw Day was held in June 1954 and has been continually held in June of each year, with some events unique only to Richfield.