History of Dietrich, Idaho

 The City of Dietrich is located on the south slope of a sagebrush-covered, extinct volcano called Crater Butte in rural Lincoln County, Idaho. The "Dietrich Tract" includes the small town, surrounding farms, and desert range land. The 300 people, who have homes in the town, mostly find employment elsewhere in Magic Valley. Many are retired. The Dietrich exit from State Highway 24 takes you past the LDS Church, the new Highway District building, across the Union Pacific Railroad tracks into Dietrich's "business district." It consists of a restaurant/bar called the "Eagles Nest" and one general store called the "Shaw Merc," which was established in 1910. Travel three more blocks and you see the newly remodeled Dietrich School (K-12). Two more blocks and you arrive at the city park, which occupies a full city block, including a log shelter where many of the town's activities are celebrated.  The nearest gasoline station is eight miles to the west, in Shoshone, ID.

Additional Information

 Statistics:

Population of the City of Dietrich

341

Description of terrain

Sagebrush covered, lava rock desert

Climate

Average Temps 

January 16° & July 93°

Average Annual Precipitation:

10.4 inches of precipitation; 35.3 inches of snow

Number of Sunshine Days

About 260 days

Elevation

4075 - 4175 feet

Major Industries

Agriculture

Educational Institutions

Dietrich School (K – 12 on one campus)

Key nearby Amenities

City Park; Eagle's Nest Restaurant; Shaw Merc


Pre-incorporation Years: Dietrich, Idaho came into existence as a "Carey Act" town in 1909. It was developed by the Idaho Irrigation Company to be a recipient of water from Magic Reservoir that the company was constructing. Dietrich was located along the Oregon Short Line Railroad, to give it railroad access. The company built a large hotel and an experiment farm in Dietrich, both designed to entice immigrants to buy Dietrich Tract land from the company. After a spurt of enthusiasm, the little town almost literally dried up and blew away in the frequent desert winds. There was too little water from the canals and the sandy soil was difficult to irrigate. Not until sprinkler irrigation technology came to Dietrich, did the town begin to feel some farming success.


Formation of the City: Dietrich was incorporated in 1913, but this action was later rescinded because of legal technicalities and the town did not have a government of its own until it successfully incorporated in 1946. Ned Bolton, Walter Fechner, C. H. Frees, Jerry Church and Kent Gage were appointed trustees of the Village of Dietrich. The city got its name from a prominent railroad attorney and judge, Judge Frank S. Dietrich. He was known for his service on the adjudication of water rights in Idaho. He later became a Judge of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth District.


Turning Points: The technology of sprinkler irrigation was a significant turning point for the Dietrich Tract. Farming finally became productive. Street paving began in 1957. Dietrich put in a community drinking water system in 1994. Dietrich began planning a sewer system in 1996. Dietrich's sewer project was done as a Small Town Environment Project (STEP). The town functioned as its own contractor and used a lot of volunteer labor and equipment to do much of the work, including construction of a 7-acre facultative sewer lagoon system. Because the town is located on the side of a volcanic crater, the excavation of sewer lines through lava rock was very expensive and time consuming. The Dietrich School was the first connection to the sewer system in 2002. The physical size of the city doubled after annexation of the Dietrich West Subdivision in 2004. A major renovation of the Dietrich School that enlarged classroom sizes and included a new gym was completed in 2005. Property owners of development land on the east side of Dietrich requested that their property be annexed into the city in 2005.

 Time Capsule Vision: Dietrich appears to be strategically placed for unprecedented growth. As wind energy development increases, Dietrich will likely see scores of wind turbines turning across the wind-blown highlands of the Dietrich Tract. As communication technologies continue to improve so that many people can work from home and other remote locations, living in remote Dietrich will become more attractive to a broad range of families. We expect Dietrich's population will grow significantly by 2050, as will the businesses that support a growing population. For example, we expect to be able to buy gasoline at a service station in Dietrich.


Mayors of Dietrich:

Walter Fechner            1946 - 1953

Ben Lauer                     1953 - 1965

Dick N. Roice                1965 - 1969

Marvin Dean Durfee  1969 - 1972

Homer Anderson        1972 - 1973

Clifford L. Davis           1973 - 1981

Scott L. Bolton             1982 - 1985

Willard Stevenson       1986 - 1986 

Pete L. Gage                 1986 - 1988

Jeanetta R. Knowles    1988 - 2008

      Don Heiken      2008 - Present


Bibliography:

Dietrich City Council Minute Books. 1946 – 2019. City of Dietrich.

Gard, J.L., Southwick, J.W., Towne, D., Towne, R., Chambers, H.L., and Hinther, B. 1998. A History of Dietrich, Idaho. Dietrich School District, Dietrich, Idaho. 259 pages.

Olson, C. 2001. A Can-do Tradition in Public Works. The Western Planner. 22(1)7-8.

Dietrich Incorporation - 1946 (pdf)

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