|Governor and U. S. Senator Gooding.|
Library of Congress.
The term “founded” somewhat overstates reality, because settlers had already occupied the area for over a quarter century. The 1907 date actually refers to when the Idaho Irrigation Company finalized details of its big land sale in the area (Idaho Statesman, Boise, November 1, 1907).
White stockmen first appeared in the area in the 1870s, running cattle and horses. Then, around the fall of 1882, a settler reportedly built the first house on what would become the town site.
Oregon Short Line tracks entered the area in the summer of 1883. Sixteen miles west of Shoshone and on the river, the spot was a natural to establish a watering station. (Steam locomotives of the time could only go 10-15 miles before they had to refill their tanks.)
The station agent soon built a home there. Within a couple years, the U. S. Postal Service authorized a post office for “Toponis Station” – “toponis” is reportedly a Shoshone Indian word for “black cherry.” In 1886, one John Pointer started the first mercantile store nearby. By the following year, the Toponis post office was well established and the station agent had been named its postmaster.
Frank Gooding [blog, Sept 16] took up sheep ranching in the area in 1888, prospered in that line, and expanded his holdings. He became a leader in the state’s sheep industry and parleyed that into a successful political career: state senator, governor, and finally the United States Senate.
Over the years, the store at Toponis Station moved to a structure closer to the railroad depot and changed owners several times. By around 1900-1905, the area had become identified with the Gooding brothers, and people generally referred to the settlement by that name. Finally, organizers filed a townsite plat with Lincoln County at the end of October.
On November 1, 1907, the Statesman carried the headline, “Excursions to Gooding, Ida,” with special fares. An article in the same issue stated that the acreage being offered was “practically the last opening of Carey Act lands in Idaho, and the only tract on a transcontinental line of railroad, it being on the Oregon Short Line.”
The town incorporated under the name of Gooding the following year.
|Gooding station photo, ca 1916. Personal Collection.|
The area then grew rapidly, aided by the construction of a branch rail line, the Idaho Southern Railroad. The Idaho Southern ran to Jerome from an OSL junction in Gooding. The company went into receivership in 1916 and the Gooding-Jerome tracks became part of the OSL.
In 1909, the University of Idaho established an agricultural extension station in Gooding and two years later the state relocated its School for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind from Boise to Gooding [blog, Dec 4]. By the time Hiram T. French described in it 1914, the village had four hotels as well as “six churches, a creamery, a grain elevator, two banks, two weekly newspapers, and a monthly paper devoted to the wool-growing industry.”
Also by then, the legislature had split Gooding County off from Lincoln County and made the town the county seat.
Livestock raising, dairy, and farming are still the mainstays of the Gooding economy. Although passenger trains no longer stop by, the city notes its location on the main rail line as a big plus for its 80-acre industrial park.
|References: [French], Hawley], [Illust-State]|
|Gooding, Idaho: Gateway to a Good Life, Rural Magic Valley Economic Development Association (2010).|
|“Idaho Territory: Alturas County,” United States Official Postal Guide, Callaghan & Company, Publishers, Chicago, by authority of the Post Office Department (January 1886).|