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News & Press: Community Spotlights

AIC Shines Its Community Spotlight on Butte City

Tuesday, April 16, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Payton Grover
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Butte City

Butte City Road

Butte City lies at the base of the sagebrush-covered Arco Hills. These hills are at the southern end of the Salmon-Challis National Forest. The city of Arco is two miles northwest.

The Big Lost River flows about a mile to the southwest before it later disappears into the porous basalt to become part of the 20,000 square mile aquifer that slowly flows through porous basalt up to 10,000 feet deep under the Snake River Plain.

High mountains and buttes that lie north of the city rise to over 7,500 feet. Idaho’s tallest mountain, the 12,662-foothigh Borah Peak, lies 47 miles northwest.

To the immediate south and west of the city are irrigated crops and rangeland. Outside the farmland lie vast tracks of public lands covered with high-desert brush, trees, grasses and ancient lava flows.

 

Historical Tidbits

In 1823 Antoine Godin’s French fur traders tried to follow the Big Lost River from the mountains across the desert to the Snake River. They called the river “Lost River” because when it reaches the porous lava formations of the Snake River Aquifer, it sinks into oblivion. Permanent settlement began in 1878. Ranchers and farmers moved into the area, filed homestead claims, diverted water from the streams for irrigation and began to produce food for the silver, copper and gold miners and prospectors working the area. About 1884 prospectors discovered silver about 20 miles west of Butte City. They named their find the Horn Silver Mine and named the boomtown that grew up around the mine Era. In 1901 the Oregon Short Line Railroad built a line from Blackfoot to Mackay. Nearby Arco became a train stop and the commercial hub of the area.

On June 9, 1953, Butte City became an incorporated village. In November 1967 it became an incorporated city as required by a new state law requiring all incorporated municipalities to adopt the city form of government. The discovery of silver at Era brought prospectors to the area.

Amenities and Attractions Today

Butte City residents generally use the amenities provided in Arco. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) manages a 570,000-acre reservation whose western border begins just a few miles southeast of the city. The 750,000-acre Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve begins 20 miles southwest. The Preserve includes Idaho’s Great Rift, the source of the lava flow that created this unique landscape. About 11 miles north is the 10,773-foot-high King Mountain, a popular location for hang gliding enthusiasts.

The Craters of the Moon Preserve and the area around King Mountain provide hiking and camping in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. Natural Rock Bridge, a unique natural feature, is 10 miles due north. Big Southern Butte, another unique natural feature, lies about 15 miles southeast. A variety of outdoor activities is available in the area around Butte City. Anglers enjoy the many high mountain lakes; and there is excellent hunting for deer, elk and antelope throughout the area. The area has several all-terrain vehicle trails. Throughout the area, rockhounds find excellent hunting grounds.


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