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Hidden History: The Town of Rock Creek

Hidden History: The Town of Rock Creek

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The town of Rock Creek sat just north of the South Hills on what is now 3800 East, 7 miles south of Hansen. The Rock Creek Station and Stricker Ranch complex sits northeast of the old town.

Yes, there was life here before I.B. Perrine and his irrigation system.

A town was born where Rock Creek leaves the South Hills near Kelton Road at the Old Oregon Trail.

But this may not be the Rock Creek you think.

In 1863, the Rock Creek Stage Station was established by the Ben Holladay Stage and Freight Line. The Rock Creek Store was built next to the station in 1865 by James Bascom. For a short time, the store was the only trading post on the Oregon Trail between Fort Hall and Fort Boise.

German immigrant Herman Stricker bought the store from Bascom in 1876 and homesteaded the surrounding acreage on Rock Creek. The Stricker family operated the store until 1897.

A small piece of the property, now owned by the Idaho Historical Society, is known as Rock Creek Station and Stricker Homesite — or “Stricker Ranch” for short.

About 2 miles upstream from Stricker Ranch sits what little is left of the all-but-forgotten town of Rock Creek.

According to most accounts, Rock Creek began shortly after the stage and freight line came through the area. The town had a post office by 1871 and a school by 1878. By 1900, 146 people lived in the greater Rock Creek area, including those at Stricker Ranch.

The area was populated mostly by cattle ranchers and farmers.

One notable resident was John F. Hansen, originally from Denmark. Hansen moved to Idaho in 1876 after reading a published letter by local pioneer James Iverson.

“In this land of eternal sunshine lies opportunity for all in a health giving climate unequaled any where,” Iverson said of Rock Creek.

Hansen first settled in the Oakley area, where he taught school. He later farmed near Cottonwood Creek.

Eventually, Hansen moved to Rock Creek, where he opened a store.

The town also boasted a pool hall, hotel and a candy store.

Just after the turn of the century, I.B. Perrine founded the city of Twin Falls and the Twin Falls Irrigation Tract. Soon, the railroad entered the area along the south side of the Snake River.

In 1905, a townsite was being surveyed along the railroad, 7 miles east of Twin Falls and 7 miles north of Rock Creek. Investors made Hansen an offer he couldn’t refuse: If he would move his store from Rock Creek to the new town, they would name the town after him.

Hansen moved his store, and the investors made good on their promise.

Mychel Matthews reports on agriculture and rural issues for the Times-News. The Hidden History feature runs every Thursday in the Times-News and on Magicvalley.com. If you have a question about something that may have historical significance, email Matthews at mmatthews@magicvalley.com.

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