We just spent the past 2 days in Soda Springs, Idaho visiting my aunt and uncle. My aunt has lived there since the mid 1980’s after moving from California upon retiring. She moved there with my Uncle Pat, who died a few years later. Then she married Uncle Lyle who had lived in Soda for many years.
Soda Springs is in Caribou County, which is in the south east part of the state. The elevation is approximately 5,300 feet. State Hwy. 30 runs right through the middle of this small town of 3,500 people. It is a very busy highway for such a small town. Uncle Lyle says the city estimates that 1,500 to 2,000 18-wheelers roll through there everyday.
This is Hwy. 30 which runs through the middle of the town. No McDonald’s in this small town, but you can find an Arctic Circle, Taco Time, and A & W. That, plus a few full-service restaurants which serve meals all day, seems to be enough to keep the population here happy.
There is an “old downtown” type street with the library, youth center, and the Enders Building right off of the main highway. We ate breakfast at the Enders Café, in the Enders Building, and the food was great. A beauty salon and movie theater were on this downtown street as well.
There are train tracks running parallel to Hwy. 30 and you can hear trains several times a day. My aunt’s house is only a couple of blocks from the tracks, but you really don’t even hear them except off in the distance.
Soda Springs was a favorite stopping off place for settlers and pioneers on the Oregon Trail. They would stop to enjoy the 100’s of natural springs in the area. The springs bubble up with natural carbonated water…hence the name “Soda” Springs. The town was incorporated in 1896. There was early gold mining at nearby Caribou Mountain back in the old days. Sheep, cattle and farming industries helped establish the town. Today farming and cattle ranching are still going strong, however, the predominate industry in Soda Springs is phosphate mining. A couple of miles from Aunt Anne’s house is the Monsanto phosphate plant. If you drive down to the plant area, you can see them dump the “slag” 2 or 3 times an hour. Slag is a by-product of smelting metal. I took a photo of the slag dumping (not a very clear pic).
This is still such a small town, that it still has none of the big-box stores. You will find motels that are straight out of the 1940’s or 1950’s….no fancy Holiday Inns here. True Value and Ace Hardware are here….but no Home Depot.
There are a couple of grain silos in town. Here is one of them.
The really big claim to fame for tiny Soda Springs is the town geyser. You can find it at Geyser Park behind the Enders Building downtown.
We first visited my aunt and uncle in 1987. Aunt Anne brought me and our kids over to see the geyser. It wasn’t time for it to erupt so she said, “I’ll just go to the Police Station across the street and tell them to turn it on.” Huh? Turn on a geyser? So she did and we saw it erupt high into the air. Now the town has it controlled on a timer and it goes off every hour on the hour. (no kidding)
It is the only captive geyser in the world. It was discovered in 1937 when somebody was drilling for a hot water source. The pressure is caused by carbon dioxide gas mixing with water in an underground chamber. The water stays at a warm 72 degrees.
This is how the geyser looks all the time when it isn’t erupting. Bruce and I climbed up to check it out and take this photo. It just bubbles away.
We walked up to the observation platform to see it blow at 11:00 am. There were a few tourists on the platform waiting when we arrived.
The weather while we were visiting was a pleasant temperature between 80F and 84F. We were here in August of 2007, and it was well into the very high 90’s. The winter here in Soda gets bitter cold and they do have a great deal of snow to deal with. Uncle Lyle uses a snow blower and they put a metal roof on their home to keep the snow from accumulating.
They are not far from the Idaho-Wyoming border and the road that leads to Jackson, Wyoming. We took a drive on Wednesday to the town of Afton, Wyoming and it was beautiful.
I’m glad we took the time to make that long drive to visit this favorite aunt of mine. Friday morning when we had loaded up the car to make our return trip to Tumwater, I hugged and kissed Uncle Lyle good-bye. Aunt Anne was still sleeping as it was 6:15. As I hugged Uncle Lyle I told him we had really enjoyed our visit. He said that he was sure glad we came over. I assured him we’d be coming back again and he says quietly, “Better not wait too long.”
Until next time…..so long for now!