Eastern Idaho’s central City of Idaho Falls owes its existence to the Snake River and the railroad. The city sits astride the river, lifeblood of the state’s agricultural industry and the patronage of surrounding farming communities contributes to its continuing growth. There is however, another factor that plays into the growth of Idaho Falls, the Idaho National Laboratory, 40 miles west of the city in the desert. In fact, it’s often said they grew up together. Called “the site” by locals, the facility was founded in 1949, as the National Reactor Testing Station. It was established there to provide an isolated location where various kinds of nuclear reactors could be tested—52 in all built there over the years. On July 17, 1955, at 11 p.m., an electrical engineer at the Testing Station flipped a switch and the nearby town of Arco became the first city powered by nuclear energy. Every decade or so, the facility undergoes a name change, the most recent in February, 2005, when it was shorted to Idaho National Laboratory. Management for the site is centered in Idaho Falls. The Snake River runs through the city and visitors can watch the namesake falls tumbling while walking on the three mile greenbelt along the river. Near the river bank is the Idaho Falls Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. Idaho Falls is in the heart of some of the world’s premier recreation spots. Yellowstone National Park is less than two hours north and the quintessential western town of Jackson, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park are less than two hours northeasterly. World famous fly fishing is on the Henrys Fork of the Snake River near Island Park on Hwy 20 on the way to Yellowstone. Idaho Falls is home to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, the region’s foremost health care facility, known as well for its extensive health and medical libraries. The Museum of Idaho is Idaho’s premier national traveling exhibition museum. The city’s library has honored a native son, Wilson Rawls, author of Where the Red Fern Grows, by installing on its grounds a life size bronze sculpture of Billy and his two dogs by local artist Marilyn Hansen. Development of Idaho Falls coincided with the gold rush of the 1860s. In 1864, Harry Rickets established a ferry to cross the Snake River nine miles north of the present city. The next year a freighter, Matt Taylor, constructed a log toll bridge. The community was originally known as Taylor’s Crossing, then Eagle Rock until its name was changed to Idaho Falls, in 1891.