Franklin celebrates 160 years as Idaho’s first town

Shawnee Hawkes catalogs artifacts in the Frankjlin Relic Hall Tuesday.

FRANKLIN, ID – The Franklin Relic Hall Museum & Historical Site, located at 113 E. Main St, in Franklin, Idaho is open for the summer season. It will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. until Labor Day, when it will close for the season.

Franklin Relic Hall home to many artifacts dating back to the first city town in Idaho.

Visitors should observe COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines.

We look forward to people visiting the Franklin Relic Hall Museum & Historical Site this summer season,” said Susan Hawkes, the curator of the Franklin Relic Hall. “I was getting ready for a big celebration this year commemorating the 160th birthday of Idaho’s first town when the pandemic came and closed it all, including the Idaho Days celebration.”

Usually, last weekend (June 26 through 28) would have been Idaho Days, an annual celebration that brings the townspeople together to commemorate Franklin’s beginnings.

“I prepared displays representing all of the Idaho’s first for school kids to come and see,” she said. “Then COVID-19 hit and we had to close.”

With the recent coronavirus restrictions being lifted, the Relic Hall doors are open and ready for visitors.

“We still have to do all of the social distancing the governor expects,” Hawkes said. “We have some pretty cool artifacts on display for people to come and see.”

The first telegraph key in the state of Idaho is on display at the Relic Hall in Franklin, ID Tuesday.

“Franklin was settled in 1860, it was the first permanent settlement in the Idaho Territory,” she said. “It was home to the first school, the first store, the first irrigation system, and first lumber mill.”

Hawkes said the school is a big thing. Franklin had the first school in Idaho with a full-time teacher. She was paid 40-cents per pupil.

“We set out some artifacts from the first schoolhouse, namely the slate and marble used by the children at the school,” Hawkes said. “We have a new map out that shows where the original block was.”

Many more things came into Idaho Territory via Franklin. The town also built the first grist and woolen mills, and the first railroad tracks in the state were laid in Franklin.

Susan Hawlkes points out where families lived in an early map of Franklin Idaho the first community in Idaho.

“Hezekiah Hatch, son of Lorenzo Hatch, operated the first Telegraph station in Idaho in the ZCMI Co-op,” Hawkes said. “And the telegraph key and the box that housed it are on display in the Relic Hall.”

“The Idaho territory wasn’t created until 1863,” she said. “A lot of things were implemented while the town was part of the Deseret Territory.”

One interesting fact, she said, was the Idaho Territory was one of the last things President Abraham Lincoln did before he was assassinated.

The fireplace taken form the first school house in Idaho before it was demolished sits in the corner of the Franklin Relic Hall Tuesday.

The first fall, the early pioneers used wagon boxes as homes. By the end of the next year, they were in their own cabins. Many of the early pioneer settler’s portraits hang on the walls of the log relic building.

Housed inside the building is a Brigham Young steam engine used to run the sawmill.

“There is a lot to see and we look forward to having people visit the Franklin Relic Hall Museum & Historical Site for this summer season,” Hawkes said.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.