New Plymouth
Pop. 1,400

New Plymouth was established to promote irrigation projects and prove to the world that small farm communities were capable of thriving in arid regions. This plan for a model village originated in Chicago in 1894 with the National Irrigation Congress. Folks from Boston and the lush midwest region lined up 250 families who made their way to Idaho in 1895 to begin this planned community. The town was platted in a horseshoe shape, and prior to migrating to the destination of their new lives, settlers were told they would be provided with one acre of farmland on the horseshoe’s “sole.” Farmers were also restricted to living no more than two miles away from their crops, and the sale of alcohol was banned for over forty years to keep the farmers sober and well-mannered at all times. After all, New Plymouth was a model village, and it needed to possess model citizens.

Although the plan sounded ideal at its start, the National Irrigation Congress’ plan was exactly that - just an ideal. Mud plagued the town’s first residents every time it rained, and irrigation canal pipes frequently broke with a mess of floods to follow. Despite such hardships, the settlers persevered, and 1,000 acres had been successfully cleared and planted by 1896. Eventually, the National Irrigation Congress’ plan was abandoned, and local farmers bought the rights to the local irrigation company. Now in control of their own fate, the farmers developed better canals and established prosperous gardens and orchards. Up until the Great Depression, New Plymouth provided over 40% of Idaho’s available fruit. Today, fruit is still a main crop, but agriculture in the valley has diversified signficantly.

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