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This small city arose as the Root Hog Stage Station five miles south of its present location during the late 1870s. As more and more people began settling around the stage station, the name was changed to “Junction,” and the townspeople decided to apply for a post office. However, since Junction was such a popular community name during the era, the US Postal Department denied the request and instead suggested the name “Arco” in honor of a European Count visiting the nation’s capitol at the time. The settlers unanimously accepted the name, and Arco received its post office in 1880. When the Oregon Short Line Railroad arrived in 1901 and stage services became antiquated, the community moved to its present location.

Today, this community nestled at the base of the Lost River Mountains is recognized as the first city in the world to receive atomically powered electric services. Two million watts of electricity flowed through town for nearly two hours on July 17, 1955, when scientists at the National Reactor Testing Station (about 18 miles east of town) threw the switch to start the chain reaction. Parades, a rodeo, craft shows, dancing, and nuclear exhibits entertain the community every summer during “Atomic Days,” a celebration of the historical event.

Arco also boasts the Idaho state distance records for hang gliding. Directly north of town, King Mountain is a popular launching site for the sport and annually hosts the King Mountain Hang-Gliding Championships.

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