Small Town Stories: Castleford, Idaho

Salmon Falls Creek Area

Castleford is a small town (.4 miles to be exact) with a big history. It is located along Salmon Falls Creek, a tributary of the Snake River which flows a total of 121 miles and was once a popular trading route between the Native Americans and settlers of the Snake River Plain and Great Basin.

Castleford was named after its odd-shaped “ford” that allowed mid-1800’s pioneers to cross the creek along the Kelton-Dalles stage route. The unusual ford was marked by a series of rhyolite obelisks.

In 1890, a man by the name of Cephas Lilly settled along this ford, and it became known as “Castleford.” Though considered a hardworking pioneer, new evidence paints a not-so-pretty picture of Cephas Lilly. After his death, the family sold his estate to pay off massive debts and Ferguson Fruit and Land Company bought up the fertile farmland and planted acres of apple orchards.

The purchase of the land by Ferguson Fruit and Land Company revitalized the area and brought forth a large number of new settlers which remained there until the Great Depression, when the business went bankrupt and most the settlers abandoned the town.

Due to its rich, and much-disputed history which includes such scandals as the use of forced Chinese labor to build the Lilly Grade, internment camps during WWII, and explosives testing during the Cold War, Castleford was awarded the Small Town Historical Society (STHS) “Historical Find of the Year” medal in 2006 after Eric Yapias discovered several manuscripts detailing Castleford’s colorful history.

Today, Castleford is the home to 229 people (ironically, split equally between men—115, and women—114). It is part of Twin Falls County, a geographically beautiful, but sparsely populated region of southern Idaho. The county’s largest city and county seat—Twin Falls—is named after the split waterfall along the Snake River on the county’s north border.

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