| "Albion was the center of the universe. There was no Burley, no Rupert and no Twin Falls...just wasteland beyond Albion", one old timer recalled. |
Trappers first came into the Albion Valley in 1864. The Albion Valley was called the Marsh Creek Valley at that time, and the town site was referred to as Marsh Basin. Prospectors followed, combing the Albion Mountains for gold and silver.
Mr. R. N. Howell and his family came in 1868 locating their home 3 miles from the present town site. He had the first water right and both Howell Canyon and Howell Creek were named after him. During this time, cattlemen found their way into the valley. Col. Rice L. Wood, who was in charge of a cattle herd at that time, also built a house on Howell Creek southeast of the present townsite.
Freight wagons rolled through the pass from Conner Creek into the valley, an ideal entry for those travelling from Utah and California. Marsh Basin quickley became a major junction for freighters headed north to Boise.
The editor of the "Busy Bee", an 1895 Albion newspaper, said that at one time the freight road through Marsh Basin was a toll road, but a petition was circulated in 1876 to have the county commissioners lay out a new county road, which was done a short time later.
Andrew Burstrom's freight wagon got bogged down in the mud on the trail East of the town site and when he couldn't get it out immediately, he just opened it up as a general store and began selling whiskey, tobacco, flour, calico and other "essentials" to travellers as they came by. By 1876, he had a log cabin store built in town.
In 1875, the valley had fourteen families living there. The nearest post office was 60 miles south at Kelton, Utah, a Central Pacific Railroad depot. A school house of rough logs was built in the southeast part of the valley. The roof and floor were made of earth and the fireplace was made of lava rock. The first short term teacher was a Mr. Rose and he was paid with fuel and food, money being in short supply. Albion School District No. 3 was organized and Frank Riblett taught the first full term of three months in the winter of 1876. He was paid in cash. A new school was built in 1886. The building materials had to be shipped by freight from Truckee California to Kelton, Utah and then hauled by wagon to Marsh Creek Valley.
Marsh Basin was a part of the very large Owyhee County with the county seat 250 miles to the west at Silver City. A petition for county organization was circulated in the winter of 1876, but did not get to Boise in time for legislative action. Col. Wood was one of the representatives from Owyhee County in the territorial Legislature of Idaho. The legistature was convened every two years at that time. An annual legislative session was started in 1960.
Because Marsh Basin was located on the heavily travelled freight road to Boise, it soon became a winter resort for freighters travelling this route. The farmers and ranchers did a thriving business selling feed for livestock and other essential supplies. In July 1878, the main stage and mail route was changed from the route through the City of Rocks to the route through Marsh Basin and the town site was then designated as a main stage stop. James Bascom moved to Marsh Basin after selling the Rock Creek station to a Mr. Stricker.
Cassia County was created by a legislative enactment in the session of 1878-1879. Marsh Basin's S. P. Weatherman and George Chapman were representatives to the Legislature. A temporary county organizaton was created in April, 1879 while the location of the County Seat was being decided. Marsh Basin was voted as the county seat and the residents then decided to change the name to "Albion", a latin term meaning "Mountain Land High and White". The 1888 Presidential Election gave the name of Harrison to the "High White Mountain" and the loser's name was chosen for Lake Cleveland.
The original town site was purchased by the firm of Bascom and Robinson from a William Vaughn and the town was plotted for city lots.
Albion had 4 saloons, a brewery, a livery stable, three hotels, the usual stores and a skating rink by 1885. The Methodist Church was established in 1878 and a branch of the Oakley Ward for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was organized in 1883. O. R. Hale brought a hand printing press from Salt Lake City that was previously owned by the Desert News, and started the Cassia County Times. Three school districts for grade school evolved in the valley, churches were built and many businesses dotted the town site. Most County officials lived in Albion. Many moved there during their term of office. All elected sheriffs lived in Albion until 1920 when the county seat was moved to Burley.
When Idaho became a state, the Federal Government had seen for some time, the need for better trained teachers. Part of the Federal Land Grant money to newly formed states was to establish Normal Schools.
Much hard work and legislative lobbying was required to establish a Normal School at Albion. In March, 1893, a number of hard working citizens raised $3,000 from the local residents, drew up the plans for a rock structure and signed up many volunteer laborers. The first building for the Albion State Normal School was finished in September 1893.
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The Marsh Creek Valley and Marsh Basin were first settled in 1868.