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Idaho State University
As Pocatello began to change from the railroad town of the early 1890s to an industrial city, a need was felt in the community for an institution of higher learning. The State University in Moscow was a long way from southeastern Idaho and seemed to have little interest in extending service to such a remote area. There were few public high schools as well. Most students received no education beyond grade school.

Southern Branch of the University of Idaho, 1926. Many of these buildings are now gone. View looks north from Red Hill. On the right is Colonial Hall, under construction. The gabled building is Swanson Hall, before its third floor was added. West of it is the newly completed Frazier Hall, with a flat dark roof and concert hall with rounded east end. Science Hall was not yet built, nor was the L.D.S. Institute, nor the Dispensary. South of Frazier is Turner Hall, a women's dormitory, and east of it is the original Reed Gymnasium. In the distance to the right is the town of Fairview (alameda). The dark line at an angle across the right distance is the connector to the Union Pacific Montana Main Line. The dark area past the smoke in right distance is the tie treating plant, which bordered Old Highway 30 near the old Kraft Cheese Plant. Note the newly planted trees in a new subdivision on the northwest end of town. In downtown the Brentwood (Wooley) Apartments and the Bannock Hotel are prominent, as is the Petersen Furniture building on North Main, which still stands. The Center Street Viaduct crosses the railroad in the center of the view. Photograph by Cook Photography, Bannock County Historical Society Collection.

Public spirited citizens in Pocatello campaigned for an institution which could fill the needs of the community and after the establishment of Bannock County in 1893, with Pocatello as the county seat, the campaign intensified. Senator Theodore F. Turner from Pocatello drafted a bill entitled "An Act to establish and maintain a school to be called the Academy of Idaho at Pocatello." The Act provided for a board of trustees, for the sale of  bonds for erecting and equipping buildings and made an initial appropriation. The bill was passed unanimously by the Idaho Legislature on February 25,1901. One of the most notable trustees was Theo Swanson, for whom Swanson Hall was named.

The Act established the purpose as being the teaching of all the subjects commonly taught in high schools, "including also the various studies pertaining to a good common school education" and it contained a unique provision that its enactment was contingent upon the citizens of Pocatello donating to the board of trustees prior to May 1, 1901, two blocks of land adjacent to each other within the Pocatello townsite. There was considerable maneuvering and posturing over this provision but ultimately four blocks on the far southeast side of town were donated at the very last minute and the academy was assured. At first the academy served as a high school for students from southeast Idaho, and generally not from Pocatello, since it had its own high school.

A building program was commenced and by the opening bell on September 22, 1902, the Main Building, later called Swanson Hall, was completed. It was modern in every respect. A boy's dormitory, named Faris Hall, was completed in 1903. Room and board cost $16.00 a month. There was no tuition although out-of-state students were charged $5.00 a term.

There were forty students and four teachers at the opening bell but a total of seventy students were enrolled during the term. By the third year of operation, student enrollment was 122 and the faculty had increased to six. By 1906, a girl's dormitory was finished and student enrollment was up to 186, with construction of a mechanical arts building nearly completed. A library was planned and an infirmary constructed by 1907.

Originally, admission was restricted to students who had completed the eighth grade and could pass examinations in arithmetic, grammar, geography, history, reading, spelling and penmanship, or could show latent ability to do the work. In 1905 the Academy inaugurated a preparatory program to encourage the enrollment of students who had not had an eight grade education but were deserving of the opportunity to progress. In 1907, when President John W. Faris was succeeded by President Miles F. Reed, emphasis was placed on technical and teacher training, and preparatory classes.

In 1915, the academy was renamed the Idaho Technical Institute and given a two-fold purpose, as a vocational trade school and a junior college, with emphasis on occupational courses necessary in the industrial town of Pocatello. During the "Tech" period, Reed Gymnasium, Residence and Colonial Halls, Frazier Hall and a larger engineering building were added to the campus.  A pharmacy school also was added. As the institution continued to move from technical and vocational emphasis to traditional academic courses, it was associated with the State University and the name was changed to the Southern Branch of the University of Idaho, commonly referred to as "The Branch," or often as "The Twig." Pharmacy became a four-year, degree granting curriculum.

Agitation began to establish the school as a four-year degree-granting college, and for years attempts to pass such a bill in the legislature were defeated, the University at Moscow arguing that its role in providing higher education for the state would be damaged even though it was not providing such education for southern Idaho. A survey of education in Idaho in 1946, performed by the Peabody Educational Survey Commission, stated that the education needs in southern Idaho were not adequately served. The commission recommended establishment of the Pocatello school as a degree-granting institution and such a bill passed the legislature unanimously in 1947. It was named Idaho State College.

In the early 1960s, pressure mounted to establish the school as a university and in 1963, the legislature created Idaho State University. Enrollment that year was about 6,000. In the 1995-96 school year enrollment was over 12,400. Both academic and vocational degrees are offered, with over 100 programs of study leading to bachelor's degrees, 46 masters degree programs, and 11 doctoral degrees, as well as 22 certificate programs in vocational education. The 800-acre campus includes more than 50 buildings and the first enclosed stadium in Idaho, formerly the Minidome and now the Dubby Holt Arena.

Most of the early buildings at Idaho State University have been torn down over the years, in notable contrast to many European and eastern U.S. Universities. Some of the early buildings had problems with unstable foundations, especially exacerbated by shaking due to earthquakes. Others were simply too small for modern uses. Baldwin Hall, the former science building, was the latest casualty, torn down in 1992 because of foundation damage.

The soils on the east side of town contain collapsible loess and clays deposited in marshes and lakes at the head of the ancestral American Falls Lake. Soils on the west side of town are on sands and Boulder gravel of the Lake Bonneville Flood and have proven more competent to supporting late 19th century buildings.