Idaho August 07, 2017
This Abandoned Town Is One Of The Most Peaceful Places In Idaho
Usually when visiting one of Idaho’s many ghost towns, there is the sense of something peculiar and…spooky. That’s why they’re called ghost towns, right? Although considered a “ghost town,” the city of Chesterfield is actually very peaceful. A visit to this place is different from other ghost towns. Seeing the restored buildings, the same ones built so long ago when it was first founded in 1881, brings you a sense of the deep history and love that went into the town during its heyday.
Taking a trip to Chesterfield is like taking a trip through the past. Unlike any other of Idaho’s abandoned town, it has a distinct charm of its own and you need to see it for yourself.
Nestled among the foothills of the Portneuf River Valley is a small doorway to the past. The silent city of Chesterfield is located along the Oregon Trail in between Lava Hot Springs and Soda Springs.
Few towns from this specific time period remain, making Chesterfield all the more unique. Unlike other ghost towns, Chesterfield doesn't feel like something straight out of the wild west. Instead, it is a small and quiet retreat.
The restoration of the town's buildings is really something to be marveled at. Over 20 of the original buildings have been restored and look close to exactly how they used to over a century ago.
The eeriest part about Chesterfield is that all these structures look so great because of the consistent upkeep tended to them, and yet the town remains empty. You wonder, where are all the people?
The town was founded by Mormon settlers in 1881. Unlike many other Mormon settlements, the settlers were not sent by Church authorities and made the decision to set up the town spontaneously.
Set upon an expanse of rolling hills, with the view of mountains in the distant, it's easy to see why the early settlers deemed this a good place to live. The landscape is simply awe inspiring!
Some of the most prominent historical buildings include the LDS meeting house and the tithing office. Some of the very early buildings are more of a dugout or cabin style and still exist among the later built brick buildings.
It's hard to believe more than 400 people lived here by 1900. By the 1940s, the town was effectively empty and forgotten about.
The town is typically open for tours from Memorial Day to Labor Day, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. You can even go inside many of the restored buildings to truly get the feel of a day in the life of an early Idaho settler.
The Chesterfield Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was formed in 1979 to work on the preservation of the town. In 1980, Chesterfield was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Volunteers work as guides during the summer. There is no charge for these tours, but donations are welcomed!
Looking at these historic structures, there is nothing "haunted" about them. What you do feel is the sense of community that still resides in the town today. The effort that goes into keeping this important piece of Idaho history alive is apparent.
It's not very clear why Chesterfield was abandoned in the first place. Other ghost towns were once thriving mining communities that simply dried up when there was nothing left to mine. Chesterfield wasn't a mining community, people just left.
The abandonment of the town is credited to a combination of harsh winters, agricultural difficulties, and the allure of living in a bigger city. It seems odd that anybody would want to leave a place like this, where the hills go on forever and the skies are always clear.
Although the incredibly tranquil scenery is what attracts most visitors, it's the interesting history of Idaho's early days that makes a visit to Chesterfield unforgettable. There simply isn't another place like this in Idaho. Chesterfield is a true hidden gem, and a place that should be on everyone's bucket list!
Have you been to Chesterfield? Share you experience with us below! Don’t forget to check out our article on this other
must-see ghost town in Idaho!