Idaho February 14, 2017
Blink And You’ll Miss These 10 Teeny Tiny Towns In Idaho
We write often about how there’s so much more to Idaho than just our beautiful capital city and potato-centric reputation. Frequently pointing you in the direction of some of our best and most remote locations, there are so many opportunities to experience Idaho offline and off the beaten path! Truth be told, Idaho’s most charming towns are cozy and far in between… but most of the time, they’re so small you won’t even know you’re in them! For this list, we narrowed things down to places that have populations of under 300 residents, with the majority of the towns making our list having 100 residents or less. Offering rural beauty and plenty of peace and quiet, these 10 towns in the Gem State are so tiny you might just miss them if you blink!
If you've ever driven down Highway 55 towards McCall, you've passed Banks - but odds are, you probably didn't even notice. This itty bitty unincorporated town has a supposed population of 17 or so, but at any given time most of those folks are probably at the delightful riverfront Banks Cafe grabbing a bite to eat before heading off on an adventure.
Colburn is located about nine miles north of Sandpoint and was named after Jean Baptiste d'Armour de Courberon (known as Big John Colburn) - a French Canadian who was employed by the Great Northern Railroad. The area's growth was mainly due to the railroad and the lumber industry. But as was often the case back in the day, one disaster after another struck the little town until today there is not much left that indicates where it once stood... save for a namesake lake nearby.
Just follow the one, lonely sign down from the north end of the Camas Prairie to find historic Greer. An old railroad town and the gateway to the Gold Rush Scenic Byway, Greer was once a bustling village through which all traffic to Pierce (Idaho's original first town) had to pass.
Sitting in one of the country’s largest counties, Idaho County - bigger than the entire state of New Jersey (yet boasting one of the smallest populations at just 15,000) - stretches from Oregon to Montana. More than four million trees growing from border to border, making this area a green and woodsy haven. Harpster - overlooked and unincorporated - sits nestled in the trees, protected from the cold winds of the surrounding prairie and mountains by high, encircling hills.
Originally named for Abraham Harpster, two other villages once were nearby: Bridgeport and Riverside, but both now are only a distant memory. The town started with the humble creation of a Chinese saloon and from there grew to be a way-station on the old mining road into the Elk City country. In 1930, Harpster had a population of 126. Today, it sits humbly in the mid-90s.
Hidden away near Idaho Falls, and running almost entirely alongside Old Highway 91, Hamer's itty bitty population has been hovering around 50 for quite some time. But despite its small size, Hamer's employment rate is well above the national average, and its agricultural landscape is full of quintessential Idaho charm.
The sleepy little bedroom community of Reubens, population 70, was formerly home to over 1,500 residents. Its claim to fame includes the only railroad "turn around" between Spalding and Grangeville and the only cyclone to hit the Camas Prairie in Idaho's recorded history.
7. North Fork
Its name derived from confluence of the south-flowing North Fork of the Salmon River with the north-flowing main Salmon River, there is little to distinguish this unincorporated town as being much of a town at all if not for the central North Fork Store. Here, thousands flock to the gateway community as they head out to explore the water, Trail Gulch, Lick Creek, and other favorite recreation spots, never realizing the historical significance of this unassuming spot. Here, a notable encounter between Lewis and Clark and a local Native American resulted in the creation of the Lost Trail mountain pass.
As the story goes, Chief Tendoy of the Lemhi Indians was a peaceful leader who encouraged patience with the incoming white settlers, but found himself at odds with the Bannock tribe who were of a different mindset. As a leader intent on peace, Tendoy entered multiple unfulfilled treaties with the government, all the way up until his death in 1907. This tiny town and its general store in the Lemhi Valley stand in memory of his efforts.
A hidden gem of a reservoir - the Oneida Narrows - is a treasured spot for relaxing, but few people realize that passing through the small community of Thatcher is a part of the journey down Hwy 34. Nearby Grace is a scenic favorite, but Lago, just one county over, is equally obscure.
Originally known as Hull’s Crossing, Whitney was settled by pioneer families from Franklin. Prior to the building of their homes in 1869, they planted the crops and started farming but it wasn't until 1888, after the railroad came through, that the town was given its present name. To this day, Whitney remains a farming community.
How many of these tiny towns have you visited before, and what other obscure favorites have you passed through on your travels? Share your photos and stories with us!
For more great towns that are full of charm, check out the one town that’s “
Idaho’s Best-Kept Secret” or this Beautiful, but Overlooked Town.