How Arco Received Its Name
 
 
    Arco had quite a checkered career in its younger days. The present site is the third location it has had since 1879.
The first Arco was established 5 miles south of the present town, near what is now known as the John T. Welch ranch. This location of the Blackfoot- Wood River stage and the Blackfoot-Salmon stage.  Isaac Smith operated the station which was quite a sizeable place at that time, consisting of a store, boarding house, express office, saloon and stage stable. As the community grew in importance a  postoffice  was petitioned for with the request that it be called Junction.

    The postoffice department did not look with favor upon adding another "Junction" to its multiplicity of Junction already on the records. A foreign nobleman known as Count Arco, was visiting in the United States at the time and when the postoffice department refused to name the community Junction, it suggested the name of Arco. This met with approval by those interested and from that time on, the  postoffice carried that name. Many believe that it was named in honor of Arco Smith, instead he was named in honor of the town. Another version is that Arco meaning bow or bend, was so named because of the bend in the river and the mountains near the present town forming a bow, but the postoffice department undoubtedly is responsible for its name.

    The size of the stages in those days, just as the size of railroads now days, gauged the importance of the towns. The first and original Arco was the junction for two six horse stages. Later when the railroad entered the Wood river country, the important of the stage diminished considerably and because of an existing  mail contract, the stage continued to operate to Wood River from Blackfoot for a year, but the last year it was known as a two-horse outfit.

    Another important stage point in those days was what was then known as Burnett's Cabin near the present Powell. After a spring was discovered at the Big Butte, the stage station was moved  to that point and operated by the Vance's.

    Arco was then moved from the Welch ranch to a point about four miles southeast of Arco. Arco Smith was the original locator and moved all of his property to the new location. In April, 1883, the late Geo. Ferris arrived and bought Mr. Smith's interests. This was the first station after reaching Big Lost River valley and was a very important center.

    With the coming of the railroad in 1901 old Arco was doomed. J. E. Smith and the late J. H. Greene formed a partnership in April 1901, and bought the Ferris store moving it to the present town five months later. The first building erected in the present town was the dwelling still occupied  by Mr. Smith. The warehouse at the rear of the  Arco Commercial Co's store, was the first business structure in Arco. It was moved here from Era and while the rock building was in course of construction was used as a store. G. W. Powell, who was one of the original residents of the first Arco, and the second, was among the early vanguard to new Arco. He built the store building owned by the late Paul Thomas. The local cheese factory occupied the present site of the Dee Hotel and was built for a saloon. The building across the street from the depot also was one of the e first structures in Arco.

    With the railroad came more people and it was but a short time before a school was needed. After the stone  structure was occupied, Mr. Smith gave the use of part of the warehouse for school purposes while a brick building was being constructed.
The bricks were hauled from Era, the mill there having been dismantled after the bottom fell out of the mining boom.

     With the railroad came the barb wire fences and more modern conveniences. The old west was shoved back a few more miles and the up-to date present community resulted.

 

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