Chesterfield—Spotlight

Not Your Normal Ghost Town

Story and Photos by Bonnie Dodge

I love exploring ghost towns and digging up Idaho history.

I’ve spent a good amount of time wandering around Atlanta, Rocky Bar, and Silver City to name a few, and when I heard about a ghost town in eastern Idaho called Chesterfield, it went right on my “to see” list. What I saw was definitely not your normal ghost town.

Chesterfield is on the Oregon Trail between Soda Springs and the Old Fort Hall, about eleven miles north of Bancroft. The area around it, which includes the Portneuf and Bear Rivers, was noted by fur trappers as early as 1813. Bannock and Shoshone tribes ranged there long before white people created a trade center where emigrants stopped for supplies. This is where some of the pioneers split off to take the Hudspeth Cutoff southwest to California instead of the Oregon Trail heading northwest to Fort Hall.

At this year’s Memorial Day celebration in Chesterfield, I stood with a group of people watching as the American flag was raised, and the woman beside me said, “Who are you related to?”

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