Bellevue is a western mountain town located on a mile-wide bench at the southern entrance
to theWood River Valley in Blaine County, Idaho. It was settled by individuals following the
lure of silver and others who engaged in occupations that grew around mining, including the care and feeding of the population of a newtown.
Before it was part of the paved state highway system, the geographical route of the current
State Highway 75 was well traveled by prospectors, settlers, and others who arrived by
wagon, horseback, and stagecoach even before the 1870s. The well-worn road was the primary corridor through the Wood River Valley, and – as most travelers came from the south,
east, and west – Bellevue was the first stop.
Over the preceding years, indigenous peoples such as the Bannock and Shoshone made
seasonal visits to theWood River Valley, following the river and hunting game. Fur trader and
explorer Alexander Ross passed through this area around 1824. A first group of 27 settlers
and miners spent the hard winter of 1879 here, planning to find and work claims of highgrade
silver when the snow was gone.
Approximately a mile west of present day Bellevue, the town of Broadford, once Jacob's City,
sat at the mouth of the canyon containing the famed Minnie Moore and Queen of the Hills
mines. And although both towns boomed from 1879 with activity related to mining, Bellevue
survived and little remains of Broadford. Between 1881 and the 1893 crash of the silver
market, nearby mines produced more than $60 million worth of silver and lead.
The townsite of Bellevue was platted in 1880. Owen Riley built the first permanent structure
in town, a log cabin that became a general store and pharmacy. On June 23, 1880, a U.S. Post
Office was also opened in the same building, with Mr. Riley as the first postmaster. In the
second year of the Idaho territorial legislature of 1882-83, Bellevue was granted a charter as
a city “of the first order.” That same year, the Oregon Short Line Railroad came through
Bellevue to haul out ore, bring in supplies, move passengers, and overall stimulated the
town's growth. Mining and agricultural interests invested in the town, and merchants and
families arrived following a trail of economic possibilities.
In 1893, with the demonetization of silver and subsequent decline in mining activity, many
Bellevue residents left. But just as many had family, occupations, and homes that anchored
them here, and they stayed. Some hard times followed – mines reopened and closed, the
First World War, the Great Depression, World War II. Agriculture was the component that
seemed to hold the town together. When the Sun Valley Resort opened in 1936, a whole new
economic prospect emerged based on construction and recreational tourism.
Built on vision, hard work, resourcefulness, and family, Bellevue is a sometimes independent
and always integral member of the Wood River Valley community.