Pocatello, named in honor of a Shoshoni tribal chief, began as a stage station between Salt Lake City and the gold mines in Montana. By 1878 tracks of the Utah & Northern Railway were laid through the valley. A narrow strip of shops and living quarters built alongside them became known as Pocatello Junction.
From its beginnings, Pocatello demonstrated its distinction as an economic hub after the Oregon Short Line Railroad moved its main operations there from Eagle Rock, now Idaho Falls. This further facilitated the growth of Pocatello which was incorporated as a city in 1893.
The establishment of the Academy of Idaho, now Idaho State University, signaled the growing importance of Pocatello as a center of learning. The town's influence as a cultural headquarters is evidenced by the top-level talent that was attracted to local theaters.
The continued growth of Pocatello, fueled by its significance as a rail junction, led to the city becoming the major metropolitan area in southeastern Idaho.
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