I am fascinated by blogs like Ghost Hunting Theories and Above the Norm who do Urban Exploration (or Urbex). When the opportunity presented itself, I wanted to try this on my own...
Traveling to Boise for work, I decided to take the backroad and bypass the interstate. I drove along route 20, which cuts a path through south-central Idaho, and takes you a lot of the older towns that have populations in the hundreds (or less). One town I passed was Arco.
Arco was founded in 1901, and currently has a population sitting around 900. In its prime, the city brimmed with over 1,500 people! Sadly, there are more abandoned buildings and run-down businesses in Arco than there are people.
One highlight of this town is the fact it was the first city ever powered by atomic energy, back in 1955. It is also close to the Idaho National Laboratory, a nuclear testing site home to the only fatal reactor-meltdown in the US (back in 1961). The INL is the main hub of employment in Southeast Idaho, and many Arco residents work at the site.
One interesting sight in Arco is number hill. The local high school has a tradition of painting the graduating class' number on the hill, a tradition carried on since 1920. As far as senior pranks go, this is pretty tame, but a 91 year old tradition is still pretty cool.
Sadly when driving through Arco, you're in and out of the town faster than you can sing Mambo #5. With all the run-down businesses and houses nearby, I was hoping on doing some true Urbex, but all of the properties were fenced off and monitored.
Even something as simple as taking a picture of this abandoned house drew a patrol car, asking if I was planning to tresspass. I told the officer "no, just taking pictures from the public road" and he left with a sneer.
Maybe I'll try the urbex thing again later, when I can find a place that isn't so heavily policed. For a town of less than 1,000, there sure were a lot of law enforcement around....
10 miles east is a smaller town called Atomic City. Maybe I'll go there next?