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Pioneer Historic Byway
"What makes the Pioneer Historic Byway unique are the natural features along the byway and the historical development and the establishment of towns like Franklin, Soda Springs and others. There are also wonderful places like Grays Lake Wildlife Refuge where there are huge flocks of sand hill cranes and a tremendous number of hawks, bald eagles and other wildlife that have been preserved. It's one of those unique spots in the western United States."
The 127-mile long Pioneer Historic byway begins in the town of Franklin on the Idaho-Utah border. Established in 1860, Franklin is Idaho's oldest town. It was built by Mormons who thought they were in Utah, but later it was determined they were actually in Idaho.
Just up the road in Preston is another historic place, the Oneida Stake Academy. This century-plus old building was one of a number of Mormon educational facilities built around the turn of the 20th century. Further north, in Grace, Idaho you can check out one of the state's earliest irrigation projects. At the Last Chance canal, Mormon settlers finally realized their dream of diverting the waters of the Bear River.
More history is found in Soda Springs. It was a major stopping place on the Oregon-California Trail. Nearby you'll find Hooper Springs and the Formation Springs Nature Conservancy area. The Pioneer Historic byway eventually intersects another segment of the Oregon Trail known as the Lander Cutoff as it winds north to Caribou Mountain and Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The birds, beauty and solitude of Grays Lake are a wonderful payoff for those who take the time to explore this eastern Idaho byway.