Dietrich, Idaho came into existence as a Carey Act town in 1909. It was
developed by the Idaho Irrigation Company to be a recipient of water from Magic
Reservoir that the company was constructing. Dietrich was located along the
Oregon Short Line Railroad, to give it railroad access. The company built a
large hotel and an experiment farm, both designed to entice immigrants to buy
Dietrich area land from the company.
After a spurt of enthusiasm, the little town almost literally dried up and blew
away in the frequent desert winds. There was too little water from the canals
and the sandy soil was hard to irrigate. Not until sprinkler irrigation
technology came to Dietrich, did the town begin to feel some farming success.
Today the population of Dietrich is only about 200 people, unless school is in
session and then the town about doubles in size each day. School children from
distant farms are bussed into town for a very personalized education.
Graduating classes of about ten students are normal. The school is the focus of
most community activity, with traditional athletic rivalries between Dietrich
and neighboring Shoshone and Richfield schools becoming intense at times.
Dietrich put in a community drinking water system in 1992 and is finishing a
sewer project in 2004. The town is built on the side of a volcanic crater, so
excavation for water and sewer lines has been very difficult. Dietrich’s sewer
project was done as a “Small Town Environment Project” (STEP). The town
functioned as its own contractor and used a lot of volunteer labor and
equipment to do much of the work.