History of Wendell

The town site of Wendell was chosen for the vast expanse of grass where sagebrush had been burned off by wildfires several years earlier. When the town site was surveyed, W.S. Kuhn name it after his 15 year old son, Wendel Speer Kuhn. No one knows when the town was named “Wendell” but when the village was dedicated in Lincoln County in July 1908, it was spelt with two “L”s. The town was laid out in July 1907 with certain blocks set aside for schools are parks. Main Street was plotted east and west, but the town grew along Idaho Street, south toward the railroad tracks.

The Oregon Shortline Railroad maintained a real estate offering in Wendell and offered “Colonist Fares” on special immigrant cars. A family could book space in of these cars and together with any livestock they were bringing, their children, and any household effects ride to “Wendell ‘THE HUB’, the town of opportunity”.

By August 1909, the North Side News described Wendell as a ‘prosperous town of a year’s growth’ and pointed out that the new town is located with Gooding twelve miles north, Jerome twelve miles east, Hagerman Valley twelve miles west and “on the south ‘an Empire’.” By the paper’s calculation there were 75,000 acres of fertile farm land around the town. This centralized location prompted Major Fred R. Reed to nickname his adopted home ‘The Hub City’,

When Twin Falls approached its Golden Anniversary, civic leaders felt their town should ‘officially’ be designated the “Hub City”, stating that Twin Falls was the geographic and commercial center of the Magic Valley. While Wendell’s growth had lagged behind Twin Falls, the town fought to keep the historic designation that was a matter of civic pride. Former mayor R.D. Bradshaw took the problem to Idaho’s congressional delegation. It was discovered that the naming of Wendell as the Hub City had been read into the congressional record during Frank R. Gooding’s term as Senator and so, based on historic evidence, Wendell was official designated “The Hub City of Magic Valley”.

Land opening for the Wendell town lots began in August 1907 and land around the town was opened in October 1907. The town site was dedicated to Lincoln County in July 1908. Businesses opened shortly after and school began in the fall of that year in a wooden shack on the site of the current grade school. In April 1909, the Hub City Irrigationist began publishing the local news. In July 1909, wire was strung from the Shoshone Power Plant and Wendell was one of the first North Side towns to receive electricity. The Village of Wendell was incorporated in October 12, 1909 and became a city on February 14, 1947.