BOISE — At first glance, New Plymouth, Idaho, looks like any small town. But from the air, New Plymouth reveals its unique place in history. As far as anyone knows, it’s the world’s only horseshoe-shaped town.
The New Plymouth Colony was founded in the 1890s by members of the National Irrigation Congress in Chicago, who were looking for somewhere to test the premise that small, productive irrigated farms could be arranged to let farmers work their land while living close to church, school and neighbors.
The shape was part of that plan. The horseshoe included boulevards on either side of a U-shaped park one mile long, which separates inner and outer rows of houses. Each “colonist” got one of these “home acres.” Farmland radiated out from the horseshoe, with churches, businesses and a village hall inside the ring.
“This is a surprising story, because no one expects a town with utopian roots or in the shape of a horseshoe,” says producer Bill Manny. “Every small town has a story to tell, but few have origin stories as compelling as New Plymouth’s.”
“Idaho Utopia: The New Plymouth Colony” on Idaho Experience airs Thursday, Sept. 23, at 8:30 p.m. and again on Sunday, Sept. 26, at 7:30 p.m. IdahoPTV Passport members can stream it early.
IdahoPTV broadcasts across five digital channels through five full-power transmitters (KAID, Boise; KCDT, Coeur d’Alene; KIPT, Twin Falls; KISU, Pocatello; and KUID, Moscow) and offers streaming content and educational resources through its website: idahoptv.org.