POCATELLO – The Pocatello Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints saw an estimated 14,000 visitors last Friday and Saturday and most of those visitors came from Utah with students out of class for fall break.
Larry Fisher, the communication specialist for the Pocatello Area of the church, said most of the people he talked to last Friday were from Utah. Some visitors stood in line for two hours after a short bus ride from one of four churches in the area.
“Fridays and Saturdays during the open house we are seeing 12-16,000 visitors a day,” he said. “From now until October 23, we expect more people trying to get a look before it closes Saturday.”
Fisher said they expected 200,000 visitors to attend the open house of one of their more sacred buildings. Temples are reserved for special forms of worship and weddings by the faith.
“I think the open house has been a boon to the hotels, gas stations and restaurants in Pocatello,” he said. “We had ticketed people go to four different meeting houses and then bus them to the temple to relieve parking in the neighborhoods near the temple.”
Generally, Latter-day Saint temples bring people from out of the area to participate in temple ordinances so the hospitality industry in Pocatello should see a slight increase in visitors.
“A week before the open house we extended a welcome to interfaith and community leaders not of our faith to go through and see the building,” he said. “Even Idaho Governor Brad Little came through the temple. I think, for the most part, it was a great experience for everyone.”
He said they had thousands of volunteers from their 20 Stakes in the temple district. All were eager to help
“We have been very pleased with the way things have gone,” he said. “We have emphasized the need for everyone to use masks and be COVID sensitive to people around them. We also sanitize areas as much as possible.”
When Church President Heber J. Grant wanted to put a temple in Idaho as early as 1930, Pocatello was considered as a prime location. The rolling hills around the booming railroad town would have been a visually picturesque setting.
During the depression era at that time the Gate City economy was in tough shape and the local government would not extend water and utilities to the west-bench location.
The Chamber of Commerce in Idaho Falls, located 50 miles north of Pocatello, wanted the temple in their community and did what they could to get it. They donated a prime parcel of land on the banks of the Snake River, bordering an LDS hospital. And that became the site of Idaho’s first temple.
In 1998, land on Pocatello’s east bench was secured by the church for the anticipated purpose of building a temple.
The Pocatello Idaho Temple will be the sixth temple built in Idaho, following the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple (1945), the Boise Idaho Temple (1984), the Rexburg Idaho Temple (2008), the Twin Falls Idaho Temple (2008), and the Meridian Idaho Temple (2017).