If you look at an aerial map of the Treasure Valley, you'll notice that Boise, Meridian, Nampa and Caldwell aren't really shaped like anything. Streets and housing developments just kept branching off from the original downtown blocks. 

But if you continue looking at that map and head northwest from Caldwell, you're going to see something appear on it that you won't find anywhere else in the country. It's America's one and only horseshoe-shaped city - New Plymouth, Idaho!

Image via Google Maps
Image via Google Maps

Atlas Obscura calls itself the definitive guide to the world's hidden wonders. When you search it for cool, hidden and unusual things to do in Idaho it brings up 43 options that include ghost towns, a huge natural waterslide, the Yellowstone "Zone of Death," oddly shaped hotels and...the tiny town of New Plymouth.

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According to their listing for New Plymouth, its unique shape was first conceived in 1896 thanks to a Chicago man named William E Smythe. He and a group known as the "New Plymouth Society of Chicago" had gotten tired of city life in Chicago and set out to create a new colony in Idaho, which was a little over five years old at the time.

The City of New Plymouth explains the location for the uniquely shaped colony was due to its proximity to the Payette River. Smythe was a huge advocate for irrigation and the Payette River provided a large water supply for the settlement. The colonists that moved there would have to purchase $600 in stock which would make them owners of land and a lot. According to Jessi Robert's book Backroads Boss Lady: Happiness Ain't a Side Hustle, the large field for each homestead was fed by canals.

The open end of the horseshoe was the industrial area of the colony. It faced the river and a railroad. Smaller, symmetrical curved roads were built inside the original horseshoe and became more residential housing. The main boulevard that runs through the center of town is where you'll find the majority of the businesses that call New Plymouth home.

We've lived in the Treasure Valley for 12 years, but didn't make it out to New Plymouth until 2017. We went there to run a 5K and discovered the shape was a horseshoe when we went back and looked at the map from our GPS watch! It was a super cool epiphany.

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