The Village of Shoshone was laid out in October 1882 in anticipation of railroad construction, where the Union Pacific Oregon Shortline construction camp set up near the town in February 1883. Shoshone is known as the oldest town in the Magic Valley area and said to have the "widest main street in the world" due to the four sets of tracks running through the center of the business district.
Shoshone is the county seat for Lincoln County, a rural farming area of just over 3,000 people. The town is small, friendly, rustic and full of historic treasurers, folklore and unique architecture. The town's residents are culturally and ethnically diverse and include representatives of the Basque, Portugese, Hispanic and Oriental cultures as well as European and Scandinavian backgrounds.
Agriculture is the main economic base, and the area has suffered in recent farm economy setbacks. The area is largely marginal farm ground, surrounded by ancient lava flows, and is irrigated through an ingenious system of man-made irrigation canals. Magic Reservoir north of the city, was constructed between 1909-1911 and has been touted as one of the "dam-building marvels of the world". The area is also a major livestock producing area with several small dairies and a cheese processing plant located at Richfield, 16 miles northeast of Shoshone. The National Woolgrowers Association was started at Shoshone by Idaho sheepman, Governor and U.S. Senator Frank R. Gooding. Gooding has the distinction of being the only sheepman ever to be elected to the Cowboy Hall of Fame for his contributions to the livestock industry.
The town features several unique lava rock structures, homes, businesses, churches and even circular water cisterns made for square lava blocks. The county courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was built in 1907. It has been the site of several landmark cases concerning consumptive water use for irrigation, and non-consumptive water use for hydro-electric power generation. A visitor can see the large mansions of the sheep barons and railroad officials as well as the modest homes of Basque sheepherders, railworkers, farmers and small businessmen.
A major employer is the Bureau of Land Management which maintains a central district and fire control office in Shoshone. The BLM administers the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Great Rift Lava flows east of Shoshone. Also, administered from Shoshone is the Bennett Hills Resource area where a visitor can see the eerie formations in the Gooding City of Rocks and walk the Quamash Trail, a traditional Indian migration route.
Shoshone's well-known city park, Mary L. Gooding Memorial Park, located on the banks of the Little Wood River near the site of Oregon trail campsites, is home to the famous Mannie Shaw's Old-Time Fiddlers' Jamboree the second Sunday of each July. The park is also something of an oasis for travelers visiting the desert areas of the vicinity