Arco Lodge #48

by Midnight Freemason Guest Contributor
MWB Russ W Smith

Editors Note:
Before I wrote my article:, I had reached out to the Grand Lodge of Idaho to get information on Arco Lodge #48.  I received an answer from Most Worshipful Brother, Russ W Smith, who is the current GrandMaster of the Grand Lodge of Idaho Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.  The information he sent me is below.  It tells the story of Arco Lodge and its important place in Masonic History. 

Arco Lodge #48, located in Arco, Idaho was chartered on August 21, 1906, and over the years became an active center for Masonic and community social activities. The current building at 260 West Grand Avenue was built in 1916. Arco Lodge had the Concordant and Appendant Masonic organizations of Order of Eastern Star, Shriners Lost River Drum  Corp club, International Order of Job’s Daughters for young women, and Order of  DeMolay for young men. 

Like many social organizations in smaller towns, as the population decreased, activity in these social organizations decreased and eventually closed over the years. Arco Lodge #48  merged with Mt. McCaleb Lodge #64 in Mackay, Idaho in November 2020. 

Arco #48 Side Door

Arco Lodge #48 Worshipful Master station 

Arco Lodge #48, Senior Warden station 

 Arco #48 Centennial Pin

100 Year Centennial Celebration, 2006  

Arco Lodge Celebrates 100 Years 

This last Saturday, Masons from all over Idaho came to Bottolfsen Park to help members of Arco Lodge #48 celebrate the 100th year anniversary of their charter that was issued on  August 21, 1906. Over 150 individuals from both the community and lodge members 

were on hand to celebrate the centennial year. There were 9  

members from the Grand Lodge of Idaho present to help with the  

celebration, including the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Brother  

James Herndon from Blackfoot who is a dual member of Grove City  

Lodge #33, Blackfoot, and Lemhi Lodge #11, Salmon, Idaho.]

The ceremonies started shortly after 12:00 P.M. with a short  

presentation from the 1st Masonic District Deputy, Russ Smith, on the  

benefits of Masonry, what it is, and how it helps men to become better  

individuals. This was followed by a pledge of allegiance to the United  

States flag and after a prayer to bless the food, everyone enjoyed a picnic meal of buffalo roast beef or buffalo sloppy joes with corn on the cob, salad, baked beans, and dessert provided by B&B Catering,  


During the meal a presentation on the history of Arco Lodge #48 was  

given by Worshipful Master Jim Waymire and talked about the  

formation of the lodge from the Wood River area, the building of the  

Masonic building, the fire that almost completely destroyed the building in 1928, and the re-building which is the current structure that stands today. The Grand Master, James Herndon, then addressed the audience and talked about how Masonry benefits not only the individual but also society and the community through the members that donate time individually and are involved in other organizations.

Arco Lodge was selling commemorative hats and raffle tickets on a tanned buffalo hide and after dessert, the drawing for the buffalo hide was held and Neil Depew from Pocatello was the winner. The rest of the buffalo meat was raffled off and many individuals were awarded a tasty treat of buffalo meat. The buffalo was raised on the Hill Creek Bison Ranch and had been harvested by the Grand Master back in February.

An afternoon of good fellowship was enjoyed by all and everyone returned to their respective places of abode. Special thanks go to the community members and lodge members that attended. We hope that you have a better understanding and appreciation of what Freemasonry is and is not. Thanks to the Arco Advertiser for printing the ads and articles. It helped everyone to understand more about the lodge. And, thanks to the members of Arco Lodge #48 and their families for getting everything ready. With a little bit of hard work and perseverance, we might be able to make it another 100 years. (article originally published in the Arco Advertiser)

Arco Advertiser, newspaper article, 9-26-2016 

Public Invited To Help Arco Lodge #48 Celebrate Building Centennial Re-dedication,  October 8. 

Arco Lodge #48 is a member of the Masonic fraternity, a worldwide organization that promotes charity  and philanthropic service. The Grand Lodge of Idaho, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons issued a  charter to Arco Lodge on August 21, 1906. The local lodge celebrated their centennial year in 2006.  Their building was constructed in 1916, so their lodge building is 100 years old and one of the oldest  buildings in Arco. The Grand Lodge of Idaho Officers have been invited to re-dedicate the building on  Saturday, October 8 and will come from all over the state of Idaho to help with the celebration and  building re-dedication. The public is invited to the building dedication ceremony at 1:00 PM on Saturday,  October 8. There will be refreshments served afterwards. 

Arco Advertiser, newspaper article 10-3-2016 

Grand Lodge of Idaho to re-dedicate 100 year old Arco Lodge #48 Building this  Saturday, October 8. 

The Grand Lodge Officers, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Idaho, led by Most Worshipful Grand  Master Jim Hensley from Twin Falls will re-dedicate the Arco Lodge #48 building located at 260 West  Grand Avenue, Arco, Idaho, this Saturday at 1:00 PM. It was built in 1916 for the lodge and has been used for Eastern Star Friendship Chapter #37, Job’s Daughters International Bethel #51, and Demolay  Lost River Chapter meetings. The public is invited to attend the ceremony which will be the same ceremony that was performed on this building 100 years ago and the same one used by President George  Washington to lay the cornerstone for the United States Capital in 1793. Masons from all across Idaho will participate in the celebration. Come down and enjoy the ceremonial ritual of re-dedicating the building for continuing fraternal benevolence. Refreshments will be served and everyone is invited to attend this historical event in celebrating the contributions the Masonic fraternity has made in our community in the past and plans to continue in the future. A fun and informational time is anticipated for everyone. 


Arco #48 Masonic Building

100 Year Centennial Building Re-dedication, Grand Lodge of Idaho, 2016 

Arco Lit By Atomic Power 

Arco Recreation Center/City Clerk Building

Arco Rec Center Neon Sign at Night 

EBR-1 Atomic Energy harnessed, December 20, 1951 


The world's first peacetime use of nuclear power occurred when the U.S. Government switched on Experimental Breeder Reactor #1 (EBR-1) near Arco, Idaho, on December 20,  1951, and powered 4 lightbulbs with power from the reactor. The town of Arco, Idaho became the first city in the world to be lit by atomic power from  a reactor built near EBR-1, the BORAX III, on July 17, 1955. This occurred for about an  hour and though It was only temporary, it paved the way for commercial use of nuclear  power. 

What is not widely known is that the power was cut over on the transmission lines at night on July 17, 1955. This was done on purpose so the majority of the residents in Arco  would not know that the power they were using was generated by Atomic Power. This  information was captured in Susan M. Stacy’s book, “Proving the Principle”.  

The below is the public release from the Atomic Energy Commission on Arco being supplied with Atomic Power. Notice there is no mention of the actual time. 

AEC Press release for BORAX-III lighting Arco, Idaho 



P. O. BOX 59 

Lemont, Illinois 


Telephone: Lemont 800 (Argonne) 

Ext. 558 - 559 

August 11, 1955


Friday, 9:00 a.m., D.D.T. 

August 12, 1955 



Electricity, produced from nuclear energy, has been used to light and power a  town in the United States. Arco, Idaho, became the first community in the Nation to receive its entire supply of power from a nuclear source when, on July 17,1955, electricity produced in an experimental nuclear power plant operated by Argonne National  Laboratory at the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission's National Reactor Testing  Station, twenty miles from Arco, was fed into transmission lines supplying the small town. 

When the reactor power was cut in, utility lines supplying conventional power to Arco from the Utah Power and Light Company were disconnected. The entire community of 1,200 inhabitants then depended solely on nuclear power for more than an hour. 

Although the transmission of electricity from the nuclear power plant to Arco was, by prior arrangement, discontinued after the demonstration had been completed, the generation of electricity at the testing station site was continued. 

A motion picture record of the demonstration was presented to the United  Nations today at the International Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic  Energy, in Geneva, Switzerland. The United States delegation plans to make the film available during the Conference and to representatives of 72 nations in attendance. 

The experimental nuclear power plant, known as "BORAX", short for "Boiling  Reactor Experiment", was the subject of a major technical paper presented to the Conference August 9 by Dr. Walter H. Zinn, Director of Argonne National  Laboratory. The plant, which generates more than 2,000 kilowatts of electricity, was designed and constructed by the Laboratory. Harold V.  Lichtenberger, who is a U. S. technical advisor at Geneva, is Director of the  Laboratory's activities at the testing station.

This temporary transformer was  used to connect BORAX-III with the  town of Arco, Idaho.

The reactor for the nuclear power plant has been under development by the Laboratory since 1953. An experimental facility for conducting studies of a reactor of this type was constructed at the testing station site in the summer of 1953 and tests on safety and steady-state operating characteristics were conducted. The tests were sufficiently encouraging so that additional studies were made in the summer of 1954. 

Experience gained during the operation of this reactor warranted the addition of a turbo-generator so that the steam being produced could be converted into a more usable form of energy. This generation plant was placed into operation on June 28, 1955, and the production of electricity is continuing on a routine basis. 

The reactor consists of a pressure vessel containing an assemblage of enriched uranium-bearing plates submerged in water, plus a number of neutron-absorbing control rods. The water circulates through the reactor core by natural convection. Steam, produced by the heat created by the fissioning of uranium atoms, is conducted to the 3,500-kilowatt turbo-generator, located in a nearby building. 

The simplicity of construction, ease of operation, low cost, and high degree of safety suggest the possibility that this type of small power plant may be suitable for use in remote areas or in conjunction with mining or manufacturing operations.

~MWB Russ W Smith

MWB Russ W Smith is the current Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Idaho, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.  You can learn more about the Grand Lodge of Idaho here:

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