Preston is Franklin County’s largest city. Before the first house was built in Preston and when it was still a wilderness, LDS Church President Brigham Young and company were on their way to a conference in Bear Lake when he had his driver stop.
President Young got out of the wagon near the present business district of Preston, placed his cane to the ground and said, “There will be a great city built here.” (History of the Development of Southeastern Idaho, 1930). He was right! Preston began on that very spot.
Preston was originally called Worm Creek when it was settled in 1888 because the waterways in the area resembled worms as they curved and wound their way through the countryside.
Relic’s of Preston’s historic past can be seen in the Oneida Stake Academy building, built in 1890 and which once again made history in 2003 when it was moved, intact to its new home in Benson Park in the city center of Preston. Restoration of the grand old lady of Preston is under way. Other monuments to the past include the home of LDS Apostle Matthew Cowley, the Bear River Massacre site, and other stately and beautiful homes and buildings. Another of Preston’s most entertaining undertakings was the restoration of the Worm Creek Opera House Summer Theatre. In the summer, it offers melodramas, plays and movies. It’s winter repertoire includes community activities, theatre guild performances and of course movies.
Summer in Preston is marked by the more than half-century-old “That Famous Preston Night Rodeo,” when cowboys and girls from national and international fame come to compete and rise to the challenge only buckin’ broncs and bulls can offer. There’s nothing quite like sitting in the stands, tasting the dust and experiencing the courage of these participants and cheering them on to victory.
Winter adds to Preston’s reputation as the place to be in Idaho when the Idaho Festival of Lights illuminates the city with myriads of sparkling lights and warm holiday cheer. Both of these events bring thousands of visitors from all over the country.
Beautiful parks, an 18-hole championship golf course, close-by canyons, snowmobiling trails, breathtaking fall colors in close-by mountains, hiking trails, friendly people, easy access to fishing on several reservoirs and the Bear River, hunting, excellent restaurants, motels, RV Parks, convenience stores, gas stations, rock climbing, exploring or relaxing. Preston has it all – perhaps that’s why we call it the jewel in Idaho’s crown.