Horseshoe-Shaped Town – New Plymouth, Idaho - Atlas Obscura

Horseshoe-Shaped Town

New Plymouth, Idaho

New Plymouth, Idaho is the only U-shaped town in the United States. 


In Payette County, Idaho, you’ll find a horseshoe populated by around 1,500 people.

The U-shaped town of New Plymouth covers just under 0.7 square miles and was first laid down in 1896, its name a nod to Plymouth, Massachusetts. The town is laid out in a symmetrical, double horseshoe shape, bordered by an 80-foot park, railroad, and river.

New Plymouth was originally a colony town. Located along the Snake River basin, seven miles west of Idaho’s Oregon border, the town was a project of Chicago irrigation promoter William E. Smythe, founder of “The New Plymouth Society of Chicago.” He urged men to go west and develop land with the help of irrigation and intended for the oddly shaped New Plymouth to support his arguments for irrigation.

The location of New Plymouth was chosen due to the abundant water supply via the Payette River. Today, a system of ditches still runs parallel to the roads and drains into the canal, providing any paying landowner access to irrigation water for their garden or lawn.

William Smythe would undoubtedly be happy to see irrigation still at the heart of the horseshoe-shaped town.

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July 28, 2016

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