Arco, Idaho

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Arco is a city in Butte County, Idaho, United States. The population was 1,026 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Butte County.[1]

Craters of the Moon National Monument is located along U.S. Route 20, southwest of the city. The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is located east of Arco. Arco is located along the Big Lost River and is a gateway to the Lost River Valley.



In 1901, the town, then known as Root Hog, moved its borders to place the town at the intersection of two stagecoach routes that crossed Idaho. The town leaders applied to the U.S. Post Office for the town name of "Junction."

The Postmaster General thought the name too common and suggested that the place be named Arco for Georg von Arco (1869–1940) of Germany who was visiting Washington, D.C. at the time. Georg von Arco was an inventor and a pioneer in the field of radio transmission and would become the lead engineer of Telefunken, a German company founded in 1903 that produced radio vacuum tubes.

Arco was the first community in the world ever to be lit by electricity generated by nuclear power. This occurred on July 17, 1955, powered by a reactor (see BORAX experiments) at the nearby "National Reactor Testing Station" (NRTS), which is now the Idaho National Laboratory. NRTS made further history on January 3, 1961, when the SL-1 reactor melted down, causing three deaths. It was the world's first (and the U.S.' only) fatal reactor accident.


The town's economic base is primarily derived from the Idaho National Laboratory (formerly the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory or INEL), agricultural products, and recreation in the Lost River Valley.


Arco is located at 43°38′5″N 113°18′5″W / 43.63472°N 113.30139°W / 43.63472; -113.30139 (43.634632, -113.301323).[2] The elevation is 5325 feet (1623 m) above sea level.

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