When the Idaho Falls Temple was dedicated on September 23, 24, and 25, 1945, a prophecy made by President Wilford Woodruff was fulfilled. He had promised the few brave Saints who were homesteading in the sandy, harsh valley along the Snake River in 1884 that their labors would bring forth fruit and trees and prosperous communities covering their land. Prophetically he added, “As I look into the future of this great valley, I can see beautiful temples erected to the name of the Living God, where holy labors may be carried on in His name for generations to come.” 1
Reflected in the flowing mirror of the waters of the Snake River, the Idaho Falls Temple projects an architectural strength. Constructed with heavily reinforced concrete, the temple is built to endure many centuries of use. The temple’s foundation is securely bedded on solid lava rock eighteen feet below the sandy hills on the seven-acre site donated to the Church by the city when plans were announced for a temple in Idaho Falls. Rising 148 feet, the central tower is a solid blocked design which levels upward into a single spire capped with stainless steel. A mixture of white quartz aggregate and white cement covers the sixteen—inch exterior walls in slabs of cast stone two inches thick. The temple surface sparkles as the white cast stone reflects sunlight.
The Church board of temple architects designed the temple; its members were Edward O. Anderson, Georgius Y. Cannon, Ramm Hansen, John Fetzer, Hyrum C. Pope, and Lorenzo S. Young. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held December 19, 1939, but the temple was not finished for nearly six years because of government-ordered construction halts during World War II. Completed, the temple cost $700,000.
Over 1,600 evergreens are planted on the seven-acre grounds surrounding the temple. “The main entrance … on the east is especially striking with broad walks inlaid with varicolored blocks of [native] stone … placed around three parallel reflecting pools, graded in height and banked by boxes of colorful flowers.” 2 The peaceful calm of the temple gardens helps prepare the hearts and spirits of people entering the house of the Lord.
It does take special preparation to comprehend and feel the glory of the temple. One cannot expect meaningful personal benefits from the sacred experience of temple worship without first opening himself to those benefits through righteousness. Once we are prepared, however, temple work for the dead can benefit us as well as those waiting beyond the veil.
It is a blessing, an unparalleled opportunity to commune with the Spirit in the Lord’s house, to learn the eternal keys that will bring us back to his presence if we magnify our covenants. Studying the scriptures, sincere prayer, meditation, and frequent temple worship will help us to understand what President David O. McKay meant when he said that “the temple endowment … is the step by step ascent into the eternal Presence. If [we] could but glimpse it, it would be the most powerful spiritual motivation of [our] lives.” 3 — .