Pillar Falls

The spray from Shoshone Falls is seen in the distance in this Clarence E. Bisbee photograph. Pillar Falls is in the foreground. In 1919, Twin Falls County commissioners considered building a rim-to-rim bridge over the canyon about one-third mile below Shoshone Falls.   

CLARENCE E. BISBEE PHOTO

Editor’s note: This column first ran in Dec. 4, 2014, in the Times-News and on Magicvalley.com.

The original Hansen Bridge, built in 1919, was the first rim-to-rim span across the Snake River Canyon.

It preceded the I.B. Perrine Memorial Bridge, first known as the Jerome-Twin Falls Intercounty Bridge, by nearly a decade.

While engineer R.M. Murray was building the Hansen Bridge, he came up with another idea: to span the canyon at a point between Shoshone Falls and Pillar Falls.

On May 1, 1919, Twin Falls County commissioners, led by Chairman T.E. Moore, and Murray inspected the site about one-third mile below the falls and declared the plan “feasible,” according to the next day’s edition of the Twin Falls Daily News.

“The Snake River Canyon will be spanned at Shoshone Falls with one of the largest suspension bridges in the United States, forming at once a connecting link of large commercial possibilities between the north and south side counties and affording a new and unique view of the waterfall of immense scenic possibilities …” the article says.

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At 1,143 feet long, the bridge would have been nearly twice the length of the Hansen Bridge and would have cost $350,000 — more than $4 million in today’s money.

Murray proposed charging tolls, which he said would pay for the bridge in 15 years.

Eight-inch cables hanging from 120-foot towers at both rims would have suspended the bridge about 400 feet above the river.

The bridge never was built. Neither was the railroad bridge similarly proposed for the same location.

Mychel Matthews reports on agriculture and rural issues for the Times-News. The Hidden History feature runs every Thursday in the Times-News and on Magicvalley.com. If you have a question about something that may have historical significance, email Matthews at mmatthews@magicvalley.com.

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