Q: Can you give me information about an elevator on the south side of the canyon? A lady has told me that she rode it to catch a school bus in the ‘70s before Evel Knievel’s jump. No one else I talk to can remember an elevator.
A: The elevator in the canyon belonged to the Urie family.
“My grandparents homesteaded down there in the early 1900s,” said John Urie. “I’m thinking right around the turn of the century, and then we lived down there until about 1981-82. Then we moved out, so about 80 years we were down there. There is a lot of history. My whole family rode the elevator to school along with my children.”
And parts of it are still there, said Jim Routt, whose childhood friends rode it.
“It was powered by an old car with a cable wrapped around the rear wheel,” Routt said. “This property is located just past the Twin Falls water treatment plant, on past where Rock Creek dumps into the river.”
Marjorie (Hollon) Adams at the Filer City Library said Roger and Margaret Vincent bought the tractor that pulled the cable for the elevator.
“It was a metal cable like we use in some of our climbing because that is the only thing that would have been strong enough to pull, and it was wood on the base,” Adams said.
Originally a Jeep pulled the cable.
“Then we graduated to a tractor that pulled it,” Urie said. “Then I installed a stationary Pontiac car.”
Urie continued: “My dad (Albert Urie) installed the elevator and us children helped him. I was about seven years old. There were five of us, and I had two girls and they rode it also. We had girls starting into high school, and it was a real problem getting in and out so we wanted to have them experience a little bit different life. They lived down there just about all their lives.”
The elevator was on the south side of the Snake River, about a mile west of Rock Creek where it empties into the canyon.
Urie guessed it was about seven miles to get up the canyon wall with the cable car from the homestead, another mile to catch the bus, and another seven miles to the Filer schools.
Urie estimated it was built about 1937 and the elevator was retired when the family moved about 1982. His daughters Wendy Hill and Bonnie Lutz “were the last ones to use it,” he said.
“It is not operable,” he said, “but it is still there.”