Twin Falls Canal Company

Milner Dam, in the panhandle of Twin Falls County, is seen spilling 9,000 cubic-feet in April 2018.

Q: I was standing in line at the DMV and had nothing better to do than stare at a map of Twin Falls County. I noticed a little tail on the northeastern corner of the county that was maybe 3 miles long and less than a mile wide. What is the reason for that tail?

A: “When Twin Falls County was split from Cassia, I think they wanted to keep the whole Twin Falls Canal Company system and the dam in the same county, thus the long narrow strip,” said Brian Olmstead, Twin Falls Canal Company general manager. “Looks like it is about 3.5 miles long and averages about ¾-mile wide. The width varies as it follows the canyon.”

Retired professor Jim Gentry agrees.

“In my ‘In the Middle and On the Edge: The Twin Falls Region of Idaho,’ I note that there was little controversy in creating Twin Falls County in 1907 because the railroad depot for Milner remained in Cassia County, which was important for taxation reasons,” Gentry said.

The Aug. 17, 1911, edition of the Twin Falls Weekly News explained the creation of Twin Falls County.

“Former Senator M. J. Sweeley, Judge Chamberlain and C. D. Thomas were the three who as a self appointed committee started Twin Falls county,” the newspaper said.

Sweeley told of his experiences at Albion and in connection with the necessary proceedings elsewhere.

“The depot at Milner is in Cassia county and the town in Twin Falls county,” he told the newspaper. “This was done for assessment purposes, Cassia county desiring the railroad, and Twin Falls county being given the canal. Not until the railroad crosses the canal is it assessable by this county. I mention this as an instance of negotiations and resultant agreements which were a part of our tribulations.

“Because of these concessions to Cassia county we had no difficulty in securing the establishment of Twin Falls county by the legislature at Boise.”

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