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Photo courtesy of Twin Falls Parks and Recreation Department

This segment of a drawing shows the short-lived plan to create a memorial park at Shoshone Falls, designed by California landscape architect Florence Yoch in 1919.

SHOSHONE FALLS • Before potatoes — and Evel Knievel — the Niagara of the West was this valley’s claim to fame.

“It is hard to imagine anything in nature more picturesque or sublime,” visitor Charles Nelson Teeter wrote in 1865.

In 1900, proponents tried to have Shoshone Falls designated as a national park. Congress opposed the move, but the falls captured the nation’s attention. That October, the Chicago Tribune devoted a full page to photos of Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls and Blue Lakes.

The scenic view of the falls begged for more recognition. At the end of World War I, a memorial park, dedicated to returning war heroes, was proposed for the falls on the south side of the Snake River Canyon. The Shoshone Falls Memorial Park Association was organized in 1919.

That summer, the association’s board hired young California landscape architect Florence Yoch to draft a plan for an elaborate park, complete with trees, benches and resting areas.

Yoch blazed a trail through a male-dominated profession and became nationally known for her architectural designs. She later designed the David O. Selznick estate in Beverly Hills, the Getty House gardens in Los Angeles, and various landscapes for film sets, including Tara in “Gone With the Wind.”

The canyon land south of the Snake River, however, was owned by various entities — private and public — making the park plan nearly impossible to implement. The Twin Falls County commissioners proposed a memorial bridge to span the Snake River Canyon at Shoshone Falls as an alternative to the park.

Neither project got past the drawing board at the time, but the land eventually was donated to the city of Twin Falls and developed into today’s park.

Mychel Matthews reports on agriculture and health care for the Times-News. The Hidden History feature runs every Thursday on Page 2. If you have a question about something that might have historical

significance, email Matthews at mmatthews@magicvalley.com.

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