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Founding Fathers

The Who's Who of 1908 Twin Falls:

Standing, left to right: David MacWatters, Harry Hollister, M.J. Sweeley, Fentress Hill, S.H. Hill, Fred Voight, C.A. Tusch and R.F. Faris.

Bottom row, left to right: J.H. Purdy, A.C. Milner, Frank Gooding, George Baird, Frank Buhl, I.B. Perrine.

TWIN FALLS | By 1908, the Magic Valley was off to a good start.

Jerome County was still part of Lincoln County. Twin Falls County, however, had split from Cassia County. Twin Falls had grown from a village into a small city, and water from the Snake River was being diverted to farmland flanking the Snake River Canyon.

Clarence E. Bisbee gathered 14 of the valley's movers and shakers in his studio that year for a group portrait.

The Who's Who of the Magic Valley included:

  • I.B. Perrine, who claimed the Snake River Canyon at Blue Lakes as his home in 1883 and is known as the father of the Magic Valley. Perrine orchestrated construction of the Milner, Oakley and Salmon Falls dams.
  • Frank Gooding, born in Devon, England, the seventh governor of Idaho whose term ended in 1909. Gooding was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1920 and served until his death in 1928.
  • Fentress Hill, of Twin Falls, an advisor to Gov. Gooding.
  • State Sen. M.J. Sweeley, of Twin Falls. He persuaded the Legislature to create Shoshone Falls State Park. Sweeley was a member of the Trans-Mississippi Commercial Congress.
  • Frank Buhl, a Sharon, Pa., steel magnate and philanthropist. Buhl was the largest investor in the Twin Falls Land and Water Co. and later was named president of the Twin Falls Southside Tract Project. His steel company, Sharon Iron Mills, manufactured the low-line siphon that carried canal water over Rock Creek.
  • George Baird, of Twin Falls, vice president of the Twin Falls Southside Tract Project.
  • J.H. Purdy, a director of the Twin Falls Oakley Land and Water Co.
  • Fred Voight, of the Twin Falls Land and Water Co., was the first mayor of Twin Falls after the village became a second-class city in 1907.
  • David MacWatters, vice president of Milner State Bank and board chairman of the Twin Falls North Side Land and Water Co. 
  • S.H. Hays, of the Twin Falls Land and Water Co. and a member of the National Irrigation Congress.
  • A.C. Milner, of Salt Lake City, was an investor in the Twin Falls South Side Co.
  • Harry Hollister, an agent of the Arnold Co. of Chicago, financed construction of the Shoshone Falls power plant. The plant began supplying electricity to Twin Falls in 1907.

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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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