Twin Falls founder I.B. Perrine envisioned public transportation from downtown Twin Falls to Shoshone Falls then purchased two electric-powered streetcars from Thomas Edison.

The street cars were battery-powered, instead of using electrified cables or rails as was popular at the time. Perrine used a steam-engine generator behind the Hotel Perrine to recharge the giant batteries.

On May 3, 1913, the streetcars made their maiden journey from the Twin Falls Railway office at Main Avenue and what is now Gooding Street North to the Oregon Short Line depot at Sixth Avenue and Shoshone Street South, and on to Filer and Buhl. Ninety invited guests made the round trip that evening.

Seven months later, the railway company signed a contract with the Twin Falls School District to bus students to and from the high school at Shoshone Street and Sixth Avenue North. The streetcars ran from the behind the school on Gooding Street to Addison Avenue and out to 3300 East.

The following year, the train tracks were extended down 3300 East to the Snake River Canyon rim above Shoshone Falls. On Oct. 4, 1914, nearly 500 people paid 40 cents each to ride the streetcars to the falls.

Perrine, president of the Twin Falls Railway Co., had hoped to extend the tracks from Shoshone Falls, down Pole Line Road to Blue Lakes Boulevard, then back to North Five Points — a loop of 10 miles. But World War I intervened, making iron too scarce and expensive to finish the loop.

Besides, by then many folks owned cars.

Perrine rolled up his rails in 1916. One of the streetcars is thought to have been sold to an out-of-state railway company, and the other was possibly sold to a local farmer.

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Mychel Matthews reports on rural issues and agriculture 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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