Jacob B. Van Wagener, treasurer of the Twin Falls North Side Land and Water Co., came to the Magic Valley from Pittsburgh in the early 1900s.
Van Wagener, a railroad investor, was previously affiliated with James and William Kuhn, who purchased land and water north of the Snake River from the Twin Falls Land and Water Co.
The Kuhn brothers opened the Jerome townsite in 1907, and water first flowed into the north side canal system in 1909.
Van Wagener purchased 160 acres of Carey Act land to be developed as a showcase farm, called Mountain View Ranch, just west of today’s U.S. 93, between the now-defunct towns of Barrymore and Falls City southeast of Jerome.
Still standing on the west of the highway is Van Wagener’s house and stone dairy barn, built in 1912 by Wales master mason H.T. Pugh. Van Wagener purchased American Guernsey bulls to start his dairy herd.
The 40-by-110 barn was built on the bank of a hill which allowed the first floor to “rise” over a daylight basement on the south side from the ground level on the north side. The cows were housed in the basement.
The barn is owned by Nina and John Hollifield and is used as a restaurant and event center.
Mychel Matthews reports on rural issues for the Times-News. The Hidden History feature runs every Thursday in the Times-News and at Magicvalley.com. If you have a question about something that may have historical significance, email Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 208-735-3233.
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