TWIN FALLS — John E. Hayes, perhaps the most unappreciated pioneer in the history of Twin Falls, is finally getting his due.
Local artist Dave LaMure Jr. will soon create a larger-than-life bronze sculpture of Hayes, the surveyor who chose the location for the city.
LaMure based his design on a 1903 photograph of Hayes taken at what would become the intersection of Main Avenue and Shoshone Street — what Curtis Eaton calls “the belly button of Twin Falls.”
Preservation Twin Falls Inc. partners Eaton, special assistant to the president of the College of Southern Idaho, and Paul Smith, past chairman of the Twin Falls City Historic Preservation Commission, pitched the project to the Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency, and landed a $20,000 contribution toward the project out of funds designated for public art for its Main Avenue Redevelopment project. Other contributors are kicking in money to complete the sculpture.
The two in turn pitched the idea to the city.
“It’s a noble project to honor our history,” Mayor Shawn Barigar said in January.
That evening, the city council approved the project, and the sculpture, when finished, will be gifted to the city.
Hayes’ contributions to the Magic Valley were many, said Niels Nokkentved, a former Times-News reporter and editor whose book “A Forest of Wormwood — Sagebrush, Water and Idaho’s Twin Falls Canal Company” wears the Hayes photo on its cover.
Besides locating and surveying the city, “Hayes played several key roles in the Twin Falls tract,” Nokkentved said Tuesday.
Hayes conducted topographic surveys of dams, canals and laterals for the 240,000-acre Twin Falls irrigation project, the 70,000-acre Salmon Dam project, the 50,000-acre Oakley Dam project and the 25,000-acre Cedar Creek project, in addition to site surveys of Buhl, Burley, Milner, Hansen, Jerome, Wendell and Hollister.
Prior to coming to Idaho, Hayes was on the crew that surveyed the boundary for Glacier National Park in Montana, including the 49th Parallel, according to his resume.
LaMure first modeled a small maquette — a preliminary design — from oil-based clay, then cast a limited edition of 30 bronze sculptures of Hayes.
He plans to start modeling the final design soon, starting with a nearly eight-foot metal armature — a skeleton of sort. Clay will be applied to the armature, then the details will be carved and manipulated into place.
LaMure said he will pay particular attention to the authenticity of the piece — how Hayes’ handkerchief blows in the wind and how his clothes fit on his body. Hayes wore his hat backwards when he look through a transit, so LaMure placed a sage grouse feather in the hat band to indicate the hat’s direction. Bronze sagebrush growing from the base will show off the terrain of the land.
When finished, LaMure will haul the clay model of Hayes to a fine-arts foundry in Joseph, Ore., where it will be cut into about 60 pieces. Molds will be pulled from each piece and wax patterns will be made from each mold.
The wax patterns will then be dipped in a slurry and fired in a kiln to create molds: the hot kiln hardens the slurry and melts the wax simultaneously. Molten bronze will be poured into the cavity left by the wax. The 60 or so bronze pieces will then be broken out of the molds, then assembled and welded into place.
Location, location, location
Just as Hayes looked for just the right location for Twin Falls, the city is looking for just the right place for the sculpture, spokesman Joshua Palmer said.
Eaton first talked to the Idaho Department of Transportation about placing it on a roundabout in the center of the intersection of Main and Shoshone, where the photo was taken.
“But that was a short conversation,” he said.
Another preferred location would be in the downtown plaza, where the Rogerson Hotel once stood. But nothing is set in stone, Palmer said. The city is still looking at safety and maintenance issues.
LaMure has become enamored by Hayes.
“I’ve felt the spirit of John — the essence of who John was.”