Looking back

100 years ago

Idaho Falls rolled out the red carpet on Sept. 18, 1921, for Scott’s “Modern Caravan,” 28 families from New York City motoring west to settle on newly irrigated land in Idaho’s Magic Valley. “After having been formally welcomed to the West in Yellowstone National Park by Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall and Gov. D.W. Davis of Idaho, the eighty-eight members, traveling from Brooklyn, N.Y., to settle on land near Buhl, Idaho, reached here last night on the last lap of the journey,” wire services reported. “Hundreds of automobiles headed by a band escorted the travelers into this city. Banquets, dances and Indian pow-wows have introduced them into the West. The caravan has been on the road seven weeks and has traveled 3,120 miles without serious mishap.” Digging a little deeper, the New York Times of Aug. 7, 1921, offered this account of the endeavor: “The leader of this unique party is William D. Scott, formerly of 236 Decatur Street, Brooklyn. Tired of the strenuous life of the big city and its attendant worries, Mr. Scott, a successful businessman, decided together with a friend, to dispose of their holdings and, with their families, start by automobile for some Far Western State, where they planned purchasing adjoining ranches and to settle down to a quiet life of peace and plenty. … Mr. Scott then wrote to a number of commercial organization(s) and city and state officials throughout the West. The reply which most interested him was from Gov. D.W. Davis of Idaho, who told him of a newly irrigated portion of Southern Idaho which was then available for settlers. After visiting the land, which is near the Nevada line in the Snake River Valley, Mr. Scott decided this was the El Dorado he was seeking. … The land to be occupied was until recently Federal land, barren and waterless prairie. Through the Carey act the desert was reclaimed by irrigation and now is ready to be planted and will, according to agricultural experts, grow onions, alfalfa and potatoes, the stable products of Idaho. The State of Idaho, appreciating the value of receiving into its border so substantial a community, has undertaken to pave the way toward making the colony successful. Experts from the State College of Agriculture will be sent to the land and will remain until the first crops are planted. … Besides assisting in the agricultural end of the venture, the State of Idaho is also helping to make the financial responsibilities lighter. The colonists will be tax-exempt for three years and will have ten years in which to pay off their land.”

75 years ago

State Republican Chairman Tom Smith of Rexburg, in Idaho Falls en route to Boise, said his party was unequivocally opposed to the Columbia Valley Authority. Since the 1930s, Congress had been considering proposals to create a governmental organization that would regionally coordinate the development of natural resources in the Columbia River Basin, including dam building, irrigation, hydroelectricity, and forestry. While supporters of the Columbia Valley Authority emphasized regional control, opponents feared it would give the federal government too much power. “When our party says, ‘Do not monkey with my headgates,’ that is just what we mean,” Smith said. “We do not want any government czars interfering with the waters of Idaho. This water belongs to the people of the state and we do not want any encroachment. In particular, we do not want one who would have authority to tell us when and how to use these vested rights.” Despite the support of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, the Columbia Valley Authority proposal died in the early 1950s after more than a dozen failed congressional bills.

50 years ago

Ouch. On Sept. 19, 1971, the Idaho Falls Tigers suffered a 57-0 hometown drubbing at the hands of the Eagles from Boise’s Capital High School. According to the Associated Press, “Ron Emry led a Capital charge that carried the Eagles to a 50-0 halftime lead. … Emry scored five touchdowns and eluded the entire Idaho Falls defensive team as he picked up 136 years in the first half and let the second string carry the load in the second half.”

25 years ago

Low prices for Idaho potato growers were looming in September 1996 due to a big harvest and ample supplies. “Buyers are trying to say we’ve got a big crop coming, and we’re seeing some low-ball figures right now,” said Bert Moulton of the Potato Growers of Idaho. Moulton said he had heard of potatoes bringing farmers as little as $3 for a 100-pound sack. “At that price, growers are probably losing money,” he said.

Paul Menser is the author of “Legendary Locals of Idaho Falls.”

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