Looking back

100 years ago

Oregon Gov. Ben Olcott announced this week in October 1921 that he would not be commuting an Idaho Falls man’s sentence from death to life imprisonment. In a letter to J. Wesley Holden, attorney for John L. Rathie, Olcott said Rathie and Elvie D Kirby, also on death row, would hang for the July 1920 slaying of Umatilla County Sheriff Tillman D. Taylor. Neil Hart, the man who fired the shot that killed Taylor, had already been hanged in November 1920. Rathie was one of six men involved in the jailbreak in which Taylor was killed. He managed to elude capture for six days, but was finally apprehended on a hillside 40 miles from Pendleton. According to reports, Rathie made no attempt to resist arrest, throwing up his hands and saying, “Boys, for God’s sake, don’t shoot!” He was unarmed, having thrown away his gun earlier in the week, he told members of the posse.

75 years ago

Rainy, cold weather, labor agitation and lack of an adequate number of harvest hands combined to put Eastern Idaho’s 1946 potato crop in peril. Bonneville County Agent Clyde M. Waddell renewed his appeal for more help to gather the bumper crop. According to the Oct. 10, 1946 Post-Register, “The county agent said the full cooperation of Idaho Falls citizens is needed if the potato crop in Bonneville County is to be gathered before freezing weather. The same situation exists in other counties in east Idaho. The appeal was especially directed to hundreds of Idaho Falls junior and senior high school students, who, he said, have failed to work in the fields even though classes have been suspended two weeks for this purpose. Farmers throughout the valley also expressed fear that the reopening of schools next Monday would deprive them of what students had responded to the harvest call.”

50 years ago

Two investor-owned utilities announced their support this week in 1971 for a nuclear power station in Eastern Idaho. Idaho Power Co. and Utah Power & Light both announced their support for the Idaho Nuclear Industrial Council’s proposal to build a liquid metal fast breeder reactor near the National Reactor Testing Station (now Idaho National Laboratory). In a visit to Richland, Wash., President Richard Nixon had announced his hope that the United States would build two such reactors. Gene Rutledge, director of the Idaho Nuclear Energy Commission, said the utilities’ support “gives Idaho a good chance of getting at least one of the demonstration breeders.”

25 years ago

US West customers in Idaho Falls, Rexburg and Pocatello lost long-distance service for more than 12 hours this week in October 1996 after a gopher chewed through a fiber-optic cable about 12 miles west of Rockland. It was the second incident in eight weeks on a previously undamaged cable that had been laid in the mid-1980s. The outage resulted in an estimated 100,000 calls not being completed. Some phone users in Idaho Falls were able to place calls because US West had a redundant line that ran west to Boise along U.S. Highway 20, company spokesman Clint Berry said.

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

Recommended for you