Heyburn - Its Origin and Early History

Heyburn, Its Origin and Some Early History as Written by J. A. Handy.  1959


The writer of this article has been asked to write a story about Heyburn, from the first time I observed the spot where Heyburn now stands, the story will be written from observation; as I have kept no diary.


The first time I saw the spot where Heyburn now stands, was in 1901, I was employed by a sheep company, and was looking for a good range for the sheep, and wasn’t looking for a home, or a place to make one.  If I had I sure would have passed up the place where Heyburn now stands.


The only activity I could see in what we now call Magic Valley was the mining operation on Snake River, mining for gold.  I had the occasion to visit the territory each year up to the time Heyburn got its name.  Heyburn was first called Riverton.


First activity around Heyburn was when O.S.L. Railroad Co., started hauling material from Minidoka to the river to build the railroad bridge across Snake River at Heyburn in the fall of 1904.


“Tent Town” sprung up on the riverbank, nineteen tents in all, occupied by workers on the bridge (first town on the project).  Workers had their mail come to Minidoka and delivered to the men by the railroad.


J. H. Dow built the first store, it was on the railroad right-of-way, some three hundred feet west of where the Depot was built, at about that time Smith and Hollen put in a ferry across Snake River, just below where the rail road bridge was to be built, this ferry was put in to accommodate the people of Burley, as Burley Townsite Company was just organized, and all material for Burley was hauled across the Heyburn bridge ferry.  In the spring of 1905, about a dozen buildings were built on the railroad right-of-way, all on the north side of the track, J. H. Dow was on the west end, and Watson building on east end of row of buildings Watson’s was a produce building.  This building still stands, but built on to by Hardy, and later by Croft.  At that time, all activity was along the railroad track.  A contrast between then and now, most of the activity is on Highway 30, for a distance of about ¼ mile some three quarters million dollars spent by Simplot Company and others.  Largest potato storage in Magic Valley is now at Heyburn on Highway 30.


Heyburn was surveyed by Bureau of Reclamation 1904 & 1905.  OSL Railroad was finished to Heyburn in June, 1905.  First engine crossed Heyburn Bridge June 10, 1905.  People from Oakley occupied most of the room on the engine, President Jack on top.  I was present at the time (see 1905 Golden Anniversary Edition of Burley).  


In building a town, schools come first in my mind, the first school board was Campbell, Eggers and Kidwell, first teacher, W. E. Dunham, Miss Ida Hall as primary teacher.  Church comes next, my memory tells me the Presbyterians built the first church, with Rev. Dwight Dunham in charge, the most comical thing happened at Heyburn, when the railroad companies started to deliver the mail to Heyburn Post Office, Frank Avery was Depot Agent, and it was his job to deliver the mail to the Post Office.  Campbell was the Postmaster, on the arrival of the train, Campbell would go to Depot, and accompany Mr. Avery to the Post Office.  Avery used a two-wheeled cart to deliver the mail.  The trail from the Depot to the Post Office was uphill and downhill, sand some two inches deep.  Campbell offered no help.  This went on for some time.  One day Avery arrived with some help.  W. W. Brim helped him measure the distance between the Depot and the Post Office, the distance was sworn to by W. W. Brim and Avery.  In a short time Campbell received notice that it was his job to deliver the mail to the Post Office from the Depot.  Then the shoe was on the other foot, so Avery took it upon himself to accompany Campbell to the Post Office to see if the mail reached the post office okay.


When Mrs. Sirrine was appointed postmistress, the post office was ____________ farther from the Depot, that required someone to carry the mail, five different ones carried it until Warren got the contract.


First Depot in Heyburn was a boxcar.  When the time came to build the depot, Heyburn had a brick plant operated by Barker and Sons.  The people of Heyburn told the railroad company if they would build the depot of brick, they would furnish it free of charge to the railroad, so the first depot built by brick by the railroad company was built at Heyburn.


J. E. Earley and Frank Adams thought Heyburn was in need of a newspaper, called the Southern Idaho Review, first publication that the writer had the pleasure of reading was published June 1905.


The first immigrant car arrived on the Minidoka Project was G. B. Fleisher and Croy of Heyburn in 1905 from Portsmouth, Nebraska.  Dr. Killen arrived on the scene and put in an office in his home.  It still stands across the street from City office.  H.B. Redford who became the first County Attorney of Minidoka County.  Henry Schodde built the first public hall and also built the first flour mill on the Minidoka Project.  Fanny Williams built the first hotel.  Bradley and Fred Parker put in the first two lumberyards.  Charles Newlon the first hardware store, C. C. Nelson owned the harness shop.  Hill had the first blacksmith shop.  Conley had the first barber shop.  Ed Bebb the next one.  VanHise had the first dray and Robert Brinton was next.  Gilbert Brinton had the first drug store.  First shoe cobbler was Boyer, and first banker was Frank Snyder.


First public bridge across Snake River in Magic Valley was built by Verburg Brothers at Heyburn in 1907 & 1908.  First section boss was Miller.  The first place to buy a drink stronger than coffee, was owned by Henry Phelan, where you could buy all the drinks in the book.  Harris Restaurant become a popular place at mealtime, it was run by Mrs. Hyatt.


The first fracas or disagreement at Heyburn that I can remember, was over the permanent location of school grounds,  We had at that time “North Siders” and “South Siders” -- north and south of the railroad track.  The South wanted the school ground south-east of the Depot where the LDS second ward thought of building at one time.  North wanted them where they are now located.  After two warm meetings, North Siders came out victorious and not long after that, we had a new brick school.


The jackrabbits became a menace on the project.  At one time, people killed many with clubs and guns.  In the excitement, one boy shot his father in the leg.  He died later with blood poison.  The man shot was Mr. Alexander.  The burial took place in a sagebrush plot, just south of the present cemetery.  That started the people to thinking about a cemetery site, so the Bureau of Reclamation set aside the present site for a cemetery for Heyburn. 


The first grave that I can remember of in the present cemetery was Mrs. Ross of Rupert.


First Lodge organized on the Minidoka Project was at Heyburn, the Modern Woodman of America.  First photography shop was Smith and Schroeder.


The first car of grain shipped from Minidoka Project was shipped by M. E. Watsen of Heyburn, now of Paul.  The grain was oats, shipped to the wool growers at Shoshone, then the metropolis of what we now call Magic Valley.


The first livery barn was run by Peterson.


Bureau of Reclamation established a demonstration farm in the early days at Heyburn which failed to function well, I guess no one could run water up hill.  The home for the foreman is now where Mrs. Tom Morgan lives.  The school boards of Heyburn, had trouble in keeping a man to head the school for many years.  At last they secured a man by the name of J. B. Fridley.  He was a jayhawker from Kansas, and knew how to raise sunflowers.  Anyway, he made good and was on the job for some nine or ten years, and started the Heyburn School on the way to success. 


Fred Parker established Riverton Lumber and Hardware Store, which was quite a large store and lumberyard, in this building the first election was held in Heyburn in 1906.


Southworth was the first miller in the flourmill.


Hogan built the store down on the square where the town was supposed to be built.  In the early days of Heyburn they had an outstanding basketball team.  They were victorious in all of Magic Valley.  Rexburg was victor in upper Snake River Valley.  The athletic board ruled, for the playoff, they must meet on a court where the two teams had never played, so the two teams met at Twin Falls, I do not remember the year.  I know it was in horse and buggy days, as they ran a special train from Pocatello for the game.  I remember going to Heyburn and seeing the boys off, to wish them the best of luck, and remember the Heyburn boys names were:  Howland Croft, Joe Olson, Ralph Bixler, Wallace Moncur and Farnham Sills.  I may not be correct about the names, S. C. Bixler, who saw the game said when they got home, we could not beat the boys and the referee too.


The wedding of the country occurred at the Henry Schodde ranch, June 10th, 1907 when Miss Clara Schodde, probably the most esteemed young lady on the project and surrounding territory, was wed to Frank H. Adams by the Rev. Mr. Merkins of Heyburn.  Clara was the first baby born on the project.


Many stores started in Heyburn during the early days.  Holsten’s store weathered the storms, and became the first permanent store.  We also had several churches in Heyburn during the early days, but the LDS Church became the permanent church and the only church in the town at this time.  It was first organized September 5, 1904 at the Sirrine country home.  George E. Hellewell was presiding Elder.  Church was held in homes until April 1906.  After this time people built their first church in 1908 (March).


At this time, building was still going on, mostly on the Highway 30 permanent buildings under construction.  “Heyburn a Bridge Town”, has had two railroad bridges, two wagon bridges, and the last one, US 30 Highway bridge.


The Heyburn Review paper, after changing hands three times, finally closed up shop.


Heyburn has two outstanding monuments for a town its size, the school and the church, built by its citizens for future and present generations.  As I see it, every generation must accept its responsibility to preserve and defend our constitution, which our forefathers fought and died for by leaving their foot prints of blood on the snow at Valley Forge winter of 1776 and 1777.  To do that we must build character, the school, church and the home is the place for that.


Citizens of Heyburn are well equipped to meet their responsibilities. 


My story wouldn’t be complete unless I mentioned some of our outstanding young people.  The first one comes to my mind is Amos Jordon.  He finished High School at Heyburn with high honors, finished Idaho State with honors and was appointed to West Point Academy.  He finished with honors then went on to the University of Oxford, England and finished with honors.  He was given a trip around the world studying economic conditions in various countries and then returned to West Point Academy as the youngest professor that ever taught at West Point.


Next is Max Conner, who made the headlines in more papers than any other student in Magic Valley.  While he was in high school and in Idaho State in the athletic field.


Last but not least, “Miss Idaho” Bonnie Baird, who made the headlines throughout the state, and TV throughout the U.S.A.


When the first opera house was built at Burley, finished September, 1905, we wanted the best must obtainable for the open dance, Labor Day 1905.  J.J. Connor Orchestra of Heyburn furnished the music, N. C. Lowry of Heyburn played in the orchestra.  I do not remember the names of the others, five in all.