AIC Shines its Community Spotlight on Hollister
Monday, October 10, 2016
Posted by: Gay Dawn Oyler
Hollister is a Magic Valley farming community located about 16 miles south of Twin Falls. Thousands of acres of BLM public land begin several miles west. A few miles to the east and southeast is the Sawtooth National Forest with mountain peaks rising to over 8,000 feet.
For millennia, the now fertile Magic Valley was a vast dry desert plain covered with sagebrush. American Indians passed through the plains to get to their fishing and hunting encampments on the Snake River and its tributaries. Early explorers and Oregon Trail pioneers described the plain as a desolate wasteland.
In 1884 Ira B. Perrine, one of the Magic Valley’s first entrepreneurs, established irrigated farming and ranching operations in the bottom of the Snake River Canyon near what is now Twin Falls. He had dairy and beef cattle, raised grain, fruits and vegetables and sold his agricultural commodities to the miners in the Wood River Valley.
In 1894 Congress passed the Carey Act. The Act granted up to one million acres of federal land to each Western state that brought arid land under irrigation. Under the Act, each state was required to create a regulatory commission. In Idaho, this was the State Land Board. Under this law, private investors built dams and canals. The investors also platted townsites and sold water rights; the State sold the land. The law allowed farmers to purchase parcels of up to 160 acres.
On April 1, 1907, Perrine formed the Twin Falls North Side Land and Water Company (TFNSLWC) to extend irrigation water to land further south of Twin Falls. One of the investors was H.L. Hollister, a mining entrepreneur. In the fall of 1907, following the practice of naming new towns after investors, the TFNSLWC platted the new townsite and named it Hollister.
The Oregon Short Line Railroad (OSL) completed its line across southern Idaho in 1884. This line ran on the north side of the Snake River. On August 7, 1905, Twin Falls celebrated "Railroad Day" when the OSL train pulled into town on a branch line that crossed the river at Milner Dam. October 2, 1909, the OSL extended a line through Hollister to Rogerson.
With the railroad in place, TFNSLWC opened the land for sale. Two special trains ran to Hollister, with over 1,000 people for the sale of lots and land on the Salmon Tract.
Using wooden pipe they piped water for the town from an artesian well five miles away. Property owners gave easements for the water line. The pipe was made of wood cut in wedges with metal strapping holding it together. When wet, the wood swelled making a watertight seal. In 1978 a well was drilled and the old system replaced, except for the wooden tank which was replaced in 1988.
Five electric arc lights with electricity coming from the hydroelectric plant at Milner Dam lighted the town.
The first building on the new townsite was a bunkhouse shack on the corner of Main and Purdy.
One of the town lots was devoted to a two-story school building that still stands. The first graduating class was in 1912.
The downtown soon had two churches, a hotel, a bank, a telephone office, a drug store, gas stations, lumberyards and several small shops and offices.
On March 9, 1917, Hollister became an incorporated village.
On March 17, 1917, the Twin Falls North Side Investment Company, LTD—a corporation and the owner of the described land of section 28 of Twin Falls County, State of Idaho—granted and donated the town site to the use of the public including all the streets and alleys as shown on the plat of Hollister.
And the Desert Shall Blossom as a Rose
With the 1894 passing of the Carey Act, Perrine saw an opportunity to irrigate the desert by building a dam on the Snake River. In 1895 he explored the river and selected the site of the Cedars as the location for the dam—now Milner Dam.
In 1900 Perrine, along with several investors, incorporated the Twin Falls Land and Water Company (TFLWC), filed a claim for Snake River water and applied to the Idaho Land Board for 270,000 acres under the Carey Act. Ultimately, water from the dam would irrigate over 244,000 acres.
By 1905 the dam was complete and the first water was flowing into the new irrigation canals and ditches near Twin Falls. Soon, the desert became an agricultural oasis.
Amenities and Attractions Today
Hollister has a city park with picnic areas and a gazebo.
The city is close to a variety of outdoor activities. Hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, biking, swimming, boating and winter sports are available within a short drive from the city. Several lakes, reservoirs, streams and the Snake River are within a thirty-minute drive from the city.
Downhill skiing is available at Magic Mountain Ski Resort in the Sawtooth National Forest about 20 miles due southeast of the city or 33 miles on a hard-surface road.
Several state and federal reserves, monuments, wildlife management areas and attractions are located within an hour’s drive from the city. The 2,120-foot-high Shoshone Falls on the Snake River are located about 20 miles northeast. Balanced rock is located 32 miles northwest of the city.