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News & Press: Community Spotlights

AIC Shines Its Community Spotlight on Castleford

Friday, November 9, 2018  
Posted by: Gay Dawn Oyler
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Castleford City Hall and Community Center

Castleford lies on the southwestern edge of the fertile Magic Valley about nine miles southwest of Buhl. A patchwork of farm fields, irrigated from wells and water from Milner Dam delivered by the High-Line Canal, surround the city.

Salmon Falls Creek and vast tracts of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands are four miles west of the city.

Historic Tidbits

In 1904 the region now known as the Magic Valley was a vast sagebrush-covered desert under control of federal agencies.

In 1905 private investors built Milner Dam on the Snake River, located about 45 miles due west of the city.

They built the dam and irrigation canal complex and sold arable land under the provisions of the Carey Act. Under that act, the federal government granted each Western state up to one million acres of arid land for reclamation purposes. The Act authorized the state to sell land and authorize private interests to finance and construct diversion dams and canal systems and sell water rights to individual farmers.

Castleford was incorporated as a village in 1941. On September 5, 1967, Castleford became an incorporated city.

The Ira B. Perrine Legacy

Ira B. Perrine, one of the first entrepreneurs in the region, was the primary force behind the construction of Milner Dam.

Perrine secured Eastern investors. Then he created the Twin Falls Land and Water Company to oversee construction of the dam, develop the irrigation canal system, negotiate with the railroad to provide service and establish new towns served by the irrigation canals. In 1907 the railroad completed its line from Minidoka to Buhl. In 1909 the Minidoka Hydroelectric Dam built by the federal Bureau of Reclamation produced the first electricity in the region.

Ultimately, water from Milner Dam would irrigate over 244,000 acres. Castleford was one of the farming communities created when ownership of the land moved to private hands. However, rather than being named after investors in the Milner Dam project, as was the case in several other Magic Valley communities, Castleford was named after an early wagon crossing of the nearby Salmon Falls Creek.

Amenities and Attractions Today

The regionally famous Balanced Rock—a wind-carved monolithic rock weighing 40 tons, standing over 48 feet high and resting on a 3-foot-by-17.5-inch pedestal in Salmon Falls Creek Canyon—lies six miles northwest of Castleford in Balanced Rock State Park.

Several miles north are the nine units of Thousand Springs State Park, which include properties of several cold crystal springs and fisheries. Among the individual units of the park is the 652-acre Malad Gorge Park. Billingsley Creek offers fishing and horseback riding. Bird watching and the annual Thousand Springs Art Festival are at Ritter Island. Around 180,000 gallons of cold spring water tumble over waterfalls and bubble up from the crystal-clear pools at Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon Springs Nature Preserve. Niagara and Crystal Springs are at the base of the Snake River Canyon where large springs burst from the canyon walls. At Niagara Springs, water flows through the traces of state and national fish hatcheries and a beautiful public fishery near an old-growth tree-covered park.

About 20 miles north is the 4,300-acre Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument. Archeologists worldwide recognize the site for its prehistoric fossil and sediment deposits from the Pliocene Epoch. The National Monument’s visitor center is in Hagerman. A segment of the Oregon National Historic Trail is on the southern end of the Monument. Ruts made by the Oregon Trail immigrant wagons are still visible from the parking lot that overlooks the Hagerman Fossil Beds.

The Sawtooth National Forest, located about 30 miles east of the city, offers camping, hiking, fishing and hunting.

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