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News & Press: Community Spotlights

AIC Shines Its Community Spotlight on Hazelton

Monday, April 20, 2020  
Posted by: Payton Grover
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City of Hazelton

Hazelton lies on the Snake River Plain and the north side of the fertile Magic Valley. Lush fields of potatoes, corn, beans, wheat, sugar beets and alfalfa hay surround the city. Vast tracts of historic lava flows and public lands managed by the BLM, interspersed by large acreages of fertile volcanic soil farmland, begin a few miles north of the city. The Snake River flows about seven miles to the south. The Sawtooth National Forest, with peaks rising over 8,000 feet, begins 14 miles south of town. Twin Falls is 17 miles west.

Historical Tidbits

American Indians—primarily of the nomadic Bannock and Shoshone Tribes—passed near what is now Hazelton on the way to their summer and winter encampments. In the early 1840s Oregon Trail immigrants traveled the south side of the Snake River. On November 17, 1884, the Oregon Short Line (OSL) Railroad completed construction of a segment of railroad line that began at Granger, Wyoming, angled in a northwesterly direction—about 21 miles due north of what is now the city of Hazelton—through Shoshone and Nampa and ended at the rail line in Huntington, Oregon. Upon completion, the rail line connected the commercial centers of Omaha, Nebraska, and Portland, Oregon, creating another transcontinental railroad. Railroad interests completed the first transcontinental railroad in 1869 at Promontory Summit in northern Utah. In 1894 Congress passed the Carey Act; one of several laws designed to encourage settlement of lands in the arid West. (See Southwest Idaho—Federal Land Reclamation Laws.) Under the Carey Act, the federal government ceded up to one million acres to any state that would bring the land under cultivation under a public-private partnership.  Private interests financed and built dams and canals. The state sold parcels of land—40 to 160 acres—to individuals. In Idaho, the Idaho State Land Board represented state interests. The developers sold water rights and often platted towns and sold townsite lots. Idaho would ultimately use 850,000 acres of its allotment. Around 1900 Ira B. Perrine, a local farmer and entrepreneur who produced food for the miners in the Wood River Mining District, sought to develop a “Carey Act” diversion dam— Milner Dam—across the Snake River at The Cedars, a point about eight miles southeast of what is now Hazelton. Perrine formed the Twin Falls Land and Water Company (TFL&W) and brought together several investors. When completed, the hydroelectric Milner Dam stood 73 feet high and 2,160 feet long and created a 4,000-acre reservoir. It provided irrigation water on both the north and south sides of the Snake River. They could use gravity flow on the south, but the north side required pumping. In 1905 TFL&W delivered irrigation water to the farms south of the Snake River Canyon, ultimately irrigating about 244,000 acres. The irrigation water led to the creation of the farming communities of Hansen, Kimberly, Twin Falls, Filer and Buhl. In the same year, the OSL built a branch line to those cities. In order to bring water to the north side of the Snake River, Perrine assembled other investors to form the Twin Falls North Side Land and Water Company (North Side Project). They built canals and pumped irrigation water from Milner Reservoir into Wilson Lake Reservoir, which elevated the water to allow gravity flow through the Main North Side Canal to the farms on the north side of the Snake River. The North Side Project would eventually irrigate 185,000 acres and led to the establishment of Hazelton, Eden, Jerome and Wendell. In 1905 anticipating development of the North Side Project,

Joe Barlow acquired land near the expected railroad siding. There he platted the town of Hazelton, named after his daughter, Hazel. In 1907 water began flowing down the Main North Side Canal. By September 30, 1907, North Side Project investors platted the new town of Jerome, named after one of the investors, and began selling lots. In 1910 the OSL built a branch line from Rupert to Bliss. This railroad passed through Hazelton, Eden, Jerome and Wendell. On December 28, 1916, Hazelton became an incorporated village.

Amenities and Attractions Today

 Wilson Lake Reservoir is a recreational destination, with a 600-acre fishery and within a mile of the city. In 1976 the lake produced the largest perch caught in Idaho—15.5 inches, two pounds, ten ounces. The Minidoka Internment National Monument, managed by the National Park Service, is located about 15 miles northwest of the city. It marks a national tragedy following the December 7, 1941, attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent stripping of constitutional rights from all known Americans of Japanese ancestry. The military forced entire families—men, women and children—to board trains and buses for transport to several internment—prison—camps scattered primarily throughout the Intermountain West. At its peak, the Minidoka Internment Camp—named “Hunt Camp” by postal authorities—held about 13,000 American citizens. The camp was in service from August 1942 to January 1945. The Hunt Camp land reserve consisted of about 33,000 acres—1,000 of which were devoted to the developed camp. About 1,000 internees at Hunt volunteered for combat duty and fought against Germany. Those who stayed behind worked as laborers on Magic Valley farms. The Jerome County Museum in Jerome has a display honoring the camp’s history. The 212-foot-high Shoshone Falls on the Snake River— higher than the famous Niagara Falls near Buffalo, New York—is 14 miles west. Thousand Springs State Park has several units located on the Snake River at various points between Twin Falls and five miles north of Hagerman. These park units and fisheries include spectacularly beautiful spring-fed waterfalls tumbling hundreds of feet from the north rim of the Snake River Canyon Gorge and white-water rapids interspersed with crystal-clear pools of water that restore the Snake River. Downhill skiing is available at Magic Mountain Ski Resort in the Sawtooth National Forest about 30 miles south.

The southwest corner of the 750,000-acre Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a few miles north of the city. The Preserve includes Idaho’s Great Rift, the source of the lava flow that created the unique volcanic landscape. In addition to outdoor activities available in the Snake River Canyon, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, biking, swimming, boating and winter sports are also available in nearby reservoirs, national forest and the Preserve.


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